Question for people who have dogs with "issues" - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Question Question for people who have dogs with "issues"

Many of us deal with dogs who have issues like reactivity, fear, aggression, shyness, etc... Some of you may be familiar with my struggles with my nearly two year old GSD Niko. He's been through the gauntlet of classes, day care, outings and now we are approaching the final session with the private trainer we hired to help us deal with his reactivity. Niko has made progress in his reactivity and he will listen to my direction when he is in a situation that he is not comfortable with. We have learned that he is better when I can keep his mind busy in a scary situation (for instance he is more comfortable to be on the move in public and engaged with me, rather than just sitting on a park bench watching the world go by). The problem arises when I give him the chance to decide how to react to something; he invariably makes the "wrong" choice and starts to bark/lunge.

So to sum up, I can certainly "manage" him in all kinds of situations, but can I ever really believe that someday he will be able to control himself without my input? When did you guys come to accept "the dog that you have" versus "the dog that you wanted?" Did you wait until a certain age? Until you stopped seeing progress? Until you had tried all methods (I have gotten advice such as using a prong or e-collar, which I have not wanted to use)? Is it better to never accept that the dog is the best he/she can be? Is it giving up to decide that your dog will just never be able to fill in the blank? And also, as the owner are you too biased to be able to make that determination yourself? Is it a question that needs to be answered by someone like a trainer you have worked with for a long time?

Leah
Niko: American Showline GSD 5 years old
Rosa: American Muppet Dog (GSD/Border Collie mix) 5 years old
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post #2 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:00 PM
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I started to accept that Jax was never going to play with dogs again last year when I watched have ZERO interest in a puppy that wanted to play. This year I accepted that Jax would probably always need to be managed around other dogs and we are working on correcting her lunging, barking fits and on "Look".

I don't think you will stop seeing progress. I think you need to find a method that works for your dog. If the anxiety is so bad then maybe the method is that you severely limit the contact with whatever he is scared of.

btw Leah...if you are close enough to Binghamton, I know an excellent trainer that might be able to help you.

eta: I'm also learning what sets her off. Which seems to be when we first get somewhere so I need to learn to stay on the outskirts until she settles and having dogs come right up in her face. She'll take it the first time but it quickly gets old with her.

Last edited by Jax08; 06-01-2011 at 12:04 PM.
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post #3 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:30 PM
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How about accepting the dog you have right now? Think like a dog and live in the moment.

You can accept Niko as he is right now and still work on things with him. Did you stop growing and changing at 18, 21 or 30? Or are you constantly learning and growing. It's no different for dogs (especially ones as intelligent as a GSD). He's still young and likely not fully mature yet. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

He may never be a social dog or a competition dog so you adjust your goals to what he can accomplish today and push him a little further as you go along. Steady progress and growth.
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post #4 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:33 PM
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I got Shenzi free from Kijiji at 3 years old, knowing the dog had issues that was even cemented when i met the dog and she bit me. (no puncture, but there was a bruise).
I knew what I had in front of me.
A little over a year later, she is doing great. elevator, hallways, checking the mail, she is great. But she definantly has a bubble and I keep people out of it. I've started to look at it as I will not stress her out because OTHER people want her to be something shes not. She's everything I wanted (now). she cuddles, shes trained, she makes me laugh. She doesnt need to make other people laugh to make me happy.

I think if your dog is manageable and safe under your control, further training is up to you. Are you willing to continueally stress out your dog, put an ecollar on it potentially making it worse?

I have also learned to pick my battles. Shenzi does not need to like joe moron cooing over her head, but she will accept my friends into my apartment without assault. She will on her own accord spend individual time with my friends, petting, fetch, LIGHT wrestling, she initates contact with my friends. I don't force that on her, she initates contact only (its a strict rule in the house that visitors are not to approach her) but it is nice to see her having fun with someone who is not me or my bf.

Pick your battles. Its tough having a dog with issues. I gave you a lot of nonsense, but I needed to vent. I accepted she is who she is and I couldn't 'fix' her when I talked to someone about their battle and how they had reached a plataeu. This person was going to lengths I wouldn't,and stressing the dog out as a result. The dog apparently went of feed and everything. I'm not willing to do it. So I quit trying to fit her in a mold she won't fit in.
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post #5 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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I'm about a three hour drive from Binghamton. And we are actually really happy with the trainer we are using, but are not sure if we are ready to spend another $500 for six more sessions with her. How can I know if Niko has made it as far as he is capable of? And if another six sessions go by, and by some miracle he decides he can tolerate her two dogs (can't see that happening really, based on the last session), can I really expect him to generalize and realize that other dogs can be okay too?

Leah
Niko: American Showline GSD 5 years old
Rosa: American Muppet Dog (GSD/Border Collie mix) 5 years old
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post #6 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:37 PM
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I believe you accept and love the dog for what s/he is at this present point in time, and remind yourself of how far the dog has come over time. I do not believe you ever give up, but you have to set realistic expectations for yourself.

Dante is only 11 months old, but very shy and skittish - very weak nerves, but not reactive in the barking/growling/lunging sense of the word. Very friendly, and social with people he knows well. I accepted him from the day I got him because I knew what I was getting into, but I have always had hopes and dreams for him. He has exceeded them in some (many) aspects, and not yet met them in others. If he stopped progressing today and never made any progress on the weaker areas, I would still be thrilled with how far he's come and what kind of dog he's turned out to be. I think if you stop believing in success, the dog will stop progressing because you will stop progressing, whether you mean to or not.

Last edited by Rerun; 06-01-2011 at 12:40 PM.
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post #7 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:39 PM
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I personally disagree with a lot of the training theories here presented for reactive dogs, and if I'd paid a trainer $500 for 6 sessions and by the end my dog still couldn't be in total control around the trainers two dogs, I would most definitely NOT pay another $500 for that trainer.
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post #8 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:53 PM
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i read somewhere when your dog isn't
doing what you want you have to ask yourself
what am i doing wrong.
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post #9 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doggiedad View Post
i read somewhere when your dog isn't
doing what you want you have to ask yourself
what am i doing wrong.
this is true in a lot of instances but you can't change genetics.
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post #10 of 68 (permalink) Old 06-01-2011, 12:57 PM
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$500???!!!! My trainer isn't cheap but isn't near that!
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