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Discussion Starter #1
Dakota just turned 1 in May. I have had him since he was just shy of 4 months old. The last year of his life has been eventful with medical issues, and the first 3 months of his life I am almost sure he spent locked in a crate.
That being said, hes the light of my life. LOL.

Dakota is not a confident guy. He, IMO, startles easily to noises, and is cautious of things he cant identify. Example being the deadly log we came upon on a walk not long ago. He barked at it and made a wide circle around it. I walked over to the log and put my foot on it which gave him the courage to come touch it with his nose. Not sure what it was about that log over the other 300 we came across that day, but he was sure it was going to eat him.

Dakota has been introduced to adults and children and other dogs since the day he came home. He was always cautious with other adults but warmed up quickly. Now he greets most with a happy wag and excitement. Children he may bark at but with a wagging tail and more of a "hey you, come here and play with me" kind of attitude. There are children who regardless of him barking see his wagging tail and want to com pet him. I don't allow this because 1. Their parents aren't around and 2. I have no idea about this child and how they are with dogs. Dakota since he has been with me has only had positive experiences with both adults and children and I plan to keep it that way if I can at all help it. 3. I never want there to be a "first time". For the most part, I can distract him with a jiggle of his lead and a "let's go" and we walk on. He is a little harder to distract if its new. For example this winter it was children with hats and mittens and riding sleds. This spring its bikes. As is normal, the more he sees them the less they impact him.

My real problem lies with other dogs. Dakota is dog obsessed. In the car riding he barks at every dog he sees. On a lead he will, if the other dog is close enough, pull and bark like a mad man. No growl, tail wagging. This however causes most other dogs to look at him like hes insane, and dog owners to look at us like hes going to kill someone.
My latest experience with this was yesterday. I live in a townhouse community where all dogs are welcome. There is a communal grass area where kids will play occasionally, and dog owners will walk their dogs. This is close to the parking area. Dakota and I were making our way out to the car for a ride and a trip to the river (where the deadly log lives) when a young man came toward us with what looked like a Rotty mix. Before Dakota even reacted the young man said "ut-oh" seeing him. (He is getting that rep) Dakota lunged toward the other dog barking wildly and causing me to have to use more force that I should ever have to to restrain him. Once the dog had passed, Dakota went on about his happy way. We have encountered cats, which he wants desperately to investigate. He will bark, hair up and pull, but if I continue to walk and tell him "leave it", he will reluctantly walk on.

Dakota has gone with me to work every day since I have had him. There is another dog there, 4 year old Romanian Ridge back and people in and out on occasion. He has also gone to dogie day care for a while for 1/2 day sessions a couple of times a week where they have not reported any issues other than he just doesn't know when enough is enough play and will ignore his recall. He wants to play with other dogs non stop, and isn't sure what to do with small dogs. He hasn't gone for 5 months or so because they will not accept an in tact male over 6 month.

I also take him on play dates where he plays with several other dogs off leash in a large open area. Like a dog park but more controlled and with activities. Dakota is fixated on the other dogs, wanting to play as he always has to the point of ignoring people, activities, toys, food, and even water. I have noticed he is better of leash, when meeting new dogs, but that's not always possible. As mentioned, he is intact, but this has been an issue since he was very young.

I have noticed he has more a reaction to people and children when they present themselves as being nervous or afraid, and I am able to help him in that situation by being friendly with them myself. Saying hi, acting like its no big deal. (Not my nature. I was born to social distance. lol) He does read off my behavior more that I probably realize.

Now that his medical issues seem to be more under control, I want to start him on Nose work of some kind. I think he would be fantastic and love it. I'm sure this will give him a purpose, challenge his mind and boost his confidence.
I have had GSD's in the past, but have never encountered one like Dakota. Distraction is difficult with him as he is not at all food driven, and I have to say not as praise driven as my past GSD's

My goal is for him to live a happy, well adjusted, confident, and relaxed life. I want to be able to take him anywhere, and at the very least, ignore. He is my shadow, and unless there's another dog around, is never far away from me. I am open to questions and suggestions.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ever write something and then wish you had thought on it a bit more before posting? Yeah. That's me. The incident I wrote about with the other dog while walking to the car yesterday bothered me all night. After posting, I read through some of the suggested reading. I then grabbed Dakotas leash and we went for a walk. No distractions, a pocket full of treats. We went back to leash training basics. No details, but he was absolutely receptive and his eyes almost said OMG finally! Lets do more!
Three hours later, I want to thank all who took the time to read my original post. I have raised many GSD's in the past and apparently have forgotten more than I care to admit. Dakota, for the most part, still has puppy brains and a lack of impulse control at this age despite his stature, and just like house training, landshark faze, and all the other wonderful puppy stuff that comes along with having him as my companion, I have to give him the tools in his toolbox to know how to handle situations he will inevitably encounter in his life.
I am going to look into that nosework training for him, and in the meantime, I am going to continue to take him wherever I go and give him the attention and training he wants and is eager to have.
He was the trainer this morning. LOL
Thank you all again.
 

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Are you saying you think you'd left out some steps in his socialization/training and you know what you have to do now?
 

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In a nutshell, yes. He has an amazing temperament and is an amazing pup. He may have gotten a raw deal physically and had a bad start in life, but it’s no excuse for my lack of investment in him as much as any other pup. After all, HE is totally invested in ME. To expect “good behavior” if he hasn’t been provided the skills to behave that way is a failure on my part. Not his.
 

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Sometimes it helps us and the dog to back up,reset,and start again.Certain behaviors are so habitual,genetic,or rewarding that they will default to them.Many times a new desirable habit can be created - don't do that,do this instead.I'm not sure it can ever be 'bulletproof ' but that's our job to keep them steered correctly.
I think most of us have 'face palm' I knew he would do that!Whyyyy didn't I cue him!?'
 

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Discussion Starter #7
In the case I originally wrote about, it was a lazy handler. Knowing that there was the potential for distraction on the way to the car, dogs being his biggest, I chose to casually place his leash on my left arm and juggle the bags of stuff I was bringing with us. I wasn’t thinking, and set him up for failure.
One of my downfalls was not thinking about the major differences in how my pups were raised then, and now. Dakota doesn’t have a horse farm to run free on, or 6 kids horses chickens cats and even ostriches to learn about. He doesn’t get to go on long trail rides or hit the rodeo scene. My life is different and so my training must be too. I’m sorry I wrote that first post because I feel like a fool, yet I am glad I did so I would stop and think. He really is a good boy with a wonderful temperament. 😎
 

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Oh geez don't be sorry!So many members will read it and be nodding and muttering 'Me too!What do I do now?'Posts like this are a huge help to first time owners especially.I hope you'll post updates and pictures too:)
 
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