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Discussion Starter #1
Kyle is about 9-10 years old, and having a little hip trouble.
We have had him about 2.5 months.

Sunday my 12 yr. old had a friend over. Introduction went OK.
Later in the day they went to put on bathing suits and go outside.
Kyle was laying at the base of the stairs and he popped up and barked 3 times loudly right at them as they tried to get up the stairs by him.

I corrected him, and an hour later I called a trainer. (He is the rescue guy who originally rescued Kyle and has three working dogs and 6 others mostly GSDs) He said it was likely Kyle correcting the kids.
He also said we need to keep working with him, and to not get complacent.

Tonight, all 5 of us (myself, my wife, my 2 sons, 12 and 16 and Kyle) were watching TV. Something agitated Kyle. Not quite sure what it was, I took him outside and he started to head for the road. I called him back and went back in. He was still agitated. I and my 12 yr. old petted him for a good 5 minutes. My son was in front of him though and kept talking to him. Kyle snapped at him right in the face. No real injury, but my wife and I are starting to get concerned.
I will be calling the trainer again. He offered to come up and spend a few hours with us. Now I don't feel like I can leave him alone with my 12 yr. old.
Other suggestions?

History on Kyle.

Neutered.
He was a stray, rescued by this guy/trainer. Kyle spent the last 2+ years with a middle aged couple. The wife's mother got sick and she moved to FL to take care of her, and the husband moved as soon as we took Kyle. It took him 5 months to find us, so there aren't a lot of people looking to adopt a 10 yr. old GSD with hip trouble. He wouldn't last a day in a cage. His canines are bad from trying to chew his way out of one. Other than these two incidents he is a really likeable gentle dog. He is great with adults, strangers, and other dogs. I was walking him off leash until the hip trouble started. He is on two medications right now. Deramaxx and Tramadol.
 

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My opinion is that you could try to avoid triggering Kyle's reactivity. If he's agitated, crate him or put him in a separate room It doesn't sound like he has recent experience with kids so I probably would supervise him with your 12 year old.

Petting an agitated or nervous dog can reinforce the unwanted behavior. They can either enjoy the attention or get the idea that there is something that they should be concerned about.

He's an old man and quite likely has periods of physical discomfort. I'd work with his limitations and focus on his positives.
 

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It takes a while for a GSD to accept new people, esp when he's got a few years on him. Forcing affection or something like "My son was in front of him though and kept talking to him." before there's a bond is likely to get some pushback. 2.5 months isn't necessarily long enough. An air snap is just a warning, it's not a missed bite. It doesn't sound like he's accepted a subordinate role in your pack so he'll continue to assert himself until that's worked out. The more homes a GSD's (or any dog) been in extend the time it takes him to accept a new one. Also, he's older, and likely in some degree of physical discomfort most of the time. Barking at the rambunctious kids could be a simple "hey watch out kids, don't step on me" warning that he'd have issued to young pups playing around him.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments. It wasn't a miss, just missed any vital areas. The side of his head was too large to fit in his mouth.
I am more and more convinced it was the narcotics freaking him out.
I cut the dosage in 1/2 and he still seems fine hip-wise.

I agree my son is too lovey-dovey with this dog, and we have talked at length about giving the dog space. My 12 yr. old has been the #2 person all summer for me. If I am gone, he was the primary caretaker for him. He has done a great job. He was alone all day with the dog. I am taking the dog to work from now on until I am convinced everything is all right. The trainer may come Sunday. When we talked he was at a loss for words on this one incident.

Kyle came right up to my 12 yr. old after work today, looking to get petted, tail wagging.

I am not ready to give up on the dog yet, that is for sure. Fortunately my work is very cooperative in bringing the dog to work.
 

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He made contact with the face, but no damage, then. That sounds like a GSD used to having his own way wanting your son to stop what he was doing (GSDs do everything with their mouths, with varying degrees of application). An older GSD who hasn't accepted a subordinate role in prior homes will attempt to continue that behavior in your home, until it's changed.

In your place, I'd do a 2-week shutdown to re-orient his thinking so he'll accept a subordinate role, and then firm up the relationship with obedience training, daily long walks, etc. It's great you're able to take him to work, but that's only prevention/delay, not a path for correction of the issue (except that it builds his bond with you).
 

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My friend's GSD had a surgery to repair his cruciate ligament and Tramadol was given. His behavior changed dramatically. Once he was off of the Tramadol, he was back to his usual self.

I will suggest something else for his hips - namely Duralactin.

Duralactin for Dogs | Canine inflamation

I use this for my personal seniors and foster dogs too.
 

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some dogs when they get older dont tolerate hugging /etc especially if they are in pain. most dogs dont like to be hugged to begin with. its possible he was afraid the kids would hurt him unintentionally since his hips were bothering him.

i would not do a full two week shutdown with a older dog, however i would ask the children to stop fawning over him and just leave him be... if the dog goes to them for attention fine, if not, just leave him be.. i have an 3 , 11 and 17 yr old dog here. the older two dont like hugs or anyone fawning over them (the 11 yr old used to when he was younger ) i tell my bf's son who is 11 to not fawn or hug the 2 older dogs, as they are older and their joints are not like a younger dogs..

get some different supplements for the dogs hips too, some meds will make a dog more agitated, so try the natural route if you can or a lesser pain med, and teach the children to not run /play where the dog lays, and dont let the dog lay at the stair bottoms either... i am sure the dog just is afraid of getting stepped on , cause if the dog really wanted to the dog would have put your child in the hospital already... this dog is showing great bite inhibition and is just warning the children to stay away. and honestly if you were in my face i would probably slap you too... dogs dont like people hovering or in their faces, its hard i know because dogs are so cuddly and cute ...
 
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