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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi there, I'm new here.

We got our 5 month old puppy Bear, just over 1 month ago. I believe late in his socializing period based on what I've read. He is not nudered.

We got him from a backyard breeder but both parents are registered with AKC and Bear was also registered. I have his pedigree.

We got him unvaccinated and quickly got him his full vaccines within 2 weeks of owning him. However, his high energy had us taking him for walks in our neighborhood to tire him out and see the world. During the first week, he was very curious and not aggressive. 2nd week he became loud and protective?
Week 3 he nipped a friend when we took him over for a party. He returned home immediately as it was now unsafe for the kids.

He is the best dog at home. Responds well to commands (sit, stay, down, leave it, drop it, place, hand, this way). However, when in public he is triggered by other humans outside his pack and even more so with dogs.

I took him to a puppy kindergarten for a few days after his initial set of vaccines but stopped because he suddenly became aggressive and tried to bite one of the ladies there.

His schedule is as follows:

Patiently waits for us to wake up as he sleeps in our bedroom on his own bed. I take him out to do his business and feed him breakfast. A quick loving session full of belly rubs. We then go for a 20 minute walk in the neighborhood.

If my wife works, we leave him in his crate for 3-4 hours then I return home for lunch and feed him after I eat. We then do another loving session and go for another walk. Back on the crate.

I return home after work and if my wife isn't already home, I bring him out of his crate as he is only in there if nobody is home or if we need to clean the floors. We have dinner then feed Bear.

I must add, with every meal comes a training session. I split the meal into 3 and have him sit, hand, place and stay only to come to the bowl on release. He does really good and even stays in a different room before releasing him.

After dinner we will go to one of several nearby parks and go for a walk and play session on a 30ft leash where we practice commands with people and dogs in the distance. Recently we take him to a dog park only to walk around the perimeter as there is a higher amount of dogs in one area and hoping he will observe the others socializing.

He does really well in the neighborhood, minimal leash pulling. He won't let my family (wife and 2 kids) too far away as he becomes worried. Outside the neighborhood he is a different animal. Sniffing everywhere and barking, air jawing dogs and sometimes people.

I have learned not to use a harness on an untrained dog, belt buckle wide collar is what we use now. We also implemented an e collar where I use vibrate to break his trigger and shock only when he is aggressive. I don't like using the e-collar and lately now using a gentle leader to swiftly redirect him with minimal pulling. The gentle leader closes around his mouth when he pulls which he hates as he wants to bark or lunges at someone. He still stares down dogs upon sight and if they get too close it's a bark, lunges at them if they respond with a bark or a cry oftentimes.

Breeder tells me he was always the shy one, hardly playing with his siblings. We recently took him to see his dad and that family also has another sister from a previous batch along with a lab/gsd mix. Bear growled and tried to bite the wife of the owner and the lab mix quickly attacked Bear. We let it happen, no blood drawn and he didn't look at those humans negatively after that. The lab mix seemed to still sense destruction in Bear because she attacked again after Bear tried biting his dad while I was petting him (trying to protect me?) The dad is 130lbs and didn't flinch at the multiple nips.

We continued to let them play off leash in the backyard but Bear wanted nothing to do with it. I played with his dad and sister while he watched confused.

We are going back to see his dad tomorrow and another brother from this same batch. The mom may also be able to make it.

Is this normal behavior?
He was rejected from a board and training which I paid $2800 for. The trainer wouldn't be able to put the leash on him even if he tries. Now starting private lessons this week with that same trainer.
I signed him up with another trainer and has his evaluation this Wednesday.

I'd like to believe we are doing everything right but this is our first dog and we chose an easy breed 馃槀

We live in North GA and hoping for help from this community. He is great with us at home including our kids and his Vet, that's about it. I'm working nonstop to provide a stable routine, build trust and provide a comfortable environment. Nobody believes us when we say this till they see videos.

Looking for feedback from owners with similar experiences or trainers in the north GA area.

Thank you
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I see so many red flags from the start. The father is 130#, which is 45# above breed standard. Sounds like a BYB . This is why most recommend researching and finding a reputable ethical breeder to get a puppy from.

I'd never put an e collar on a 4-5 month old puppy. A Head harness or Halti is a bandaid and typically only causes more issues as dogs do not like them and are always trying to rub or scratch them off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I see so many red flags from the start. The father is 130#, which is 45# above breed standard. Sounds like a BYB . This is why most recommend researching and finding a reputable ethical breeder to get a puppy from.

I'd never put an e collar on a 4-5 month old puppy. A Head harness or Halti is a bandaid and typically only causes more issues as dogs do not like them and are always trying to rub or scratch them off.
Yes, the father is overweight. They're working on it. 120 or 130 I forget. But he is big.

The gentle leader works better than a basket muzzle as he isn't trying to constantly take it off or rub his nose on the ground. I've gotten him comfortable after the first day of use by providing plenty of positive reinforcement at home. Only really tries to take it off when he wants to bite but quickly calms down from the barking and ends with a cry or whining.

Yes I've learned my lesson about the breeder. But found that he comes from reputable breeders from previous generations. Nothing I can do about that now.
 

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Yes, the father is overweight. They're working on it. 120 or 130 I forget. But he is big.

The gentle leader works better than a basket muzzle as he isn't trying to constantly take it off or rub his nose on the ground. I've gotten him comfortable after the first day of use by providing plenty of positive reinforcement at home. Only really tries to take it off when he wants to bite but quickly calms down from the barking and ends with a cry or whining.

Yes I've learned my lesson about the breeder. But found that he comes from reputable breeders from previous generations. Nothing I can do about that now.
Hey go to the aggression sub forum and the puppy subforum. There are many other owners that posted about similar situations! My dog is an adult and is kind of a jerk to other dogs. I think it came from not really knowing what to do in that situation and being overstimulated. I've been exercising my dog more, working on obedience and doing LAT. You said your dog is excellent inside the home, I would slowly make the dog practice outside. If your dog isn't being triggered when you're near the dog park, practice some ob. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, just fun. I had some great treats for my dog but didn't see big improvement until I found a treat that means the world to her (american cheese). Hopefully people that are more experienced can help you, I never dealth with a puppy before so maybe its different.
 

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The ecollar can be a wonderful tool, but your pup is simply way too young to understand that punishment. Wait closer to a year to introduce it. You can really mess a dog up using an ecollar without the dog having a full understanding of what it means. A pop on the flat collar should be enough of a correction for a dog this young.

Your dog does not sound social. Respect his boundaries and do not let strangers approach him and do not allow other dogs to attack him. He needs confidence and to trust that you have each situation under control. You must go out of your way to ensure he has no negative experiences with dogs and people.

Any trainer that cannot leash a 5 month old puppy... ya keep shopping. Look for a trainer with plenty of GSD breed experience.

I'm glad he sounds great in the house. He is adorable. You just need to improve his confidence and be proactive in keeping him out of trouble. Set him up for success. Do not put him in any situation where your not 100% sure he is comfortable. If you have a neighbour or friend with a neutral dog that can do a little leashed walk with your pup that's ideal. Use food and toys when out and about to distract him from things he would focus on. Keep him busy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey go to the aggression sub forum and the puppy subforum. There are many other owners that posted about similar situations! My dog is an adult and is kind of a jerk to other dogs. I think it came from not really knowing what to do in that situation and being overstimulated. I've been exercising my dog more, working on obedience and doing LAT. You said your dog is excellent inside the home, I would slowly make the dog practice outside. If your dog isn't being triggered when you're near the dog park, practice some ob. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, just fun. I had some great treats for my dog but didn't see big improvement until I found a treat that means the world to her (american cheese). Hopefully people that are more experienced can help you, I never dealth with a puppy before so maybe its different.
Will do, thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The ecollar can be a wonderful tool, but your pup is simply way too young to understand that punishment. Wait closer to a year to introduce it. You can really mess a dog up using an ecollar without the dog having a full understanding of what it means. A pop on the flat collar should be enough of a correction for a dog this young.

Your dog does not sound social. Respect his boundaries and do not let strangers approach him and do not allow other dogs to attack him. He needs confidence and to trust that you have each situation under control. You must go out of your way to ensure he has no negative experiences with dogs and people.

Any trainer that cannot leash a 5 month old puppy... ya keep shopping. Look for a trainer with plenty of GSD breed experience.

I'm glad he sounds great in the house. He is adorable. You just need to improve his confidence and be proactive in keeping him out of trouble. Set him up for success. Do not put him in any situation where your not 100% sure he is comfortable. If you have a neighbour or friend with a neutral dog that can do a little leashed walk with your pup that's ideal. Use food and toys when out and about to distract him from things he would focus on. Keep him busy.
Thank you for the time.

I don't like using the e-collar but its what one of the trainers use. He responds well to the vibrate as it means stop what you're doing and sit, every time.

The shock is hardly used and when I do, its at the lowest setting I get a reaction from him (4 / 99)
I've tried it on myself

The only time a dog has attacked him was when he tried to attack its owner.
He mean dogs most humans, especially if they look different than a previous human.

The strange thing is he cries around people and dogs. I can see where the confidence needs to increase. He gets plenty of positive reinforcement after collar pops once he does what he is being asked to do. I don't let strangers approach him and have only let some dogs near him. He will approach, smell in odd areas then go for a bite at the neck or hind legs.
He allows us to have conversations with people but if I am holding his leash and go for a handshake, he will rapidly throw himself at the person
 

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I used an ecollar to young and it's been hard fixing. The vibration is more adversive to my dog then the ecollar at low levels. Put the ecollar away.

I remember being where you are and as they grow becoming larger and stronger it gets more difficult. We chose a byb GSD as our first family dog and wow has it been a challenging journey. I went through 6 or 7 trainers over a course of 5 years before i found what I needed.

In another month your dog would be old enough to start the online course available through Sheild K9 (off leash elite). I highly recommend this course if you can't find someone in person. The training is balanced your dog will learn the meaning of YES and NO. It's not to early to sign up and watch the course. I spent a couple months watching and learning before I started the program with my dog. If you chose this route focus on the leash work get your dog near perfect on leash then move to the ecollar. All taught in the course. They also have a reactivity course which you may not need but I found it full of useful information.

Like biscuit said your dog doesn't sound social so you need to advocate for the dog. Keep people and dogs at a distance where the dog is neutral. This will take time lots of patience and time. As time goes the distance will becomes smaller
Dogs have fear periods where the are hyper alert and can be reactive more so when you are not an experienced handler.

Michael Ellis has a couple of videos playing with food and tug that can help you with communicating with your dog. These games which are also obedience learning lesson are fun for your dog. Something for your dog to do with you instead of fixation on the external environment.

Socializing doesn't mean meet and greet people and dogs. It means getting your dog into the world and letting him see the world and investigate at a distance where the dog is not scared or reactive. It's never to late for this.

Welcome to the forum. Beautiful dog. Lots of useful information and people here. You came to an excellent place for information. I've enjoyed and been greatful for this forum over the years.
 

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@Biscuit is right. If you want him to feel safe and become more confident then keep farther back from the other people. Being within sniffing lunging distance is too close right now. That's why he panics and tries to drive them away.Keep back farther and let him sit behind you where he feels safe and will be to remain calm and observe. He's unable to absorb information or learn when he's afraid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Can you have someone video any of these situations as they seem predictable. It would help the trainer and it would help here.
Yes, I will have my wife video some of the interactions and post within the coming days. Tomorrow night likely
He is meeting his dad, brother and hopefully mom today
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I used an ecollar to young and it's been hard fixing. The vibration is more adversive to my dog then the ecollar at low levels. Put the ecollar away.

I remember being where you are and as they grow becoming larger and stronger it gets more difficult. We chose a byb GSD as our first family dog and wow has it been a challenging journey. I went through 6 or 7 trainers over a course of 5 years before i found what I needed.

In another month your dog would be old enough to start the online course available through Sheild K9 (off leash elite). I highly recommend this course if you can't find someone in person. The training is balanced your dog will learn the meaning of YES and NO. It's not to early to sign up and watch the course. I spent a couple months watching and learning before I started the program with my dog. If you chose this route focus on the leash work get your dog near perfect on leash then move to the ecollar. All taught in the course. They also have a reactivity course which you may not need but I found it full of useful information.

Like biscuit said your dog doesn't sound social so you need to advocate for the dog. Keep people and dogs at a distance where the dog is neutral. This will take time lots of patience and time. As time goes the distance will becomes smaller
Dogs have fear periods where the are hyper alert and can be reactive more so when you are not an experienced handler.

Michael Ellis has a couple of videos playing with food and tug that can help you with communicating with your dog. These games which are also obedience learning lesson are fun for your dog. Something for your dog to do with you instead of fixation on the external environment.

Socializing doesn't mean meet and greet people and dogs. It means getting your dog into the world and letting him see the world and investigate at a distance where the dog is not scared or reactive. It's never to late for this.

Welcome to the forum. Beautiful dog. Lots of useful information and people here. You came to an excellent place for information. I've enjoyed and been greatful for this forum over the years.
Thank you for much!

I will refrain from using the ecollar

I did notice he reacts more on the lower vibration than higher. But will definitely look into the online training
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@Biscuit is right. If you want him to feel safe and become more confident then keep farther back from the other people. Being within sniffing lunging distance is too close right now. That's why he panics and tries to drive them away.Keep back farther and let him sit behind you where he feels safe and will be to remain calm and observe. He's unable to absorb information or learn when he's afraid.
Thank you!

Understood.

I will pay close attention to his threshold and gauge.
 

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Your doing great especially for a novice in my opinion. Your putting in the work! You both would do great in the hands of a good trainer.

I think your expectations for a young dog are really high. Bear is doing great. He had a nice calm state of mind.

It takes a ton of repetition in a variety of places for a dog to generalize a behavior. For example you teach sit in front of you. You think the dogs knows sit anywhere. He doesn't. You have to sit in the kitchen, sit in the grass, sit next to you, sit in front of you and so on over and over. Rewards are critical to keeping the dog motivated. Would you go to work for free?

Adding in distractions your asking alot of the dog. It's a mistake that is easy to make. These dogs are so smart we often think they understand when they do not.

I would be using more rewards dynamic and static food rewards. Something has to be in it for the dog. Clearly food motivated.

I'm much a novice but I'd say command wait one second use a food lure with some slight leash pressure upwards. Do not repeat the command. Enforce the command. Take it easy he is so young.
Like Sit wait one second - food lure with slight leash pressure upwards. Once butt hits the ground - mark- reward. If he is slow dynamic rewards. Just ask if you don't know what that means (static vs dynamic rewards).
You want the command to become habitual lots of fast successful repetition. So habitual the dog does it without thinking.

Have you read up on the four quadrants of learning? I found this very helpful.

Break up the obedience with food games toss a treat dog chases looks at you or turns to you mark jump back reward. Gets the dog engaged in the game. Make it a bit more fun.

You really want the dog working with you. Playing in a environment really helps. You want to be the most interesting thing to the dog - easier said then done.

Making him sit and fixate on a trigger isn't so good. The second he starts directing arousal toward a trigger NO and leash pop and keep moving. Not sure if this is correct for a young pup.

Really great video sample. Super interested in what the trainers around here would say.

He isn't aggressive in my opinion. Just big emotions and a part normal developing behavior. You just have to teach him what is and isn't acceptable.

Your trying really hard and I commend you for putting in the work. Have patience he is very young and doing very well. Lighten up. Keep learning, get through adolescence and you will have the adult dog of your dreams.

I think those Michael Ellis videos I mentioned (stream via Leerburg) would do you both a world of good.

If you want the dog neutral to other dogs and to think your the best thing ever. Stop letting him play with other dogs and meet other dogs. For me it made things worse. I think for a novice this is the way to go.

This dog is going to make you learn alot. Enjoy it. 馃槈
 

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A couple of quick things from "bear reacts to dog in neighborhood"
1/ Bear is super good looking
2/ This is just puppy excitement not aggression at all. Although denied excitement eventually can morph to frustration which can manifest itself to look like aggression. Think of it as the pup really wants to go check out this other dog/person (it might be fun!) and at this point, hasn't been clearly communicated to him what the expectations are on a walk, what's allowed/not
3/ You're not watching while he's giving clear signs of ramping up (staring, angling towards the dog, moving across your knee); that's the time to cut it off, not when he lunges. Do a hard 90 degrees left (practice this with no other dog around as part of teaching heal/leash pulling). Pup might look back/whine, leash pop him, "uh-uh, heal!" if he knows it or leave it, another hard 90 (now you're going the same direction as the dog but away). Good boy, treat, praise, animated fuss, tug, whatever he responds too. Hard right (look at me or heal, good boy!) hard right and you're back in the direction you were heading but the dog has passed.
4/ Why do you keep repeating "off" to him if he's not responding or blowing you off. Does he know what it means, what do you want it to mean? SHOW him what you want and excited praise when he does it, slight adversive when he doesn't. Never in anger. The adversive just quickly puts him in a place of compliance and praise.
5/ Once he responds to "uh-uh, leave it, heal" I sometimes use "not for you" (it's not the words but the tone), you can see the distraction coming, heal and pick up the pace forward instead! That's where a tug or treat and look at me comes in super handy; you have to be more fun than the distraction might be and you're building in good habits while they don't even know it.

Anticipate the issue (he's giving you tons of warning) but don't stress it coming, they can feel stress from you in the leash. Distract, re-focus, demonstrate/teach the desired behavior, reward. Most of all, patience and consistency.

Love life, you have a beauty there!
 

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Thanks for posting those!I watched the shopping plaza and Bear reacts to dog.As you watch them again yourself as soon as he perks up and focuses on the particular object that is about to make his brain explode - the very instant you notice is when you turn away and become very animated and get his attention on you.Use his ball or food (enthusiastically!).If you wait even a few seconds it's too late, he's overwhelmed and can't listen to you.

It creates a new default behavior whenever he's triggered - he will look at you immediately for reward and praise. If he glances back at the scary thing it's Watch Me,reward. Collar pop for ignoring Watch Me,repeat the command, reward. Timing is crucial.The biggest obstacle for owners is being animated and silly in public (I'll look ridiculous:-( , and being quick. Getting out a couple of times a week to practice for short periods seems to be better than stressing yourself and the dog daily. He may never be 100% comfortable with strangers and other dogs but he'll be able to control his stress level and know what to do instead of flipping out.I like working with nervy dogs,strange but true.It's really gratifying to watch them learn to navigate the world.
 
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