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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My German Shepherd is 5 years old and still filled with energy; unfortunately our smaller dog is 11 years old and no longer wants to play as much as he once did.
Despite this our GSD still tries to initiate play, frustrating the smaller dog and causing dramas. The GSD also displays dominance by placing the smaller dogs entire head into his mouth (gently, he's very aware of how much/little force to use with his mouth) upsetting the small dog further.
I'm seeking advice on how to encourage the GSD to be more gentle with the smaller dog.
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This may not be what you want to hear, but I think it will be impossible to dial down your gsd to an acceptable level of play. Besides, with an older dog, that level of play is a moving target.

I think what you are going to have to do is teach the gsd not to play at all with your older dog.
 

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Honestly, I wouldn't "encourage" the shepherd to be nicer. I'd lay down the law that he absolutely must not harass the old dog. He may not touch him, aggravate him, nothing. I raised a young shepherd alongside a senior toy breed. He basically had the same rules he has for a human infant who came later. You may approach if you are very calm and gentle. You may lay near if you are calm and respectful.

In every other way, you defer to me and stay away from this small thing.

It isn't unfair the other way, small living beings are going to be respectful of big dogs and I will protect or run interference both ways. Small dogs NEVER allowed to be nasty to big dogs for nothing. No competition over food or other resources.

You may have to separate entirely in situations where the little is likely to be accidentally trampled.
 

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We've always had to separate our elder dogs from the young ones. It's a real pain but the only way to ensure the older dogs aren't pestered. And ours were all GSDs. With a smaller older dog I'd definetly separate them when not under your direct supervision as your smaller dog could easily be injured. It stinks, I know. Sorry.
 

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I have a similar issue. I have a VERY energetic 3 year old GSD. His energy has not lessened with maturity. lol

I also have a 16 year old chow mix, who is smaller and more frail. I can’t get my GSD to play nicer. He’s like a bull in a china shop and not naturally respectful of space. My other dogs were.

So, for me, it comes down to management. I do not leave both dogs unattended together. My 3 year old is crated when I leave the house. He’s not destructive; he just plays too rough with my old guy.

I’m very strict with their interactions. If my 3 year old is not respectful, he gets corrected. I’m pretty good at seeing the signs beforehand. I say a quick no, and he turns away from my old guy. He’s smart that way...lol.
 

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I don't think getting an energetic GSD to play nice is a thing. I had to separate Sabi and Shadow at some point and Sabs was twice Shadows size. With the advancing DM and some arthritic pain Sabi was vulnerable. I don't feel like elder dogs deserve to be harassed and antagonized in their own homes. They have earned some peace. Either manage it with an iron fist or separate them.
 

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This may not be what you want to hear, but I think it will be impossible to dial down your gsd to an acceptable level of play. Besides, with an older dog, that level of play is a moving target.

I think what you are going to have to do is teach the gsd not to play at all with your older dog.
Hi friend what I would do with put a muzzle on the German Shepherd to teach him not to play as much it might work in the past when I was raising German shepherds I found out that message work for me when my wife had a chihuahua and I had the German Shepherd so I understand your pain
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the responses everyone, I appreciate the advice.
I suppose I was hoping I wouldn't have to impact the bond the two dogs have, since they have such a great friendship and trust each other so much; but it seems for the safety of our little dog we'll have to be much stricter.
 

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Thanks for all the responses everyone, I appreciate the advice.
I suppose I was hoping I wouldn't have to impact the bond the two dogs have, since they have such a great friendship and trust each other so much; but it seems for the safety of our little dog we'll have to be much stricter.
It sucks I know, Sabi helped me raise Shadow and they hated it when I separated them. Sometimes we need to do what's best for them whether they like it or not.
 

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My rescue hates small dogs UNLESS they behave good. Last week met a Chihuahua no problems at all because they dont go crazy on barking. I think you need to train your smaller dog aswell and your gsd.
 

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No more playing my small dog will not play with the shepherds. I had to teach from pups to leave him alone no teasing they would play when gsd was a pup but it stopped as soon as he grew. Long leash your gsd if he is bothering the little guylot - practice using leave it and make sure your little dog has a crate or area to go to where he is not harassed. Stop any initiated play before it starts. You will need to teach them to chill out together instead. Otherwise they will have to be seperated. I would do some trading routines like the place command and they would all go to the place or spot together. Walks together practice be calm behaviors. I do put our little dog in his crate whenever we leave the house empty just as precaution. No one tramples the small dog. Our small dog is older so he is not one to run around the yard he is more of a sun bather.
 

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If it is that important to you, maybe you can let them play under supervision only if the German Shepherd lays down for the duration.
 

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Separate them. You owe that to your older dog. Some young dogs are good at playing with older, frail dogs, some are not.

My room-mate's collie mix would lie down on the floor to play with my GSD, once she began to lose mobility due to arthritis in her spine. They'd 'face fight', making all sorts of weird play noises, then sneezing when the other dog bonked them on the nose too hard with a tooth. Wish we'd had cell phone cameras back then: it was adorable to watch!
 

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I got the bitter spray stuff meant for chewing furniture and painted the top of both dog’s heads and ears with it for about a week.
They quickly learned that they both taste disgusting and they should stay away from eachother and not put their mouths on eachother.
 
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