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About a month ago, my husband and I got an 18 month old German Shepherd/Dutch Shepherd cross. I have a five year old son who won't be starting school for another three weeks. I've tried walking him on leash with my son, and it's just too difficult. My son gets tired after a few blocks, and my new dog really benefits from a good 45 minute walk or longer. My son also distracts me, and I sometimes lose the calm/assertive state needed to keep the new dog at ease. The easiest way for my dog to get exercise is to take him to the dog park. Most of the time, he plays really well with the other dogs. My only complaint is the neck biting thing he does. There are three GSD owners I see there on a regular basis. They told me this is GSD behavior and didn't seem to mind it. I still would say "No bite." If he didn't listen, I would put him into time out until he lowered his energy. However, twice this week, he's escalated the behavior to pinning and actual choking. He was playing fine with a pit bull mix and a husky. The husky left. The pit bull mix enticed my dog to chase him. My dog pinned him at the throat, and I could hear the pit bull mix gasping for breath. I immediately removed my dog from the situation, put a leash on him, and apologized to the owner. He had two good days. Then, he did this again with an Australian Shepherd he was chasing. I did the same thing. Leash until he calmed down. I read a few articles about prey drive, and I'm wondering if the "chasing" is too high energy for him? We've been working on his recall, and he listens pretty well at the dog park. I've even had a few people comment that he seems to listen better than most of the dogs there. Unfortunately, when he gets high energy during a game of chase, it's almost like he gets fixated. I hope I don't sound like a complete idiot here. I have a 13 year old boxer that I've had since he was a puppy, and I took him through obedience training to keep his 90 pounds in check. I haven't had a young dog in a while, and this is my first GSD. My husband had a GSD when we met, but the GSD was an "old man" by the time I came into the picture. Once my son starts school, I'll have more time to really work with him on leash. My in-laws were in town recently, and I was able to walk him by myself. I took a clicker and treats and worked on loose leash walking. I can't believe what a difference that made in just a few days. He really is a smart dog. I've taken him through a few of the agility obstacles at the dog park, and I'm amazed at how quickly he picks things up. Show him something once or twice, and he's got it. I'm so happy I found this forum, and I welcome any advice! Thank you in advance!!
 

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I would stop taking him to dog parks immediately. I know it seems to be his only outlet right now, but this will get worse, and it could mean your guy being put down or another dog dying if it escalates. That is unacceptable behavior on his part, and you cannot allow him to have the chance to practice it. Can you take him to a park where your son can play while your dog is on a long line? You can work on training, come, stay, etc., or play fetch, or tug, or hide and seek. Your son can play nearby while your dog gets appropriate exercise. Your son could even help you play hide and seek. I'm sure they would both love it.
 

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All of the above + small children in a dog park is not a great idea anyways. Your son can easily get caught in a dog fight. I am curious about your dog's breed. Is he from a rescue? If yes, what made them label him to be a GSD X Dutch Shepherd? Are his parents known for sure? Does he happen to be brindle? I know shelters or CL-ers are quick to label a brindle Pitbull as a Dutch Shepherd mix to get them adopted faster. DS are very rare and to find mixes in rescue even rarer.
Can you post a picture of him?
Continue working with him. Maybe take him to a field on a long line and play fetch and work on his obedience skills there. If there are no other dogs, your son will be safer. Look into a flirt pole to teach impulse control and to give him the exercise he needs. Dogs don not need other dogs for socializing. Your family is his pack.
(I stop fetch when they get too aroused)
With persistence, consistency and good management and the skills you already have, this should work I think.
 

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I would reconsider dog parks or if you must, go during a non-peak time.


I have never been to a dog park but when my older boy was a pup there was a "puppy playtime" after our training class. I did maybe 3 and stopped going and would just leave when class was over. These were just puppies but all different breeds. My GSD pup played hard and plowed through other puppies, he was vocal and it scared some of the owners. Their play styles did not match. It was not fair to other pups. Was my puppy a "bad dog"? Absolutely not. He did match the play style of the little awesome Cattle Dog pup.


I quickly realized that these play sessions were pointless for us. It actually undermined some of the goals we were working towards and it was a huge risk, as I saw it. He's now 8 and I'm not joking has only "played" with two trusted dogs in our lives (other than our new puppy), that's it. And these are not even frequent.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My husband and I walk with him and my son up to a school a few blocks away in the evening. It's about a thirty minute walk there, a thirty minute walk back. Then, we let him follow my son on the playground equipment. He likes climbing the stairs. He just needs more exercise than that. I took him on a 30 minute walk with my kiddo this morning, and he did pretty well. My kiddo can be a bit frustrating because he lags behind, complains about the heat (we live in Texas), and acts like he's dying of boredom (as 5 year olds tend to do LOL). I basically had to walk at a reasonable pace and wait from time to time for my son to catch up. We'll just have to keep going that route. Once my son starts back to school in three weeks, the walks will be SO much easier. I knew the choking thing was unacceptable behavior on his part. I just wasn't sure if it was something I could train out of him or not. No more dog park for him. Thank you so much for the advice!!! Out of curiosity, how do you keep your dogs socialized? I have an old dog at home right now, but (poor guy) he won't be around much longer. Thanks again!!
 

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I would reconsider dog parks or if you must, go during a non-peak time.
What if other people go on non-peak time to avoid these kind of dogs? This dog is every dog owners nightmare, at least it would be mine.
He could make any youngster dog-aggressive for life with his scary demeanor.
 

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What if other people go on non-peak time to avoid these kind of dogs? This dog is every dog owners nightmare, at least it would be mine.
He could make any youngster dog-aggressive for life with his scary demeanor.
Oh, I don't know. You will NEVER see me at one. I just know some owners insist on going.
 

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So here's more on his background. He's not a rescue. Apparently, he's a certified PTSD dog. A trainer trained him on the PTSD part for a family. They ended up not wanting him due to a death in the family (no time, travel, etc.). I think he was bounced back and forth between the family and the trainer for a while. Then, the trainer didn't have the space to keep him. She found him a home with a woman my husband works with. The woman is single and recently had a house built. She didn't like all the shedding and was trying to find a home for him after having him for about a week. My husband is a HUGE GSD fan. He fell in love when he saw a pic of him and asked if I was open to taking him. I was, and he's been here with us about a month. Here's a pic. I hope it comes through ok.
 

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'I've tried walking him on leash with my son, and it's just too difficult.'

JenniCe112

Our trainer recommended a 'Halti' type collar for walking the dog in training and now walking Saint is a joy. btw this device is only used under direct supervision, which requires some necessary instruction.

As far as dog parks go, I dunno, Cesar, the dog whisperer, says that dogs need to be socialized with other dogs to learn the rules of the pack.

but yeah I am sympathetic to the young dogs needing exercise. We use a golf cart to fast walk the dog for a mile or so.

https://www.amazon.com/Company-Anim...=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B004XNLCKW

^a Halti collar
 

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I really appreciate you uploading the video! That helps a lot. He had been engaging in the sort of normal, give and take play until this week. It was more along the lines of "I bump you with my nose and you chase me" and then "I chase you" type stuff. He played with a couple of Huskies who liked to wrestle, and that was fine. Then, this weird "I choke you out" behavior, and I immediately removed him from the situation. I don't know if I missed something in the escalation or what. Either way, I just won't take him back.

I'll definitely look into the Halti, so thanks so much for posting that info. I'm a big fan of Cesar, so I picked up his rope leash that stays around the neck closer to the ears. It did help, but I may invest in that Halti since I have to walk him with my kiddo. Sounds like it might work better for us.

Thanks for the info and the advice! This forum is awesome!
 

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I do see shepherds neck biting to take down and then sometimes neck biting and holding once they have the dog down more than other breeds. I don't allow it. They will catch on quick if you let them know it isn't allowed. Shepherds also seem prone to the high speed take down during a game of chase which I dont allow either because it is dangerous and frequently scares the dog being chased. I only let dogs play chase me if they don't do high speed take downs. If they want to try that then I keep the whole play scene a little slower and calmer.

Halters can be useful training tools, but they aren't popular on this forum. If you want more info on it, look up a trainer called Heather Beck. If you like Cesar, you'll probably like her too.

If there is a trainer in your area running structured "socials" you might be able to teach your dogs some better social manners in a meaningful way.
 

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I didnt mean to write "play chase me"... I dont know where the me part came from.

It was meant to say only let dogs play chase if they dont do high speed takedowns. They arent my dogs and I dont want them getting hurt.
 

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Follow up question. When you say that you "don't allow it," what do you do to intervene? For the record, I won't be taking him back to the dog park. I don't want to leave anyone with that impression. I'm just curious what you do when your dogs exhibit any of this high speed chase, fixated behavior. Do you simply remove them from the situation with a sort of "time out?" Do they get the message that way? Or is there anything else you do?
 

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I don't like, and would never take my dogs to a dog park ... way too much risk. Play with known friendly dogs, one on one can be a great thing though. I would have to actually see the situations you describe to say if your dog was really doing anything other than play though ... dogs play rough, neck biting, tackling, trading dominant and submissive roles. If the other dogs got up with slobber on their neck they were most likely not really in any real danger ... with strange dogs, though, it could turn into a fight quite quickly and you have to understand how to read their body language to see if play is turning into something more serious.

You did the right thing stopping the situation where you did and letting the dogs calm down. A verbal correction, removing the dog from the situation and redirecting it to something else should be fine, in my opinion.

And for another example of normal play, here are my two crazies:
 

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I don't wish to seem snippity but Ceasar Milans methods are not greatly popular training method for GSDs owners here. GSDs do not need other dog friends. They need to be obedient and faithful, as is their nature, socialized to their own human pack. Other people and dogs are just background noise. While I do agree with Ceasar Milans teaching on the importance of pack order- not barging out a door ahead of people, sitting and waiting to be relesed to eat and such, many here only use dog parks to proof training that the dog already knows under a heavy distraction. We do this training and 'proofing' outside the fence.

IMO the OP needs to really train this dog in obedience. He will be a great family dog once he is trained and socialized, not to other dogs, but to his people.
 

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Follow up question. When you say that you "don't allow it," what do you do to intervene? For the record, I won't be taking him back to the dog park. I don't want to leave anyone with that impression. I'm just curious what you do when your dogs exhibit any of this high speed chase, fixated behavior. Do you simply remove them from the situation with a sort of "time out?" Do they get the message that way? Or is there anything else you do?
I would have a rock solid recall and call the dog back to me if the chase had already started. I would then leash the dog, and depending the situation or where I was, leave. I would then not allow my dog back off leash in that situation until I was sure it wouldn't happen again. A solid "leave it" and "stay" would be useful if you saw him getting ready to chase. "Leave it" may work after he's already taken off, but it seems unlikely. In that case, you need a good recall. If you can, put him on a 30 foot training lead and physically stop him if he starts a chase. He should learn fairly quickly that that isn't acceptable. Always give him a behavior to do instead. If you see him start to fixate and tense up, meaning a chase is about to happen, say, "Leave it." Walk backwards and say, "Come. Sit. Watch." Something like that. But the best thing is to not allow the behavior to be practiced in the first place.
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum! From the picture your dog looks purebred to me? Or at least he looks more like a GSD. And I just wanted to say thank you for taking him in, Lord knows how much he needed a stabel home, so hats off to you!

I'm one of the people on this forum that regularly takes their dog to the dog park. While I agree that GSDs tend to play very rough, I don't agree that neck biting comes as a 'red light.' I've seen energetic breeds such as Huskies, Viszlas, GSDs, Mals, even Poodles do it. But one thing to keep in mind that good dogs KNOW and have LEARNT bite inhibition. So as long as the other dog is ok with it, and the intensity is fine, I would be ok with neck biting.

That being said, pinning until the other dog gasps for air is definitely something to look into and most definitely not fine. A well-behaved dog will back off with or without the intervene of the owner.

I too am a fan of Cesar Millan. I agree with most of his perspective and how he handles dogs, even though a lot of people don't. My dog does not pull on a leash when we're on walks. And I use Cesar's 'kick' to distract him at the right moment, and it does work on MY dog.

If/when my dog misbehaves or plays way too rough, I take him on a time out and have him lie down on the side until he relaxes, just like Cesar. 90% of the time, my dog will know that he can no longer misbehave otherwise he's going on a time out. So that works too.

Just 2 weeks ago I started using the head halter. Why? Because even though my dog doesn't pull on a leash, when I go to the beach or mall and it's super crowded, there's a possibility he can still nip. So I opted a head halter because now his muzzle is completely under my control. And it does help tremendously if ever he pulls/nips. I don't need it all the time, but definitely can use it as a tool in crowded places. Normally, I use choke collar on him. I don't do prongs because he does not really respond to it. And the reason I use choke collar regularly is partly because of Cesar too; I believe in order to gain control of the dog, the collar has to be all the way up.

I had my 4 year old nephew for 5 days and out of excitement my dog will sometimes pull when we go on walks as a group. I just use the choke collar and just stay calm. So I can only imagine your handful-ness when walking your 'new' dog and have your child at the same time. You can try out the head halter, they really can't pull with that one on.

He sounds like a really good dog, and he's very lucky to have you.
 

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I'm so glad you mentioned the "leave it" command. I had wondered if that might help. I had asked his trainer when we got him if he knew "leave it." She said they had started working on it, but clearly I need to spend some time focusing on it. A friend of mine had met my new dog during a play date with our kids and really liked him. She has a GSD and wanted us to bring our new dog over for a play date. After his recent behavior, I don't want to put her dog at risk. However, maybe after I work with him some more, it might be possible.

I really like Cesar, but I'll definitely take what you said about the GSD not really needing a canine pack to heart. Cesar seems to address the people more than the dogs, which I like. Kind of reminds me of Robert Redford's character in The Horse Whisperer, "I don't help people with horse problems. I help horses with people problems." I want to be a good person for this dog. He's a good dog. My boxer has been a really good dog. I got him when I was single. He was friendly most of the time but protective when he needed to be. He has been a great dog for our family. I think this dog will be too, and I want to be a good person for him. Thank you so much again for the advice!
 
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