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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi! I just picked up my GSD puppy, Vili, from a reputable breeder in my area on Thursday - so this is just day 4. He's 8 wks old and adjusting. I also have a 3.5 yr old Great Pyr mix, Odin.

His response to new things seems to be to retreat, watch/wait and then re-engage. I've only ever had full steam ahead type puppies (2 bully breeds, 1 rescue mix plus my pyr. My pyr was the calmest puppy but very confident.) This is my first GSD.

He started a behavior I'm nervous about with my bf and my pyr and any new person or dog. He gets comfortable with them (my pyr and my bf) but then they go away to do their own thing and when they come back he growls and barks.

Initially he did this behind me but now he is "confident" enough to do it in front of me. My pyr just walks away or I coax my pyr to continue to walk towards us and the pup relaxes fairly quickly. My neighbor and I are very close so she's over all the time as is her labradoodle. Puppy "rushes" the labradoodle with barks and growls. The doodle just stares at him confused. Once, the pup gave him a little leg bite because the dog ignored his growling and barking. The doodle also ignored that. I redirected the pup.

My pyr is unsure of the puppy overall, very tolerant but has not initiated any play with him. My pyr is pretty calm and non reactive, he can resource guard bones or toys sometimes.

This morning we had a lot of good, positive interaction. Odin seems to do best if I'm on the floor with him and the pup and it's just a lot of praise, petting, etc. We all relaxed on the couch together too. But, my pyr left to lay down outside and bark at birds or whatever. Pup napped next to me. When Odin came back in to get on the couch puppy barked and growled at him. Odin was going to just leave but I asked him to continue to come up like he was as I don't want the puppy bossing Odin around. Pup growled, Odin growled. I gently did a "ah ah"/light touch no to the puppy (and then to Odin who continues to growl/grumble.) Both settled back into laying on the couch with me.

I chatted with my breeder yesterday and she said it's not aggression, it's the pup being unsure/startled and just to keep things positive. She said in a few weeks she would work with me and the pup to correct the behavior as its not acceptable. We agreed to try and just do positive redirection, etc to interrupt the response.

But for like a situation on the couch... I wasn't sure how to do a positive redirect. I did a very light correction to the pup (then settled Odin too, who was growling and miffed by being growled at by the puppy.)

Looking for positive things to do to redirect the pup or handle/help this as he gets settled. And, to help Odin and Vili get comfortable. I've been hand feeding them together at times and just started using treats together. Vili likes Odin and follows him, walks under him, etc. He's not obsessive about Odin though and gives him plenty of space.

I'm thinking he's overwhelmed and adjusting, and maybe this is within the normal GSD puppy period of adjusting. He is bonding very well to me and my bf, following us steadily and seems to be building trust with me.
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We all relaxed on the couch together too. But, my pyr left to lay down outside and bark at birds or whatever. Pup napped next to me. When Odin came back in to get on the couch puppy barked and growled at him. Odin was going to just leave but I asked him to continue to come up like he was as I don't want the puppy bossing Odin around. Pup growled, Odin growled. I gently did a "ah ah"/light touch no to the puppy (and then to Odin who continues to growl/grumble.) Both settled back into laying on the couch with me.

But for like a situation on the couch... I wasn't sure how to do a positive redirect. I did a very light correction to the pup (then settled Odin too, who was growling and miffed by being growled at by the puppy.)
i only have a sec but one thing i wanted to say is focus on the puppy and allow Odin to do his own thing. dogs have their own ways of communicating and everything is not so obvious to us (look up canine calming signals).... in the couch scenario you view it as the puppy being a bully, odin was simply doing what dogs do to diffuse the situation and avoid conflict, but he respects you so he did what you asked of him. it’s incredibly unfair to call him back into a stressful situation then reprimand him when he responded to that stress. this can backfire!

puppy growls on the couch. puppy gets removed from the couch.
 

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I agree with Fodder that Odin is modeling excellent behavior and handling the newcomer just right. Redirection of the puppy should happen before he begins to rush and bark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
@Fodder @dogma13 ohhh, that's interesting and makes total sense. I bet if I put the puppy on the floor he would have stopped right away and retreated as he likes Odin and follows him around outside.

I will try that next time as you're right, Odin tends to react well. I guess I didn't want Odin to feel chased off, thus asking him to continue what he wanted to do because I know he's in no danger.

So instead, I put the puppy down with "no/enough" as soon as I hear even a grumble and let Odin choose to retreat or continue to do whatever he wanted to do.

In the case of the neighbor dog, puppy tried to rush/chase the doodle off (and was even willing to give him a nip.) Doodle ignored it/didn't even move and I pulled puppy back and said no. So for this, I keep the puppy occupied with playful things while the new dog is near and hopefully the puppy gets comfy?

Odin seems like he's not the type of dog to bite quickly, he needs to be seriously provoked. He only gets ridiculous over really high value bones and it's usually growling and posturing. Obviously, I'm not even putting anything like that out. I've seen him be aggressive with 2 other dogs, but in both cases the other dogs were the aggressors. Once I grabbed the aggressing dog, Odin backed off/gave me space to handle the other dog. One of those 2 dogs though turned to bite me, only then did Odin try to re-engage the dog. Apologies for oversharing, just trying to illustrate Odins temperament.

Soundd like I just trust that Odin is going to "correct" the puppy correctly and worry less about Odin hurting puppy and more about "no/enough" or catching the behavior as quickly as possible in the pup? Ultimately, you are both saying it's ok to appropriately correct him IF I don't redirect fast enough, even though he's very young and it's only been a few days in his new home?
 

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It really sounds like Odin is cool, calm,and a good "teacher dog." Good idea to keep them separated for the time being when valuable treats are dispensed.
If the puppy growls trying to resource guard you from Odin just remove the puppy or remove yourself, leaving him nothing to guard any longer. This is very effective at relieving any anxiety that he needs to protect/guard things before they are stolen from him.
The puppy's particular personality determines how to keep him calm until he can greet a friend or another dog.Sometimes a firm No! will interrupt his bark/rush so you can direct him to an alternative behavior that you would prefer, then reward with what he responds best to(food,toy,praise,or ?)You're creating a new default behavior and not letting him practice the bark/rush.

Kudos to you for trying to make a good start right away:)These little guys are a lot of work at first, but it is so worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Kudos to you for trying to make a good start right away:)These little guys are a lot of work at first, but it is so worth it.
I really appreciate the advice, I may be a bit of an anxious new pup owner at the moment. I want to do everything right (even though I know I'll make mistakes.) Vili is an awesome puppy so far, he is bonding well to me and seems to catch onto routines fairly quickly.

Pup may also be in one of those fear periods as he is warming up/gaining confidence day by day. Odin has started attempting a little chase/play this morning with him this morning, puppy wants to play but when 120lbs of dog hops around like a rabbit... puppy was like "hmm... retreat!" But then would sneak out to playfully growl and bark and chase. Then pup decided he was going to bite/pull my arms and clothing and I use the "ow ow" to get him to stop. Once I said ow ow for a 3rd time, Odin head butted Vili off me. Lol 😆

So, between your perspective and trusting Odin more I realize we will probably get it all sorted out.

Even the neighbor dog, Sky/labradoodle, stopped by this morning and after some puppy nerves/barking and growling Sky just laid down on the deck and puppy smelled/relaxed a bit. I know I'm lucky to have two big, good natured dogs around because they seem to know how to handle a nervous puppy.

I have a little house on a lake so it's all open borders/invisible fence and Odin is very popular with the neighbor dogs so we tend to get visits often.

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