Establishing Me as the Pack Leader or Ripping Me off? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Establishing Me as the Pack Leader or Ripping Me off?

I have a 5-month-old GSD male. Great dog. He's smart, developing good obedience and good with people. His problem is other dogs when I am walking him. When he sees another dog, he barks his fool head off, raises his fur and lunges. I first noticed his reaction to other dogs when I got him at 10 weeks. In hopes of fixing the problem, I have taken him to the dog park, puppy class and doggy daycare. He plays with the other dogs, runs and doesn't seem to have an agressive or insecure bone in his body.

However, the socialization route hasn't worked. Last night, I took him to his first obedience class at PetSmart. He barked his head off, and the instructor told us that we can't participate in the class until he learns to cool it. She watches me handle my dog and says the problem is pack leadership. I have to learn how to show him that I am the pack leader. Her solution is to take the private lessons there with her and work on corrections with him. She said the problem is fear-aggression. To be honest, I haven't done a lot of corrections with him AND he does go nuts when he sees another dog. Sound good? Here's the catch. It's like 80 bucks an hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DEFINITELY want to fix this problem, and I am no expert on dogs. She seems to know her stuff. Is it worth it?
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 02:46 PM
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It does sound like you have a fear aggressive dog and you don't know what to do about it. If you don't do something about it, it will just get worse. In general, I have a very low opinion of PetSmart training and can't imagine paying that much for a private lesson from there. I would suggest you look outside of PetSmart for a better trainer.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 02:55 PM
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No it is definitely NOT worth it at petsmart. YES it's worth it at a real trainer.

IMHO the dog needs corrections when he behaves like this, and you will need to learn how to utilize them in training via a trainer that uses them in a swift and fair way.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 03:00 PM
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That is no trainer! The reason you are in there is for training, how on earth could she tell you that. SOunds to me it's so she can get paid for 'private lessions'. It is not uncommon for puppys to bark their first few times in a group class. What a moron she is.

I would speak with the manager and request a refund. Petsmart is not going to have the cream of the crop when it comes to trainers.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by GSDAlphaMom View Post
That is no trainer! The reason you are in there is for training, how on earth could she tell you that. SOunds to me it's so she can get paid for 'private lessions'. It is not uncommon for puppys to bark their first few times in a group class. What a moron she is.

I would speak with the manager and request a refund. Petsmart is not going to have the cream of the crop when it comes to trainers.
Not to mention they'll probably take a dim view of one of their employees poaching customers for their private business.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 03:08 PM
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Not to mention they'll probably take a dim view of one of their employees poaching customers for their private business.
I believe you can take private lessons there that are store sanctioned. Not the employee offering private lessons to line her pocket outside the store.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 03:09 PM
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One of the reasons I hit the socialization path with my pups the day they hit my house, is cause I know they left their mom and littermates well socialized and now it's MY JOB to continue with the good work. From day one and forever.

I personally feel your pup is just acting completely inappropriately from over excitement and maybe a bit of fear/anxiety. So to come down on a puppy like a load of bricks would be a huge mistake. You aren't seeing any 'alpha' stuff. Instead you are seeing a puppy who has been lacking the leadership and guidance they needed to ACT APPROPRIATELY, trusting the human in their life is in control of the situation.

So this is like most dog training situations I run into. Not about the dog. It's about training ME! And with a 5 month old, you are running 3 months behind but can easily catch up if you start changing YOUR behaviors and how YOU are working with your pup.

Distance is your friend, you can only teach your pup if they are calm enough to keep their brain together. Once they are freaked out and barking like nuts, they aren't in a learning mode. So back off to some distance that works.

Clicker training!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clicker Training: Marking Your Dog's Successful Behavior




THIS is the stuff that we should be doing with our pups when we first get them. Look, no leashes! Yet the puppy is all attention, focus, listening and learning. Even with other dogs around. No corrections in sight!





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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 04:17 PM
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I personally feel your pup is just acting completely inappropriately from over excitement and maybe a bit of fear/anxiety. So to come down on a puppy like a load of bricks would be a huge mistake. You aren't seeing any 'alpha' stuff. Instead you are seeing a puppy who has been lacking the leadership and guidance they needed to ACT APPROPRIATELY, trusting the human in their life is in control of the situation.
I'm going to agree with this also. Fur up can also be a sign of excitement as is lunging on the leash. I see way many more dogs that are overly excited and barking from leash frustration than dogs that are fear aggressive.

Alot of reading the beahvior lies in the posture of the dog. Does your pup lunge and then back up in a quick darting motion? Or is it more like a pulling, jumping let me get over there type thing? How is the bark? Little high? Or deeper? Where are the ears? Forward and alert or off to the side/back? Where is your dog's tail? Level with the back, curled up and over? Down? Is it moving at all or is it very stiff?

Reading all of this kind fo behavior is why you usually need a real trainer. Ideally someone who had worked with your breed of dog before and one who has some real accomplishments in training...not just a certificate saying they completed a 2 week course. Personally I don't have much faith in the ability of the average PetsMart trainer. I've seen them do too many things. And much of their money is made off of comissions.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 04:55 PM
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I have a private trainer and I sometimes have problems with my 9 month old. Usually a new dog new area he does the barking, etc. He has told me I must make my corrections more meaningful so to speak. Now that Max knows his obedience he has something to fall back on it is time to correct the behavior. I am sometimes a bit weak in that area but we are not talking about being mean just getting my point across.

I think you should look for private training else where. I trained at Petsmart for basic and for socialization but even my instructor there told me they are limited on what they are allowed to do. Most are not even allowed to use pinch collars. So if you have a real issue they are not going to help.

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Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll look for another trainer. He started with a good one, so maybe I'll go back. I also agree that I need to learn what to do with fear-aggression. There are some videos on clicker training and focus, but they are not helpful. I get that and don't want to buy anything. Does someone have a video on how to handle fear-aggression?
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