4 month old GSD puppy hackles up and running off - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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4 month old GSD puppy hackles up and running off

Hi everyone, my GSD is 4 month 7 week today. Since getting him at 8 weeks I have socialized him as much as possible every single day, he must of met hundreds of new people and dogs and been to countless new places. However I've noticed for the past week when he hears another dog bark that he cannot see or I take him to new places he puts his hackles up between his shoulders and at the base of his tails and tries his best to flee the area. He hasnt never done this before he has always been very accepting of all situations he has came across. Does anyone know what might have went wrong? Thanks everyone
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 08:15 AM
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That is a lot of activity for his age. Not that you can change the past but for the benefit of other new puppy owners that may be reading- that is really not necessary and can actually stress them out even if they seem happy. It isn't until about 16 weeks that a puppy is considered fully vaccinated against parvo, they shouldn't be going to public places a lot anyway until then. Some people do 12 weeks others 16. In any event really overdoing it isn't recommended.

Socializing a pup means bonding with him in the first few weeks, teaching him that engaging with you is the most fun thing in the world. Meeting friends and family is fine, but going out into the world and saying hi to strangers every day is just not something our breed typically craves. People will have different opinions on a proper GSD social temperament ranging from completely aloof to even keeled friendliness with a keen attention to the handler. "Everybody is my buddy" syndrome isn't really a hallmark of our breed.

He may have it in his genetics to be a bit spooky, either in general or as a stage. In any event he is telling you he doesn't like it and at his age I would ratchet back on meeting new people in a structured way.

I have seen others here give good advice about how to use engagement and focus to slowly push their threshold back up..I have never had to do it so I will them chime in.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 08:49 AM
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I have a "foster" pup who became reactive at 5 months due to a total lack of socialization before I got him. After reading a lot about it, I agree with CometDog--gradual exposure and letting the pup LEAD in new situations, according to its inclination, is best. Someone posted about the puppy being tentative near a lake edge, with the water lapping at the shore. They just gave the pup time to explore the beach and edge at its own pace, and that ended with pup enjoying playing in the water. I have been fortunate that my schedules and instincts to let my dogs explore at their own pace worked great with my previous puppies, but honestly, hearing about "socialization" more in the past decade or two, with the arrival of the internet and proliferation of websites, might have led me to over-expose my pup.

Rather than wasting time or energy worrying about it, just back off to a distance that your pup accepts without reaction and let him decide when to move closer. He is so young you have lots of time to let him figure out the world is fun and safe if he is starting to feel a little overwhelmed. And if it is just a bit of growling at distant barking but he can still engage, distract him with a quick training session--a sit, down, stand, look-at-me, whatever you can do in the moment to get his mind off the sound. I've been able to do that with mine just recently--but it took medication b/c his reaction distance is huge, and full-out Cujo if he saw or heard a person/dog (I'm talking a quarter mile or so, now down to about 3-4 yards away). Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Radar, Aussie/BC mix, b. 2/27/2012
Jett, GSD foster pup, b. 7/15/2018
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. He is the first GSD I have and I heard so many horror stories about aggression and how important socialisation is a probably did go overboard as you say. It was all with good intentions hoping I could give him the best start. I will try distractions with commands next time. I have not let him off leash yet unless in a fence off area at the park as him "come" command he completely ignores as soon as he has a bit freedom. I tried him a few times however once he sees another person or dog in the distance he darts to them to greet them and completely ignores my commands. I am having real trouble with recall so think I'm going to buy a 30ft training leash for practice. Thanks again for your advice
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:11 AM
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I'm not an expert by any means, but would not expect solid recall at this age. Is he food driven? Tug driven? Just call his name and make a big party every time he comes to you. "Off lead" comes with maturity. Aside from working his recall in safe places like your yard or out front or park on a longer lead, don't even worry about until he is well well into double digits in months. Just think "relationship" , be his world. Play tug, do little things that build his confidence and trust in you.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. So maybe I'm worrying a bit too much about trusting him off leash at the minute. I've had so many people say you need to get him off whilst hes young and still clings to me at about 3 month. I was starting to worry that i may never be able to trust him off leash. He is food driven at the minute he will do anything for treats. I play the odd game of tug with him aswell but he isn't much into it he much prefers fetch and just sitting chewing his ball. I take treats out on walks and can get him to do every command except recall. He is a lovely dog fantastic with my family I'm sure I'm just overthinking alot as I try to bring him up the best I can. Thanks
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 09:47 AM
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In a safe environment like your yard or home it is great to work on recall! I meant don't expect it to be flawless and certainly don't trust it until he is well grown and has been proofed on it.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you I will keep at the recall training. The thing that really got me thinking was when a a neighbour seen his hackles on end on his shoulders he said it's a sign of aggression. Which really shocked me
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-26-2019, 08:26 AM
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Actually, hackles can be a sign of aggression, but often are not. They are just a sign of some kind of intense arousal / strong emotion / uncertainity / stress. For example, my dog's fur has gone up in the following cases and I don't think he was being aggressive:

- a dog rushes to the edge of its yard (contained by Invisible Fence) and stands there barking at us. My dog doesn't know he is "contained" and his hackles go up.

- in early days, when we used to go to dog park, and my dog met multiple dogs at once

- in the vet's office, when they were approaching him to try to get a muzzle on him

All of these were rather "stressful" incidents but didn't have to do with my dog being angry or feeling aggressive.
The "canine language" guides have confirmed what I thought.

In any case, your pup sounds overwhelmed and like it's "too much" so I would let him get used to the world more at his own pace, as other have said also? I don't think it will turn your dog into a "coward", I think that as he encounters new things at his own pace, he'll actually get more Confident. :-)

Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-26-2019, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas1990 View Post
I am having real trouble with recall so think I'm going to buy a 30ft training leash for practice. Thanks again for your advice

Let me pass along how our Duke was taught recall in basic obedience class. It worked beautifully and he always comes when called in the dog park (the only place I let him off lead) no matter what he's doing.


Attach a long lead and have him sit/stay while you walk away to almost the furthest extent of the long lead (leave a few feet free). Then call him (I use "come" and lightly slap my thigh a couple of times) while you run away from him using the slack you left in the lead. He will think it's a grand game and chase you. Reward him when he 'catches' you. After a couple of successes, do it standing still. Voila. Duke is almost 9 now and he still thinks coming to me when I call him is a grand game every bit as much fun as playing fetch.
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