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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I went to buy food and spoke with the owner of the training facility who has a lot of experience, has even done SchH in the past. When I walked in I saw a GORGEOUS GSD there and she told me this family has had him since he was a pup (now 5 years old) and never showed any aggression towards people or dogs. Apparently they take him to dog parks a lot. Well all of a sudden he is growling over food and toys, has bit the resident little girl and has become protective over the water bowl at the dog park.

In your opinion, what makes a sudden change like that???

My neighbors are going through the same thing. They adopted a stunning Rottie about 3 years old from the shelter. He has been a great dog until the past month or so when he started challenging the wife and 18 months old over food and toys as well. Even the other male dog in the house is now petrified of the Rottie. The Rottie is fine with the husband and won't chanllange him, he is glued to him when he is in the house, but he has no respect for the wife and growls at her if she tries to take anything away from him. Again, this just started recently. She has even done obedience training with him but it has not helped.

So what makes a dog change like that? How would you correct/fix a dog that starts to do that all of a sudden?

My neighbors are heartbroken but they are already looking to rehome the Rottie. I actually brought him with me to training this past weekend and he was totally fine with me. I brought him out and he was fine with everyone petting him and such. I even corrected him a few times when he was barking at the other dogs.
 

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If it's truly a sudden change in behavior, it likely has a medical cause; tumor, chemical imbalance, dog is in pain for some reason, etc...


Thing is, many times these "sudden" changes in behavior aren't sudden at all. They've been building for quite a while, but the owners missed all the warning signs until the dog escalated his behavior in such a way that they finally noticed.

IME, the later situation is much more common than a truly medically unbalanced crazy dog. How to deal with them is tricky, because it requires someone who actually knows what they're looking for and how to read a dog's subtle behavior and attempts at communication and recognize the dynamics and relationships within the household to figure out what's going on. And then once the problem is identified it needs to be addressed, and it will be harder to correct if it's been let go to the point where the dog is really lashing out than if it had been dealt with in the early stages before the situation blew up.
 

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Yep, that's my take too Chris. It is sad, I really feel bad for my neighbors, but unless they are willing to spend some serious money on a good trainer, I think their best bet is to place him with an experienced handler. Hopefully I can help them find such a person. Again, this Rottie is the most stunning Rottie I've ever seen, German lines, tail never docked, and he has drive. So I'm hoping someone who has experience is interested in him. I would hate to see him end up in the wrong hands.
 

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post by GSDBESTK9
Quote:So what makes a dog change like that?
This is a short but loaded question, that can have many possible answers. Let's start with the physical aspect of things. There are many medical problems that could cause the dog to not feel well and become what appears to be protective of things, when infact he is telling the other dogs don't mess with me. The GSD picked the water bowl at the dog park to show the others not to mess with him or it. In some cases Vaccines are at the root of the problem of aggression. So I would have a full and complete blood panel done, check when any Vaccines were given. The Vaccine thing you just have to write down a really accurate timeline of shot verses behavior to see if there is any correlation.

In the Case of the Rottie, it sounds pure and simple that he needs and respects a good strong leader and when that is absent he has no problems taking over and becoming the boss. You stated that she recently started taking him to OB class. I have seen with really strong dogs once they have established in their head that they are the boss, it takes more than a little while to fix and the dog will some times act even more aggressive because he doesn't want to give up the role he has taken as the leader.

Now for the rest of the question you posted
Quote:How would you correct/fix a dog that starts to do that all of a sudden?
First, I start with a complete physical, blood panel, I would even pay special attention to the eyes to make sure there isn't a problem there making the dog more protective of itself because it can't see well. Write down the time line of the aggression and the vaccines.

Now, I wouldn't treat or train the GSD and the Rottie in the same way. If the GSD clears all the health issues it sounds like he has developed a resouce guarding problem. I believe there is a good thread in the RAW and BARF section about Resource guarding.

The Rottie sounds like he is just too big for his britches and is the boss of the house when the hubby is gone. Training with the Rottie and the wife is Key, but it will be a long process with possible the Rottie acting worse as I stated before because he doesn't want to give up the position. Does the Rottie have free roaming of the house, if yes, I would stop that right now. The wife needs to take charge, that means that every thing the Rottie needs has to come from her. He needs his freedoms taken away (this is where they can get really upset) and back into a crate. She takes him out to go potty on leash, she controls food, water excercise, everything, he is on a drag leash or teether and she makes that dog work for everything, because his staying with this family depends on it.

Now I am just throwing things out there by what you wrote and we all know how hard it is to judge a dog without seeing it.

Val
 

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Discussion Starter #6
He stays in a crate while they are gone. I know he hasn't had any vaccines recently, the last he got were given by the shelter when he was adopted out to them and this is a little over 6 months ago. But I do know he thinks he is the boss there when the husband is gone.
 

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I hate to give judgements based on breed, but LOL Rotties can be big knot heads. They get some thing it that big kettle of theirs and it is hard to get out.

I think the family really needs to find a working trainer that has worked Rotties. The Rotties want to have a job just as much as our GSD's, so he picked his job, BOSS of the house when the hubby is gone, my gut tells me that he isn't going to give it up willingly.
 

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Yes, that's what I've always heard about Rotties, that they are pretty stubborn! I can suggest a few trainers to them. Here is a picture of Thunder isn't he just gorgeous?? Although this picture doesn't do him justice, his head is massive and I love his dark mahogany color:
 

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Quote:Thing is, many times these "sudden" changes in behavior aren't sudden at all. They've been building for quite a while, but the owners missed all the warning signs until the dog escalated his behavior in such a way that they finally noticed.
I agree 100%. And with the other things said as well. When I was doing private obedience lessons and in my rescue work I have seen this exact same situation with several male Rotties. For the record: I LOVE Rotties. They are my second favorite breed. But like GSDs, they aren't the dogs for everyone, and IMO they are far more likely to have dominance issues than a lot of breeds. Most of what I see called "dominance" in GSDs is actually fear, but in Rotties... not so much. Also intra-sex aggression is pretty common with Rotties.

It's a shame too because the dogs I have worked with in this situation were GREAT dogs, good heads on their shoulders, stable, loving, smart, everything we like. In many ways, a million times more sensible than some of the fear aggressive GSDs I've worked with. All their conclusions were logical and their behavior "reasonable" from their standpoint. They were all fine with experienced handlers. They just had timid owners who were afraid of them and the dogs got the wrong ideas.


I hope they find a good trainer who will work with them and I've seen some remarkable turnarounds with good trainers and motivated owners but personally I found it really hard to train a person not to be afraid of a dog when they're already scared and the dog is reinforcing that fear by acting like a bully.

I'm the last person to advocate giving up a dog, but I think the dog's best shot is probably going to be if someone experienced and dog savvy adopts him.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
By what I can tell, Thunder is one of those dogs, well bred, good head on his shoulders. Thunder is not my neighbors' first Rottie, they've had 2 before Thunder. But this is the first one who's challenging the wife like that.
They are not the kind of people that give up on a dog easy either. They currently have another male dog that has had a TON of behavior problems and has been and continues to be on medication to control his issues. But this dog never became "dangerous" to have in the house and around their baby.
 

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WOW he is a knock out...... Looking at his eyes I think this is a very serious dog. Not that serious is bad, I love serious dogs, they will play because if bonded correctly want to please you. But give them a JOB and they shine, they get to use their brain.
 

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So many good answers here. This board is such a wealth of information for people that are lost with their dogs.

Anyway, back to topic. Provided nothing is going on medically, these dogs had issues for a long time and the owners are just starting to realize it. The problem, is that non aggressive dominant behavior from a dog looks like affectionate behavior to the untrained eye. "Look, he wants to climb on me and hug me. Isn't it cute?!" "He's such a bit sweetie, he's always nudging my arm to get lovin'!" "Isn't it great how he stands over our daughter with his head over her and tail up in the air? He's so loving and protective of her!" "He's just so protective of all of us, we just love him. He barks and growls at most strangers so we never have to worry about someone hurting us!" "He just loves the couch! He's such a cuddle bunny! He never wants to get off, and he's so comfortable so we just choose to sit somewhere else now." Chances are both of these dogs have had a rank issue for a long time, it's just that they were not challenged in any way up to this point or nobody that the dog perceived as lower in rank (i.e. the child) did anything that deserved a correction in the dogs eyes. Chances are that little girl is now old enough to actually play and interact with him so now issues arise.

With the GSD, if health checks are clean I'd stop the dog park nonsense, pick up the toys and only give as short term rewards for appropriate behavior, tether him to me while I supervised all interaction with the child including the child putting down the food and doing OB and initiate 100% NILF and strict rank enforcement including doorways, furniture, feeding last, etc.

With the Rott, again if health checks are clean I would take a step back and start over. I'd crate the dog other than potty and a bit of exercise for at least a week away from any stimulation with the wife being the only one that feeds and exercises the dog. Then for at least the next week the same thing but a littel bit longer out of the crate to do OB with the wife. During this time the dog does not even get to sniff anything that belongs to the child (I assume that the 18 month old is a child and not a dog?). Then work up to tethering the dog to her. Husband can join this equasion after about a month. If he challenges her in any way, she has to be completely calm with a dominant indifferent attitude and just put him back in the crate.
 

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What a beautiful Rottie. And what a typical rottie, lol. I won't repost everything above but will share my own experiance with Morpheus. Morpheus is my Rottie, his world belongs to his family, and while he will politely take attention from others, his attention is to those he respects. When my girlfriend first moved in, once Morph realised she was staying, he tried to put himself ahead of her. When we'd sit on the couch, he come sit between us. If we stood next to each other he would stand between us. He did everything very calmly, but purposefully to say, I come before you. He also didn't care to acknowledge she existed, she had not built a realtionship with him. So I stepped out of the picture. Everything Morph wanted was to come from her, food, attention, exercise etc. At first Morph got frustrated, would come to me not understanding what was going on. But I ignored him, gave direction to Rachel and then she would give direction to Morph ("chain of command"). It took a good month or so before Morph began to change his opinion of her and where she fit in. Now he's just as happy to see her as he is me. And if he stops listening to her, then we revert back to basics (it's always about training the human, she's too 'nice' to him still, let's him get away with little things) to nip things in the butt. Rotties are always looking for openings, even slight ones. They are always testing you and training is always ongoing. As long as you are fair and consistant you won't have any problems, but you let them jump up that one time on the couch without asking and you start them thinking about the world
 

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What a beautiful dog! I am glad that you have stepped in to help him. Chama's dad was a drop dead gorgeous pb rottie who was trained to within an inch of his life. My experience with her and with pb rotties is that they are extremely intelligent and, as someone said above, will take a mile if you give them an inch. On the positive side, they do learn very quickly and if you can figure out how they tick the sky is the limit! People often describe Chama as a rocket scientist dog. She figures things out almost immediately and needs little in the way of direction; she is an intuitive learner. She will not stop until she figures something out. When she was younger she was VERY high drive and needed a tremendous amount of exercise and mental stimulation. She is also extremely loyal and appropriately protective of me.
 
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