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Hello,


This is my first post to these forums, and I am sad to say that for me, at least, a heartbreaking one.


I have an altered 3 year old black male GSD that we have had since he was 4 months old. He had multiple medical and allergy issues when we got him, which resulted in months of food changes, checking for skin irritants (he’s allergic to plastics and many metals), etc. He also demonstrated severe OCD from the get go, with constant tail chasing regardless of exercise and still continues to self-mutilate his tail. He also has been tested for failure to thrive and struggles to keep weight in. I think he’s losing muscle in his hips, although his check ups have not demonstrated any problems. He’s on a special food with yogurt and coconut oil supplements. His breeder stopped responding to requests for help around the time he was 9 months.



Between his wounds, prednisone, and other meds, he struggled in basic obedience classes. When he was around a year, we began working with our first aggression trainer and have spent the past 2 years with no progress or success. One trainer said he believed our dog was a “throwaway pup” out of a working line; a dog that is overly skittish and fearful.



I am feeling like an utter failure and am extremely embarrassed. I have owned other GSDs and large breed dogs. At this time, he is a danger to our cat and Cairn Terrier, both of whom he has put in the ER (the cat today, which also resulted in the cat giving me a severe bite). When he was a few months old, he also bit my husband in the face, but that is because my husband was taking inappropriate steps to check on his tail.


I’m sure you read all the time that this or that dog is incredibly sweet most of the time, and that is true 90% of the time, but he’s highly unpredictable. The next time he gets ahold of a small animal, he could bite one of us, kill something, or he could get ahold of another adult or someone’s child.



I’m trying to make my head rule over my heart. I’ve never understood how people could surrender their pets before, and am experiencing quite a bit of shock and heartache. I feel that I have failed my dog.



I’m assuming he wouldn’t have much of a life in a perma-basket muzzle, which just sounds cruel.


I have contacted several aggression rescuers in my state (WI) and hope to hear back from them soon. I fear that with so many issues, he will be destroyed.



I guess I’m looking for input from anyone who has been in this position.



Thank you for your time.
 

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My dog will chase the cats inappropriately (and if he gets worked up enough by the chase, he will do damage if he is able to catch them), and he has fear reactivity issues with other dogs. Even though he was raised with our older German Shepherd and Pug, he could not be trusted loose in the house with either the other dogs or our cats. He also had a host of medical issues, including IBD and food allergies.

It is a question of management. We crate and rotate the two dogs we have left. They have very supervised play times only outside, but other than that are kept separate. When Tanner, the GSD, is loose in the house he is supervised. And if we can't supervise him, he is crated.

When we are out in the community, I am always aware of where others dogs can approach him. After working with him for years, he is at the point where he will ignore other dogs as long as they don't breech his bubble (roughly 5-10 feet, depending on how rude the other dog is). He is wonderful with people.

I think we can absolutely learn how to manage these dogs, and we can raise their thresholds to a certain extend. But they are what they are, and no amount of training can change what they fundamentally are. Finding and working with a good, experienced trainer/behaviorist is the key to finding whatever balance is possible.

Personally, I don't think euthanizing a dog that is so hard to handle that it has a poor quality of life is wrong. The two things that worked in my dog's favor was that he was good with people and easy to train. If I hadn't had those two strengths to work with, I would have euthanized him.
Sheilah
 

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I don't think you should consider yourself a failure.

It sounds like you've gone above and beyond with this dog.

Some dogs are just not wired right:(

Tho I am not in your shoes and only go by what you've posted, I honestly would not turn him over to any rescue.

I have never heard of 'aggression rescuers'..Most rescues would not take this dog because he sounds like a huge liability. I would thoroughly investigate ANY rescue that said "yeah we'll take him"..ok so they take him, what will they do with him or to him?

If this were me, and I was at the end of my rope, I would humanely euthanize him vs turn him over to some 'unknown', and wonder the rest of my life what happened to him.

Again, I am not in your shoes, only you can decide what will be best for all involved. I don't think you've failed him, I think it sounds like he may have alot of issues that maybe can never be solved or managed..

Sorry your going thru this.
 

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Unfortunately too many people breed for extreme drive and aggression without fully comprehending what they will end up with and pups end up with people who are not equipped to deal with them.....I would not call them throwaways per se...but bred without regard to balance and without knowledge....I too, like Carmen, would like to see the pedigree for my own understanding....

As far as what to do with this dog...unfortunately, he is your responsibility and I do not believe that passing on a dog with serious behavior problems is an option...if you cannot manage him, and are in fear for your (and your pet's) safety, I also agree that humane euthanasia is kinder that putting him under more stress by taking away the only home and family he knows....

I'm so sorry for you and the dog...it is not a easy situation to deal with any way you go forward...

Lee
 

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He also has been tested for failure to thrive and struggles to keep weight in.
Do you remember what tests where done? There are some medical issues that can cause nervousness/aggression this may be a long shot but I wanted to mention it.

Does he have any symptoms besides not being able to gain weight? Here are two links I want you to take a look at:
Overview - EPI * Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

"Behavior changes, including aggression, have also been noted in hypothyroid dogs, particularly German Shepherd Dogs." Hypothyroidism in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Many of us with EPI pups see a change in personality when their B12 levels drop also. B12 - EPI * Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
 

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you're doing the best you can do for your dog. it's not your
fault your dog isn't sound. at some point when you have a dog
that isn't sound and you've done everything to help i think all
you can do is manage the situation. good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you, everyone, for your replies. I will try and do my best to answer questions.

He is out of Joker von der Law and Lakota vom Kraichgauer. I dug an e-mail up from the breeder that says, "Joker has a lot of Leerburg lines. The mother carries the Karthago lines in her."

I think one of the initial problems was that we took on too much dog (his was not our first German Shepherd and we've previously raised other high drive dogs, such as our Border Collie that passed a few years ago). We were intending to do non-competitive Schutzhund up the street, but his medical issues dragged on for nearly a year. He was a very sickly puppy. In his original obedience courses, he began to get more fearful of other dogs, rather than less fearful. For medical tests, his pancreas has been checked twice and I was planning to take him in for more bloodwork within the next week, because his muscle definition in his back lacking. We put yogurt with his food to help his stomach issues and coconut oil to help with healthy fats. I know his thyroid was tested about a year and a half ago. We also tried him on Prozac for a time, but it didn't do anything.

By aggression rescues, apologies, I misstated that. I contacted 7 different WI and IL GSD specific rescues that state they take in aggressive dogs on their sites. 3 have already replied this evening, saying that don't take on aggressive dogs.

His is kennel, muzzle, and pinch collar trained. He is never unsupervised with our terrier. This morning was a tragic accident. Either my husband or myself left a door open and the cat was able to slip into the part of our home that the dogs have access to.

If it was just my husband and myself, we would take the risk. We live far from friends and family with children, and our house is so small that we don't host anyone (small house, but nice yard, lake a street away, and hiking trails for exercise). It is just that I fully expect him to kill our cat or terrier. I feel ridiculous, embarassed, and naive even typing that sentence.
 

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Also, he was our first purchased, non rescue puppy/dog. There were two pups left in the litter. I made a reservation and then was told in a murky fashion that an officer chose the puppy I originally requested, and I said ok to taking the remaining dog. I've had several people tell me that taking the last puppy that is already 4-5 months old from a working line breeder was a stupid decision.
 

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Human aggression and dog/small animal aggression are not the same. I understand that you were bitten, but it sounds like you were bitten while protecting the dog or cat. That generally is not a dog that will bite a child. I mean, if the child is trying to rescue a dog or cat that the dog is going after and gets its hand in the way, yeah it's possible, but it is not looking to eat small children.

That said, your decision is a tough one, and I really hope that no one bashes you for whatever choice you make. We get a dog because we like what dogs bring into our lives: companionship, exercise, security, improvement in health, reduction in stress. Sometimes what a dog brings is added liability, constant worry, huge vet bills, er bills, frustration, and greif. And that simply isn't a good place to be.

Normally, we tell people to do a complete physical, find a good behaviorist, up the leadership, increase exercise, increase and or change the way you are training, but it sounds from you initial post that you have done an awful lot in trying to make this work out.

Sometimes it is not going to work out. Sometimes a dog isn't wired right. Sometimes it is best to release the dog from its demons, but that is just never easy to do.

I am sorry you are going through this. Maybe you can find just the right home, experienced but without children or pets, that can totally manage your dog and work with him. The problem is that there are so many dogs that need this type of person, and only so many people that fit that bill.
 

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Is Patricia McConnell anywhere near you? Dog's Best Friend Training | Dog's Best Friend Training http://www.dogsbestfriendtraining.co...-consultations

I would though, if this were me, quickly contact Tufts to get things going with them: PETFAX Behavior Consultation: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University I would always do this (or other vet school behaviorists like at UW). They are the tail chasing experts in the dog world.

HeidiGSD has some great links.

If you are anywhere near Patricia McConnell that would be my second step.

More things to think about - your relationship with your dog: Articles | Suzanne Clothier (the basics on it: Relationship Centered Training | Suzanne Clothier)
Bottom of the page has some recommended trainers: Consultations | Suzanne Clothier

On how to find a trainer: Find the Right Behavior Professional for Your Dog | Dogster

I don't necessarily think that an aggression trainer is working for your dog. Here are some more links for trainers:
Find A Force Free Dog Trainer and Pet Care Professional

https://www.karenpryoracademy.com/find-a-trainer

http://www.peaceablepaws.com/referrals.php?type=pmctReferral

Finding Help

http://www.academyfordogtrainers.com...erral_List.pdf

Good luck - that PetFax program is one that 1 person on this board has used with great success!
 

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I can't offer any advice that anyone hasn't already offered, but I just want to wish you the best of luck in whatever decision you make. You've clearly tried hard to make this work, and you can't blame yourself. You shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed by any means. You should rest a little easier knowing that you've done way more than a lot of people would have. Good luck to you..
 

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One trainer said he believed our dog was a “throwaway pup” out of a working line; a dog that is overly skittish and fearful.
https://www.pedigreedatabase.com/breeding.result?father=613325&mother=396987

this is not a working line problem , it is a bad pedigree loaded for problems , bred without knowledge or thought.

I am NOT not not chewing you out . This is not your fault .

The "breeder" said the sire has a lot of Leerburg lines and carries Karthago in her. Well your sire is the problem .
Horrible pedigree ---- lots and lots of red flags.

I went back another 3 generations .

Setti Leerburg -- typical of Leerburg's breeding scheme (looked at a lot of pedigrees ) concentrated on Sagus Busecker Schloss / Greif Lahntal . Seti sets it up .
She has Mink - a good source of Greif . Another Greif connection through Yazmina this time from Sagus who could be good or bad -- nervy depending on the rest of the pedigree .
That takes care of Setti's sire . Her dam -- brings in Sagus again , through Hermes son of Pleuni. I saw progeny of the H litter - extreme fear - afraid of its own shadow. I don't want to see Hermes or Pleuni in a pedigree . Yet ths pedigree has to bring in another combination with Pleuni, this time not with Greif , but his risky son Sagus . (click on Zewa Busecker Schloss).
All that and we haven't even gone beyond one dog on Jokers top line on the paternal side.
Jokers sire Lytle mothers pedigree Isis Leerburg -- here we go again -- more Greif , through an animal that has to be bred with great care Crok Erlenbusch . So what happens . This male with Crok (Gideon) is then bred to Xanta , who (Otis pedigree) has Greif again (Mink) and Sagus again through Yazmina .
Then Otis was bred to Jenna who had , yes, more Sagus.
Remember Sagus is a Greif son.
So we have finally finished with Jokers sire side.

now to tackle his dam - Z-Bop -- Hanibal okay .
Problem with her dam though -- yes another Greif -- but the problem is the American show lines and unknown , probably pet-bred byb type .
which you do not combine with that much Greif/Sagus and not Crok for sure. There is no temperamental strength to carry the top side of the Joker Law sire.
well at least we are finished with Joker .
Now on to your dogs dam.

Not bad in itself - but you don't put Fero to all that Greif/Sagus , not Hermes not Pleuni , not Crok together.

There is nothing in the pedigree which gives stability.

sorry --













It is the next generation that starts creating problems.
You're bringing in Crok Erlenbusch , Greif again. This dog Crok has to be used carefully ! So what do I see Crok bred to a Greif female (to produce Anika) .
Then -- oh boy -- Xanta Leerburg --- more Greif , through Mink and more Sagus through Hydra (Yazmina again)
 

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VERY interesting, carmspack. thank you for posting this..
 

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Would you be able to sum that up? I'm not sure what that all means.

One trainer said he believed our dog was a “throwaway pup” out of a working line; a dog that is overly skittish and fearful.
https://www.pedigreedatabase.com/breeding.result?father=613325&mother=396987

this is not a working line problem , it is a bad pedigree loaded for problems , bred without knowledge or thought.

I am NOT not not chewing you out . This is not your fault .

The "breeder" said the sire has a lot of Leerburg lines and carries Karthago in her. Well your sire is the problem .
Horrible pedigree ---- lots and lots of red flags.

I went back another 3 generations .

Setti Leerburg -- typical of Leerburg's breeding scheme (looked at a lot of pedigrees ) concentrated on Sagus Busecker Schloss / Greif Lahntal . Seti sets it up .
She has Mink - a good source of Greif . Another Greif connection through Yazmina this time from Sagus who could be good or bad -- nervy depending on the rest of the pedigree .
That takes care of Setti's sire . Her dam -- brings in Sagus again , through Hermes son of Pleuni. I saw progeny of the H litter - extreme fear - afraid of its own shadow. I don't want to see Hermes or Pleuni in a pedigree . Yet ths pedigree has to bring in another combination with Pleuni, this time not with Greif , but his risky son Sagus . (click on Zewa Busecker Schloss).
All that and we haven't even gone beyond one dog on Jokers top line on the paternal side.
Jokers sire Lytle mothers pedigree Isis Leerburg -- here we go again -- more Greif , through an animal that has to be bred with great care Crok Erlenbusch . So what happens . This male with Crok (Gideon) is then bred to Xanta , who (Otis pedigree) has Greif again (Mink) and Sagus again through Yazmina .
Then Otis was bred to Jenna who had , yes, more Sagus.
Remember Sagus is a Greif son.
So we have finally finished with Jokers sire side.

now to tackle his dam - Z-Bop -- Hanibal okay .
Problem with her dam though -- yes another Greif -- but the problem is the American show lines and unknown , probably pet-bred byb type .
which you do not combine with that much Greif/Sagus and not Crok for sure. There is no temperamental strength to carry the top side of the Joker Law sire.
well at least we are finished with Joker .
Now on to your dogs dam.

Not bad in itself - but you don't put Fero to all that Greif/Sagus , not Hermes not Pleuni , not Crok together.

There is nothing in the pedigree which gives stability.

sorry --













It is the next generation that starts creating problems.
You're bringing in Crok Erlenbusch , Greif again. This dog Crok has to be used carefully ! So what do I see Crok bred to a Greif female (to produce Anika) .
Then -- oh boy -- Xanta Leerburg --- more Greif , through Mink and more Sagus through Hydra (Yazmina again)
 

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Googling the dam's name, you'll come up with an interesting FB page :(


I do agree, this dog probably can be managed after you've described your lifestyle. My worry would be your worry, the cat and terrier that exist in the household:(

Only thing that can be done is to separate and manage. AND check out Jean's links, they may be able to offer some help..
 

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there was a bit that I had forgotten to delete because when I work on posts I get lots of interruptions - that part would be the very last after --- sorry --

the summary is - the dog is what the dog is . These are the results of breeding -- the problems are not going to be fixed by diet , or modification, or conditioning any more than you can make your black dog turn into a sable or black and tan. Not this dog who has a lot of issues with nerves and compulsive behaviour " He had multiple medical and allergy issues when we got him, which resulted in months of food changes, checking for skin irritants (he’s allergic to plastics and many metals), etc. He also demonstrated severe OCD from the get go, with constant tail chasing regardless of exercise and still continues to self-mutilate his tail. He also has been tested for failure to thrive and struggles to keep weight in. I think he’s losing muscle in his hips, although his check ups have not demonstrated any problems." and " a dog that is overly skittish and fearful. "he’s highly unpredictable" and " his medical issues dragged on for nearly a year. He was a very sickly puppy. In his original obedience courses, he began to get more fearful of other dogs, rather than less fearful. "

I doubt that his littermate (s) are any different .

Jakoda I don't do the facebook , what does it say about the mother ?
 

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Googling the dam's name, you'll come up with an interesting FB page :(
All I'm finding is the breeder's page for her...?

Thank you for the links, Jean. I will try and view them this evening.

carmspack, thank you for the clarification. I'm not sure what all of the breeding things you listed mean, but it sounds like he had a lot of problem dogs through both lines? At any point is there more that we could have done?

Also, for OCD, he obsessively chases shadows, to the point of trying to gnaw on walls. He will lunge against walls after them and they seem to stress him out quite a bit. Random side note.

Also, we've loved all our dogs from the breed, and in the future if we get another GSD, I'd love another white female. Since they are not accepted by the AKC, how would I go about checking breed lines? UKC? Who are people I could check with about bloodline opinions? I definitely don't want a working dog. We will probably go with rescues in the future, but I have a lot of research to do if we ever get another puppy from a breeder.
 

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the entire pedigree is stacked to the Thuringian lines , which brought in speed , reactivity , hyper awareness . this snip "Nestor Wiegerfelsen. He could be brought in for benefit . Too much then you have sharp, sharp shy, reactive same qualities as for the Sali line , quoting Bruce again "However, don't back mass your litters too heavily on this female line as tail chasing, hooked tails, separation anxiety, very low trigger levels that when coupled with the low-courage inherited 'sometimes' via the Thuringian can lead to dogs that can't handle the stress of Schutzhund and can even show very high avoidance behavior as soon as you uncrate them at the trial field. . . . very similar to the Nestor line!"

Yoschy , Sagus , Greif , you have to know and watch the combinations, same with Fero ."

from this discussion http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/genetic-issues/191718-thuringian-gsd-lines-nervy-but-fast-4.html

"Also, for OCD, he obsessively chases shadows, to the point of trying to gnaw on walls. He will lunge against walls after them and they seem to stress him out quite a bit. Random side note."

His chemistry is just wrong . His dam is "okay" .

this makes me sad " I definitely don't want a working dog. We will probably go with rescues in the future, but I have a lot of research to do if we ever get another puppy from a breeder" Because you did not have a working line dog . That was a mashup of a pedigree and merely putting two biological units together does not a breeder make !

I am afraid you would be entering the same territory in the white gsd breeders , or any one who breeds specifically for colour or one feature.

There are many good working line breeders on the forum.
 

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I'm really sorry you're having to deal with this. :(

Please don't feel like a failure. There is only so much you can do to alter the blueprint of your dog's genes, and it truly sounds like you've done all you can here.

My GSD mix Pongu shares some of the same issues as your dog (skittishness, fear, OCD, recurring medical problems), although his are less severe than what you've described. He shares roughly the same age and history, too: I also got him at four months and he's 3 years old now.

Pongu chews his tail too. If you look at this picture you can see a pale spot on his tail about halfway up. That's where he chews the hair off.



I used to discourage him from chewing there, but he'd just move his OCD self-mutilation to other parts of his body and inflict actual injuries on himself, so now I just let him chew his tail because at least he doesn't break the skin if he does it there and it seems to fulfill whatever need drives him to make holes in himself. But it's hard. I know what it's like to have to constantly monitor an obsessive dog for self-harm, and how exhausting it is to try and stop him.

Prozac coupled with a long course of intensive behavioral modification worked for us, but the journey took years and, like I said, I think Pongu's issues are less severe than your guy's. And he's still not really normal; he never will be.

I have no advice to give that hasn't already been covered, except I do want to add my voice to those who counsel against handing this dog over to rescue. Even if you can find one willing to take him, I think the realistic best-case scenario for most such dogs is that they live their lives out in a sanctuary -- and unless we're talking about Best Friends, a "sanctuary" normally means a small outdoor kennel with maybe a 10'x20' run at best. Not much stimulation or interaction, probably not much in the way of behavioral rehab, IMO not much of a life. And that's the best case.
 
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