German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello we are raising our first GSD, he is now 2 years and 4 month old and intact. He recently started growling at us on certain situation while training/feeding. The situation is then we ask for EYES command. He knows command, so it's not a new one.. But sometimes he would turn his glance somewhere else, after that follows "NO, EYES". And if ignores that then follows soft taps to either head/neck area. They are really soft. And he started growling back at us for that. First time he received some shouting for that and his feeding was cut. Second time the same. Last time the situation escaleted into somewhat of a fight. Basically he continued to growl more intensively back at us after being grabbed and moralized. He didn't do anything apart from growling back, he didn't try to fight or bite, just growled back. Of course he was released only after he calmed down. But this whole situation got me worrying, because I for sure do not want a dog who starts growling for SOFT touches. Though nor would I want to get into more serious fighting with him if this escalates further.
This happens only in this certain situation, generally he's fine with being touched anywhere and did not show growling in any other situation, I can check his teeth, paws, trim nails, clean ears and etc, and he is fine with me doing that. So I'm not sure why exactly this has started happening and how we should be reacting to it.

Some back story to the dog and our training. We have started training him right after we got him from breeder. Until 1,5 years we tried positive only training and nilif methods. And different kind of positive only trainers with weekly visits to group training sessions. But even though he had learned a lot of new commands and did them quite good then he wanted to. (The catch is "then he wanted to"). And situation on daily walks was not really improving but deteriorating. Because he started lunging at other dogs and barking at them (I guess not aggresively, because he hadn't shown real aggression to any kind of dog his whole life if given a chance), but sure as **** those situations looked aggresive to outsiders. We decided to purchase and use prong, but it only helped in a way that he wouldn't pull so hard to other dogs.. The last straw was probably the casual situation when he started barking at some dog, and I as "trained" tried to redirect his attention to me, with his favourite toy, and super tasty snack (which he receives only on training/outside and only on rare occasions). And he turned back at me and started barking straight at me. Like saying "get lost with your food and toys, can't you see I'm busy now??". Advices from positive only trainers where not helping really, as they were "ignore the behavior, and reward then he stops" which didn't really help, as he would stop only after the dog is no longer visible...
So we decided to go to more traditional trainer who uses both positive methods and punishments in training. To my surprise his training groups consisted mostly of GSD and malinois. His advise was of course to deal with punishments "dog problem situations". I'd also say the punishments were quite hard - one hand at prong collar and pinching his pelvis area with another. Simple strong pop with prong isn't always enough for him, sometimes it drives him even further. And we weren't really happy doing such punishing to him. And he clearly showed that he doesn't like such punishement as well. But in a month period he did learned that he should not lunge and bark at other dogs and stopped doing that altogether, even in cases then other dog is doing that to him. Of course he still does look curiously. But the progress was impressive, and there is no need to punish him anymore in those situations so I think it is a win win situation for everyone. So we migrated to more balanced training approach for the last year. I'm pretty sure I know what my current trainer will tell about this situation - any kind of aggresivenes towards owner or others is not tolerated and is met with fire and fury. And so far we did exactly that (maybe not super harshly), but last time it escalated to prolonged period of growling so it got me worried.

So I'm not sure about this situation with EYES training... In a way it seems like he's getting angry at situation that we're not giving him food and are tapping him (SOFTLY), or he's getting frustrated that he fails to do command sometimes and that is followed by "NO" and taps. I'm not sure, I'm interested in other opinions.

Also, he's probably more hard headed than casual GSD and has quite high pain tolerance in high drive situations. Doesn't bat an eye on prong pops unless they are really really hard and in some cases multiple pops are needed just to get attention. And in one situation then he saw a deer outside a fence he ignored all commands and sprinted towards it, bashed at full speed straight into the fence, fell down, quickly recovered and continued chasing it.. Or maybe that's how all the GSDs are :)

Thank you for reading
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,856 Posts
About the EYES command.

Some dogs find this very uncomfortable. Ask yourself if it's more important that the dog obeys this particular command or that he is comfortable and having fun in training?

It sounds like you have a very adversarial relationship with this dog. You can achieve compliance by simply punishing away all unwanted behaviors, but your relationship will suffer. Working with the dog instead of against it is usually better in the long run.

Staying under threshold when dealing with high distraction compliance to command is critical to learning. This means controlling the environment in a way that enables you to work the dog in a low excitement situation instead of resulting to hard corrections after the dog is excited. Timing is also critical here as you can keep the dog with you instead of allowing it to focus on something else.

Having a good relationship and solid obedience can get you through most problem behaviors. It seems that you went from positive only training to extreme punishment. I suggest you find a trainer in the middle somewhere that will work with you on finding things that work for you both, instead of hammering the dog into their training mold.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
David,
Thank you for your response.

The command is not too important for us. Just the whole situation got us worried, and indeed ruined relationship quite a bit. And I'm just trying to understand why this has happened in the first place. As he's not a fearful dog, and will not hesitate to look straight into the eyes for prolonged periods of times in different situations like then waiting for "allowance" command to get food or go after the ball, and would do so on his own will.

Though yes I'd also say that we're quite demanding owners, meaning a lot of people would laugh at our "concerns or bad behaviours" which we are trying to fix sometimes and wouldn't do anything about them.

His obedience skills were pretty solid before we switched to more balanced training in low distraction situations. And in higher ones we just can't find a thing which would motivate him more than the distraction (like another dog barking at him). And he did leave me a few times already with all the best toys and food in hand on off leash training sessions by running after a cat or another wildlife creature 100 meters away. In fact I'm considering to use shock collar training for that purpose, but am hesitant for it so far. (The trainer also advised that after a couple of lessons with him)

I wouldn't call the current trainer as extreme punishement, he doesn't advocate for useless violence and does use all the tools of positive only trainers like food and toys and excitement talks. He doesn't suggest these methods to everyone, we know another gsd who were training with him right from beggining and they didn't have to resort to such measures and just prong collar for few months was enough for them. But the trainer doesn't tolerate reckless behavior either (unlike positive only trainers). And thinking more I do think our relationship with the dog improved by quite a lot after those few punishements for lunging and barking at others. Because he did stop doing that totally which led to us being happier with him and most likely him with us, because after he stoped his lunging barking behaviour we started spending much more time outdoors with him, which I think is benefit for everyone. I guess same situation is with shock collar now, I'm really hesitant to use it, but the way things are right now, I would never let him off leash in not fenced areas just because I don't want to loose him to running deer or something like that, because I know he would not recall and run off and I've seen him more than once do that in fenced areas. On another hand I would really love to be able to do so..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,422 Posts
Hmmm...

Think of your dog as a partner. And training as communication.

He's just doing what he thinks is appropriate at any given time. He's not being "bad" or being defiant, you just haven't yet gotten your wishes communicated to him in a way he understands.

There are times, when circumstances warrant, when I too wished I had an e-collar on my dog because she blew off a command.

But in the end, I realize that she does what she does because she thinks it's the "right" thing to do. So I've failed, not her!

As David said, it sounds like you're relationship has become sort of adversarial. Step back, and again think of training as communication. And think of your dog as a partner, not an adversary. He's using the only means available to him, and that you're not being clear with your instructions! Listen to him, and adapt accordingly...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Yeah so I'm not sure how to understand that kind of communication what happened recently what's why I've come to ask additional opinions with growling on soft tapping while asking for eyes command...

For example today while training him I actually spotted that I'm doing similar taps to him in neck head area while doing Fuss command if he's not looking up at me. And I've been doing it like that for probably the whole years we're training. And he's totally fine with that action in that context ! And the result is as expected, he remembers that he should look to my direction. So I'm not sure why the and how the circumstances cause different reaction.. Because in both cases the asked result is to look at me. And both commands are known to him. Just in one case we are stationary in another we're moving.

I'd still say that our relationship is currently much much better than that we were following different trainers from positive only camp. The need for shock collar is mostly to get him to be reliable while being off leash. I guess he's pretty decent already, and we most likely would be fine going off leash in forested areas 9 out of 10 times. But I just don't want to take chances of the dog running after a deer and getting lost. I guess a lot of people do just like that and risk and be fine with it, but for me the idea of loosing the dog this way is just too terrifying. So it's either that or staying on the leash whole time, which is also a somewhat sad life imho.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,422 Posts
Working with the dog instead of against it is usually better in the long run.
David's words above are worth repeating! What you're asking your dog to do is difficult for any dog! And especially with your dog being stationary. Work on your timing, catch him before he's fixated and barking or growling, interrupt with a leash pop to get his attention back on you, then give him something else to do or focus on!

Yeah so I'm not sure how to understand that kind of communication what happened recently what's why I've come to ask additional opinions with growling on soft tapping while asking for eyes command...
He's pretty clearly telling you that he really doesn't like the tapping around his head and neck!

I can't imagine any dog being okay with that, actually! Why are you not communicating with the leash?

For example today while training him I actually spotted that I'm doing similar taps to him in neck head area while doing Fuss command if he's not looking up at me. And I've been doing it like that for probably the whole years we're training. And he's totally fine with that action in that context!
He's tolerating it better because he has a task to focus on!

Because in both cases the asked result is to look at me. And both commands are known to him. Just in one case we are stationary in another we're moving.
Bingo! Work on your timing. Catch him before he's losing it on the other dog, give him a quick leash pop and a task to focus on. And again, use the leash and stop tapping your dog around his head or neck area!
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top