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A little background info.....

I adopted Jackson a little over 4 years ago from the local shelter. The approximated his age to be about 4, making him 8 years now. I needed to have him neutered before I could being him home (maybe this has something to do with it?). He was fine around the other dogs at the shelter and really didn't pay much attention to them. Everything changed when I brought him home. He was extremely aggressive with his 3 new siblings. It took about 2 weeks of slowly introducing him to the house before he would stop biting and attacking them. There would be only occasional attacks from him, but thankfully he completely stopped harming dogs he lived with 3 years ago.

The issue still at hand is stranger dog aggression. He has been to the dog park once (without me) and I heard that he was fine and a completely different dog. I went with him the next time and he was defensive the whole time until I had to take him home. He can't go for a walk with me (or anyone I don't think) without lunging and barking at every dog he sees. I would love to take him everywhere and out all the time but this makes it extremely difficult. I still try to get his energy out by playing with him and it doesn't take long to wear him out now that he's getting older.

I've recently moved into an apartment that does accept GSDs, but because of his problem, I have him staying temporarily with a friend and plan on trying to find him a more permanent place. Jackson is my best friend and I'm in agony at the thought of having to give him away so I'm really looking to try and rehabilitate him. Since I've adopted him I've basically lost everything and at this point can't afford a professional trainer. I'm hoping to get some help and advice on what I can do to keep my best friend and bring him home.
 

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Do you have 3 other dogs? In an apartment, or are some of them gone now?

Your dog is 8 years old. GSDs live an average of 10-12 years, meaning a LOT die before they reach ten, while a few manage to live beyound 13. But the sad fact of the matter is, your boy is becoming geriatric for the breed.

I would not take this dog to training classes. Sorry. It is NEVER too late to start training a dog, BUT, sometimes you have to ask yourself is it in the best interests of this dog. I think it is not.

For whatever reason, this dog does not feel that you will protect him. At the shelter, he was probably so stressed that he was shut down. So the other dogs did not phase him. At the dog park without you, he was fine, but with you he was defensive. This could mean he is taking cues from you, and you are not confident, and therefore he is petrified. When a dog is petirfied, they often lunge and bark and act all aggressive.

For whatever reason your dog is the way he is, he is. The thing is, you would like for him to be able to go everywhere with you. Well, is that what this dog needs?

I think you should invest in a basket-type muzzle. Take your boy to your apartment, take him out to potty what 2-3 times a day, using the basket muzzle. It isn't the end of the world. All your boy wants is for you to spend TIME with him, at home, at night, pound away at your computer with him at your feet.

You have a dog that doesn't like the dog park, doesn't want to go to the dog park, doesn't NEED to go to the dog park. Easy. Don't go to the dog park. Wheeew! Glad that is over with.

Does an eight year old dog need to go on major walks? Some probably do, depending on their condition and energy level. Put the basket muzzle on him and go. If he gets worked up, just say EH! and keep on moving (away from the source of distress).

I just do not think it makes sense to launch into a major dog-aggressive behavior modification for an eight year old dog who would probably be just as happy to just stay home most of the time.

But to give the dog up to friends, or whatever, when using a muzzle for potty breaks will solve your problems and keep everyone safe, I don't know, I wouldn't.
 

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I completely agree with Selzer, but I'm glad she said it first. I had a DA GSD. She didn't like other dogs. It wasn't a big deal. We managed. No dog parks. No play dates. She went on walks with a muzzle. She was perfectly happy playing with us in our own yard. Or - like Selzer said, "Hanging out with us in the house."

At this point, you will only stress your boy out by putting him in places and situations where he doesn't want to be.
 

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Thank you so much for your advice! 1 dog who is my mom's has gone to a friend of hers because she can't offer him the attention he needs and our old 14 year old dog will be put down shortly, leaving just Jackson and 1 dog together.

Your post has given me a lot of hope that I can still offer him a good life for these last couple of years. His happiness means a lot to me and I'm willing to try the muzzle as well as spending more quality time with him. I really appreciate your tips :)
 

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You have to do it in small steps, over a few weeks. Here is a video.


 

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all loose - just nose in, straight out reward repeat several times. hen increase duration over sevarl sessions, reward enough and dog will force his own nose into it if you dangle it in fornt of him. then over ears, off reward..duration...then fully fit, off reward repeat....then leave on completely fitted short time...reward..repeat.......took me two weeks, no probs. others will differ.
 

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Thank you guys so much! I really appreciate all of the helpful information I'm getting.

I would like to make these last couple of years as enjoyable as possible for him. His hips are already starting to give him trouble when getting up so I'm not sure how much time he has left but I want to be there with him til the end!
 

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You know, you can teach old dogs new tricks. He might attack out of bordom. Nothing stopps you going back to school, ask the trainer to give him another chance in his life. It will freshen both of you.
 

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You know, you can teach old dogs new tricks. He might attack out of bordom. Nothing stopps you going back to school, ask the trainer to give him another chance in his life. It will freshen both of you.
Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Sometimes, we get a dog that fits us like a glove. We like people, he likes people; we like to run in the morning, he likes to run in the morning; we like to hike in the woods, he likes to hike in the woods; we like navel oranges, he like navel oranges; we like competing in obedience, he likes competing in obediene; we like hanging out in the dog park, he likes hanging out in the dog park.

Sometime we have a dog that seems to be diametrically opposed. We like to sleep in, the dog is up at 5 AM waking the neighborhood, Let me out, let me out, need to chase the ball, need to pee, let me out! We want to pound on the computer, he wants to chase the ball. We want him to sit, he wants to run, jump, chew on our hands. We want him to heel, and he wants to forge ahead. We want to lay on the couch, and he wants to run a marathon.

And sometimes we get a dog that is perfect for us in a lot of ways, and just has a few areas of concern. He plays and loves us, he is obedient, he is totally house broken, he has an off switch. He isn't good with other dogs.

Jenna -- Jenna got a title in Rally, but Rally is NOT her thing. Her thing would be Agility, or rounding up sheep, or going for the sleeve. But she did Rally for me, even though it wasn't her thing. She placed once -- at a specialty. But Rally dog is not her.

Heidi on the other hand is an awesome Rally dog.

Tori -- I had to promise her never to take her to another show if she got her title leg today, LOL.

Bear -- if she had her druthers she would be a dock-diving dog.

Babs likes Rally more than obedience, she was happy to herd sheep, but at seven almost eight, she prefers to hang out on my bed or wait in the car.

They are all different. Taking an old dog to classes and exposing him to a bunch of other dogs that he does not like -- why? For him, or for the owner?

We expose our children to many things and it is really important for them to form friendships and function on teams, and in classes. Our dogs do not have to grow up and move away from home and support themselves. If they aren't tops in using time wisely, playing well with others, and going along with the group, it isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.

The OP does not have a ton of money for a behaviorist/private trainer. Classes with other dogs can be beneficial or they an be a nightmare. They can cause her and her dog a lot more stress. And, from what I have experienced, some dogs will become tolerant of dogs in classes and still aggress to strange dogs. I would not do this with an eight year old dog. Instead, I would do those things that the dog and I like to do together, and leave those things that either of us really do not care for alone (except for toenails and ears).
 

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The best thing I found when conditioning Woolf to the muzzle was the yucky canned cheese - Cheese Whiz. Completely unhealthy for him, but a good bribe lol. Squirted a bit in the front of it, he had to reach in to get it. Did that a few times a day over about a week, then introduced fastening the band around the back of his head using the same method, then the strap over the top of his head. Then spent a few days of giving treats while he was wearing the muzzle. The key was not fighting with him about putting the muzzle on, it was his choice - if he wanted the gross cheese (he has bad taste for treats lol) he had to reach in to get it.

I also agree with Selzer. Behavior training is rough on dogs, mentally wears them out and if they go over threshold, physically wears them out with to many fight or flight hormones in contradiction. An 8 year old, I'd just let them be; well managed, stress free and enjoy the time with them.
 

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"And sometimes we get a dog that is perfect for us in a lot of ways, and just has a few areas of concern. He plays and loves us, he is obedient, he is totally house broken, he has an off switch. He isn't good with other dogs."

I had to copy Selzer's quote, because it fits my Annie perfectly. I could not have asked for a better GSD. She was such a good girl - wonderful with the kids, housebroken, non-destructive, watched the house.....Just perfect. Except she didn't like other dogs. She didn't like other dogs to the point that she became physically ill being in the presence of other dogs. Dogs caused her so much stress that one bad encounter caused her to develop demodex. That is when I decided that Annie did not need to be around other dogs.

We managed Annie. In her long 14.5 years of life, she never harmed another dog. It was not that complicated. Annie lived a very happy life as an only dog.
 
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