Adopted a GSD....need HELP!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Question Adopted a GSD....need HELP!!

Last Friday, my husband and I adopted a 1.5 to 2 year old GSD from the shelter. Someone dropped him off at a kill shelter and when his time was up, the shelter called a no kill shelter in the area and asked them to take him because he was such a good dog....and he IS...sometimes. He won't jump on the counters, even with food on them. He is housebroken. He sits nicely in the car. He goes into his crate at night to sleep and lays down with very little to no whining. HOWEVER....

he is 100% a GIANT puppy. He has NO IDEA how to play safely or stop escalating once engaged. He bites and jumps on us A LOT! We have tried to teach him how to fetch (we NEVER play tug with him) so he can run off some energy, but he is way more interested in biting our arms and hands and feet. We push him down and tell him NO and fold our arms and turn away. We walk away and/or we try to put a toy in his mouth to replace the arm/body part he is biting on, but usually he dismisses it and comes right back with a jump and bite. He WAS getting better about getting down and walking away when we turned and ignored him, but today he started being more persistent and will not get down once he jumps up. Turning and walking away is now making him grab on harder and he is now jumping and snapping at our clothes.

He has improved at coming on command, sitting for short periods and especially for treats, he will take treats "easy" now, when we are able to get him to sit and pet him with a soft "good, boy....easy" he will sometimes calm down, but it's temporary.

He does calm down more at night and allows the cats and older dog to come out with little arousal, but our days are filled with being on watch and telling him to "leave it" because he wants to play with them, too. He's big and intimidating and being hissed, growled and barked at often. He definitely backs off the animals with less redirection than when he first arrived, but it's a moment to moment struggle and we often sacrifice ourselves being bitten to get him to back off the other animals. In all honesty, they have tried to stay away from him more and usually wait until evening to attempt to come out. This has been a blessing because he has a bit more self control then...sometimes. I feel bad for them though...this was after all, their home.

We take him for 2 walks a day (which are awful to get to because the biting is ridiculous to get the harness on, but we can't leave it on because he bites at it and rubs all over the furniture to try to rub it off until he works himself into a craze which makes the jumping and biting at us worse...anyway...) when he returns from the walk, he will lay down for a bit, but only to recharge and come back with the same jumping, biting, and playfulness.

I do not think he is being aggressive. He has snapped at me twice for trying to take a toy he chewed up and for trying to take his treat toy,(which is another issue I need help with,) but I could clearly tell the difference between that aggressiveness and this persistence to play.

Being that he isn't a puppy, we know that he has lived a long time being "allowed" to behave this way and un-training him to re-train him is going to be a lot of work.

We signed up for formal obedience training, but it doesn't start until 8/15 and we need help now! We love this dog, but he is exhausting and we simply need help. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE let us know.

Thank you in advance!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 01:49 PM
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Look up the two week shutdown. You are starting with an untrained dog. He doesn't know manners. Get to know him. Leash, crate, no expectations.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cloudpump View Post
Look up the two week shutdown. You are starting with an untrained dog. He doesn't know manners. Get to know him. Leash, crate, no expectations.
Thanks ... I'll make it easy. First article here:
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 02:24 PM
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Definitely, 2 week shut down. Right now, it is just too much too soon. He needs some quiet time to acclimate.

Yes, he is a giant puppy. A puppy that was never taught boundaries. You need to be firmer with him. Keep him on a leash, so you have control. Also, do a search for 'Mind Games'. The techniques worked wonders with my shelter dog. The steps teach the dog to relax and help with resource guarding. Since you know he resource guards, never take from him. Always trade. You can call him away from the treat/toy, or use the leash to move him. Never reach in and take it.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 02:26 PM
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I'll make it easy too. lol!

Mind Games (version 1.0) by M. Shirley Chong
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 02:27 PM
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What cloud said^^^
Also a baby gate to separate him from the other animals so they can move freely and not feel oppressed.

Trade him something wonderful for whatever he has in his mouth.An irresistible treat.

Catch him laying calmly and reward him.Toss him a tiny treat and softly spoken Good Boy!

Nothing wrong with tug toys.Many dogs prefer a tug instead of a ball.He can learn to fetch the tug and bite that instead of your arms.Tugging can be a reward for obeying.

Inquire at the club you are enrolled in for ob class if a beginning class for older puppies would be a better fit to start with.

Thank you for rescuing this guy and please update as you go along!


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 03:57 PM
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Oh darlin' I feel for you. Years ago, I was an animal cop and had a horrible habit of wanting to adopt all of the dogs in the shelter. I didn't, but I did adopt one that had been at the shelter since he was a pup. It took me almost a year to untrain and retrain that baby. It can be done. Lots of love and understanding. Reach out to your community there for help as well. It does get better! BTW, he was a biter too. When he does it, have a toy in hand at all times or near you - use it as a distraction, praise praise and more praise when he chooses to chew on the toy.

Good luck!!!!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 04:42 PM
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German Shepherds are wonderful companions, I wish you all the best! Dogs - are individuals, I advise you to start a Diary on him in order to figure out:
1. health issues
2. his temperament;
3. level of his drives;
Maybe, I have forgotten something?
Describing in words his reactions will help you a lot, analysing it on paper will provide you with reference if you wish to look back.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 06:12 PM
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How long have you had him? Obedience class will be good for him, but you need to be able to get him there. What kind of collar are you using? Does the shelter have a private trainer to consult with you? He has never had firm rules or training, so he made up his own rules. You need to teach him that he must behave and his current behaviors aren't going to be allowed anymore. Do you understand the 2 weeks shut down from the descriptions given?
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-03-2016, 06:25 PM
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His behavior is pretty common and a reason people give up GSDs around this age.

Thing is, you need to address this issue head on. I had a buyer-return pup back because of this behavior, almost the exact same behavior. When I picked him up, first thing he did was try to jump up and get bitey. At that moment, I got very firm with him, I corrected him- not with prong or e-collar, but with my voice, my body language, my hands and body. He tried this one more time with me and never again. He is a social, sweet, real drivey dog thriving in a sport home now. Social butterfly of a dog, a bit confused on how to express frustration or excitement.

This was a 80 lb powerful male dog, I am not a large or especially powerful person- it's not about physical strength, it is about making it clear to the dog that biting will not be tolerated. I don't know how to describe it, some of it is instinctual, some is follow-through.

Two-week shut down? I will not argue with experts, but I have adopted three dogs as adults and never did a shut down and never had issues. A shut down might be a fine idea, but don't expect it to address the jumping and biting issue. It is probably why he is at the shelter.

I am far from a person who says "go find a trainer" but PLEASE, go find a trainer who know about German Shepherds. Maybe some people here have a recommendation. Work with the trainer to address this behavior now- before it becomes even more ingrained. I put zero faith in behaviorists. Find a trainer. This isn't an expensive "fix" but at this point it is an issues that needs to be addressed in the proper way.

If you were nearby, I could model and help you but this is one issue that I think is dangerous to address or advise on in an online forum.

I understand the dog is playing and totally agree- my pup was being super social and is super social with people and dogs- but the behavior simply can not continue.
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