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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2 year old GSD, Jake. Up until now he has been extremely friendly with all people and all other dogs. Recently he has started growling at my OH. He has done it in a few situations. Once while OH and I were messing about and I was laughing he came right over and started to growl at him. I dealt with this by telling him "no" and putting him into a down stay, which he did immediately but continued to growl for a few seconds after lying down. Another time, while OH simply looked over at him, he growled at him. I again corrected the behaviour and sent him to his bed to lie down for a timeout.

I believed this to be dominance aggression as he never displays this behaviour to me (i am sure he sees me as a leader and i know he doesn't see my OH as a leader at all). It also only ever happens inside the house, never when he is outside and stimulated. I have upped his exercise etc but this seems to be reoccurring now (before it had happened once or twice)

This weekend it seemed to escalate. (He was only like this for 1-2 weeks tops now) OH was coming into the room (in my parents house not my place) and Jake jumped up barking and starting to growl charging towards my OH. I immediately got him by the collar and while he did not go for my OH to bite or anything he gave him quite a fright. Of course this is unacceptable behaviour and must be stopped immediately. I sent Jake outside, and locked him in his crate in the garage for a timeout, before letting him out for a good long run to tire him out.

The problem is my OH lives in a different city throughout the week and I live in another (with Jake) (due to my university), though we will be moving back in together full time in about a month's time. Therefore the time OH can give to Jake, NILF, obedience, training etc is so short. He is only here on weekends, 2 days out of 7...

I have wanted to take Jake to obedience classes (I only recently found out there were some good one;s around here) but am worried it'll heighten our bond and make Jake even worse against others such as my OH.

I've been told that getting him neutered would prevent this behaviour but I'd prefer not to, if possible, as he was fine up until now not neutered. I don't know why this behaviour would have suddenly appeared.. Though if neutering would stop it, I would happily get it done.

I have been reading up on the post here about the medical reasons for a dog to become aggressive, but assume surely that he would be displaying the same reaction to me also? He has also growled at my dad this weekend.. I am so confused about why he would show this behaviour.. He is my dog and I love him to death but he cannot get away with this behaviour. Any help tips welcome please..

Thanks
 

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I think you're on the right track. If your OH can take him to a class, do so. I would also say have OH hand feed him all meals whenever possible. Also, maybe tether him to OH when he is around. Message to dog... when this guy is around he controls all of your life. This dog just sounds a bit sharp, and needs to be kept in line. Make sure you are practicing strict NILF (doorways, furniture, eating last, EVERYTHING to enforce rank over him) as well.
 

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Originally Posted By: MichelleAndJakeOther Half i.e. my hubby
Good.
I was asking myself the same, I touhgt it could be Other Husband, wich is not so good
 

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Originally Posted By: LicanAntai
Originally Posted By: MichelleAndJakeOther Half i.e. my hubby
Good.
I was asking myself the same, I touhgt it could be Other Husband, wich is not so good
I thought it was OTHER HUSBAND too and was embarrassed to ask for an explanation!!! I'm glad someone asked!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sorry guys thought most people would know OH, though I guess it's normally used on the Irish forums and this forum would be predominantly American
I assure you all I only have one husband


John, thanks. Jake is not allowed on any furniture and does not ever get up on it, even when I am out of the house. He walks through all door ways behind me and OH for that matter. Though I am the one who feeds him, grooms him, walks him, disciplines him, trains him etc...

I have a very dominant personality and take charge of every situation we find ourselves in, however OH is way too laid back and lets Jake do as he pleases. I shall get him to practice NIFL very strictly every weekend. After this month, when we are in the same place, we will be taking Jake to obedience together.
 

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Michelle, I think maybe Jake growling at your OH would be a wake up call for him. I am the dominate personality in the house with the dogs and when my DH has problems with a dog I look at him and say, geeze do you every listen to what I say about the dogs. I have a dominate pushy female and if you giver her an inch (cm) you lose a mile (km), so when he is playing rough with her and she bites to hard I just say well you got what you asked for....

John gives great advice, I do have better luck training the dogs than I do with training spouses.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think my OH was very shocked and thinks that if I do more training with Jake, the situation will be rectified.

I have him reading up on NILF and this weekend their training begins properly.
 

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Good for you Michelle! I did not know that you were living apart from Cahit while you were schooling. I would imagine that Jake sees the family unit as you and he and he has decided you are his and he needs to protect his.

You are doing the right thing by putting him back into his place. I agree with John. When hubby is home he feeds and assumes responsibility for Jake's care. I think it will be a big help to take classes together but you get to watch.

If Jake growls at your dad when you visit or when he visits you, I would apply the same rule - Jake gets the good stuff from dad.

Altering may help and it may not.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Originally Posted By: KathyWGood for you Michelle! I did not know that you were living apart from Cahit while you were schooling. I would imagine that Jake sees the family unit as you and he and he has decided you are his and he needs to protect his.
Unfortunately until the end of May - I'm down here in Limerick, while he is in Dublin.

That was the first thing that entered my head - that Jake is jealous of him, or sees him as outside the family, as he stares intently at us whenever we are close together. He also comes close and will put his head on my knee while I sit near Cahit.. I have reprimanded this just in case it was protective behaviour, which I do not want to happen.

My real worry is that when I'm not there one day he will take it further than growling. I control him when I am around quickly and effectively. No one else does.. When he did growl at my dad and I removed him to his crate for the timeout both my father and mother said I didn't need to remove him. They seem pretty soft towards him also, so I expect that they would tolerate this type of behaviour. Hence another reason why, if it would help, I'd like to get him neutered.
 

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You know, if you have no plans to breed him I would nueter him regardless if it helps or not. It removes the urge to reproduce and lessens the likelihood of him getting away to chase a female.

It has also been said that the lower testosterone levels reduce territorial, guarding and protective behaviors. So that may help.

Jakey is such a great dog I hope you guys work this out. I believe you will.
 

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Have you read The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell? Think you'd find it an easy read and maybe a big help for everyone. And she's from your neck of the woods!

http://www.janfennellthedoglistener.com/ geez you maybe could even drop in on a seminar or clinic (maybe have to take a ferry ride though
)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We dont have any plans to breed from Jake, so that's not a problem. I am looking into getting him neutered now. It definitely calmed down our labrador (RIP) who was very territorial.

What types of changes other than a calming effect would we be likely to see with the neutering? He is fine around female dogs but then again I of course never let him out around a female in heat..

I have read The Dog Listener and that was before I had heard of NILF, I found it excellent and apply a lot of it, however telling OH to apply it is something I need to work on! I didn't realise there were courses in the UK! Sounds great but at £400 for a 2 day course on a students budget it is simply impossible at the moment! Will definitely keep it in mind for when I'm working though, nice to be aware of. Thanks!
 

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Here's another thought for you and it may be a shot in the dark.

If Jake is resource guarding (you) have you thought about removing the resource? When my dogs guard toys from each other I take the toy away and put it away.

I wonder if when Jake does his growly nonsense what would happen if you said NO firmly and got up, left the room and closed the door behind you; leaving Cahit alone with him for a few minutes. If you are afraid Jake might snap or bite it would not be a good idea as it would be unsafe. But I wonder if that might gel in his doggy brain that this guarding stuff was just not working out the way he wanted.

Maybe combined with NLIF it may work? Something to think about and I wonder if anyone else has any opinions on that.

Generally the removal of testosterone takes away a lot of the guarding, territorial behavior of which resource guarding is a part. My sister just had her poodle neutered, he was 6 years old. Her comment was what was I waiting for? Her dog is calmer, more loving and far less pushy and far more compliant.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The idea of the resource guarding is interesting, I wonder could it be this we are seeing too? As Jake is pretty alert when we are close together. Though he has no possessive nature other than me.. He lets anyone take his toys from him and is mad to play with his toys, lets anyone take a piece of food from him etc... His "leave it" command is perfect even from a far distance.

I am not sure I trust him anymore alone with Cahit, I may end up leashing him in the house and try your method, only attaching the lead to something before I leave the room to be sure.

The neutering sounds like a good way to go too, I assume his drive would be unaffected by this? I plan on doing some obedience training using a ball only with him.

I have watched Leerburg's DVD on aggression in dominant dogs (Leerburg – Dealing with Aggressive and Dominant Dogs) out of interest as he came highly recommended. I like the being leashed to my hubby all the time part. Not sure how I feel about the corrections. though.

This weekend we are all about hubby and Jake, leashed together, food from hubby, play from hubby after a command, attention from him only after a command etc... I'll be letting you guys know of course.

Thanks for the help and suggestions too.
 

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I have never seen a lessening of drive to do obedience, maybe protection but not obedience.

He does not sound like a resource guarder in the snse that most of us define it. But possessiveness of you sounds like that to me. It may just be that other resources are not as valued to him as you.

If you feel like you cannot trust him alone than I would not do that. How does Cahit feel? If he feels threatened he may give off some tentative signs and Jake will see that and may try to capitlize on it.

Hope to hear that the leashing exercises help this weekend!
 

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I think that KathyW may have hit the nail on the head when she mentioned resource guarding. If you get up and silently leave the room every time he growls, he's going to eventually learn that growling means that the very thing he wants to protect is going to leave.

The concern I have whenever someone mentions how they are correcting when a dog growls is that I don't feel they're helping the dog to understand that there isn't a NEED to growl. Your dog could very well be associating your OH's presence with correction - which probably won't make their relationship any better. Finding a way to stop the behavior and yet help him understand that your OH is not only okay to be there, but is a good guy will help more than just correcting.

Personally, what I would do is have Jake neutered in order to stop the testosterone which may be contributing to this behavior. Then I would find a good obedience school and do some training with him. I don't think that it's going to make him more protective of you - instead, he's going to learn that he has to listen to your commands in the midst of other people and dogs. I'd take a strong look at the NILIF and see if there are ways that you can increase it so that he really has to work for everything (food, attention, toys, access to outdoors, etc.). Even his regular food should be given in small handfuls after he offers you a behavior (sit - get a handful of food; down - get a handful of food; etc.).

And when OH is there, you may want to tether Jake to a doorknob and then have you and your OH sit down, but with OH closer so that he is the one that will be talking to Jake and tossing him treats whenever Jake is acting in an appropriate way. By putting you farther away, Jake isn't allowed to act too possessive. You might want to try this with the other people that Jake needs to be around too, since you mentioned he growled at your Dad too.

I remember my first male shepherd, who was intact until he was about three. He went through a period where he got "growly" - including at me. I was pretty new to training and got a bit spooked by it. He was a big boy, over 100#, and I didn't much like being growled at! Back then we did a lot of force training and it was a tough thing to get through as our relationship took a lot of hits because I kept correcting him for what I thought was just plain bad behavior. I haven't had that problem since I've gone to more positive methods. I think it's because positive methods help teach the dog what is "right" and not just what is "wrong".

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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I agree re resource guarding. I like Melanie's idea re tethering. And I would take it one step further.

Do you crate or tether Jake regularly? I mean, once to several times a day? Start doing so. Not as a punishment, but just to give him time off. GSDs like Jake tend to think that we are their responsibility; that's why they guard us. So we need to show them that they can relax, have some down-time. And that we are in charge of what goes on in our home. Not in an overly domineering alpha roll kind of way, but just in a "hey, you need to chill for a while. I'm fine without you guarding everything all the time" kind of way.

My guess is that Jake regularly checks in on you to see where you are and what you're doing, doesn't he? Let's change that.

Put Jake in his crate for 1-1.5 hour at a certain time each day and evening (after meals is a great time to do it). Make it a pleasant experience. A treat and a toy. Happy and calm. Then, don't interact with him. Just let him be. Other times of the day, tether him. Find a nice comfy place in the front room (or somewhere that you're not actually working or doing stuff) where he can hang out with a toy or a chew. Leave him there while you go about your day or evening. You can look in and say "hi," but don't stop by, pet him or otherwise interact. Just let him get used to the fact that you are, in fact, perfectly capable of hanging out without him, and that he is perfectly capable without you. An hour or so at a time is a good amount of time. Remember, this isn't punishment. It's more like a lunch break during his work day. Try to work this in at times so that it becomes routine. If you can't do an hour because it doesn't work with your schedule, even 20-40 minutes works.

Do this while your One Husband
is away so that Jake gets used to the new routine. When your husband comes home, the routine should continue, but sometimes, you should crate or tether Jake; sometimes, OH should (as long as he can safely do so). This way, Jake has relinquished his role as your protector and guardian to YOU. (Which is where the responsibility should be anyhow.) I think he'll learn to be more relaxed, less protective, and more flexible about OH's role in the family.

I would also get OH to take a class with Jake -- just the two of them. They need to establish their own relationship without you around, with a professional to guide the process. You can't help guide them. You can be the most qualified talented dog trainer in the world. But you can't guide them because you're part of the pack and they need to establish their own relationship apart from you. Obedience classes are great. Private lessons would be very helpful. Heck, they can take agility lessons, if that's all you can find. But they need something away from you to bond over. That, and more structured time at home, regardless of who is and isn't at home, ought to do it.
 

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You guys elaborated so nicely on that with some really good ideas!!!!
 
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