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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So here's the situation. We live in NYC and the only way we can really play fetch with our 1 year old male GSD is at the dog park. Although in the winter we are able to get away with finding a secluded spot at the local park in the summer the only escape will be the dog park.

The problem is that our dog has been developing dog aggression issues. This is literally just starting to show so I want to nip it in the bud. Now, he's not neutered and has shown some male aggression issues. Of course, I should neuter him but because we are doing Schutzhund I was told by other members that he shouldn't be neutered while he's still competing.

Searching google is useless as each website will literally give you a list of things you SHOULDN'T do but I haven't found a site that gives some advice.

The only site I found that adequately described Einstein's behavior was Leerburg. Einstein will stare down a strange dog. He'll be erect with his hackles up, mouth closed, quiet and still. He'll also try to put his paw on another dog's shoulder. From Leerburg's site it seems to be dominance aggression. Don't know if this information helps. He only does this with SOME dogs (i.e. <10% of the strange dogs he meets).

So my question is to you guys: how did you handle your dog's aggressive behavior towards strange dogs? I'm especially interested in hearing advice on dealing with this issue in large cities or from owners of un-neutered males.

Please, any advice will be much appreciated!!

Some more information: He's not aggressive towards people and he is playful. He knows many commands and we are working on proofing a lot of them. He shows some territorial tendencies (barking at the door) but will welcome visitors with ears back head down and tail wiggling so hard it moves his whole body. I really just need to nip this in the bud somehow.

Thanks in advance!!
 

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Sorry - dog parks are a big no no in my world! Besides the obvious of dog fighting being high risk, so are diseases and worms!!! If you need to take him to one to exercise, keep a long line on him and do not let him interact wtih other dogs! If by some chance he does meet a strange dog - YOU take charge and reprimand him for any behavior that is not acceptable...but better not to let him interact at all...

Lee
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. I know the dog parks are a no no and if I could I would avoid them like the plague! Unfortunately NYC has very strict leash laws and I have to go there. On top of that, the dog run is small! I guess my mistake was getting a GSD in the city :)

I really do not want to turn our relationship into training + 2 walks per day because he cannot go into the dog run but I guess I'll just keep him on a long line for now and away from the dog run... time to get creative lol

I'd like to hear what more people have been doing in large cities and if anyone has any ideas to exercise him promptly in may-august when the parks are full of people...
 

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starting when my dog was 10 weeks old i made sure he was around
a lot of different animals and people. maybe it's a matter of socializing and training. a puppy class, invite friends over with dogs, go to pet stores,
day care (i'm not sure about this one), dog park. do something to get your
dog around a lot of dogs for training and socializing.
 

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starting when my dog was 10 weeks old i made sure he was around
a lot of different animals and people. maybe it's a matter of socializing and training. a puppy class, invite friends over with dogs, go to pet stores,
day care (i'm not sure about this one), dog park. do something to get your
dog around a lot of dogs for training and socializing.
Except for daycare, I did all of these things too. Its not that I'm opposed to daycare but just haven't done it yet.

I know a lot of people disagree but I love dog parks. And in my area there is an indoor swimming pool for dogs. I wonder if there is anything like that in your area....something fun for the dog to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
swimming pool? I wish!! We take him to the doggy beach in the summer but our dog runs look like an average American back yard (in terms of size at least...)
 

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This might seem like over-simplification but can't you use this as another thing to train out of him? If you can train/teach him other behaviors to learn and to discontinue, can't this behavior be reduced through your intervention and training?
 

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starting when my dog was 10 weeks old i made sure he was around
a lot of different animals and people. maybe it's a matter of socializing and training. a puppy class, invite friends over with dogs, go to pet stores,
day care (i'm not sure about this one), dog park. do something to get your
dog around a lot of dogs for training and socializing.

If you know nothing about training then why would you post? This advice is more likely to do harm than good. Day care with a DA dog? Keep going to the dog park? And what will you advice be when his dog mauls another dog?

Socialization NOT as important as people think. Should you socialize? Definitely, especially while a pupp. But many personality quirks including aggression are genetic. Doesn't mean you can't train them away. But lack of socialization was probably NOT the problem.

OP,

What's your goal? How many dogs do these runs have at one time? Can you reserve a run? How about going out to your SchH field twice a week just to throw the ball? How about going to a pivate school or one of the outer bouroughs and finding a football or baseball field?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If you know nothing about training then why would you post? This advice is more likely to do harm than good. Day care with a DA dog? Keep going to the dog park? And what will you advice be when his dog mauls another dog?

Socialization NOT as important as people think. Should you socialize? Definitely, especially while a pupp. But many personality quirks including aggression are genetic. Doesn't mean you can't train them away. But lack of socialization was probably NOT the problem.

OP,

What's your goal? How many dogs do these runs have at one time? Can you reserve a run? How about going out to your SchH field twice a week just to throw the ball? How about going to a pivate school or one of the outer bouroughs and finding a football or baseball field?
My goal is to be able to take him to the dog park and prevent problems with other dogs as much as possible. I don't see how I can get more specific.
If I knew that this problem stays at this current level (only some dogs, and he doesn't go after them when I keep him engaged) then I'd be fine with it. I understand this being a high drive dog from hard working german schutzhund lines that he he more reactive than your average couch potato dog. With that said, I know that problems do not go away on their own. What I'd like to know is what steps I can take in order to minimize aggression.

This is what I have come up with:
1. Neutering - PROS: finally my vet will leave me the **** alone :). May slightly reduce male aggression. CONS: reduced drive, he's not yet fully developed physically, may do NOTHING at all in terms of aggression.
2. Keeping him away from dog parks - PROS: no other dogs = no dog fights, keep him engaged on me (keeping me as the source of fun), more time for training, further socialization is not really needed since I've extensively socialized him up until 6 months (way past socialization period). CONS: hard to find places to play with him in Brooklyn in the summer months, limited options.
3. Putting on an electric collar - PROS: If used properly may be a good means to intervene right before the situation escalades. CONS: high potential for abuse, may actually have a reverse effect (zapping a nervous/anxious/in drive dog will - let's be honest - probably only put him higher in drive unless I shoot the levels up)

I don't know. Right now I'm considering options 1 and 2. I wonder how much of a difference neutering will have on both his aggression (being that he's hit maturity already) and his drive (being that I plan to compete).

I like rvadog's advice of taking him to a school field (the Schutzhund field is in LI and is too far a drive for a daily trip) or something like that. I just need to find the place to take him to. In terms of number of dogs @ the run - if we take him during off hours the run will likely have 1-2 dogs at most. If we take him during peak hours there can be roughly 6-10 dogs at the park. We try to shoot for off hours.
 

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I don't think neutering will help you with the problem you are having. Same sex agression is pretty normal when dogs hit maturity. Further training around other dogs may fix it.

Does your dog have strong focus? I think if you must continue to take him to the park when other dogs are present you need to work on his obedience so that his engagement with you over rides any excitment of the other dogs. YOU should be the best thing in the world and actively engaged with him at the park and all other dogs should just blend into the scenery. He shouldn't be let off leash around other dogs until you are 100% sure you can call him off 100% of the time. It may mean extra long walks and mental exercise until you can do that.

The way I get around issues with other dogs at the dog park is to go extremely early. Sometimes I go at 6am before anyone else in their right mind is there. I also have the ability at my dog park to use either the small dog or big dog section if one is empty and the other isn't. Yes, it's a sacrifice for me to get up that early but it's worth it so my dogs can run free a little but keep everyone's stress down and prevent any issues with other dogs.

It sounds like you are in training with your dog? Have your trainer help you work on this.
 

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My son's dog was dog-aggressive and neutering him didn't change him one bit.
He remained that way for all 14 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I hear you gsdraven - this whole neutering thing has been blasted with propaganda by vets and +R trainers worldwide (not that I'm opposed to +R training - I used that almost exclusively for the Sch obedience - I'm simply opposed to wishy washy trainers who oppose anything other +R). The same vets who say nothing when an owner comes in with a pet shop puppy but will make you believe neutering is the cure all for your dog.

The dog has strong focus when we are working. I've been working at proofing the watch command around other dogs but he's highly excitable and reactive and it's a work in progress.

Maybe going early is a solid solution. Seems like people have been coming up with clever ideas (I know it's not rocket science but these are all great suggestions that I just didn't think of) for their issues.

The thing that kills me is this - I'm 70% sure that it's the tension of the owners that starts a chain reaction that sets Einstein off. His favorite play mate is an unfixed male golden retriever. When we walk to the dog park, however, you can almost hear everyone holding their breaths. You immediately see the owners tensing up (because he's just a big bad scary GSD lol) and the dogs react immediately - mouths closing, eyes widening, etc. I really do think that if the owners just relaxed a little bit Einstein wouldn't feel like he's walking into a war zone or something. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the topic - I'm just venting a little bit...

gsdraven - my trainer just said not to take him to the park anymore, which is what he's been telling me all along. I know I really shouldn't - I know dog parks are terrible idea (especially being so small here) but like I said before, the options get rather limited during the summer months
 

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You may be totally right about the owners setting everything off but we can't train other owners :rolleyes:

I would think that in NYC there aren't many options available to you but your trainer is right. Most adult shepherds do not do well in a dog park setting. My own dog loved it as a puppy but started hating the dog park around a year old. She was getting mature and was more selective of who she deemed worthy of her attention. Unfortunately, you get a lot of pushy dogs in dog parks whose owners think it is ok for them to get in everyone's face. You can't control the environment so it's risky.

Try going early if you can. Are there any local fenced in school fields you can use? I take mine to the local middle school that has a fenced in football field.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks everyone for all the comments. I managed to find the off leash hours rules in NYC and any park that does not have a dog run has off leash hours from 9pm to 9am. We'll find ways to work around that schedule and just up the training in the summer months. Looks like Einstein's little cash & prizes are safe :)
 

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i haven't the dog parks i go to all that bad. i did a lot
of training and socializing at the dog parks. i think there's more of a chance of a fight breaking out than getting some disease or worms.
the idea of a dog park is to have a place for the dogs to run free
and intermingle so why would you have your dog leashed at a dog park?

Sorry - dog parks are a big no no in my world! Besides the obvious of dog fighting being high risk, so are diseases and worms!!! If you need to take him to one to exercise, keep a long line on him and do not let him interact wtih other dogs! If by some chance he does meet a strange dog - YOU take charge and reprimand him for any behavior that is not acceptable...but better not to let him interact at all...

Lee
 

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I know around here the summer months bring a lot more people to the dog park. It gets way busier. Going early, like gsdraven suggested may help. I've found that going really late helps too, but I don't know if that's an option for you.

Have you considered training him to jog along side your bike? There is a bike attachment available: Springer - Biking your Dog Healthy that is safer than just having the leash in your hand as you bike.

Also, and this is kind of "out there" as a suggestion, it is possible to train a dog to use a treadmill. I imagine that might seem like a really attractive option if it's snowy and bitterly cold outside!:cold:

Good luck!
 

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I know around here the summer months bring a lot more people to the dog park. It gets way busier. Going early, like gsdraven suggested may help. I've found that going really late helps too, but I don't know if that's an option for you.

Have you considered training him to jog along side your bike? There is a bike attachment available: Springer - Biking your Dog Healthy that is safer than just having the leash in your hand as you bike.

Also, and this is kind of "out there" as a suggestion, it is possible to train a dog to use a treadmill. I imagine that might seem like a really attractive option if it's snowy and bitterly cold outside!:cold:

Good luck!
I do run regularly and I can't wait until he's 2 years old when I can start to accustom him to "forced" exercise. Before then, I'd rather be safe than sorry and let his growth plates seal properly. That is a great suggestion for other owners of adult dogs with no health problems though...
 
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