I need some help with an 11mo old male GSD. Please note, I say much of this with as much "humor" as I can muster. This pup is giving me a run for my money.
We have gotten through the worst of the "teenager"/puppy issues (the biting/nipping, impulse control, forgetting everything learned as a puppy, etc.)
But. We have hit some snags.
For whatever reason, no matter how many sessions we do, how much I try to desensitize him...He just completely loses his mind once he is out my front door. I mean just completely loses it. No matter what I use as a reward, nothing is high value enough to deal with the world. No matter what training device I put on him, nothing will stop the pulling. And not just pulling - lunging in various directions blindly, and if he sees a person or other dog? Flips out, screams ,etc. He started this ~5-6mos, and I was expecting it. I was expecting fear periods, brattiness, etc...so we would take breaks from walks, exercise in the yard, do training, etc. Nope. I failed.
We have worked on politely walking on lead (which he will do unless there is a distraction) and he will do this all through my house, through the door...but we cannot get down the driveway. He is hit or miss with the door. What is going on here? I have tried waiting him out, for him to calm down, etc. I reward him for calm behavior, but he takes no rewards once out the door...and he spits them out near it.
I reward him for calmness. Excited to see the leash? You must be calm before it goes on. We must quietly and politely walk to the door. We must wait at the door, wait as it is opened. We leave only when told, and then wait again at the porch politely so the door can be closed. We have all of these on a good day, but I am insistent on it. Then we walk down the driveway aaaaand...brain falls out. Okay. So we back up, back to the door. I have tried variations of this. He starts becoming frantic at this point. For this, I have tried just taking him back in and calling it a day - takes him ages to calm down. AGES. Frantic pacing. Even if I try to play with him, he makes it clear he wants back out (sits by door, whines, paces to leash and door, etc.). I have also tried doing sessions with the door/driveway, but he starts getting frantic and frustrated (refuses rewards, stresses out). What am I doing wrong?
We have hit this plateau since he was ~6mos old. I'm serious. I have not had a pleasant walk with the dog since then - each time we walk he is freaked out, worked up...and I am exhausted. Again, no reward works for him. No punishment works...this dog is going to hurt himself on a pinch collar. He will lunge right into it. He will scream if I correct him with it, and melt. I have not corrected him very harshly with it either. Head halters make him whip his face around and panic and scream, even when I painstakingly conditioned him to wear one. Nope. No pull harness? He still pulls. It does nothing to stop him. E-collar? He won't react to it, even if his muscles are physically twitching. He just stood there with a dumb look on his face when I tried it, and I felt bad and took it off. He is a complete 180 from my female dog...she has her issues as well, but she was/is so easy to work with. He seems like an idiot compared to her.
I have had the best GSDs, the ones who made me fall in love with the breed. The last two have given me some trouble, but my older female has turned out to be a wonderful dog. This puppy is different from all of them.
He has never had what I would call a stable temperament. I think this is part of it, but I really don't want to just "blame the dog". But I do want to give some insight to his personality. Words I would describe him with: Affectionate, Whiny/Vocal (also loves to bark), Skittish, Curious, Nervous, Sweet. He loves to play ball and tug, but once he grips a tug toy he is chewy with it and half-hearted about it. I cannot play fetch with both of my dogs - he will chase my female and try to bite over her shoulders and pin her. She will promptly make him regret this, so that has stopped. I separate them.
He is at least a loving dog...but I feel as if I have completely failed him. I can't exercise him in my yard forever.