German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
985 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Our Rex is 4 months old and is recently gotten his "big boy bark" as we call it. He unleashes this at ANYONE that comes in the house or near our house other than me, my husband, and my MIL. We live in a small town and we don't have much traffic on our street (either car or pedestrian), and with getting him in the middle of winter, he didn't get to see many strangers while he was little guy. I took him out front yesterday on his leash while my son played with his friends (I told his friends not to approach like they do with our Lab). They listened and "talked" to Rex from afar. Then the lady across the street came out to work in her yard and he was overwhelmed. Hair standing on end and growling. I kept...I don't know, half correcting, half reassuring him that all was ok. He finally settled down and laid on the sidewalk and even stayed calm when my sons friends brought out their Rott (they live 2 houses over).
I thought 'wow, he's doing so good!" I kept telling him he was a good boy and gave him a small treat and then...the kids starting riding their bikes down the sidewalk in front of the house (we were on the side). Oh crap, here we go again. Back to barking and growling and hair standing on end and trying to get away from me.
What I need to know is, am I doing this right? By taking him out and exposing him to all these new "scary" things and correcting him when he starts up? By correcting, I mean I sternly say NO and give a little tug on his collar and then make him go into a sit. Then when he calms give him a "good boy" and maybe a treat.
Our last GSD had aggression issues BADLY up until the day he developed epilepsy. Even knocked me flat on my butt while pregnant just to try and "get" at someone. So I want to do this right this time.
Any helpful hints?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
He obviously needs more socializing but should be positive. That means quitting the corrections (he is barking because he's scared of the new experience) and instead rewarding him for being calm and quiet. Also, you probably shouldn't flood him with new experiences-- you don't need to expose him to a million things in one day and can take it gradually.

Set him up for success: do a little socialization with new things and people and quit on a high note (when he's quiet and calm). Be sure to make the reward something really yummy (or a favorite toy) because you want him to associate being calm and quiet in new situations with getting an excellent reward.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
985 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Ruth - thanks for the advice. I wasn't intending on flooding him, but it happened and now that I think about it like that, I feel bad for scaring him. :(
What about in the back yard though. He likes to go out with our Lab and play in the yard and we let them run around and rough house out there, but lately he's been barking at the neighbors - hair raised and all. He won't approach them (or anyone for that matter), he runs away if they get close. What do I do? Take him over to meet them? Make him come back inside? I'm so confused.
My husband's uncle came by a few weeks ago and he barked up a storm, ran away from him every time he came close, hackles raised. Never stopped. He tried squatting down and talking quietly to him, tried to give him his favorite treat, which he took nicely, but then went back to barking.
Again, I don't want this to get worse, so I'm trying to do what's right, but I obviously need a little help! LOL
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
i like training and socializing in sessions. a session may last 5 to
10 minutes but i conduct many sessions during the course of a day.
i use to ask my neighbors to come outside and stand in their
yard, walk around or whatever. then i had them treat my dog.
sometimes i told them to throw the treat over the fence and sometimes
they held the treat and put it through the fence. they called my dog
and talked to him. if he barked at them they said "no barking".
we did the "neighbor training" several times a day. i also ask my neighbors,
family and friends to visit often. when the mail was delivered the mailman
would knock on the door so he could pet and treat our dog.

expose your dog to a lot of things but do it in short sessions
and often. when i was training i used treats and praise.
lots of times it was praise only and a good petting.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,338 Posts
My husband's uncle came by a few weeks ago and he barked up a storm, ran away from him every time he came close, hackles raised. Never stopped. He tried squatting down and talking quietly to him, tried to give him his favorite treat, which he took nicely, but then went back to barking.
You're putting too much pressure on him. The absolute best thing to do in a scenario like this is for people to completely ignore him when they come over. He's the invisible dog. Let HIM approach THEM if and when he's ready to do so. And once he's more relaxed with new people around you can have them toss him a treat, don't have them go to him and try and get him to take a treat from their hand. If he gets comfortable enough he'll eventually start going up to them looking for treats, but don't force the issue, let him progress at his own pace.

As Ruth said, socialization needs to be positive or it's just going to backfire on you and make things worse. And remember that just being exposed to new people/places/things is enough, he doesn't need to actually interact with the new thing in order to benefit from the exposure. Keep him at a distance from your neighbors that he can handle, and engage him with you in some way with food or a toy. Don't force him to meet them, and don't let them get close to him.

With the kids riding their bikes and then your neighbor outside doing yardwork that may have been just too much for him at once, and sent him over threshold. Start out smaller so he's not overwhelmed. And ditch the corrections - correcting a dog for reacting out of fear is not going to get rid of the fear. You may end up suppressing the reaction, but the fear is still there. Get rid of the fear by building his confidence and pairing good things with the presence of scary things, and the reactions will go away naturally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
Look into LAT (Look at That!) and BAT (Behavioral Adjustment training) training. Is he clicker trained? I would start that in the house with no distractions so that he learns to associate the clicker with a treat and then gradually add distractions. If you teach him commands like "Look" and "Touch" in low stress situations and gradually add distractions and new things it should work.

My dog Kai was like this except he also would become terrified of common household objects like the laundry basket, the chandelier, etc. I just had to go small step by small step with him.

There are some good books out there too like "The Cautious Canine," "Click to Calm," "Control Unleashed" and many more that I'm not remembering right now. :)

It's good you're working on this now! My Basu was like this at age 4.5 when I adopted him and it was a long, uphill climb to get him comfortable in the world.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top