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My 6yo GSD girl has developed some issues with smaller dogs after a series of scraps with a smaller aggressive dog. To explain the later, we were on a weekend trip to a cabin and someone deemed it a decent idea to bring a poorly socialized small pit breed, literally as soon as the dog crossed the threshold into the cabin and went at my dog. Having a significant size/weight advantage, she pinned him. The owner refused to restrain that dog over the weekend on the 'ol "they'll figure it out" approach. The other dog would make passes at mine when she was on leash, which would cause her to almost instantly go at and pin the other as soon as he snapped at her. In retrospect, even though it was a vacation weekend somewhat far from home, I should have headed back the second they had that first fight.

Anyway - my girl now has a thing with small dogs. At parks, she'll seemingly target them and run up to them, snouting/sniffing them with her tail raised just waiting for (a perfectly understandable) "Back off" snap or reaction. The second they do that, however, she goes into pin mode. With both the initial incidents and the one follow-up she didn't cause any injury to the other dog (but did bite her own tongue on one..)

How does one go training this away? I'm prepared to spend a significant amount of time to get this figured out - I'd really want to go back to not worrying about her at dog parks/around other dogs. My thought at the moment is really focusing on recall while she is on the approach to these smaller dogs, but doesn't necessarily cover close-range interactions..

Thank you for reading / any advice!
 

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Respectfully direct, I will give you my honest take; stay out of dog parks. Your dog is not suited for it any longer and people will dread your appearance with your dog. I can only cringe when I think how I would feel as a small dog owner to see your GSD come up to my small dog like that. Small dogs are not props to help you with your dog's training.
 

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What I would do is I would redirect RIGHT BEFORE he approaches a small dog. Don't let him be around small dogs if he PINS them everytime he sees one, that is a huge liability! How long has she been acting like this? Was it only since the irresponsible dog owner brought his small aggressive dog? Because if it was, I think you need to do damage control and 'let him know' that small dogs are NOT threats by creating positive reinforcement. A strong, solid 'Leave it' command is definitely in order. You have to get to him before he gets to another small dog. There's no other way around it since you go to the dog parks.

I don't suggest you stop going to the dog park because an incapable, owner of an aggressive dog sort of ruined it for you. I'd work on the problem and take it from there. Btw, doesn't your local dog park have seperate big and small dogs area? If not, that could clearly be dangerous... But if there are but people keep bringing their small dogs to the big dogs area because their 'small dogs like big dogs' is absolutely ridiculous.... If that's the case, you ought to tell off the owner and say this is the big dog area and one shouldn't be worrying about small dogs roaming around.
 

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I'm curious about the timeline here. You say your dog is 6 yrs old, but how old was she when the incident at the cabin took place?
 

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I’m just confused... You say your dog is now having issues due to a poorly behaved small dog attacking her. Now you take YOUR poorly behaved dog to dog parks and allow the exact same thing to happen to other peoples’ dogs?? Don’t you realize that those dogs may now have issues with other dogs, bigger dogs, black dogs, or German shepherds because your dog has been pinning them? Stop going to dog parks. Stop allowing this behavior to ever be practiced again, for your dog’s sake and for the sake of the other dogs and owners.
 
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Well as of now YOUR DOG is the the risky, poorly behaved dog that everyone whispers about at the dog park. Regardless

of how she was before, she is now poorly socialized with some dogs. First stay out of dog parks or anyplace she is off

leash with other dogs. Seems to me the only way to train this out of her is 'on leash' and sharp corrections quickly

when she gets aggressive. You have to act fast before she attacks or provokes another dog. Otherwise maybe she

was never suited to going to dog parks. And it was just a matter of time til she re-acted.
 

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Your dog is solving her problem the only way she knows how by stopping the potential threat,being proactive.It will escalate if she continues to rehearse the behavior.A solid LEAVE IT and redirection is needed.You really can't practice on random small dogs.Find a trainer to help you or there may be a class in your area run by a trainer that could help.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you for the input thus far!

To clarify first and foremost I would never take upon a training course that subjected random small dogs to my girl - I wouldnt enjoy having my dog used as a training object unknowingly so I expect the same of others.

My girl is almost 6 - I took 6mo off work getting her as a puppy to train and expose her to anything i could think of - places, people, dogs, noises. Up until the cabin incident a couple months ago, there was nothing I would really worry about with her. I had never observed a speck of aggression towards another dog - in fact she was very much submissive (and still is towards anything near her size).

The cabin incident was actually multiple, as the other owner insisted they 'work it out' and qould force interactions between them. The last one was done in spite of me strongly telling him not to, but thats a whole other thing.

After that, there was a single incident at a park with a small pomeranian where I had restrained my girl purely because she was being too enthusiastic towards it - upon urging of the other owner to unrestrain her, i did, the small dog snapped and triggered my girl to pin, and the owner proceeded to scold her dog, oddly... Most parks here have divisions for large/small but most small dog owners will generally use the large as the small dog areas are normally empty.
 

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You may have to be insistent with these people.Do what is best for your dog and don't be persuaded to do the opposite.
 

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Why are you listening to "people"? You are ruining your own dog by ingraining her behavior to attack other dogs. You are still responsible for her behavior even when the "other owner" asks to "work it out". I once was in a pet store when a lady asked if her Chihuahua could ride the back of my adult female GSD "to socialize her dog". I declined and she made an attempt to do it anyways by lifting that poor scared dog up towards Deja. Then I snipped "NO!" blocked her and left her alone.
You have to protect your dog and your finances (!) against stupid people.
 
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