German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 64 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,360 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
As some of you know, I have been having some problems with my puppy Jackson and his behavior towards strange people and dogs. I have continued to socialize him and things seemed to be progressing well, but today things just took 10 steps back...

For those of you who don't know...
Jackson is almost 5 months old. His personality is confident around the house, he is a hard dog, and very serious for a puppy. It's impossible for anyone but me or my husband to get him to wag his tail or engage in play. Towards strange people and dogs he melts down, more so with people.


Things were going well with us. We socialize anywhere from 2-4 times per week, new places, people, dogs. Last week we had our first visit to the dog park and he did BETTER than normal with other dogs, but when my friend tried to approach me, Jackson barked, hackled, and growled at her.

When he does this, the trainer, breeder, and fellow members instructed me to ignore his behavior, praise him when he allows someone to approach, and never force him.

Today, I was walking with my dad for over an hour with Jackson. He was doing great. My dad walked ahead and approx. 3 minutes later, Jackson and I went to find him. When we got to him, Jackson froze, growled, barked at him. He did this for probably about 5 minutes and it was impossible for me to even get near my dad without him melting down. It's like he didn't "remember" or recognize him only after a few minutes of being away.

Later on friends were at our house. Jackson spent 3 hours hiding behind chairs, or behind me. He was completley unapproachable. Barking, growling, and hiding. If anyone made a simple move as to 'walk by' he freaked out. People couldn't simply act their "normal" selves without him being totally scared.

He has NEVER been abused or had any bad experiences with anyone, I am totally confused and VERY upset. What am I doing wrong? PLEASE, if anyone can help, please let me know. He's getting bigger and his problem is NOT getting better. I am afraid he could bite someone if approached wrong, espeically as he matures. In fact, he is getting WORSE with his behavior as he gets older.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
604 Posts
You aren't doing anything wrong. It sounds like you need a behaviorist to help you with Jackson. I see from your profile that you live in Wisconsin. You might try one of the people listed here:

Dog Trainer Search

I had to engage the services of a behaviorist with Hunther, and you'll be better off doing this sooner than later. Don't listen to the local trainer at PetSmart, for instance; they're not trained or qualified to deal with this sort of thing.

P.S. I had to use the ZIP code for Kenosha on this search, but I don't know how close that is to you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,206 Posts
Did he recently have a rabies vaccination?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,941 Posts
It does not sound like you are doing anything wrong - Jackson has some fear issues, and if he is going through a fear period - well that just compounds everything!

I'm sorry you are going through this, it must be very disheartening. I would seek professional help with him too. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,360 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so far everyone, it's very, very upsetting for me. I am ready to cry right now. I love him so much but I'm afraid he might not get over this. It's so difficult when he's fine at home, but melts down around other people when we are out and about. I tried really hard to get a good puppy but things just don't seem to be getting better for us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,360 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
What realy upset me was when unexpectedly, my inlaws and nephew came by today. My nephew came into the living room, and was running with our son. Jackson jumped to his feet, and did a very low bark, hackles up, and ran at him. My nephew had been IN the house for some time, and Jackson knew he was in the other room. Well, my sister in law was pretty upset, and they left.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,602 Posts
I know it's a really tough time and you don't have any immediate results. Some times certain dogs just aren't a good match- I know, I went through the same thing. I had to rehome a female gsd that for a variety of reasons was not happy or well-suited to me or our home. She's now a year old, living a very happy and healthy life with another couple and their year old make gsd. I had cried many tears over her and knew in my gut she was not the dog for me, and I was not the owner for her. I so hope that you and Jackson can work this out- for everyone's safety and happiness
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,206 Posts
Education - Rabies Challenge Fund
I doubt this is the reason for Jackson's reactivity especially when he had his vax a few weeks ago. It was just a thought because of his extreme change in behavior.

I think it may be a fear stage and getting with a good trainer as suggested would be helpful. By building his confidence and being a strong leader he knows you are the one in control of all situations, so he won't need to feel insecure or reactive to scare the "bad people" away.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,991 Posts
I will never understand why some people insist dogs that behave this way should be ignored and never corrected. There are some on this forum that are so pro positive and anti correction that they insisit your dog will be forever ruined if you issue a correction.

As my grandfather would say....hogwash.

the pro's that deal with dogs like this issue corrections

Your dog doesn't feel you are in control of the situation that he perceives as worthy of danger signs. If he is corrected firmly for this behavior it will cease to exist. He is young enough that this can be turned around, but he needs a firm handler. You will certainly get all sorts of opinions, but I ask you - is what you're doing (which is nothing) working?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,002 Posts
I agree with rerun ignoring it will not make it go away. You need to find a really good private trainer to help with this. I wish you were closer I would send you to mine. Where in WI are you? My trainer does take dogs and train them at his home, I am in IL. I am not sure what the cost is for that.

You really need help before this gets to far out of control and it is already on its way. There is still time to correct this. I have been working with my pup on his behavior when he sees other dogs. He is very friendly but sometimes acts like a nutcase when he sees other dogs. My trainer has been helping me correct this and told me right now it is not bad but it could turn into a huge problem if I let it go. I need to be stronger in getting my point across (not abusive) and giving treats like most trainers will tell you will not work for this situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,301 Posts
What lines is he from, what were his parents like? He's just 5 months old - I have a 5 month old foster puppy - unknown background, non-GSD - and a happy personality so a different type of pup, but he hackled, barked and growled at a 2 year old walking at him like a zombie the other day. So I did the whole look at that, yippee yay stuff and backed him away to a point where he was okay to look at her. I was still in control, and I didn't want to give him a correction not knowing the cause of the behavior (and I was pretty sure it was fear!) but it was in a way that was more puppy friendly. Yesterday he met a little boy, who granted was not zombie like in his movements, but he was able to accept the little person and wanted to play with him. Again, not a GSD, but similar in age.

IF I knew he knew what it was, what he was expected to do, and how he reacted normally to this situation and that he was being a big dink, I'd let him know it was unacceptable (which is often the word I use - so that word for my dogs is a verbal correction). But now he needs to know what things are, and you can help to show him how to act (another more balanced adult dog going on some of the walks with you can make it a lot easier!).

But at this stage in the game, these are first experiences and behaviors that can be shaped with the help of another set of eyes guiding YOU so that you can help him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,305 Posts
I may be completely on the wrong track here, but I was reading your thread when you were about to get the dog and there was mention of you already having a puppy at that time and that your very young child "tormented" that dog... so I wonder if perhaps there is some kind of problem with the child and this pup as well that could cause aggression? The thread is this one: Yikes!
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
5,627 Posts
I will never understand why some people insist dogs that behave this way should be ignored and never corrected. There are some on this forum that are so pro positive and anti correction that they insisit your dog will be forever ruined if you issue a correction.
Because then you end up with a dog who doesn't growl or warn and just tries to bite if dogs or people get too close.

Growling is a warning and if you correct the growling instead of dealing with WHY they are growling, then you can create a bigger problem by removing the warning.

Using force to deal with fear doesn't help make them less fearful and can cause even more problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,991 Posts
Because then you end up with a dog like my foster who doesn't growl or warn and just tries to bite if dogs get too close.

Growling is a warning and if you correct the growling instead of dealing with WHY they are growling, then you can create a bigger problem by removing the warning.

Using force to deal with fear doesn't help make them less fearful and can cause even more problems.
completely and totally false
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
5,627 Posts
completely and totally false
I disagree. I believe in corrections just not for fear or growling out of fear. Correcting growling is only telling them not to growl. You NEED that warning to keep your dog and people safe.

Instead, you need to deal with WHY they are growling and work on that so that they don't need to growl.
 

·
Administrator & Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch
Joined
·
13,571 Posts
completely and totally false

Hogwash.

Corrections when a dog is reacting out of FEAR are completely inappropriate and make matters worse. Dog is afraid that something bad will happen, so let's go and make sure something bad does happen and prove to the dog that he was absolutely correct to feel frightened in the first place. And teach the dog that it can't trust the owner at the same time. Yeah, that's helpful.

I have no problem correcting a dog. But this is not the time or place for corrections. And yes absolutely correcting a dog for giving warning can certainly teach the dog not to give warning and just escalate because it doesn't address the underlying cause of why he is acting that way, only the behavioral expression. You can't correct a dog out of feeling insecure. You can correct him for expressing that with growling, but if the underlying cause isn't addressed nothing has changed with regard to how the dog feels, why he feels that way and his chances of reacting. He's just going to react in a different manner, probably escalating.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,219 Posts
Hope you can find a qualified behaviorist. Where did you get the dog? Do you have access to his background? I know that dogs regress at that age, go through a fear phase but it shouldn't last too long. Try as much socialization as you have time for. Pups at that age need constant attention and some need a lot of reassurance. Good luck but also prepare yourself for the possibility of giving him up to someone who has an environment that is better for his personality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,301 Posts
And it can't really be false if we've seen it can it?

My Bella was a mess at 6 months - it took them something like an hour and a half to get her from the car to the foster's house - fear aggression (and the people moving her were people who had titled dogs in Schutzhund, plus handled rescue dogs so not unaware). She was in her foster home for 2 months, and then I adopted her. While her foster home did a good job of stopping the behavior, they didn't address the why, so I had a potentially more dangerous dog on my hands.

I had to kind of undo, readjust, etc. so that instead of her being suppressed, she felt able to communicate discomfort. It was really difficult because she had no signs. Now I know, she knows and she's great. To see her you wouldn't think there was a problem. But she's a heck of a lot safer to be around than when she was compliantly coiled.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
27,461 Posts
This puppy seems to be reacting from FEAR and lack of confidence. So any corrections would be completely INappropriate, adding to the stress and sucking away confidence even more.

In what world would you yell and 'correct' when a pup is already fearful? How could a correction address the fear and help get a MORE confident puppy?

ARE YOU USING FOOD???????????'

Cause I don't understand how if EVERY SINGLE HUJMAN your puppy meets is handing them a piece of cheese/liver/hotdog/whatever your puppy isn't getting a bit more confident and delighted to see people. Specailly someone they know that has 100% of the time been giving them a treat. Around the house, around the yard, around the neighborhood.

ARE YOU USING FOOD ALL THE TIME?

In fact 100% of the food and calories my dog would be intaking would be from either my hand or someone elses hand. No food bowls for months.

ARE YOU PLAYING WITH YOUR DOG? How many hours a week are JUST playing? Off leash? Tugging. Throwing. Tugging.

A happy and confident puppy makes a happy confident adult dog. A happy confident puppy listens/learns/obeys and THEN can take a correction in stride (though you rarely have to correct).l

DID YOU START UP WITH THE CLICKER?

All positive, all part of your puppy learning how wonderful they are and how YOU are able to lead them and teach them so they should just look to you and follow your lead?

I commend you on what you have done. But now sure about the steps you have failed to do that I know would start to help immediately. Way more FUN. Way more exercise. Way more training/learning that they understand and will build their confidence (and NOT with any corrections).
 
1 - 20 of 64 Posts
Top