German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,527 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So the BF and I are both back from deployments and in a new house with just us and our new routine. I have taken Titan out of SAR for personal reasons to include some of what this thread is about.. with that part being said we now have more time to do things with Mr. Titan outside the home. Titan is amazing outside the house. We frequent restaurants (on leash), a small dog beach (off leash), and some shopping locations (on leash) and he is just perfect. We also do a lot around my property off leash.. yard work out front, playing out front, training out front, etc. all off leash there.

There has only ever been one time he has acted out of the ordinary... and here are the threads that talk about that..

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/aggression-good-bad-ugly/401746-aggression-fixable-moved-gen-info.html

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/stories/408546-update-our-one-one-trainer-moved-general-info.html

Basically.. to sum that up if you don't want to read (it is a lot, lol). During SAR Training he was off leash as we'd just finished a scenario, as we turned a corner to an open field there was a man walking toward us a distance away, went to grab his collar to leash and he escaped my hands, went after this guy barking the entire way, nipped him in the hip and once the guy stopped moving, I'd gotten there already, and he stopped and sat next to me. Hasn't happen before that or since then. I took him out of SAR to work on it and essentially haven't gone back. I took him to a trainer and she said, beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not aggression and believes it was solely because he startled me, the guy would stop moving, and he was protecting. She said the fact that he didn't bite through skin nor continue after I had gotten over there was her reasoning. She and I worked for a few sessions and we basically just did fun stuff because she said I didn't have anything to work on with him. Just that I needed to be in control more with him because I was getting lax.. which was true.

I have, since then, had this hidden anxiety about taking him anywhere.. Also, since then, I have done a lot more work on things, trying to get him back to be solid on a few things. After months, he is fantastic. Like I said before we really do go a lot of places with him and I have been working with him more in public. I have virtually no worries about him on leash at all.. but how do I gain my confidence back in him on off leash times. We have gone to the off leash dog beach since then, and again.. did perfect. We go to the dog park and again, perfect, comes when called, leave things when told, etc. From an observer's perspective he is very well behaved and has no issues... but for me I have this like anxiety that the one incident will repeat itself, because he'd been great up to that point too.

How do I get back to the place where we can hike on trails off leash and I can relax andd not be on edge the entire time anticipating someone coming around the corner??

Any advice, maybe from some who have had to build back their own confidence in their dog??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,438 Posts
I've done the opposite of what most people here say to do with their dogs - I've always given my dogs too much freedom, and consequently they've occasionally made the wrong choice. But I've never let that affect my confidence in either them or myself. If they made a mistake, it was a learning opportunity. If Titan was my dog, I would want 100% reliability with his recall, and if I had that, then I wouldn't worry about anything else as far as he's concerned. But I would pay extra attention (more than my usual excessive anal monitoring, is that even possible, lol?) to the environment when he's off leash, to make absolutely certain that he was recalled before anything could ever happen, so that particular event never repeated itself. I guess I'm not much help...sorry :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
573 Posts
I agree with Blanketback on the 100% solid recall.

The thing you also need to realize is that anxiety travels up and down the leash too. You've got to get into the proper frame of mind, confident and not expecting something bad to happen.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,527 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I agree Freddy.. I REALLY try to not get anxious when we are out, though sometimes I can't help it.

And Blanketback, maybe that's my problem.. he has solid recall with the distractions we have been able to recreate, but I haven't been able to do it when he's in full drive mode. 99.9% of the time, if I have his toy in my hand.. he's mine regardless. Doesn't give a hoot what anyone or anything is doing around him. Though I am much more aware now of our surroundings now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,752 Posts
I used be constantly on guard with Skadi, after she growled at a waitress at a crowded outdoor restaurant soon after we got her, but she has been so good ever since that I just trust her again. I had to get up my nerve to start taking her out again, and do some training, but she has earned my trust again. Grim isn't there yet- with him, I am constantly on guard, although he has been much better lately.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,494 Posts
Can you not set Titan up in a similar situation with the help of a friend?

If someone was willing to assist, I bet you could simulate the situation which set Titan off ....even with a bit of surprise/alarm on your behalf if your assistant was good at their role in the exercise.

Proofing the dog on his recall in an anxious moment will most likely help you understand if you have the problem solved or more work needs to be done.

Maybe a 30 foot lead might be a good idea while you are testing Titan's reactions in this exercise so he can bolt a bit if he so desires...and of course a bit of free rein to test the solidness of his recall.

The unexpected has caught me before as well and it does raise my pulse rate momentarily....have to imagine my pooch feels the same as well as the difference in me.

It sounds like you have a wonderful dog in Titan, probably better than most...I'm confident he will win your trust a 100% again.

SuperG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,316 Posts
How do I get back to the place where we can hike on trails off leash and I can relax andd not be on edge the entire time anticipating someone coming around the corner??
What you need is 1 solid command that you can rely on in any distraction. I would advise on the "DOWN" command. If you go with a recall command it would take a lot more work (in high distraction) as compared to the down command.

The reason being, when you command down the dog stops what he is doing and goes down (in this case he is running way from you). In a recall command, the dog has to stop what he is doing, look for you (he is running away at distraction so is not clear where you are at) then make a decision if he wants to return to you (or not). You would have to work on each part of the recall individually (in high distraction).

I would train the down command and proof it in the highest possible distraction. Will be easier to accomplish and will get the job done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,438 Posts
In a recall command, the dog has to stop what he is doing, look for you (he is running away at distraction so is not clear where you are at) then make a decision if he wants to return to you (or not).
I agree that the "Down" command is very valuable, but what's to say that if the dog is allowed to blow off the recall, then the dog won't blow off that command too? The recall isn't negotiable! I'm surprised you even said that, actually. Lol, shocked...I'll bet your dogs don't get to "decide" if they'll recall or not :D

And Blanketback, maybe that's my problem.. he has solid recall with the distractions we have been able to recreate, but I haven't been able to do it when he's in full drive mode. 99.9% of the time, if I have his toy in my hand.. he's mine regardless. Doesn't give a hoot what anyone or anything is doing around him. Though I am much more aware now of our surroundings now.
That last sentence: yup! I like walking my dogs off leash too, but I don't let them get too far ahead of me, and if there's a curve in the path then I'll call them right back to stay with me, just in case of what you're worrying about, lol.

It's interesting how we can condition our dogs to respond to certain situations. My last GSD wasn't the greatest with other dogs, so whenever we were outside and another dog was walking past our house, he'd get the "Down" command. Over time, every time he saw another dog, he'd get into that position on his own - it was wonderful, lol.

I've been taking my current dog for off leash walks ever since he was 8 weeks old. I would call him back to me at a certain distance every time, just because I didn't want him roaming too far and getting out of my sight. He's conditioned himself to automatically race ahead to that general distance, and then he'll race right back to me to check in. This is wonderful too!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,527 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I am workign on the emergency down during a recall right now. He's a bit slow at it... and if I do it too much he starts anticipating the command. I am certain I am doing something wrong. Haven't quite figured out how to train the emergency down in any high drive situation. It's hard to mimic him in the zone because he only get "in the zone" every so often.. the closest I get is having him chase the frisbee or kickball.. that is like crack Titan.

Anywho.. for me I think it's just because I haven't been able to test any of his training in those situations. When we do off leash, it's really only when we hike or are at a picnic or beach.

It's funny because if we show up to a group of people or a group of dogs.. he is just perfect.. it's like he knows they were there and we are coming to their territory. But it's mroe if we're by ourselves and someone approaches that I get that anxiety and he is more alert.. now maybe that's normal, lol. I just notice a big difference in his resopnses to people and dogs depending on if we go there or they come here. You know?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,438 Posts
It's what they're reading from us too. If you're anxious, then of course Titan will be alert to what's making you anxious. Lots of people think I'm a bit of a snob, because I'll ignore them instead of being the typical friendly type. But this is what I'm teaching my dog - yeah, there a guy with a kayak 15' away from us, big deal, I've got your water toy, wheeee! Then after a few tosses, I'll say, "Hi, nice day to enjoy the water, huh?" and by then my dog is over his initial interest in that person - who did get a glance from him initially, but he followed my lead in not paying attention.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,527 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Yeah I guess I need to treat it as if he were on a lead. Today on our walk/run, there were many people walking with their dogs, he always peeks interest but we keep walking, I generally say leave it if he's not, and we continue. He's really good about that.

When he's off lead, I get that fast heart beat, "oh no" and usually get his attention some how. It works. I don't know.. I'm crazy maybe lol.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,316 Posts
I agree that the "Down" command is very valuable, but what's to say that if the dog is allowed to blow off the recall, then the dog won't blow off that command too? The recall isn't negotiable! I'm surprised you even said that, actually. Lol, shocked...I'll bet your dogs don't get to "decide" if they'll recal!
This is not about my dogs, I can down or recall in any distraction but it takes years of work. We need to look at it from a practical point of view. There is much higher propability of success if OP trains the down in any distraction and from distance. It is easier for a dog to blow the recall as compared to the down command for reasons explained in my previous post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,438 Posts
Packen, as much as I would like to agree with you, I wonder if you're right. Titan nipped a stranger. OP is nervous when people approach, and the dog is reading that. Is it truly better to have the dog in an emergency down, between OP and the 'threat' or is it better to recall the dog to OP? If the dog is in a down at a distance, will OP still be anxious, with the dog feeling this? Or will the the sight of the dog recalling give OP a huge sense of relief, and dismiss her anxiety? I'm picking this apart just because it's interesting to me, lol. Not to say you're wrong - this is just how I see it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,316 Posts
Ok, so dog goes after stranger and is about to bite, op recalls, dog ignores recall and bites. In same scenario op commands down instead of recall and dog downs. Now op can walk to dog and put a leash on him. Which was a better choice?

Why did dog not obey recall but obeyed the down command, you ask? Because down is easier to proof in high distraction compared to recall. On paper recall looks super, in real world it can fail at a higher rate than the down command. In an emergency you always use a command that has the highest probability of success.

To understand above one needs to understand drives, distraction levels and how it effects the state of drives and how the handler can influence with verbal command.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,438 Posts
It's the "influence with verbal command" that doesn't have me convinced that the down would be easier in this case. Commanding a recall with authority might not carry the same weight as commanding a down with a little bit of panic thrown in, lol.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,527 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
For me I have no issues training either, lol I would LOVE for both to be solid in any situation. When Titan and I train in public he is on point. I can down from yards away.. my problem is, and has always been, I cannot create, or haven't figured out how to create, a situation where he is in high drive/focused mode to be able to test his emergency downs.

Right now we do high drive type play with his favorite toy, he is amped up about it and in the middle of his return to me, I can "down" him, but he is a bit slow. We have a solid recall with a decent amount of distraction and I can down him in that as well, admitedly slow again. Maybe I should try downing him after I throw the ball when he's at his peak of drive???? does that make any sense? lol...

And yes...honestly, if I were in a similar situation and he obeyed either command as he was running up to someone, I would be really really relieved and it would definitely help build my confidence in him. I have had some good experiences since then.. the most recent..

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/stories/461290-down-stay-perfection-brag.html

Which did definitely help. I also had a moment where I wasn't paying attention and while playing fetch, off lead in the front yard.. I usually stand between Titan and the street so I throw toward the house.. reason is one.. street with cars.. not busy but still, and 2 I will always be between him and any approaching person. We've never had an issue.. but one day.. for whatever reason I as playing the opposite way.. well I threw the stick and 2 bikers just came around the corner and instant anxiety filled me, I saw them and said, "Titan, Come here!" and he did hesitate for a nano second, looked at them but then brought me the stick anyways. I kept him there until he passed and continued to play with him.. changing position of course, lol.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,657 Posts
I prefer "Stay" myself for an emergency command. Down is great and all my dogs will do that of course. But to my way of thinking "Stay" works if something unexpected dhappens??

I came to this conclusion based on my Boxer,she would "down" but it was alot of back talk and being fussy about it. 'Stay" and boom she froze like a statue! Stay,stops the forward momentum (which they would have to do with a down anyway) and then down if still needed!

I understand your nervousness, I did 'Who Pets my Puppy or Dog" Leerburgh, to keep people out of my guys face and I controlled his interactions with people. He gave me clear indications early on that he was not a fan of people! So I was taking "zero" chances!!Sounds like you've done basically the same thing.

So the problem is not so much your dog as it is you. My guy is well trained also and has proven himself to be safe around people on numerous occasions and I have allowed several folks to pet him and it's always been without issue. :)

But having dealt with actual people friendly dogs and having had Rocky now for 7 issue free, proven safe years. I still don't feel the same with him around people as I did with my other dogs! With my Boxer and my BullMastiff/APBT/Lab mix, if folks would ask to pet them, I'd happily say Go for it! :)

With my GSD not so much, I always tend to pause and think... and say well uh...
Not really fair to him but it's kinda the way it is! Not exactly helpful I know but that's my experience
with a dog with "former" people issues. :)
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top