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I have an almost 2 year old GSD (1 year and 8 months old). I made sure to socialize him early on. We always went to dog parks and dog bars. I preferred dog bars as my dog is toy possessive towards other dogs. At dog bars, I would constantly get compliments on how well my GSD would play. A lot of dogs do not like him and bark and snap at him, but he ignores them.

Recently, his behavior changed. He got into a fight at a dog bar and I had to get him off the dog. The other owner was very kind and said she has seen my dog all night and saw how well he was playing and understands some dogs just don't get along. No open wounds or anything.

I tried taking him to a dog park 2 days later (which was a mistake), he become possessive of a toy and growled at another dog that did not get his hint. We left.

Yesterday, I brought him to my friend's backyard where he played with her two rotties fine in the beginning. She brought out treats to get everybody to sit. One of the rotties is a puppy and was constantly in his face while my friend held a treat. My dog snapped at the puppy and got her on her back thinking he's competing for the food. Another thing he's never done before. I held him back.

I feel like he's fine and playful when he has energy but as soon as he gets tired, he turns into a grump. Is this normal with age? Or does this sound like a possession issue? Also important to mention, he's only possessive towards other dogs.

I'm just really confused to how my very playful, super friendly dog changed all of a sudden :(
 

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blooming adulthood brings changes. And you may have guessed it when you said that your dog got grumpy when he is tired. That makes sense. If the weather is hot and your dog is getting tired or hot, he might not want to be messed with. He just hasn't learned how to remove himself from the group and say, "hey mom, I've had enough".

I tend to not have toys out with dogs together and I monitor both of my dogs while they eat. Some dogs share better than others.
 

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Have you had similar experience with your dog growing older?

I would like to continue to take him places to play but I feel like I would be paranoid the whole time. Often times, I see other dogs exhibit similar behavior but they tend to get away with it. I guess that's just the extra responsibility of owning a GSD.
 

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As our dogs transition into adulthood it's very common for them to not to play well with dogs outside of their family pack.It can be stressful for them to continually have to form new pack structures with other groups of dogs.One way to look at it is imagine a child that goes to a different school every single day.Everything being continually new and unexpected would be unsettling.
 

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This is normal. My dog was very friendly as a puppy. I was told to watch her carefully as she approached 2. From what I understand, a lot of dogs will change as they mature, and coming up on 2 is when you may see it. I asked my breeder about it when my dog was nearing 3, and the prediction was that if she was still friendly at that age, this was just likely who she is (and that seems to be true).
 

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Toys and treats are two things that almost guarantee dog fights. Many dog parks do not permit them. Stop having your dog around other dogs when toys and treats come out so he doesn't practice this behavior. It would be best to remove your dog from the area when these triggers are presented.
 

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Think of the ways you dealt with conflict as a baby, at 7, at 14, at 21 and so on... as a child you’re much more forgiving, innocent, and less likely to hold grudges or carry things into other situations. Now think about at 14, now imagine you’re a couple drinks in at a bar (how convenient, lol).

Anyway, I say all that to say - you’re dog is growing up! And too often we view them as dogs which make dog parks and dog bars make sense..... look at him as an individual, it may not be his thing anymore, or maybe it never was. It can be hard to read dogs sometimes.... sometimes what looks like play is actually avoidance tactics.

I’m not for or against dog parks - they are what they are and too many factors involved to judge. However, I don’t frequent them. When I’m at dog friendly venues or off leash hiking areas - I use those as opportunities to teach my dog to engage with me and be neutral to other dogs. There are some that thinks it’s overboard, but the benefit is not having to deal with issues or changes such as these.
 

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I can see that. Do you recommend that I stop going to dog bars where he can play with unknown dogs? I feel like that would only make the problem worst.
 

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I completely agree. I usually pick up toys before he starts playing with other dogs. I'm more concerned with this behavior spreading to situations without toys/treats. I was wondering if somebody else had a similar situation and if they would think it is okay to take him to dog parks/bars that do not permit toys/treats.
 

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I definitely think it was his thing! He really does love playing, or used to, at least. Maybe not so much anymore. I live in an apartment complex so it was one of the only options to get his energy out. Fortunately, I'll be moving into a house this month with a backyard.

How do you teach your dogs to be neutral towards other dogs and pay attention to you?
 

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My last GSD had issues with food, treats, and toys. My parents have a GSD so the treats and the food worked themselves out with her because she is a whopping 85 pounds of not putting up with it. The toys took longer and at least with our former roommates dog she worked out her and his place and was eventually OK with everything. This isn't always the case and I think in both instances they were dogs she saw a lot of and was able to work out where they all fit together.
 

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GSD's tend not to be social butterflies as adults. It's a breed thing. Many have family dogs or close friends that seem to become part of the pack, but very few go much beyond that. So if you were hoping for that you are likely out of luck.
All of my previous GSD's where sort of uncaring about other dogs with two real exceptions. Bud actually liked to play with other dogs, off his turf and as long as they didn't start any crap. Lex would play with any dog, any where, anytime.
 

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So I have a puppy that is now 16 months. As a young puppy she loved rough housing with other puppies and dogs, and wrestling etc. could go on for hours if the situation allowed it. But she was so outgoing and gregarious that she never got in any arguments with other dogs. That changed sort of dramatically when she turned 8-9 months, and she actually got into a couple of scuffles over toys or whenever a dog bit her hard for any reason. Now, she'd much rather play fetch or follow me around walking than play with most other dogs, except for the occasional dog that she seems to be attracted to. She does still like to prance around and show off her ball to other dogs at times, and she continues to guard her ball with vigor always, but seldom has any issues with other dogs as long as they listen to and abide by her warnings. When they don't, or they bite her, it's a fight every time! That being said, she rarely gets into fights or disagreements with other dogs at the local dog park or any other venue. In fact, IMHO it was beneficial for her to have interacted with so many dogs at the dog park as she was growing up, because she's able to communicate her position without escalation. She will frequently drop her ball into a water bowl, because it's easier to keep an eye on and protect LOL! This stuff is hard to explain in writing like this, but dogs communicate with each other in ways humans often find shocking or scary. If you haven't been around dogs a lot, go to the dog park without your dog and just watch. It really is a great venue to learn about dog behavior, because as others have pointed out, at any time someone can bring in a truly aggressive dog. But in watching the dog's, you'll easily see the difference between a situation that's just normal dog communication, and something you should be truly concerned about. What you've described is just your puppy maturing...again, IMHO nothing to be worried about!
 

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Serves alcohol? That should be wild.
Yeah, what could go wrong LOL! Many people don't pay attention without alcohol, can't begin to imagine what that would be like...but it certainly wouldn't be an improvement...
 

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Now that I know what a dog bar is.....people.......alcohol.....drunks....their dogs....dog toys---great recipe for fun times----throw in a couple of hmmmm---female dogs (yes- I did pick my words carefully) in heat....sounds like a perfect evening.
I really need to get out of my small-sheltered world more ! LOL
 
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