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Lucy is a german shepherd mix, about 2 1/2 yrs but we've only had her for the past 9 months. We know the owner of her mother and she was previously owned by my sister- so we know she wasn't abused. Either way, she definitely has insecurity and dominance issues. Our purebred Kaiser seems to think she's boss outdoors- so that creates major problems.

Okay -agression is only one of the issues. She has lunged and barked at maybe 6 men out of the dozens of men that she has met. She only came in contact with one and we grabbed her before she could give him more then a scratch. The scariest thing about it is that it's completely unpredictable.

It's only some men, they've been different heights, build, even ethnicity. (American, African, Mexican) They weren't all wearing hats or glasses, they didn't all approach her first, a few of them she reacted to immediately, and a few she didn't react to until she had been in the same room as them for several minutes. We can't find a pattern to know what issue to deal with!

However she does have other obsessive, dominance, and insecurity problems.

She wants to get the birds. So she runs around looking up at the sky and doesn't pay a lot of attention to you.

She also thinks she needs to attack storms and instead of hiding she'll run around in the rain crying and barking. (it drives her crazy to be inside during a storm). She starts panting heavily and whining long before it's starts raining.

When we're in the car she puts her head out the window and tries to bite the cars- literally. But only if we pass the car fast enough. If we roll the window up most of the way she will ram herself against the window when a car passes and make frustrated whining noises. If we're in the car for an extended period of time (30-40 minutes) she'll become frustrated that she can't get the cars even if we let her stick her head out the window.

Beside being pretty well behaved inside and on walks she only obeys when she wants to.

She always tries to show dominance anytime there's a new dog around. She will practically jump on top of them to put them on the ground if we don't restrain her first. She will pant heavily and try to push the dog on the ground over and over if we don't watch her. Eventually though she will get along with the dog.

She can be sweet and we love her a lot, but is she psychotic?
 

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i think other more experienced people will be able to give you good insight.

just a question - how much exercise does Lucy get? how much regular training does she have?

i wonder if regular, quality physical exercise and regular mental exercise would help.

i have a dog that is not as extreme as Lucy, but does have aggression issues, is very high energy (and has hip dysplasia to boot), fairly driven, and capable of a....high degree of focus, for lack of another way to put it.

in terms of keeping her healthy and happy, exercise, even if changed to suit her hips, has been really important. so has NILIF, regular obedience training, and a lot of consistency. teagan can't be left to her own devices. if she is, that is when her negative behaviours start to come out.

....hope that helps a bit! and like i said, hopefully more experienced people will have thoughts. you hadn't mentioned in detail exercise and training which is why i wondered.
 

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It sounds a lot like what dogs do when they don't have enough exercise and/or mental stimulation. I think you mentioned in another thread she is an outdoor dog? If so, she still needs daily walks (or jogging, biking, fetch, dog park...) and mental exercise like training or a "job" to do. Dogs are like children, they can only entertain themselves for so long before they self-destruct. German Shepherds are bred to work closely with people and cannot be expected to always entertain themselves.

I would start with regular daily exercise and start some basic training. She should probably go to a class or get recommendations from a trainer on how to help her get socialized.

It sounds to me less like an aggression/dominance issue and more like she has confidence, no proper outlet for her energy (hence the obsessive behaviors), and just needs some manners and boundaries.
 

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It is true that she needs more training. She is much better since coming to our house because we are as consistent as possible. As far as exercise, she is always running around- but she probably does need more "mental" exercise. I've heard so much about GSD needing a "job" to do. What do you give them to do?
 

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I don't think running around the yard is sufficient exercise. I have a small GSD who often jogs 5 miles with my husband. For her, that is just a warm-up. When she gets home, she's all revved up and I take her outside and play fetch or chase so she SPRINTS another few miles out in the open.

As for jobs....mine doesn't really have a job, but I do a lot of mental work. We work on training for a few short sessions every day. We also practice agility and I have a few obstacles in my yard that we run through each day. I also walk her with me and use the walk to train commands in a new environment, practice heeling, etc. Walking 2-3 miles is in no way sufficient physical exercise for her so for us, walking is mental exercise. We take training classes in agility, rally, and Schutzhund obedience. I also take her to the pet store every once in a while to practice her commands there.
 

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Originally Posted By: ShawnaMVIt is true that she needs more training. She is much better since coming to our house because we are as consistent as possible. As far as exercise, she is always running around- but she probably does need more "mental" exercise. I've heard so much about GSD needing a "job" to do. What do you give them to do?
It sounds like she needs a couple things:
NILIF: Nothing In Life Is Free, she should be sitting for food, to be petted, to come inside, to go outside, before eating food, before playing with a toy, etc. anything and everything pretty much! If you practice this strictly for 2 weeks you will see a difference.

As for having a job to do, teach her to "find" things, this is a really good mental stimulation game. You can use a kong full of treats, or her favorite toy.
If you have somewhere to take her swimming, that is a great way to burn off that extra energy. Especially if she likes to fetch. Teach her different commands such as crawl, roll over, speak, shake, high five, in addition to the basic sit, down, watch me, and stay.
Keep her on a leash as much as possible. If you are giving her commands that 1. She may not totally understand 2. That she can ignore (because she is off the leash and running around the yard) you are conditioning her to ignore you, especially if she lives outside with not enough interaction with you. You could even get one of the books like 1001 tricks to teach your dog, that will keep you busy. Look into clicker training especially for that.
I personally love disc, and so does Alex! Find a sport like agility to teach her. You can even make your own course for your yard out of pvc, or extra wood you have around.
Lastly, do training (such as walking/heeling) seperately with each dog, until they perform as you expect them to.
There is so much more I could tell you but it would take forever! haha


Research as much as possible, and try reading a couple books such as The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller.
Keep us updated, especially if you decide to try the 2 week NILIF!
 

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I definitely will try more of the things you mentioned. She already has to sit before treats and before coming inside, before going on a walk, before going back in the gate etc. You're right that that made a big difference in her respect for us when we first got her. Maybe I need to expand the activities to "sit" for!

Unfortunately she doesn't like water and she has never been interested in going after balls/sticks/disks. She could care less. In fact I have to separate them to play fetch with Kaiser because Kaiser will go to get the ball and she attacks him. Can you actually TEACH a dog to run after a ball?
 

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I am reading more insecurity than anything else.

What is she mixed with?

She needs much structure. From the minute she gets up to the minute she goes to bed, she needs to know that she doesn't have to worry about who is in charge. Your message to her all day is that you are in charge. Then she doesn't have to worry, do her OCD type behaviors, the panting, etc. Structure and leadership does not mean force either. Just want to make that clear!


Originally Posted By: ShawnaMVLucy is a german shepherd mix, about 2 1/2 yrs but we've only had her for the past 9 months. We know the owner of her mother and she was previously owned by my sister- so we know she wasn't abused. Either way, she definitely has insecurity and dominance issues. Our purebred Kaiser seems to think she's boss outdoors- so that creates major problems. What are these problems? Other than two dogs doing a Lord of the Flies by being alone unsupervised!


Okay -agression is only one of the issues. She has lunged and barked at maybe 6 men out of the dozens of men that she has met. She only came in contact with one and we grabbed her before she could give him more then a scratch. The scariest thing about it is that it's completely unpredictable. Was she on a leash? The leash is like a lifeline to insecure dogs. It allows them some freedom but not a scary amount and allows their person the chance to let them know they are in charge. This leashing is in and outdoors here if there are other people around.

It's only some men, they've been different heights, build, even ethnicity. (American, African, Mexican) They weren't all wearing hats or glasses, they didn't all approach her first, a few of them she reacted to immediately, and a few she didn't react to until she had been in the same room as them for several minutes. We can't find a pattern to know what issue to deal with!

However she does have other obsessive, dominance, and insecurity problems.

She wants to get the birds. So she runs around looking up at the sky and doesn't pay a lot of attention to you. I don't believe in all his techniques (or lack thereof) but if you have ever seen the Dog Whisperer, you see these dogs with these issues. Boredom, like others have said, is a huge part of it. I think by reading this you can see that leaving dogs outside without interaction really ISN'T cruel, in fact, the opposite may be true. You allow them to create bad behaviors that need modification while having no one to do that.

She also thinks she needs to attack storms and instead of hiding she'll run around in the rain crying and barking. (it drives her crazy to be inside during a storm). She starts panting heavily and whining long before it's starts raining. It sounds like it drives her crazy to be OUSIDE during a storm too! My oldest dog was really bad during storms. Now he can't hear them, which I guess is a good thing. Anyway, I would leash him to me and we would do obedience-fast-lots of treats (once he relaxed enough to eat them) and fun. He would eventually be all over the food and the storm would just be background. But once again, it was taking the stress and control from him and giving it to me in a kind and happy way.

When we're in the car she puts her head out the window and tries to bite the cars- literally. But only if we pass the car fast enough. If we roll the window up most of the way she will ram herself against the window when a car passes and make frustrated whining noises. If we're in the car for an extended period of time (30-40 minutes) she'll become frustrated that she can't get the cars even if we let her stick her head out the window. Keep the windows up anyway. I am not sure what you can do exactly here, but hopefully by giving her structure you will take away this behavior over time. I would probably sit in the back with her and have her on a leash and have treats to work on a "watch me" command since there are two people!

Beside being pretty well behaved inside and on walks she only obeys when she wants to.

She always tries to show dominance anytime there's a new dog around. She will practically jump on top of them to put them on the ground if we don't restrain her first. She will pant heavily and try to push the dog on the ground over and over if we don't watch her. Eventually though she will get along with the dog. Hard to say what this is since she's gotten away with it with other dogs! Again, a leash is this dog's friend!

She can be sweet and we love her a lot, but is she psychotic? Nope! Sounds like a fun girl!
By no means are my opinions right-it is difficult to say over the internet-but do consider bringing her in and putting her on a schedule. My home is run like a group home for dogs. We do things at certain times and they understand the structure/rules very clearly (though I do have barking problems with them-so it's no where near perfect). Here it would go something like this-

Up and potties-play a little if there is time
Indoors-quiet time before breakfast
Breakfast
Quiet time
Potties and play if time (I always supervise outdoor time and don't always participate in play-but try to one time each day in addition to training stuff)
Me-work, them crates if I am leaving that day if not, they sleep next to me while I work
Potties/play outside/training
Them waiting to eat again...impatiently...
Supper
Quiet time
Potties
Bed

Any extras are slotted in there, but this is the basic way a day goes (today they are paving the road so add repeated barking and me being unable to concentrate to work).
It is not perfect at all-I would like to add formal training but for now this is what I do. It just gives you an idea of the kind of structure that dogs tend to like, particularly ones that are insecure.

Good luck!
 

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Originally Posted By: ShawnaMVI definitely will try more of the things you mentioned. She already has to sit before treats and before coming inside, before going on a walk, before going back in the gate etc. You're right that that made a big difference in her respect for us when we first got her. Maybe I need to expand the activities to "sit" for!

Unfortunately she doesn't like water and she has never been interested in going after balls/sticks/disks. She could care less. In fact I have to separate them to play fetch with Kaiser because Kaiser will go to get the ball and she attacks him. Can you actually TEACH a dog to run after a ball?
Definitely expand the activities that she should sit for! Use other commands also, make her lay down before coming inside, mix it up and keep it interesting!
Also I find that it is a disaster playing with 2 dogs with an obsession for ball/disc/stick. I have to play with them seperately or one will end up doing exactly what you are describing, attacking the other one.
She probably needs a lot of one on one time if she is the one doing that in my experience, my more submissive and needy Aussie who loves ball and disc will just 'herd' alex and get really frustrated if I play with both of them.
If she doesn't like chasing them by herself you can try building her drive with some games, but you may have to do things that are more food oriented. You can try clicker training to teach her to fetch also.
 

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This dog sounds like Rosie and I could give you PAGES of instructions that I have had to do with Rosie and its working pretty well. But its been almost two years!! I started out on my own the first year and had basic obedience, but the car rides were just horrible. She barked the whole time and I spent months just keeping her in the back seat (wearing earplugs). Then I found the instructor that I needed. Rosie has to sit and wait until I tell her she can leave the house. Then sit and wait at the car til I let her in it. I tie a knot in the leash and close it in the car door to keep her on her side of the backseat and out of the front. I have to keep her quiet in the car or we have to start all over. She has gotten to the point where it is mostly grunting and heavy wheezing with some crying instead of incessant barking. I can now tell her 'quiet' and she mostly listens. I can tell her 'leave it' when we pass the neighbor's horses and she doesn't try to jump in the back window anymore. She just looks and huffs. She is SOOOO much better, but you have to be prepared to start over alot!
I finally can get Rosie down the stairs into doggie daycare without them hearing us until the last door has been closed - I am so proud of her! She started out with no self control at all and we can actually do things without making my ears ring.
The people issues are coming along very nicely too, but its been a long road - especially when people can't wait to pet her until she calms down. That slows us down some.
Keep up the good work though, ShawnaMV and you will get there too!
 
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