So upset. How can I train my dog to completely ignore small dogs? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Today I was at the only field near us where I can play and train with my dog. (Hate my city and moving soon thankfully). It’s a huge field and usually when I see another dog coming near, I leave ASAP. It’s so big though that many dogs can be there at once and not be near each other. I like to control who my dog interacts with and I’ve been working on getting her to ignore small dogs which has been going well. She’s started ignoring small dogs even on walks and every dog unless I give her the Ok command because it’s a dog we know.

But today... I’m SO upset. We were at the park and this woman RUNS up behind us with a small dog and she’s on her phone of course. I don’t see her immediately and by the time I do, it’s too late to grab my dog. My dog starts running over to play. I tried to call back my dog and she totally FAILED.

Before my dog even gets there, the small dog (Have I mentioned how much I HATE small dogs?) rolls on its back and starts screaming like my puppy was trying to kill it. Meanwhile, my dog seriously is 7-10 feet away!

The owner starts screaming at me and now my dog is excited by all the commotion and runs the rest of the way over. Does not knock over the small dog (it keeps throwing itself on the ground screaming) but starts trying to play immediately. I don’t think my dog understood at ALL that the small dog was upset.

I’m absolutely ashamed and really sick over this that I didn’t have control over my dog.

I did also JUST see the same idiot owner yesterday with the same dog at the same field as I was leaving. And the same thing happened with a lab puppy and that dog. Her small dog was hysterically crying while the literal lab puppy was just trying to play. And nowhere near the dog. And the puppy was much smaller than my dog as well.

We’re immediately going back to on leash and a long lead at all times because her recall is usually 100% even when playing with a dog we know so she has to earn back trust now as she completely failed.

But what else should I do? I want to nip this in the bud ASAP. As far as I’m concerned, she’ll be on lead now until the cows come home. But I’d love other tips/advice on how I can deal with this and how I can do better. I would love to go to 100% no playing with other dogs but I take care of aging parents so half her life is spent with their dog. My sister is also my pet care person on trips and it’s not feasible to keep my dog from playing with their dog at all either.

Last edited by germanshepowner; 08-20-2019 at 03:38 PM.
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 03:52 PM
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Was the small dog also off leash? What would have happened if your dog had been leashed and you kept her with you? Would the small dog eventually have come up to you? You can’t control other off leash dogs, unfortunately. If the other dog was leashed and yours was the problem, leashing her again is the right response.

I don’t have any advice re working on ignoring small dogs other than exposing your girl to them and keeping distance and her focus on you. If she knows leave it, maybe you can use that command around small dogs.

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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Was the small dog also off leash? What would have happened if your dog had been leashed and you kept her with you? Would the small dog eventually have come up to you? You can’t control other off leash dogs, unfortunately. If the other dog was leashed and yours was the problem, leashing her again is the right response.

I don’t have any advice re working on ignoring small dogs other than exposing your girl to them and keeping distance and her focus on you. If she knows leave it, maybe you can use that command around small dogs.
Yes it was off leash. It was already approaching us. It tried the same thing yesterday so that’s why we left. She was ready to leave it on command until the dog started screaming it’s head off and she had to explore at that point.

Should I have her on leash and try to train her around them? There’s a dog park nearby by and I could work on using that as a distraction. Guide dogs for the blind actually uses the same dog park as a distraction for training. Lol.

Is it my mistake that I haven’t been exposing her to enough small dogs?
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:31 PM
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I would train her on leash around all kinds of dogs, including small, if I were you. It honestly doesn’t sound like your dog was horrible. Yes, blowing a recall wasn’t any good, and I’m assuming that both dogs were technically supposed to be leashed, but she also wasn’t acting aggressive if she just wanted to play.

IMO, I would have her on a long line from now on, until she’s proven herself capable of working around all dogs — no matter what size. I don’t personally think it’s really a huge deal that you haven’t worked her specifically around small dogs up until this point. Now you know it’s something you need to work on, and you can start.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:32 PM
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Rollo has his "leave it" command which is pretty much 100%, so that's what I use - I would not have your dog off leash around small dogs until you completely trust them & they know the command 100%. Otherwise, each time they do it, they are reinforcing & making the bad habit stronger & stronger

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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:50 PM
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This happened to me not too long ago with a lady walking a little dog past my house. I was letting Mei out and she immediately saw this little white dog (I hate little turd dogs also!!) being walked by its owner. Luckily I was able to get Mei to stop halfway but this dog was also screaming bloody murder and the lady quickly scooped it up and looked at me like she couldn't believe what happened lol. I apologized and said Mei is harmless and just loves playing with any and all dogs.
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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I would train her on leash around all kinds of dogs, including small, if I were you. It honestly doesn’t sound like your dog was horrible. Yes, blowing a recall wasn’t any good, and I’m assuming that both dogs were technically supposed to be leashed, but she also wasn’t acting aggressive if she just wanted to play.

IMO, I would have her on a long line from now on, until she’s proven herself capable of working around all dogs — no matter what size. I don’t personally think it’s really a huge deal that you haven’t worked her specifically around small dogs up until this point. Now you know it’s something you need to work on, and you can start.
Thank you so much for saying this. I’m ashamed but I came home shaky and cried. So that’s so nice to hear. She definitely meant it in play. I was thinking I’ve failed as a GSD owner and I should find her a home before I mess her up anymore. 🏼 but she really is a great dog. I’m home with her every day and she has great obedience (besides the NIGHTMARE of today!).

I think I’ll go to the park more now and just work on a long lead and wait for the small dogs! Lol.

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Rollo has his "leave it" command which is pretty much 100%, so that's what I use - I would not have your dog off leash around small dogs until you completely trust them & they know the command 100%. Otherwise, each time they do it, they are reinforcing & making the bad habit stronger & stronger
Completely agree with this. She had just earned it with 100% recall and then clearly forgot herself in the excitement so she’s just completely and utterly lost that privilege. She’ll definitely be on leash for a long long time now. Thank you. I definitely don’t want to ever make today a habit. I was devastated. Meanwhile my dog is as happy as could be that a little dog was playing with her lol.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 07:08 PM
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You teach your dog a solid DOWN and a solid LEAVE IT. And then you proof them. IMO, both of these are emergency commands and I use them before I use a recall.




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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 08:43 PM
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You met a Karen in the wild and lived to tell the tale! Lol

You also learned two valuable lessons today:

1. If you canít do it under pressure, you havenít really learned how to do it. Also applies to dogs.
2. Why everybody hates working retail
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 09:43 PM
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I think your dog sounds like she has a good temperament (even if not 100% obedient :-)
If she can't be trusted to be called back from meeting another dog, I'd just keep her on a long line when out in that field.

Don't be too upset about your dog!

Because, let me tell ya about the big GSD we passed twice this week....
We are walking through the park. A couple is coming with a big GSD. I see them stop short when they see us, and begin speaking to eachother in urgent voices. At the sight of that reaction, I'm like- uh oh! So Rumo and I move to the furthest side of the path, to the very edge of the woods - there's about 15-20 foot of space for passing now.
It's decided to put their dog in a Down, and he obliges. I think, phew, ok, great training.
We are passing now, drawing even...
and their dog explodes out of the Down! Snarling, snapping, lunging. Owner is dragged towards us.
I am praying: "Don't let that collar break!"
And then, thankfully, we are past and I don't look back.
It's happened twice this week (we both like to walk at dusk, after dinner) and if I could ever speak to that poor couple amidst all the snarling and lunging and the fear that he would kill Rumo if we got close...I would like to send them to this forum.

Anyway...in comparison...your dog is nice...

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