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So I have a four month old working line female puppy who is having some MAJOR issues around other dogs out in public. Yesterday, she tried to bite another dog.

Let me give some background info. We have a 6 year old female and this new puppy. We got her at 8 weeks from a highly reputable breeder. Her litter was described as being bred as “jack of all trades” (they typically breed very high performing IPO dogs) and she was described as very social. I think that her breeding and personality are excellent, so I am afraid this is something I have caused somehow.

We live on some acreage and have exposed her to lots of different sites, sounds, walking surfaces and people. We kept her away from dogs besides ours until her shots were competed a few weeks ago. She had occasional interactions with healthy, trusted dogs of our family members. She would be a little scared and first, but then warmed up. After she got all of her shots, I started taking her to Home Depot and on walks on public trails to get some further socializing (desensitizing, not playing and saying hi to everyone). On one of our first trail walks an unleashed standard poodle came running up to us. These are off leash trails (typically pretty empty though) and this is to be expected. My older dog did as she usually does and says a cautious hello, maybe tries to play if the dogs is friendly. But the puppy freaked out! She got very scared and was trying to run and hide. I tried to show her I would protect her and stood between her and the dog. She was scared of the dog but eventually warmed up to the owner and wasnt running away. She never really approached the dog though. We moved on and everything was fine.

Since then, her reaction to dogs has been escalating on every encounter. I think she was entering a bit of a fear stage anyway. We worked through a few things at the house that was was barking at. She has been overcoming those things very well, but with other dogs it is getting worse and worse. I went to my old trainer and we did some obedience with his dogs present to help her get more confident and less reactive. It went well in our session, but it did not translate at all to our outings. At the vet and waking around downtown has been great for new sites, sounds and people, but seeing a dog sets the whole thing off.

Just yesterday I took her to Home Depot again and a nice woman was offering to have her dog sit while I practice letting my puppy walk by. My puppy was loosing her mind barking at this dog. The woman suggesting letting them say hi. I thought maybe this would help, because me holding her back was clearly not helping. This was a mistake. My puppy lunged, growled and tried to bite her dog. Truely bite. Looking back, I don’t think this dog was the right dog to try this with. She told me her dog had its CGC, so that’s why I though it was be ok, but I don’t think the body language if the dog was right.

I have been reading on here and other resources how important it is NOT to let you dogs approach other dogs during socializing, but I can’t help but think that has been part of my problem. My older dog is excellent with other dogs and I used to let her approach friendly dogs when we were out training.

I am trying to figure out what to do next. My tentative plan is to stop taking her places where there are other dogs for now and set up specific play and social sessions with friendly, trusted dogs to get her more comfortable.

Any other suggestions?

She and my older dog get along well. They play rough, but we break it up if it gets to be too much.

She is very person friendly. She still barks at them sometimes, but not aggressively. It is more an of alert bark or an “I don’t know what that is” bark if they are doing something new or different. She is getting better and better with human socializing/desensitizing with every outing.

I am just very nervous after her behavior yesterday.
 

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Sounds like she's feeling overwhelmed.I would just go back to keeping a good distance away and only observe,not interact at all.Ease back into socializing with known friendly dogs in a month or two.
 
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I have a feeling it's waryness toward other dogs

My pup plays with my in-law's dogs. Doesn't have any issues. When on walks, she wanted to play with other dogs. One day, a pack of tiny dogs got a little too close to her and started to bark at her. We were unfortunately cornered in a fence, so I pulled her to be and stood between her and the angry pack of toys. Once we had an opening, we went the opposite direction. Since then, her hackles will go up if she sees dogs despite the "I want to play" seeming attitude

Since then, we've been working on just ignoring dogs and praise when she walks by a dog and ignoring it, but I don't allow her to interact with stranger's dogs anymore until she gets older

It's possible your pup has the same thing and just needs some confidence building. Remember, your dog doesn't have to want to play to be nice with dogs. Your dog can not get along with stranger's dogs, but if she can ignore them 100% of the time, then it's all good :)

Think of a person you hate and you see them on the street. Would you want someone else to force you to talk to them just to play nice, or would you rather just ignore them and keep walking? Same thing, I feel, that some dogs work
 

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I think you should call your breeder and talk to her about this. She can give you input into the breeding and she's an excellent trainer.
 
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On leash puppy vs off leash dog rushing in is never good. We had a similar experience and I too was worried my pup would never love dogs again. It took a few weeks to recover from that. But now she recovers almost instantly from bad experiences and I would consider her weak nerved. Contact the breeder for sure.
 

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Imagine- you're a baby dog- If a huge Standard Poodle rushed up to me I would freak out also. They do not even look or act like dogs, more like some kind of monkey. And those awful haircuts.... :(
 
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My 2 cents: @dogma13 gave you really good advice. You can't, or shouldn't, try to force socialization. Give your puppy some time away from other dogs, and ease back into it in a couple months.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone. I have contacted the breeder. I really believe she doesn’t have weak nerves. At least I am really hoping. Given her quick adjustment to so many things, excellent breeding and puppy rearing, as well as vet and trainer input that she is confident I don’t believe she has a weak nerve issue. I think she had a bad experience and I didn’t reintroduce outside dogs in a positive way right after that. At the time, I didn’t really recognize it as such a bad interaction until the behaviors started.

Depending on some feedback from the breeder, my tentative plan is to pull back from some of the socialization activities with other dogs around and then in a couple of weeks or so, arrange some play dates with other dogs. In the meantime, more training at home to help increase confidence. We will see how it goes.
 

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Good advice here and to the OP: don't trust others when they tell you what to do. CGC doesn't mean a whole lot to me anymore. Dogs know exactly the difference between "situations that are under control' and 'real life'.
 

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I doubt it's weak nerve. She might just need to be told No in an effective way. Your breeder can definitely help you with this.
 

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Good advice here and to the OP: don't trust others when they tell you what to do. CGC doesn't mean a whole lot to me anymore. Dogs know exactly the difference between "situations that are under control' and 'real life'.
Definitely! I didn’t trust my gut that day. I think I was just woefully hoping that maybe an introduction would cool down the situation. I was very wrong and I knew better.
 

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I doubt it's weak nerve. She might just need to be told No in an effective way. Your breeder can definitely help you with this.
Thanks! I am working on that too. It’s been much harder the second time around with the two dogs vs just one. I separate them for training as much as possible, but I’m finding during the day to day activities I am having a harder time getting my message across because they are so interested in each other. When I had one puppy six years ago, she was always focused on me.
 
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