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Hi there -
I am pretty sure I understand the psychology of what is happening here but I thought I would throw this out there to get a group consensus.

I have a 6 month male/5 month female who are actually pretty amazing together and with our family. The funny thing I notice is no matter where my male is, if he is staring at my female, my female will get defensive and start barking at him. He could be 50' away from her and doing nothing but staring (no noise making, no teeth showing) but its like she can feel his eyes on her and she will bark at him and hide whatever it is she has. My instinct is Choncheese, our female, is being defensive of her treat/toy and Chunk our male, is trying to take it from her. He is just doing a silent but sneaky attack move to get it away from her. What normally happens is she will bark, he will continue to get closer and 1 of them will run off with the treat/toy and immediately they will be running and playing with it together. Sometimes she will just make little whining noises, tiny barks, as he gets closer to her.

We have noticed our female is more possessive/protective over things. They are cool with each other now but I understand that can escalate so we are working with her separately on that. The stare down usually turns into playtime.... but I wanted to ask if this was something we should be watching out for/working on.

And because everyone loves pics, here is our cute males face, post mud playtime, so you can get a full idea of what is staring her down :)

Also - Side question, when they come up to the door to get in, Choncheese is always behind Chunk - Is this a dominance thing? She is usually the one full of mud so I always thought she was just trying to hide herself so we would open the door for them.
Thanks -
 

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Don't allow anything that doesn't look good. Have them spend little time together and certainly not unsupervised. It sounds like they are developing too much pack behavior. His focus should be on you. It might be tempting to let them wear each other out while you are inside but it will take away from the great relationship with them you had in mind, if that's is your goal.
Check out sibling issues. They evidently are not siblings but the issues remain the same. Time to get to work them and crate them individually. You have two young working dogs so you need more time in a day than 24 hours to do this right if you want to sleep at some point. These first two years are crucial in their development.
Added: the female can get bred at any age over 6 months and he can sire a litter at 5 months of age. What are your plans to prevent this? Ideally, neutering the male at a much later age for health reasons if at all. Females can be spayed after one heat for health reasons (one is to avoid an inverted vulva which can lead to infections). Every heat could be a problem here.
I hope you didn't get these two to breed litters. OK, off the computer and to work with your pups ;)
 

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Don't allow anything that doesn't look good. Have them spend little time together and certainly not unsupervised. It sounds like they are developing too much pack behavior. His focus should be on you. It might be tempting to let them wear each other out while you are inside but it will take away from the great relationship with them you had in mind, if that's is your goal.
Check out sibling issues. They evidently are not siblings but the issues remain the same. Time to get to work them and crate them individually. You have two young working dogs so you need more time in a day than 24 hours to do this right if you want to sleep at some point. These first two years are crucial in their development.
Added: the female can get bred at any age over 6 months and he can sire a litter at 5 months of age. What are your plans to prevent this? Ideally, neutering the male at a much later age for health reasons if at all. Females can be spayed after one heat for health reasons (one is to avoid an inverted vulva which can lead to infections). Every heat could be a problem here.
I hope you didn't get these two to breed litters. OK, off the computer and to work with your pups ;)
Its not that it doesn't look good... at least for now, It always leads to playtime. I mention it because I do worry about her being protective over things, which is why we train them separately and focus on this with her. I also don't understand why she barks at him because really she does want his attention and when he does come over she immediately plays with him. Its an interesting thing they do together, I will try to capture it on video to share.

BUT - They do this when they are not right next to us... when they are inside with us they are focused on us and want to do anything to be with us. When we go outside with them its the same thing, they do anything for our attention. When they are out in there backyard, without us, they do this playful banter.

Our female is being spayed. We want to wait as long as possible but she does already have an appointment next month to be prepared. There are no signs of a heat coming but I check her daily. She does have a inverted vulva but I have been diligent at keeping her clean and she has yet to get a UTI or any infection. It has actually gotten much more normal in the last few months but we do want to wait to spay her to see how it will develop.

No we did not get them to breed them, I mean if we did they are from healthy parents and are beautiful dogs - but no we didn't get them to breed them - YES we did get them to bond together. My husband has had GSD's his entire life, 2 as an adult on his own and now 2 with me. This is not his 1st rodeo with the breed but it is mine. I have had many dogs but these are my 1st GSD's so I notice and question more things.
 

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This isn't a dire warning, but I would break his concentration when ever you noticing that he is staring. For both human and dog manners, staring isn't acceptable especially as adults. Most take it as a challenge and/or threat and most feel very uncomfortable if they are the target of a stare. It goes for both species in this case. Your girl was uncomfortable. As pups, the stare would more than likely turn into play. As they get older, it could cause spats.

I would just mark it with a "no" and when he looks at you praise with a yes. Do it every time he stares for no apparent reason or for a prolonged time so it becomes automatic muscle memory to divert to you. I think getting him conditioned to not stare, nipping it in the bud will be helpful as he matures.

I can't tell you how many times I have caught and had to interrupt my guy staring. There are three major precursors before he would react to other dogs, Stiff legs, rubber necking and what I call the Germand Shepherd Stink Eye Stare. Looking back, he had that tendency to stare at other dogs for no good reason when he was an older pup (about 5/6 months). Not the greatest behavior you want to see in a dog.

I think the rest of it you've got covered with your two. Just my thoughts for my two pennies.
 
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My pups have a similar play style. I swear the only reason they even want toys or chews is to taunt each other with them for the fun of the keep-away game. This has not created any possessive behavior -- they are quite respectful when the other is eating, drinking, or chewing, and never growl or snap if something is taken away from them. Staring builds suspense before you chase/pounce. The barking could be a warning, but it could also be part of play, especially if it is high pitched and rapid. Something like, hey, I see you stalking me over there, bring it on! Dogs can read eachother's behavior infinitely better than we can. I would trust their communication if you have no other concerns about their behavior or relationship.
 

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I just want to add something about the Shepherd stare, I'm not talking about that deeply felt amazingly strong loving stare that a shepherd offers to his/her bonded humans. There is a difference and it can be seen in his/her eye set, body and facial expression along with how it feels when directed at you, the human.
 

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This isn't a dire warning, but I would break his concentration when ever you noticing that he is staring. For both human and dog manners, staring isn't acceptable especially as adults. Most take it as a challenge and/or threat and most feel very uncomfortable if they are the target of a stare. It goes for both species in this case. Your girl was uncomfortable. As pups, the stare would more than likely turn into play. As they get older, it could cause spats.

I would just mark it with a "no" and when he looks at you praise with a yes. Do it every time he stares for no apparent reason or for a prolonged time so it becomes automatic muscle memory to divert to you. I think getting him conditioned to not stare, nipping it in the bud will be helpful as he matures.

I can't tell you how many times I have caught and had to interrupt my guy staring. There are three major precursors before he would react to other dogs, Stiff legs, rubber necking and what I call the Germand Shepherd Stink Eye Stare. Looking back, he had that tendency to stare at other dogs for no good reason when he was an older pup (about 5/6 months). Not the greatest behavior you want to see in a dog.

I think the rest of it you've got covered with your two. Just my thoughts for my two pennies.
Every time I notice him doing it, I tell him no and distract him with a quick training session or a toy. He knows exactly what he is doing little stinker. He is so sweet about it on the outside but I know what he is doing mentally.
 

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My pups have a similar play style. I swear the only reason they even want toys or chews is to taunt each other with them for the fun of the keep-away game. This has not created any possessive behavior -- they are quite respectful when the other is eating, drinking, or chewing, and never growl or snap if something is taken away from them. Staring builds suspense before you chase/pounce. The barking could be a warning, but it could also be part of play, especially if it is high pitched and rapid. Something like, hey, I see you stalking me over there, bring it on! Dogs can read eachother's behavior infinitely better than we can. I would trust their communication if you have no other concerns about their behavior or relationship.
Thank you, this is more of what I see. They have a way of communicating with lil barks and squeals. She does do barks to tell him no, but the min he gets close she ends up turning it into a playful run/game of chase. They have never had an issue eating, they both have their own bowls but will take turns on each others bowls. Often times eating out of the same bowl at the same time. They don't fight it f I take something away from them but no matter what if I give them each their own chewy, they instinctively want the others chewy and there starts the playtime.

Still working with them each separately though to work on their individual issues so they are better together.
 

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I just want to add something about the Shepherd stare, I'm not talking about that deeply felt amazingly strong loving stare that a shepherd offers to his/her bonded humans. There is a difference and it can be seen in his/her eye set, body and facial expression along with how it feels when directed at you, the human.
I know exactly what you mean. Our male is much more bonded with my husband and I so he gives us those long loving stares, we got him 1st and spent more 1 on 1 time with him earlier on so its understandable. We are working on that with our female to balance it out. Our female is much more independent though so I don't get the bonding stares with her as much. Our male is the protective one, if he sees anyone coming up to the house when he is with me in the living room you can see his eyes and entire mood shift... he immediately has the "who the heck are you" stare...

He doesn't do that kind of stare with our female though... he stares at her with this sweet goofy face and then will slowly snuggle closer to her. It drives her absolutely crazy lol... but then it always leads to playtime no matter if she barks loud or soft at him.

I am surprised by how different the 2 of them are.... its amazing to watch them grow up together. They are both still so young - we have a lot to look forward to (and to work on :wink2:)
 
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Its not that it doesn't look good... at least for now, It always leads to playtime. I mention it because I do worry about her being protective over things, which is why we train them separately and focus on this with her. I also don't understand why she barks at him because really she does want his attention and when he does come over she immediately plays with him. Its an interesting thing they do together, I will try to capture it on video to share.

BUT - They do this when they are not right next to us... when they are inside with us they are focused on us and want to do anything to be with us. When we go outside with them its the same thing, they do anything for our attention. When they are out in there backyard, without us, they do this playful banter.

Our female is being spayed. We want to wait as long as possible but she does already have an appointment next month to be prepared. There are no signs of a heat coming but I check her daily. She does have a inverted vulva but I have been diligent at keeping her clean and she has yet to get a UTI or any infection. It has actually gotten much more normal in the last few months but we do want to wait to spay her to see how it will develop.

No we did not get them to breed them, I mean if we did they are from healthy parents and are beautiful dogs - but no we didn't get them to breed them - YES we did get them to bond together. My husband has had GSD's his entire life, 2 as an adult on his own and now 2 with me. This is not his 1st rodeo with the breed but it is mine. I have had many dogs but these are my 1st GSD's so I notice and question more things.
In this scenario I would honestly not spay the female early. If you aren't up to keeping them separate you should neuter the male or get him a vasectomy. If the heats can correct your girl's vulva it will be likely much better in the long run. Better than potentially looking at surgery or health issues as she ages.

As for the staring my neighbor's dog has a male with a very intense stare. They have him and another dog they got together as puppies. They just had a fight the other day because he was staring and she did the bark at him to 'play' or similar. Don't know if it's the same behavior but if it is I'd put a nip in the bud before they get older and it turns into an issue once they're adults and more likely to fight instead of play when one is being a jerk.
 

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There IS a stalk/stare that is a beginning to play. Labs usually drop to their belly while doing the stare, and they sort of jut their chin out. Then the other dog will either return the gesture, or if the other dog isn't receptive there will be a lot of looking away or sniffing. The staring dog who wants to pounce will either take the hint if they are socially appropriate or charge anyway if they aren't.

There is a difference in the energy you feel from the dogs when it's the play stare. I actually only find it to be a problem if one dog is abusing an unwilling partner, or if a dog tries to initiate this way with a sensitive dog who doesn't get it and takes it as a challenge.
 

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In this scenario I would honestly not spay the female early. If you aren't up to keeping them separate you should neuter the male or get him a vasectomy. If the heats can correct your girl's vulva it will be likely much better in the long run. Better than potentially looking at surgery or health issues as she ages.

As for the staring my neighbor's dog has a male with a very intense stare. They have him and another dog they got together as puppies. They just had a fight the other day because he was staring and she did the bark at him to 'play' or similar. Don't know if it's the same behavior but if it is I'd put a nip in the bud before they get older and it turns into an issue once they're adults and more likely to fight instead of play when one is being a jerk.
I do want to wait to spay our female as long as possible, it is possible to keep them separate and we plan to get through the 1st heat cycle and see how it goes. My husband would rather not mess with our male (yes I understand how that sounds)….
In the long run though we do not want puppies so we need to spay our female so there is no chance of her ever getting pregnant. We will just wait as long as possible to make sure she is fully developed and to see if the vulva corrects itself.

My dogs have never gotten into a fight, but they are 5 and 6 months old. It is defiantly more a playtime thing but I do want to correct it so when they are older it does not become an issue. Our female is a tad dramatic anyways though so we have to take that into account... lol
 

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I know exactly what you mean. Our male is much more bonded with my husband and I so he gives us those long loving stares, we got him 1st and spent more 1 on 1 time with him earlier on so its understandable. We are working on that with our female to balance it out. Our female is much more independent though so I don't get the bonding stares with her as much. Our male is the protective one, if he sees anyone coming up to the house when he is with me in the living room you can see his eyes and entire mood shift... he immediately has the "who the heck are you" stare...

He doesn't do that kind of stare with our female though... he stares at her with this sweet goofy face and then will slowly snuggle closer to her. It drives her absolutely crazy lol... but then it always leads to playtime no matter if she barks loud or soft at him.

I am surprised by how different the 2 of them are.... its amazing to watch them grow up together. They are both still so young - we have a lot to look forward to (and to work on :wink2:)
I think I understand. Bud thought Sabi created the sun, moon and stars. He would often give her a sweet, come play look. If that failed he would grab a toy, or towel, or stick, or clump of dirt and prance around her in circles until she gave chase. He always let her catch him, always gave her his stuff. He would not have caused her harm for all the world. The few times they got into it he fought enough to defend himself, and it was always over one of Sabs adoptees and a perceived threat from him. He did not understand that bunnies and birds were puppies to, Sabi corrected that misunderstanding somewhat violently.
Do keep an eye on it but it is not an unusual male/female interaction.
 

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I think I understand. Bud thought Sabi created the sun, moon and stars. He would often give her a sweet, come play look. If that failed he would grab a toy, or towel, or stick, or clump of dirt and prance around her in circles until she gave chase. He always let her catch him, always gave her his stuff. He would not have caused her harm for all the world. The few times they got into it he fought enough to defend himself, and it was always over one of Sabs adoptees and a perceived threat from him. He did not understand that bunnies and birds were puppies to, Sabi corrected that misunderstanding somewhat violently.
Do keep an eye on it but it is not an unusual male/female interaction.
Thank is Chunk and Choncheese to a T! He loves her so much... he is very obedient to us but always has his eyes on her to make sure she is ok. He is stronger then her but always lets her win.... she is fatter then him though and will end up sitting on him to get her way. He will share with her and then taught her with something to get some playtime 3 mins later...
 
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There IS a stalk/stare that is a beginning to play. Labs usually drop to their belly while doing the stare, and they sort of jut their chin out. Then the other dog will either return the gesture, or if the other dog isn't receptive there will be a lot of looking away or sniffing. The staring dog who wants to pounce will either take the hint if they are socially appropriate or charge anyway if they aren't.

There is a difference in the energy you feel from the dogs when it's the play stare. I actually only find it to be a problem if one dog is abusing an unwilling partner, or if a dog tries to initiate this way with a sensitive dog who doesn't get it and takes it as a challenge.
Thanks for that explanation. It's something I hadn't read before and good to know. Makes a lot sense also when thinking back of my own boys behavior.
 

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Lets see if this works. Caught them today in there normal banter.... always turns into playtime but I am home working today so they are inside doing it while I work.

 

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OP go back and re read what Wolfydog said in the beginning. You do need to separate these two dogs every day for the purpose of bonding with and training individually with each.

I now have my first pair who really pal around and like each other and play a fair bit. But they both are WAY more interested in me than each other and I work to keep it that way. I like that they are friends and have fun together.

I have even had exhausting days when I did just throw them out in the yard and let then wear each other out but when I did it I knew I could not make a habit of it and I don't.

It's really important that your dogs look to you more than each other because bad problems can come of that.

I make sure to do things with each dog individually. We train for whatever I am doing with that dog. Training is rewarding and fun. They are always separated when I leave. I made sure early on that my youngest got left 100% alone regularly. No other dogs or people, so he knows that's a thing and it's fine. Sometimes he gets put up and everybody else leaves. It's fine. They all know that.

We usually walk together as a group but training and playing is one on one with me. If I can't easily call one dog from another I know I've got a problem. They all literally jump for joy when I take out just the one because they know that's their special time. They have a group recall that gets rewarded too.
 

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Yes, We do train seperatly.... they listen to us well and are very bonded to us but this was a special case I didnt correct them to video them. Normally they can NOT do this in the house.

The black face one is the female, she is the one always annoyed but she starts it and always keeps it going. She is just more vocal then our male.... no matter what you can always hear her the most.
 
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