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Discussion Starter #1
I am having a party at my house in mid-April. We had a party this same time of year last year, but my GSD was only 7 months old at the time. I was worried then about him being stressed out with having 50+ people coming and going over the course of the night, but he did VERY well. Was very friendly to everyone, was very calm, just kept going between the backyard and the inside of the house to check things out.

Well, a lot has changed, now that he is an 18 month old. He is a lot more cautious of strangers and can be territorial at times. Overall, when we have people over at our house, he wants to sniff the person walking in the door immediately, but doesn't show aggression towards them. There have only been about 3-4 incidents where he barked at someone once they were inside, but I immediately gave those people treats and had them give him a command and had them give him the treat. No problem. He has been very friendly to company, but these are times when there are less than 10 people at our house.

We had a smaller party at our house (about 15-20 people) in November (Doc would've been between 13-14 mos) and he was very stressed out the whole time. We were having a bonfire in the backyard and everytime someone would come through the backdoor and into the backyard, he was circling them, barking, jumping and nipping at people's clothes. At one point, when all of us were around the fire, he was running circles around us at full speed. (herding??) I'm not sure, but I think that he was maybe being territorial, since he loves his backyard... that is his potty area and his play area. I didn't see this, but a couple friends said that when they came into the house through the front door, he displayed the same behavior. He hasn't displayed this behavior since then and had never displayed this behavior prior to this, even at the first party I mentioned, and we had a bonfire and various people in the backyard. Since then, when I've had company in the backyard (which has been about 2-3 people at a time since that incident), he has been more along the lines of "please throw the ball for me!" but no jumping, nipping or circling. On the night of that incident, I had taken him on a long walk in the afternoon and threw the ball for him in the yard for a whole hour right before people started coming over and even the first couple guests that came were throwing the ball for him, so I was hoping he would be a lot calmer for the party.

So with this party coming up in less than a month, I would appreciate some tips and suggestions. Either some training I could start with him now to prepare for the party or some things I should do (or have the guests do) the day of and during the party. Some things I plan on doing is taking him for a long walk and go to the dog park during the day. And about an hour before the party starts, take him to a hockey rink near our house to throw the ball to get those last bits of energy out. I think playing ball with him before the party somewhere OTHER than his own backyard may ease the territorial aggression a bit. I plan on getting a very high value bone for him to chew on, so that he has something to do. I also plan on having a new box of treats to have on hand, so that I can have various party guests give him a treat. If the jumping, nipping, aggressiveness, etc starts what should I do?! I do have a mesh muzzle and we do have a crate, but I want to make the experience as positive as possible for him, so that for future parties I don't have to worry about this. Everyone knows that when you are hosting a party, there is so much to do and keeping everything running smoothly, that the last thing you want to deal with is having to keep an eye on your dog the whole time.

Sorry so long! Please help!
 

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Crate + bowl of hot dogs near crate, have guests pick up a hot dog and toss it into the crate as they walk by. It's up to you if you want strangers feeding your dog but your dog can't stay upset at everyone when they all end up being potential hot dog vending machines. They needn't linger, just pick up pieces, toss, make sure the pieces made it into the crate, then walk away. Or put up your dog in a part of the house/yard that is INACCESSIBLE by anyone but you. Keep your dog safe AND your guests safe.

Very smart thinking with planning all the exercise. That will help a lot!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You think that I should keep him crated throughout the whole party?! I think that might make him even more stressed out with all of the commotion going on and people walking by. I only wanted to use the crate as a last resort in case he was getting outta control. The door leading into the garage and the door leading to the backyard is in his eyesight from the crate.
 

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If your dog is crate trained, I'd also encourage using it. Unlike that PETA article posted on another thread, having a dog crate-trained is a perfect solution for this situation...my dogs consider their crates as their "safe zones". When they were younger, we'd put them in their crates on July 4th because our city hosts a fireworks show at the high school close to our house or whenever we expected a lot of people over. Now, the doors to the crates are kept open, but Zeus still seeks his out if he needs a break from the chaos of our household!
 

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When I had parties of that size I either board my dogs or put them in a back room where NO ONE can get to them. My guys are friendly, but on mistep on to a paw and that can change. And depending on the friends and type of party. Parties at my place can get loud or have drama...my guys are happier away from it.
 

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I agree with safety for the dogs sake...crate, quiet room or maybe on leash if he would be up to that. It is stressful to have an invasion on the dogs territory and probably a bit confusing. Add alcohol to that and dogs are even more vulnerable, better to play it safe.
 

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Wow, that's a whole lotta dog prep for a party.


Honestly, with that many people I would crate him unless you have a chance to leash him and work with him on "proper" introductions, etc....Letting him engage in any negative behavior that may occur due to your being busy, would not be a good thing.

I have 4 GSD's so when I have a party, at best, one is loose and the rest are crated. As the party winds down and people start to leave I may let the rest out to mingle since I can devote more time to them.

It's just not worth the risk of any problems if you cannot devote 100% attention on him, especially since you have not been comfortable with his behavior in the past with crowds.
 

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Since you already know he gets stressed out around a lot of people, I agree with crating or boarding him. With my dogs it's the opposite - the more people, the better they are. They love people and tend to get overly excited when someone comes over and they want to jump all over them and give kisses. Once they get past that initial excitement they're fine, but it can be a PITA. The last big party we had was around 30-35 people, and after the first few arrivals it went from "Woohoo, COMPANY!!!!" to "oh, somebody else is here? meh...." We got amazed compliments from the latecomers about how well behaved our dogs were, and our thought was "you should have been here sooner...." (When they were AWFUL!!!
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Could you turn the crate in such a way that the doors to the garage and to outside aren't visible?

It kind of sounds like the crate isn't an "escape" or "safe zone" for your dog like it is for mine. If your dog isn't already comfortable with being in his crate, maybe our suggestions won't work for you.

If that's the case, I would consider putting him in a quiet back room or boarding him like someone else said. I'm trying to picture 50 people in my house, along with my two dogs and I break out into a cold sweat just thinking about it - too much stress, IMHO, to subject your dog to, no matter how well behaved he is. And if you're stressed about his behavior, he'll pick up on it. Like others have said, there are just too many variables you can't control and the outcomes could be long-term....for you, for your guests and especially for your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, like I said in my orginal post, this was an isolated incident and he hasn't shown this kind of behavior since then. Do you guys think that there is no chance to create a positive experience for him at the party? We live in a very small, one level house (no basement, only a crawlspace.) with hardwood floors, so even if I put him in my room, he will still hear everything that is going on and I think that would stress him out more, since he is the very social type that likes to be in the middle of the action instead of hiding from it.

Cassidysmom - that is exactly how he was at the first party we had when he was 7 mos old and thats how he reacts when we have company over now. I just don't know if the jumping/nipping behavior will resurface when there are gona be 10-15 people in the backyard at any given time at the party.

*sigh* I don't know what to do. I've never boarded him before, so maybe this would be a good time to try out a place just overnight, so for the future I have a place that I would feel comfortable boarding him for a couple days if I needed to. I just figured the party would be a good learning experience for him, especially if I am prepared to have him all exercised out and have guests give him treats. Do you think if I maybe had him removed (I could bribe a couple friends to take him for a long walk!) for the first hour or so of the party and then when he returned there would already be people inside the house and backyard. Because at our small party where the incident happened, it was people coming into the backyard one-by-one and that is when he would run up to them and jump. *shrugs* Just trying to come up with alternatives to crating and boarding.

I have been to friends' parties where dogs were being social with everyone and totally soaking up all the extra attention and not being territorial. If they weren't soaking up attention, they were just content with laying down by the owner or on their dog bed. A couple have been GSDs too! I just want my boy to be like that!
 

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For a dog that has major issues with fear or control crating makes sense, but for a dog that just needs to be taught how to act in this situation (which is what this sounds like to me) crating teaches nothing. I have large parties like this few times a year, and I want my dogs to be a part of them. Stress comes from having to assess these situations on their own. Until they know how to behave and relax around that many people they are on leash. I am there to show them how to behave, and if I cannot be there I have someone that is relatively dog savvy or at least will stay relaxed and calm and follow my direction assist me by handling them on leash. This way they get used to a large group. I want my dogs to be as much a part of my life as possible. Eventually, you don't have to worry about it because they know that gatherings like this are FUN. If I do not like the dogs energy then they get crated. As with everything, positive experiences build positive feelings in the dog for group situations and vice versa. At Christmas this year my sister in law commented on how Diesel was now on leash instead of Lowen (she was last year). I just said "freedom is earned", and it really clicked for her as she watched my 15 month old female working line schutzhund dog with tons of prey drive calmly interact with her toddler son. All of this behavior needs to be taught and cultivated just as much as a recall or a heel.
 

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Originally Posted By: Doc_BrownWell, like I said in my orginal post, this was an isolated incident and he hasn't shown this kind of behavior since then. Do you guys think that there is no chance to create a positive experience for him at the party?
I think there is a chance, but it will take some time and effort. Will you be able to devote that amount of time and effort with a house and yard full of people? If you can, I think it's definitely a worthwhile endeavor.
 

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Oh, one more suggestion: What about having one of his playmates come over during the party? When other dogs are around, he could care less about other people. Do you think distracting him with one of his familiar playmates would be a good idea?
 

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Originally Posted By: ZeusGSDFor a dog that has major issues with fear or control crating makes sense, but for a dog that just needs to be taught how to act in this situation (which is what this sounds like to me) crating teaches nothing. I have large parties like this few times a year, and I want my dogs to be a part of them. Stress comes from having to assess these situations on their own. Until they know how to behave and relax around that many people they are on leash. I am there to show them how to behave, and if I cannot be there I have someone that is relatively dog savvy or at least will stay relaxed and calm and follow my direction assist me by handling them on leash. This way they get used to a large group. I want my dogs to be as much a part of my life as possible. Eventually, you don't have to worry about it because they know that gatherings like this are FUN.
Exactly. I prefer my dogs to be a big part of our lives too, so I would much rather teach them how to behave than to have to segregate them from the fun.
 

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Originally Posted By: Doc_Brown
I have been to friends' parties where dogs were being social with everyone and totally soaking up all the extra attention and not being territorial. If they weren't soaking up attention, they were just content with laying down by the owner or on their dog bed. A couple have been GSDs too! I just want my boy to be like that!
Maybe at a smaller gathering to start....50 people in one place is a lot to deal with, especially if things got too stressful at the party of 15-20 people. I certainly think it's something to work towards, but if you decide to try it this time and it doesn't go well, how long will it take to un-do the damage?
 

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Originally Posted By: Doc_BrownOh, one more suggestion: What about having one of his playmates come over during the party? When other dogs are around, he could care less about other people. Do you think distracting him with one of his familiar playmates would be a good idea?
NO. Once you work through this issue, sure. But this is about you teaching him how to act in a group. Relax, have fun and show him to do the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you ZuesGSD. You took the words right outta my mouth! I want him to be a part of my life and this is why I am so concerned with having him involved in the party and not tucked away in the bedroom or crate. I could possibly have him on the leash for the beginning of the party as people start coming in and also have close friends who are aware of Doc's issues and could possibly be his handler if I wanted to take a break.
 

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Originally Posted By: LAW1558
Maybe at a smaller gathering to start....50 people in one place is a lot to deal with, especially if things got too stressful at the party of 15-20 people. I certainly think it's something to work towards, but if you decide to try it this time and it doesn't go well, how long will it take to un-do the damage?
There is virtually no difference between 20 and 50 unless you are in one room, which I doubt would be the case. On leash you can control it so no damage is done.
 

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Originally Posted By: Doc_BrownI could possibly have him on the leash for the beginning of the party as people start coming in and also have close friends who are aware of Doc's issues and could possibly be his handler if I wanted to take a break.
Be prepared to have him on leash throughout the party. It is possible that he will settle in and you could let him off leash, but then you need to watch him like a hawk. Put in the work now and you'll enjoy him at parties for the rest of his life.
 
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