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Discussion Starter #1
Lily is 9 months old now - and I have had her since 8 weeks old. I spent countless hours socializing her as a pup and still continue to find new and challenging things for her to do all the time. She gets along wonderful with almost all dogs that she plays with and it very respectful of her boundaries in the house and with all kinds of people (adults, children, babies, elderly etc.). I exercise her several times a day with brisk walks, fetch, soccer, swimming, etc and use commands thrown in throughout the day to have her earn a trip outside, to fetch the ball, to get her meals, etc.

BUT she is so reactive to somethings. I definitely see what I consider a fear streak in her. She barks at jingling noises, she barks when she hears dogs on TV, she barks when she hears a doorbell (here or on TV), she barks when people walk by the house, etc. She recovers fairly quickly and will hush when we tell her quiet. But it seems that instead of having less things that set her off - there are more and the reaction is more obnoxious. And it isn't just barking - sometimes it goes along with hackles raised and growling.

And the worst is her reaction to other dogs. Anytime on our walks or we are out somewhere and she sees another dog, hackles up and barks like a maniac. She pulls toward the other dog and just causing a huge rucus. It is like she is alerting EVERYONE within ear shot that there is a dog in the area...even dogs that she sees on our walks several times a week and have met/played with multiple times.

I have tried very hard not to reward the behavior. So if she barks at a dog that passes by, I will giver her a stern "Hey" or "No" and not let her meet the dog. Or I will put her in a sit and wait until she is quiet before letting the dogs meet if it is a dog that I know she has gotten along with in the past. Once together, all she wants to do is play. Occassionaly though with some pushy dogs she cowers a bit before getting comfortable or will startle at a noise she wasn't expecting on our walk but then is perfectly at ease. She loves to play with other dogs - but then just seems as equally happy to continue on our walk or to leave with me.

I know I'm not doing something right considering that she is getting more reactive as opposed to less reactive - but I'm at a loss of what to do. Lily is really a doll of a pup - sweet, loving, affectionate, respectful, and obedient UNTIL we get around other dogs. Then it's like her focus completely changes and she becomes reactive and acts out. I'd love some help on how to control this behavior as I do not want this progressing any farther than it has. My methods are clearly not working
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh I wanted to add because I'm not sure I said so in my first post - but she still meets and plays with new dogs occassionaly and does great. I took her to a local park for a walk and saw a dog park there. There was just two dogs inside so I let her meet them at the fence and then let her inside for a little romp. The dogs got along famously and we left happy with a tired and happy pup.

I guess I added that because I just don't understand all the barking and reaction to other dogs. She loves to play and even a dog that she was throwing a full on fit about - she's romp and play like she's known them her whole life once she has a chance to meet.
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

Hi Kristin,

When I adopted Rafi he was like this with other dogs. He would jump in the air, bark, try to drag me over to the dog and cause quite a scene! It turned out that he also just wanted to meet the dog but it sure made our walks a little more exciting than I wanted! So your dog may be reactive but is not aggressive, just excited!

Here's what I did. I taught Rafi a focus command (I use Look or Watch Me). I taught the command in the house or in the backyard with no distractions. When he did it I gave him a very high value treat, something that he didn't get any other time. Then, once he knew the command, I started using it on walks. The minute I'd see another dog, before he got really worked up, I'd ask for a sit and then tell him to watch me. When he settled and focused on me I'd give him treats. He caught on very quickly that other dog meant treats (and, in fact, Chama--who is deaf-- caught on too and now gets really pissed at me when she sees another dog and doesn't get a treat!). Occasionally now he gets a little worked up when he sees another dog and can't meet it but I can just tell him to leave it or have him watch me and he calms down very quickly. He almost never barks when he sees other dogs now.

You can also do the above with a clicker if your dog is already familiar with the click/treat relationship.
 

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I believe she is going thru a stage, she is at that age!
In regards to being reactive to other dogs, in the Control Unleashed class, we say "look at that dog", and when your dog redirects to you, you give a click,treat, praise for looking back to you. Don't tell her no when she is behaving reactively, as she will relate it to the dog(negatively) putting her in a sit is good, gives her something to think about/ do.

Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt is a great book and I am really lucky to have found a group class for this.
You didn't mention if you have had her in ob classes, if not I would try to find a good one.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That definitely makes a lot of sense for the walks. I appreciate the advice and will certainly work on redirecting her focus to me. She is usually the worst when we first start out - and then when she tired I can control her more with telling her to leave it.

We aren't in an ob class right now. She did puppy class but I've been searching for a good place in the area to take her for more training. I thought about just our local petsmart - but the trainer there came up to me and told me to jab my fingers in her neck right under her ear to get her attention when she barked at a dog in the store. Wasn't so sure about that....
But I am searching for the right place since I like having a class to go to each week. It made us work extra hard so we wouldn't be caught having not done our homework for the week!

Now just to figure out the house issues
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

I have the same problem. sadie (GSD) is 20 months old and we live in apartment complex. People walk by and she barks, ducks walk by, she barks. (Roller blading kids, fed-ex guy, any dog,) ANYTHING makes her bark and want to attack.
I am going to start giving her treats and having her associate all those things with positive treats. I hope it works and i'll let you know how it goes.

HANG IN THERE, I FEEL YOU.
Can someone tell me though, do they calm down once they hit adulthood??? Ihope so.
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

I have tried the "watch me" or "look" command but unfortunately my dog's focus is sometimes so intent on the other dog that I have a lot of trouble breaking his focus. What is happening at times now is that he actually gets down low and just stares at the other dog as we walk which sometimes causes the other dog to act out. He really only started consistently with this behavior after we had him neutered the last week of June. I thought it was supposed to help decrease aggression


He will watch me intently when there are no distractions. However, it is almost as though he is a completely different dog when he sees another dog. Anyone have any similar issues or advice?
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

You need to gradually increase the distractions. You want to interrupt the behavior very early, so start with when the other dog is quite far away. Bring a really high value treat (or toy, if that's more enticing to your dog) and if you can't get focus on you then drop the treats/toy on the ground. As your dog is eating swing around in front of him, blocking his view, show him the treat and ask for focus.
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

For the person who's puppy is already barking at everything--this behavior will increase if you don't get it under control now. It is a sign of insecurity. Doing classes and daily training should help. Using a clicker to shape behaviors (and build confidence) should also help. If you aren't already using it I would start Nothing in Life is Free too.
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

Lily and I are begining some training classes after a wonderful recommendation from anothe memeber here (Thank you Diana!) and will be working on a lot of these issues. It's really wonderful to have hands on help with learning what will work and what won't. Certainly what I was doing wasn't - but I have really high spirits that Lily and I will both be working much better together after some professional help! And thankfully it's not the PetsMart Trainer that told me to jab my fingers in her neck!
 

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Re: Progressing in the wrong direction...Frustrate

Glad you're enjoying the place and the trainer, Kristin! Norma's a miracle worker, and best of all it's all so simple and sensible. And we do have quite a few GSDs in attendance.
I'm hoping to be able to board Renji there as well- all the boarding dogs seem so HAPPY and relaxed.

Lily is absolutely beautiful! What a lovely young gal.
 
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