German Shepherds Forum banner

2 incidents in less than a week involving the cops

4119 Views 47 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  selzer

Where do I start?

I have another thread explaining my whole situation, regarding why I had an unexpected move and updates on my new living situation. To get more backround of that whole story, here is that thread:

To give a reader's digest version of my backround, if you don't want to read the thread I put a link to above, I had an unexpected move to get out of a bad situation. Old roommate has a really bad drinking problem, he was becomming more and more emotionally unstable, and eventually decided he didn't want the responsibility of having a dog anymore and expected me to just give up my GSD, Doc, and continue being his roommate. Now I see that as a blessing in disguise, because I got out of a bad situation that I didn't realize how bad it was until I left.

After a huge scramble to find a new place to live that was big dog friendly, close to work and affordable, I found an aquantence that owns a house and rents the whole upstairs to me. She owns a 2 1/2 yr old boxer named Fred and has 2 siamese cats. All of the things I was worried about with the move - Doc adjusting to new house/environment/neighborhood, seperation anxiety, Doc adjusting to living with cats (has only been around cats a handful of times), Doc seeing my new roommate as the alpha, etc... you know... the normal things you worry about with bringing a Doc into a new home. But those things have been the least of my worries!!

I moved on May 27-28th (so 2 weeks ago). The first week, there were a couple times that Doc got loose in the neighborhood. From him bolting through the back door, the stake coming out of the ground when he was on a long line, his collar breaking off when he started running when he was on a long line, which was tied to a heavy stone bird feeder this time since we can't trust the stake to stay in the ground anymore. He didn't runaway or leave the neighborhood, he played the "come and chase me game", which he hasn't tried to do since he was about 6-9 months old (He's 21 mos. now). He is very smart and knows when there isn't a line attached to him. I also don't go running after him and try to grab him. I should also mention that either myself or my roommate were with the dogs outside during the times when Doc had gotten loose, so its not like we were just putting them on a long line and leaving them out there alone.

So, I figured I would just keep him on a 20 foot line and not stake him to the ground. I have done that MANY times, in many different environments in the past, that way he can have his freedom to run around in his allowed areas, but as soon as he starts to go towards where he isn't allowed (neighbors yard, street, etc) I pull on the line to correct him and teach him his boundries. Well, this idea worked against me TWICE within the last week.

Last Friday, I had the dogs in the backyard playing. There was an electrical line that was down in our front yard, so uniformed police were driving in a Fire SUV on our street. Both the dogs and myself heard the door slam when they got out of their truck. Both dogs' heads perked up and they barked once, but niether the cops nor the SUV was in eyesight at that time, so they went back to playing. About 5 minutes later, all of a sudden the cops came walking into the front yard and to the side of the house to grab one of our garbage cans to place the yellow "Do not Cross" tape on, because of the electrical line that was in our yard. Both dogs bolted at full speed towards them before I could even grab their leads. The cops stepped back into the street, both dogs ran to the edge of our property line, where they have been trained not to cross, barking very viciously, showing body language like they were going to attack. The cops were flailing their arms all over the place, one cop had his hand on his gun, screaming for me to get the dogs inside. This didn't help the situation much at all. I came back outside, apologized up and down, tried to explain my situation, but they kept cutting me off saying "If those dogs approached the wrong people like that, they would be dead by now!" Again, I tried to explain that it has been a trial and error with keeping the dogs from getting loose, I'm trying to be proactive about it, bla bla bla... and I also said that we live a block from North Minneapolis border (those not familiar with the north side of minneapolis, lets just say its one of the most unsafe areas of the city) and if 2 strange men came walking into the yard unannounced, I would WANT my dogs to react that way. The cop's response was "Well... dogs that vicious and aggressive need to be contained!"

Don't get me wrong, I am not defending the dogs nor defending myself. I was definately suprised at how only living in his new house for only a week and half at the time of this incident, how Doc is already knows what is his territory, yet not crossing the yard boundries when the cops stepped back in the street. But this opened my eyes to how much the dogs feed off of eachother's energy. Neither of the dogs have ever bitten anyone, but I can see how much they get wound up together and am really afraid of things escalading. At this point I figured, "Ok, well, they didn't go into the street, they didn't try to lunge or bite at the cops... I suppose it is time to bump up obedience - work on recalls, work on keeping both dogs calm so that I can control the feeding off of eachother's energy and do work with both dogs with appropriate ways to greet people walking onto our property."

Well, 3 days later... another incident happened. On Monday, I had the dogs on the long leads again, playing in the backyard. They noticed a man walking his dog in the street. They bolted and once again, I couldn't catch their leads in time. This time they both crossed the yard boundries and ran into the street to sniff the dog. Both are friendly with strange dogs, so I wasn't worried about them, but wasn't sure if this dog was friendly towards strange dogs and didn't want to piss off the guy walking his dog in the street, since I KNOW it is unacceptable to let your dogs bolt off in the street and run up to unknown people and unknown dogs. Just want to make that clear to everyone reading this. Unfortunately, this dog was very skiddish and was barking his head off. Both my GSD and my roommate's boxer were fine, they were just sniffing. Since this man's dog was freaking out, he started kicking my dogs. Luckily my dogs stayed pretty calm, they let out 1 or 2 non-aggressive barks because of the "excitement" of the other dog being riled up and the man throwing out kicks and yelling. I grabbed both dogs, apologized, and took them inside. A few minutes later, the guy who was walking his dog and another neighbor who saw the incident, came and knocked on our door. They said they were calling the police to warn them of a "potentially vicious" dog. They said they were all afraid of their kids' lives, that Doc might get loose again and bite them. About an hour later, a police officer came to the house to talk to my roommate and I. We stood on the front step with both dogs looking out the front glass door, panting and tails wagging. No barking at all. The officer said "Obviously, these aren't vicious dogs, but when the police get a call, we have to follow up.. bla bla bla... I'm not gona give you a citation, you guys are obviously trying to be responsible dog owners and being proactive about trying to keep them in the yard, etc." This officer was the most understanding out of everyone we've dealt with between the 2 incidents.

Now - before I get critized, please bare with me here. I try very hard to be a responsible and educated dog owner. I don't let my GSD run loose. Since we don't have a fenced in yard, I don't have very many options for keeping the dogs contained. Like I mentioned earlier, it has been a trial and error as far as making sure they can't break free when they are on long leads that are tied up on the other end. Fred, my roommate's boxer's, recall is about 95%, and obviously needs work since he bolts off. Doc, my GSD, I'd say his recall is about 85% right now. We used to live in a fenced in yard, his recall was about 99% in there. The other 1% were times that he became focused on something, and it would take him 5-10 seconds before he would recall. The only other place I can take him to practice recall without a long lead on, is a dog park, which his recall has always been pretty good there. I obviously can't work on recall in my yard anymore because there is still that chance of him bolting off. But at the same time, the recall NEEDS to be practiced in his "territory". I can't guarentee that he won't get loose again. I am trying my hardest right now not to set them up for failure (got new collar, new stake that holds dogs up to 250 lbs, new leads, etc.) but in the event that they DO get loose again, I want them to be able to have a 100% recall and be more relaxed and less "vicious acting" towards people walking in the street or approaching our yard. I know that Fred, the boxer, is more fear aggressive. He barks at strangers out of fear, but backs up after he barks. My GSD's aggression is purely territorial. I had problems with him in the past where he would try to lunge at people approaching him while we would be on walks in our neighborhood. By approaching, I mean either someone wanting to come up and talk to me, or someone walking on the other side of the street not even looking at us. But he never displayed ANY type of aggressive behavior (lunging, barking, growling, hackles,etc) to any stranger that came into our house or anyone that walked by us on walks or pet him on walks. So after doing LOTS of reading and observing when he would display his aggressive behavior, it is definately purely territorial.

I am just so stressed right now, I am worried that something is going to happen. Here are things that I have for goals that we'll be working on in the immediate future:

-Working on 100% recall with BOTH dogs.

-Re-training the property lines/boundries with both dogs.

-Working on desensitizing them to people walking in the street or walking into our yard with them staying calm and not go into "defend my territory" mode. This is where I need help. How do you do this? I know GSDs are territorial by nature. Can this be done? Can they be trained to stay calm in these situations? How do you channel this aggression for when it is really necessary? For now, I have thought about working with them one on one and have them leashed with me in the front yard, and recruit some friends to come walking down the street, toss some treats in the yard as they walk by, etc. What else can I do?

-And most importantly, how do I keep a handle on the 2 dogs feeding off of eachother's energy? I need to have better control. I have never lived with 2 dogs before and this is my first GSD as well! The dogs I've owned before niether had fear aggression nor territorial aggression (at least to the degree that my GSD has), so this is all new to me!

Please give me some tips on what I can do to get a better handle on this situation and help correct this behavior. Also, please give me some tips on how I can accomplish the goals listed right above.

I see where I have gone wrong, as far as setting up the dogs for failure to get out of yard. Right now when I take the dogs out, I have them both on leads in the yard, tied to the big new stake AND the stone bird feeder. It's so sad, cause they can't run and play in our huge backyard, and when they try, they just get tangled up or try to run, and you hear a big yelp once they get to the end of the lead. :-(

I'd also like to add that I do practice NILIF with both dogs. I do spend time with them seperately, for short little training exercises. They also do not roam the house all day and all night together. Doc sleeps with me in my room and is crated when noone is home. Fred is contained on the main floor when no one is home. So as far as them bonding more with eachother than myself and my roommate, we have that under control. My roommate also makes both of the dogs do a down/stay for when the cats are eating, and since the dogs have different meal times, the dog that ISN'T eating has to do a down/stay while the other is eating. So there are many ways that we reinforce the pack structure daily.

Sorry so long... but... please help?
See less See more
1 - 20 of 48 Posts
Originally Posted By: Doc_Brown But he never displayed ANY type of aggressive behavior (lunging, barking, growling, hackles,etc) to any stranger that came into our house or anyone that walked by us on walks or pet him on walks.
Whoops, forgot to clarify here. I meant to say that when he has never displayed any aggression on walks that were OUTSIDE of our neighborhood.
To what degree to you practice NILIF? Do you make them wait while you go out the door first when they go out? Are they allowed or not allowed on the furniture? As far as the long lead outside goes, if in the front yard they aren't reliable, then hold on to the lead at all time. I don't know if you explained why or not, but if the back yard is fenced in, then howcome they have to be on a lead?

Also, how much mental stimulation do they get (Training...)

How much do they get exercised?

For the training, are your dogs food motivated? Mine are VERY food motivated so that helps training a lot. Obviously you can tell I'm no expert, but these are obvious things that jumped out to me.

Also, maybe socializing your dogs with people would help. I know that my dog barks at certain people because of the lack of socialization because he was sick, but we're working on it!
See less See more
Why must you take the dogs out together? Can they play and socialize with eachother inside the house, and go outside one at a time?

Two dogs create a different dynamic. As you said, they feed off of each other's energy. There may be other things going on.

Nearly every close call I have ever had with any dog was when I was managing more than one dog at a time. One illustration of this was taking Pip to be groomed and Cujo to have his toenails done. These are my parents' dogs, though Cujo is one of the pups I bred.

Anyway, I took pip in on his own leaving Cujo in the car. Then I walked out and got Cujo. He got his nails clipped immediately and we walked around the store for two hours waiting for Pip to be dry and ready. Cujo was good with people, ignored the kitties, and was fine with other dogs. I thought he was being so good that I could pick Pip up and walk out with the two of them. Pip was a 12 year old English Setter at the time.

The moment I got Pip, Cujo wheeled, snarling at a huge white dog. All down the aisle he snarled and barked at other dogs, while owners pulled their animals in and looked at me as though I was disgusting for bringing such a monster inside the store. In the parking lot he tried to go after a Rottweiler puppy.

The point is that dogs CAN act very differently because they have a canine pack member there with them. Many of the serious attacks involve more than one dog, and GSDs are not so smart that they cannot be encouraged to participate.

Even with you right there, I do not like the idea of the two of them being staked out where they can get tangled in eachother. It really only takes a few seconds for a tangle to take place and then a panic. Panicked dogs will often make their situation much worse.

Society right now is a bit paranoid about dogs. Your dog is a youngster, and there are things that by himself, he might be able to "leave it" but with a compatriont, it is just too much to ask. I think you had a narrow escape with the dog owner.

Dogs are not innocent until proven guilty. It seems to be the other way around. Also, it is not necessary for the dogs to make contact for you to be sued. If for example, your dog charges toward the street and some little old lady stumbles and falls while trying to protect her small dog, she might win a lawsuit on the grounds that she percieved that hte dog would attack her small dog and maybe even herself.

I can only suggest to fence in a small portion of the back yard, and to manage 1 dog at a time.
See less See more
Good questions!

NILIF - I do go through doors first, dogs have to wait until I say ok. I feed only my dog when I am home during the day and make him sit/stay while I fill up his food bowl and let him eat once he makes about 5-10 seconds of eye contact with me. (roommate and I work opposite schedules, she feeds her dog in the early morning before work while Doc and I are still sleeping and in the early evenings when I am at work) I also make Doc wait at the top of the stairs until I make my way to the bottom of the stairs and then release him. The only furniture Doc is allowed on is the end of my bed, but he only gets up there when he is told and he gets down when told.

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear-- the new house we moved into is NOT fenced in. The old house had a fenced in backyard. If this new place wasn't fenced in, I wouldn't be so worried about the dogs getting loose.

Both dogs get A LOT more exercise than they did before we moved in together. Besides the play in the backyard (which is now cut back because of getting tangled and having the ends of the leads be staked down) I take my GSD for long walks, take both dogs to some new neighbors that have a fenced in yard to play with their 2 great danes, and occasionally go to a lesser known dog park where I am familiar with all of the dogs and their owners there.

My GSD is VERY food motivated and priviledge motivated (which is why NILIF works great!) The boxer is more praise, priviledge, and tennis ball motivated.

As far as socialization, I did as much of that as possible with my GSD. When he is not in "his territory", he is just kind of aloof to any strangers that pet him or try to play with him, but he quickly warms up. I take him to very crowded places all the time, he does fine there, it is just the neighborhood where he becomes aggressive/protective/territorial. I want to socialize him in the neighborhood, but want to do it in a safe way. I can't have him lunging at people. How do I socialize him in "his territory" is what I'd like to know.
See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the


You know things need to change. Here we go.

1. Working on recall is great, but that is just part of an overall obedience plan. Train them. The most important result of solid obedience training is not the fact that a dog can sit, come, down and stay on command. It's the mentality it creates for the dog - look to you THEN react. And do this all individually with the dogs, not together.

2. Property lines go out the window here. These are dogs that have left the property and barked at people. LE has been involved. Your liability is too great for this type of trust.

3. Desensitizing is not your immediate goal. Your immediate goal is to get them to look at YOU and follow YOUR lead in regards to all situations. You can only do that with control. They need to be on leash and set up for success. Which leads me to

4. Nobody saids they need to go out together. In fact, I would avoid this moving forward. If my dogs are just going out to potty and come back they go out individually - no monkey business. One at a time you have a better ability to control them. Once they are trained and prove to you they are trustworthy, then you can try and have them out together.
See less See more
Originally Posted By: selzerWhy must you take the dogs out together? Can they play and socialize with eachother inside the house, and go outside one at a time?
Well, we don't allow them to play in the house. That is how a tall lamp fell over and broke during my first day moved in. So having them play in the backyard was a nice way for them to get the extra energy out. Plus it helped teach them that there was a time & a place for playing. I take my GSD on long walks by himself, since he has more energy to expell than the boxer.

And I forgot to mention that eventually my roommate (who owns the house) was planning on getting a fence put in. That probably won't be for 6 months, at the earliest, because she has a long list of house projects, like new windows, new roof, etc. I can't force her to move the fence to the top of the list-- its not my house!

So are you saying that there is no way to calm 2 dogs at the same time?
Originally Posted By: Doc_BrownSo are you saying that there is no way to calm 2 dogs at the same time?
What I took from the combination of Selzer's and ZeusGSD's posts was that you should work the dogs on an individual basis to build your recall and leadership position so they are each looking to you before they react.

Once you (and your new roommate) have that level of control with them individually, then you can then start working with them together.

Good Luck!
Are you training the dog? in my opinion, mental stimulation is almost if not just as important as physical stimulation. These are intelligent dogs and they need it.

I also agree that you should work with your dog seperately from the boxer. Your dog will be more focused on you, and hopefully with the right training techniques, more willing to please you. I think that since your dog is food motivated that you should definately use that to your advantage. You might even want to teach him 'Focus' which would help him to focus on you. Here's the link if you're interested.
I don't want to sound like I'm being stubborn and resisting advice here. I guess realistically, the dogs won't be going outside individually every single time. I can understand with training individually then working up to training together. I have been working on training individually already. But taking them out for pottying and stuff, it won't be individually.
We're just trying to suggest advice to you to help solve your problems, and prevent future ones, that's all.

What you do with it is up to you.
See less See more
You may want to consider that for those times when you are taking them out to potty, holding on to or securing their lines. It sounded like in the two incidents you mentioned, the leases were loose?

I don't like the idea of securing the leases when you have more than one dog - selzer pointed the safety reasons for this.

Can you hold on the leases while they're out going potty? You need to find the way to eliminate the "opportunity" for a repeat of either incident. Fencing is the best solution, but minus that, not allowing dragging leases while they're out until you've improved the recall and leadership roles for this situation would be an option.

Just throwing out ideas here. But IMO you need to bite the bullet and make some changes probaby (hopefully) with some short term sacrifices on the freedoms you want your dog to have.

BTW that link GSDowner2008 posted is a great thread if you haven't read it before.
See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

If your dog gets labeled a vicious dog then you have a good chance of losing him completely. Your roommate will lose her/his insurance unless you and the dog leave. You will not be able to find another rental that will allow him. I am being realistic. I had a dog that bit and it luckily was not reported. It was a very similar situation--my other dog went to bark at someone and he reacted and then went after the guy. I realized I had better wake up or my dog would be euthanized. I continued his training until I could call him off if I needed to but after that he stayed on leash or on a long line unless he was in a fenced in area. It was not fun for me and not as fun for him but I wasn't going to chance having anything like that happen again and losing him.

The only way to stop the dogs "feeding off of each other's energy" is to not allow them outside together unless a person is holding each of their leashes or lines. Period. Find a fenced in area where you can take them to play but they will repeat the behavior you saw again and again if you allow them that kind of freedom. And one time it may cost Doc his life.
See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

Since Monday's incident, I have been walking outside with Doc with his 6 foot leash and I put the boxer on the long lead, which is tied to both a large stone bird bath AND a stake that is meant for dogs up to 250 lbs. Since the last stake came up out of the ground (but wasn't meant for dogs up to 250 lbs), we secure the leads to the heavy stone bird bath. A couple times I have them both on the long leads that are secured, but don't do that much since a.) them getting tangled b.) them try to play and run and going to the end of their line. Hearing the "yelp" makes me cringe. and c.) knowing that the stake and bird bath could still fail with both of them tied to them.

I understand I have to make changes. If doing MORE seperate work than I am already doing needs to be done, well I'm willing to do it.
See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

Personally, I would also work on training both dogs to do an emergency drop... meaning that when you take a certain tone on a down/drop command, and a different command than what you use, the dogs immediately drop on the spot. I would work this command in all sorts of different situations until the dogs are very reliable, but don't overuse the command after the dogs learn it. This could very well save your dogs life at some point.
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

This is completely off topic - but GSDOwner2008... how the heck do you still have your sanity owning a 2 month old GSD and a 5 month old GSD??? Saw the age of your dogs in your signature. If you can handle 2 GSD pups, I should be able to handle 2 adolescent dogs!!

I see so many people on this board with multiple dog homes. I take it there is at least a small percentage of the people with multiple dog homes on this board that have dealt with something similar to my situation. Just please reassure me that getting this under control *IS* doable. I am willing to commit to both of these dogs. I don't plan on staying in this living situation forever, but I don't want me and my dog to be an outcast of the neighborhood for the time being. I think this will be a good learning experience for me if I consider to add to my pack in the future.
See less See more
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

Originally Posted By: Doc_Brown But taking them out for pottying and stuff, it won't be individually.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Now, I'm not calling you insane
. But not having a fence and taking two dogs out together that are not 100% trained is a recipe for disaster. Why can't you just take one out to do his business and then let that one into the house so you can take the other one? It is realistic, because I do it every day. And I have a fence along with two dogs that have excellent recall. I do it because I don't want my back yard ripped up and I don't want muddy dogs coming back in the house. I also don't want them to be playing and not going to the bathroom - and then coming back into the house to have an accident. In addition, it's not the dogs job to wear each other out. If you have that mentality, you end up with a two dog pack that comes to you for food and a pet every now and then but operate on their own agenda (which at this point includes territorial aggression). It is YOUR job to work with and wear the dogs out physically and mentally resulting in the right mindset.
See less See more
I just gotta say that you are so very lucky the cop did not shoot your dog.
Re: 2 incidents in less than a week involving the

Right now you're going through the terrible two's. Yikes! It will get better but by the time they're grown up, you'll have the fence, so the problem is how to handle it NOW.

I suggest an e-collar. We actually went to a training class where every dog had the e-collar so we learned how to use it and so did the dog. My dog is always out with me in the front yard (backyard is too small and too muddy). We go bicycling and walking and playing and he's never on a leash but I still have full control of him.

He has been taught when he hears the word "car" to sit right where he is and he knows I'm coming to him to grab ahold of him, he knows that I'm in control. Also, when a dog is being walked in the neighborhood, he knows to sit right where he is and he's not allowed to go over and say hello unless I release him.

He's been trained with this since 8 months old and he's always excited when I get his e-collar out because he knows we're going somewhere or out to play. It's used only on an action command, never a negative command. So if he's running towards something/someone he shouldn't, I would press the button and say "come" or "sit" or "here" (his command to look at me).

Look into it, it could just be the answer.
See less See more
1 - 20 of 48 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.