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this is a long sad story about a family i know. lots of mistakes were made and there is a lot of regret and shame involved in this family’s decision to get a GSD puppy. obviously they can’t change the past but they are desperate to create a good future for this pup if possible.

the GSD puppy came from an Amish breeder. she was brought home at 6 weeks of age. she was treated like a baby doll for the first 3 months: constantly carried and hugged. around 14 weeks of age, she started mouthing all of the family members. hard enough to draw blood sometimes. they took the puppy to puppy classes once a week for about 12 weeks. she learned a lot of the basics, like sit and down and watch me and wait.

but she seriously lacks impulse control. she bursts through doors and out of her crate when opened. she jumps on people all the time. she is extremely high energy and hardly ever lays down. unfortunately, about 2 months ago, she began resource guarding (usually found objects, such as the remote control or a barrette or piece of paper, as well as places, like the couch). oddly enough, she has no issues with letting anyone pick up her food bowl while she is eating. she just wags her tail.

her resource guarding is getting worse. she is now 9 months old and 55 pounds. she is now lunging at people without giving a warning growl. she usually does not actually bite anyone, with the exception of a person at her day care (they described it as a level one bite). she also actually bites the father. she has drawn blood although i don’t know if that’s because he yanks his hand back or if it’s because of the bite itself.

all of the family members are now afraid of this dog. they love her too because when she is not resource guarding, she is extremely sweet and friendly to everyone she meets, including the family.

complicating matters is that one of the family members was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder last month and is crying all the time and acting out. everyone in the family is super stressed because of the dog problems and the bipolar problems.

can this dog be salvaged? the family has no idea how to fix this. they are trying prozac and seeing a behavioral specialist. if that doesn’t help, i can’t imagine anyone wanting to take her given her history. i imagine a rescue is also not an option given her problems? is euthanasia the only real option?

thanks

mary lou
 

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It reads like this dog hasn't had good clear boundaries, being treated like a baby doll, being allowed to act out and play with humans as if they are other dogs. I wouldn't go with drugs right away. I hope the behaviorist helps and the family listens. My biggest concern is if they are dealing with an unstable human in the family, this family might not have the energy to deal with this dog. So just because the pup knows how to sit on command it means nothing if they don't enforce it each time they ask for it. If they give a down command but don't enforce the dog staying down until released it does very little good. They need to use the basic idea of Nothing In Life Is Free. They need to use clear direction and fair corrections. That means drawing a line in the ground and correcting but not by getting angry and cranking on the dog. As far as not having much impulse control, this is still a very young dog. These dogs don't reach their full maturity until nearly 3 years old!

I am glad that you are reaching out for advice for them but there is really little you can do. People tend to not take advice if they don't directly ask for it. Even then they might not bother. Often people ask for advice to confirm their own ideas. Until someone takes charge of this young active dog and works her, she will be that hurricane in the house driving them all nuts. Someone needs to take that urge to bite and use it for tug games that teach. Someone needs to take this dog out and about to explore and run. Someone needs to teach the dog to get a toy when it wants to play, not grab a hand or pant leg, and when the dog brings the toy it gets to play with someone. Toys alone are boring. They might want to consider a different day care if this one is not a good match. Not all are the same. Much depends on the staff. Some have experienced staff. Some have teenagers that just need a part time job.

Bottom line, if they can't do this because they have their hands full already, they might be able to find someone who can. Unless a neurologist can say that this dog has serious brain damage he can most likely be taught to behave.
 

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Sounds like an untrained dog. Bursting out of the crate is an obedience training issue. Jumping on people...obedience training issue.

How was the resource guarding originally dealt with? Bad training could have caused this issue.

No boundaries, no follow up to basic training and bad breeder.. It would be criminal to euthanize this young dog without having a professional evaluation and further training with a balanced trainer.
 

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So sad that a dog should pay for a humans mistake. Euthanasia should be the last resort after first exhausting ever other option. This dog has nothing but bad training issues as most dogs do.
Dogs are not baby dolls, they are not toys or a cute object to place on a shelf. They will require as much attention and guidance as a child.
 

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It is extremely concerning that euthanasia is even being discussed with this 9 month old puppy. Every single thing you have stated is an obedience issue. Have they brought in real trainers instead of meds and head doctors?? We had to bring in 3 different trainers for a friends super aggressive Cane Corso and the third one was the charm, they clicked and understood each other and now the dog is awesome, goes with him everywhere.


If she is resource guarding, take her resources away, quick fix. How much exercise does the pup get a day, mentally and physically? Is she being crate trained?



At the end of the day though it seems as if the family is over it, especially if euthanasia has even been brought up, but all I can ask is that you plead with them to take it to a rescue or maybe try a local IPO club and see if anyone is looking for a challenge.
 

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Euthanasia is the easy way out for them, and would be a huge shame. I would hope a veterinarian would refuse to do it, but I realize, dogs being property, a vet really would have no choice.

Behaviorists, meds are useless for this scenario. The dog is fine, she just needs clear boundaries and to live in a stable situation. I'm guessing people's reactions to her have in essence trained "object guard" and that is what she is reacting to. A good trainer could clear this up easily.

I'd recommend the family spend a good amount of time researching trainers and go to a trainer, not a "behaviorist".

If they post location, people on this forum usually have good suggestions, or can help screen a potential trainer.
 

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I hope the Prozac is for a human family member.



The dog does not belong in this home. It is likely that most pups, subjected to this sort of handling, would present problems.



Euthanasia is not the only option but I would not keep the pup with this family. These people do not sound like they are capable of handling the dog and moving past their mistakes. The pup deserves another chance with someone more in tune with strong young dogs.


BTW Vets can refuse to euthanize a dog. It doesn't mean that the people will not find one to do it, but the vet can refuse.
 

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In my opinion, the VERY BEST option for this pup (short of multiple people in that family making the commitment to learn about and provide consistent, positive dog training) is for that dog to be given to a person who knows GSDs and will train the dog before things get REALLY out of hand.

All of the issues described are caused by failure to care for the dog properly, and by that I mean structured exercise, structured play, and training, training, training.

My dog doesn't resource guard anything. All the resources are mine and I share them when I decide to. I ask for "sit" and "watch me" before I set the dog's food bowl down. I ask for "sit" and "stay" before the dog is allowed to go out the door. I ask for "down" and "stay" before I open the kennel door to let the dog out. This training is MY responsibility to my dog and I do it because I love my dog. I want that dog to be happy and healthy, and that requires BOUNDARIES to be established.

On weekends there are long walks, play periods with the flirt pole, and training. The dog L O V E S training! I break up training with play. I make training a game. Also, I felt that some of the basic obedience training I was doing wasn't going well, i.e., my techniques weren't good, so I asked for help (like you're doing) and hired a trainer. So glad I did! Even the trainer has been impressed with what the dog has been able to do so far.

GSDs are very intelligent, and if their intellect isn't stimulated, channeled properly and shaped, they'll get bored and perhaps destructive. Heck, human children aren't much different.

Thanks for asking your question. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE suggest to this family in the most loving way you can to either invest their time and effort in training or give this dog to someone who will give it the time and love it deserves. THANK YOU.
 

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isn't it a good thing that the dog doesn't hold the power of life or death over the
owners who completely let this dog down?

this family should not ever own a dog again.

baby doll? really. First mistake right there .

there are so many dogs that are "wrong" can't help themselves
because of their genetics - BUT -- there are more and more that are
doing their best , with bad dynamics and relationships which , are the
scaffold upon which every other interaction between that human and
that dog are layed upon.

cam this dog be salvaged? Quite possibly . But NOT by this family .
Not by someone that will further indulge the dog , be over sympathetic
to the dogs situation.

good clear structure. Good clear communication . Good leadership and
guidance . An understanding and an appreciation as this dog as a DOG .
 

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This is a story I've heard so many times. People sometimes wonder why breed rescues in my area have so many dogs that are adolescents between 6 mo. and 2 years old. They pretty much all have stories like this -- someone bought a cute puppy from a breeder offering no post-adoption support, and it grew up to be a great big mess because they didn't know anything about the breed or invest in the guidance of a good trainer. The dog usually gets no meaningful, structured exercise or mental stimulation with its family to channel its youthful energy and create a bond with its human leader (instead exercise is off-loaded to day care or a dog park), has usually never gone to any obedience class with structure and high expectations, including leash work, and it views humans as other animals that it can push around. The adolescent has no human leadership, so it does whatever it pleases, and sometimes it runs the household because nobody else does. Puppy classes are fine for meeting a trainer and maybe horsing around with other puppies, if that's what you want, but at this age, the dog is old enough for a real, no-nonsense class with high expectations of the dog and the owner.

Nearly all of these "bratty adolescent" dogs turn around radically in an experienced foster home offering good leadership, structure, and a foundation of obedience. It doesn't even take very long! I can think of many dozens of these dogs who are now fantastic family dogs -- they actually are much happier having structure and human leadership, as they always know the right thing to do, and their world became predictable. Dogs like being around people who give them that! They can relax because their human's got this.

However, your problem now is that with a bite history, most reputable breed rescues will not take the dog. The situation was allowed to escalate too far. I hope you don't give up on the dog, but instead realize this is a problem of ownership. Both the dog and the owner need a trainer who turn them around -- trainers who are truth-tellers who will look the owner in the eye and say we need to train the human, not the dog, are sometimes very valuable, even if they make you mad or hurt your feelings. Letting go of ego in dog training is sometimes half the battle -- too many people give up when told they're doing everything wrong, instead of saying, "Show me how to do it right!"
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thank you for all the responses!

as further background, one of the very young adult children in the family brought home the puppy when she learned it was the last of the litter and likely headed to a shelter. the family previously raised a lab mix to age 13-he was an absolute joy to be around, sweetest dog ever, despite no real training. parents knew they should have said no to this GSD puppy as they felt she would not be as easy as the lab mix but said yes anyway. part of the problem too is that things went haywire with the other young adult child this summer and he has since been diagnosed with bipolar. they had no idea that would happen to him. it’s been a horrible time for this family.

at any rate, they are highly discouraged because they are terrified that this dog cannot be helped. and they know it is their fault and that she is paying dearly for their mistakes. it is my belief that they will do everything in their power at this point to rehabilitate this puppy. they DO care for her very much and realize they’ve created a bad situation for her.

they are able to go to a trainer in indiana, preferably somewhere from fort wayne to indianapolis or in west central ohio. any suggestions for a good trainer would be very much appreciated.

i have printed out info about NILIF for them. at this point, i suspect only the parents will be handling the dog as the ill child cannot and the one who brought the puppy home is too afraid of her. i hope that will be enough consistency for this dog. she is crate trained, goes for 30 minute walks OR daycare every day and plays fetch for 30-60 minutes each day. she is a retrieving machine. they have taken to hiding her favorite toy in the fenced in backyard and sending her out to look for it. watching her search for it and always find it is amazing! she is very friendly when she greets strangers. she is always good with other dogs, as well as with cats. she is also very well behaved at the vets, who do not believe she has a neurological problem like a brain tumor, seizures, etc...

thanks again!

Mary Lou
 

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How about Warsaw, IN? Randy Rhodes' kennel is there and offers training -- he's a former IPO competitor at the highest levels. Someone I know who was a national competitor trained with him. If he isn't offering training now, he'll likely know someone good in the area who does:
https://www.rhodeskennel.com/about-us
 
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