German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi, hope someone has had this experience and can advise. Our boy is 12 months old, we had him at four months and was unsocialised. We have had an up hill battle with him being so timid around well, most things. This would manfacture itself mainly in barking and lunging, usually at other dogs. I've been to classes, had a professional trainer work with us, read loads of books. Some people say we don't have a problem, others are advising a muzzle. His behaviour is unpredictable which makes me think it is still his timidity but he seems to carry himself differently now, with more confidence and I am concerned that he is making the jump to being aggressive. This is our 3rd GSD so we are not new to it, but it is our first male (he has been 'done') - does that make a difference? The trouble is I am now pre-empting any possible lunges and possibly making him worse. The calm within ain't there.......................any advice most welcome. Cheers
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,941 Posts
Hi Pumpkin - glad you rescued, and happy to hear your dog is doing better overall. A few years ago I adopted a mixed breed who had not been socialized, and reacted first with fear around other dogs, then after she became more confident and secure, with lunging, barking, growling.

What worked for me is intensive obedience training, and socializing with some select dogs that liked her and whom she respected. It took a ton of work, and she will never be reliable around strange/unknown dogs, but before where I could not even walk her past other dogs without actually grabbing her by the collar and dragging her away, so focused was she on them, we can now do a perfect, full eye-contact heel and have her ignore them.

Keep doing what you are doing, four months is not a long time for an unsocialized rescue to settle in and learn new behaviours. Continue with training, find new activities and classes to work him in around distractions, do daily sessions - practice in front of fenced yards with barking dogs.

Positives and treats work wonders for teaching new behaviours and developing a strong relationship with a new dog. My rescue had no concept of a relationship with people - she had been a tied dog - and challenged my authority every step of the way. She wanted to please, but she also acted like I had no right to tell her what to do. I struggled for six months with her, then started with positive, fun, reward obedience training, and she just changed and blossomed into a different dog!!! But I was still having control issues around other dogs, and reluctantly went to a prong - another life saver!!!!

You say you have worked with a professional trainer? what did the trainer say about his behaviour? Is it fear and insecurity, or dominance and bullying?
Depending on where the behaviour stems from, different approaches should be used: For insecurity, confidence building is important, as is showing your dog that you are in charge and will take care of any problems that might arise, that is your job, not his!

For dominance and bullying - show no mercy!!! (my rescue is this way - I have to be very clear that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated, and she knows!). If you haven't tried a prong collar yet, I suggest you work with a trainer to get one fitted and learn how to use it. It can amp up some dogs and make the problems worse, so experiement at first to see how he deals with it (made a world of difference for me! Wish I had gone to the collar sooner!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Hi Lucia

Thanks for your advice. I'm glad to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel:) I am taking him to Obedience, this is the second club i have tried as once I finished the course at the first one I was no further forward. This club seems more knowledgable and rather than telling me he will always be like this (not what you want to hear) they are giving me advice, and it was them that suggested a muzzle, more for my confidence than Raz's. It just seems a bit drastic.
I am also training him at home ready for agility (just basic stuff as he is too young to do anything big). he is very bright and quick to learn he listens to commands and is willing to please - in the back yard. When I take him to Agility comp (one of our other shepherds competes) he will wonder around really well most of the time, even sniffing and approaching other dogs and is fine with people. At Obedience he turns into the hound from ****.
The professionsal trainer said he is timid, but that was a couple of months ago now and I think his demeanor is shifting. I find it so confusing having had dogs all my life with all different characters, even timid ones but never have we had problems like this. I am about due to go back to the trainer so will ask her about the prong collar.
Thanks loads for your tips, I've printed them out:)
Cheers
J
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,941 Posts
Good luck! It will take time. I would also suggest that if you are getting conflicting and confusing info from different trainers to have your GSD evaled by a behaviourist - Some trainers aren't really versed on doggy body language and interprete everything as either fear, or aggression.

Your boy may always be reactive, but I am 100% sure that you can work and improve on his behaviour, on his obedience, on control.

My first dog was a sweetie - never did any classes with him, loved everyone and was every-dogs' best friend, passed Therapy Dog evaluation with flying colours without me having had to train him for anything particular.

So Keeta was a shock!! Really challenged my confidence. But just worked at it consistently, had to be a STRONG leader with her (but not overwhelming, or she tuned out), and she forced me to be a better, more responsible, dog owner, and got me hooked on training.

She will never be trustworthy around strange dogs, but she is so much better, and when I think back to how she was, hard to believe it is the same dog. Others say the same thing too, her whole body language has changed for the better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
Judging from your posts (barking/lunging, but meeting people and dogs fine otherwise- off leash?) I would say that he's more reactive than getting aggressive, etc. That is just my thought of course. I couldn't know unless I saw him in person.

My GSD is reactive and has been since being attacked as a puppy. He barks, whines, and pulls towards other dogs on leash, but does not have any issue with them off leash or from a safe distance. If reactivity is all, you need to work on slowly/gradually bringing him closer to his trigger (the dog) but starting from a non-reacting distance and working on obedience, focus, etc. while you get closer. Keep him comfortable and praise/treat for progress towards the other dog or looking at the other dog and NOT reacting. If he does react, you walk away silently to a distance where he won't and start over. Remember that making very SMALL steps in the right direction is better than pushing it too fast and having him react again.

It can take a lot of time (6+ months for us) but it does help. I spend a few nights a week with my dog at the store letting him stare at other dogs quietly and get C/Ts for it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
751 Posts
I feel he is at the age where he is starting to realize his potential which in this case is not good IMO. You must take the earlier advice to heart and stick with it ASAP.
You said your puppy is 12 months old now and you got him at 4 months I hope you socialized the heck out of him as you saw his issues. If you have been socializing him all along you are in a much better position to correct his problems but the main answer has already been mentioned. "you decide what is allowed" you must show him when his actions are unacceptable"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,834 Posts
Hi Pumpkin - glad you rescued, and happy to hear your dog is doing better overall. A few years ago I adopted a mixed breed who had not been socialized, and reacted first with fear around other dogs, then after she became more confident and secure, with lunging, barking, growling.

What worked for me is intensive obedience training, and socializing with some select dogs that liked her and whom she respected. It took a ton of work, and she will never be reliable around strange/unknown dogs, but before where I could not even walk her past other dogs without actually grabbing her by the collar and dragging her away, so focused was she on them, we can now do a perfect, full eye-contact heel and have her ignore them.

Keep doing what you are doing, four months is not a long time for an unsocialized rescue to settle in and learn new behaviours. Continue with training, find new activities and classes to work him in around distractions, do daily sessions - practice in front of fenced yards with barking dogs.

Positives and treats work wonders for teaching new behaviours and developing a strong relationship with a new dog. My rescue had no concept of a relationship with people - she had been a tied dog - and challenged my authority every step of the way. She wanted to please, but she also acted like I had no right to tell her what to do. I struggled for six months with her, then started with positive, fun, reward obedience training, and she just changed and blossomed into a different dog!!! But I was still having control issues around other dogs, and reluctantly went to a prong - another life saver!!!!

You say you have worked with a professional trainer? what did the trainer say about his behaviour? Is it fear and insecurity, or dominance and bullying?
Depending on where the behaviour stems from, different approaches should be used: For insecurity, confidence building is important, as is showing your dog that you are in charge and will take care of any problems that might arise, that is your job, not his!

For dominance and bullying - show no mercy!!! (my rescue is this way - I have to be very clear that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated, and she knows!). If you haven't tried a prong collar yet, I suggest you work with a trainer to get one fitted and learn how to use it. It can amp up some dogs and make the problems worse, so experiement at first to see how he deals with it (made a world of difference for me! Wish I had gone to the collar sooner!)
Good advice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all your tips and advice, my confidence has been knocked and I know he must pick up on that. plus on top of all this we had a 7.1 Earthquake in NZ not long ago with aftershocks still rippling through so I don't think that has helped things. However, I suppose we can make excuses until the cows come home they aren't going to help. It's time for positive thoughts and positive actions. I will try to find more people who are happy to let their dog socialize with Raz and push forward. My husband is getting involved more now and that does seem to be making a difference. Thanks again for your advice, I'll let you know how we are going.
Cheers J
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top