German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Berlin is 11 months old, male, intact. He was socialized extensively and exposed to as much as possible from a young age. He has always been confident, sure of himself, never displayed aggression or fear...but that has all changed these past few weeks. He has begun displaying fear behaviors, today on our walk, someone let off a few small fireworks, and he booked it, and wouldnt stop until we were home. :confused: He shuts down from minor corrections (pulling on the lead when tracking/not getting something right - just gives up) He has been showing aggression to a few dogs...and is definitely being reactive toward them. *sigh*. What happened...and what do I do? :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,318 Posts
I feel for you because i am dreading the thought of Dexter becoming reactive when he gets older. Your dog may be going through a fear period and who wouldn't be scared of firecrackers. I'd run back home to my safeplace too if I didn't know what it was.:)

From what I've read and heard alot of dogs may become reactive around this age. I'd be interested in what others have to say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I really do think I did a good job of exposing him to stuff. I mean I took him EVERYWHERE when he was a puppy (heck I still do) so he is constantly being exposed to new things. He hears the gunshots at schH training, and as far as I know, doesnt act like this (granted, he's in the crate in the car, but there is no evidence of fear when I have him out). These fireworks couldnt of been louder than that. He doesnt react weird to thunder. I constantly exposed him to dogs, and for a while here he was doing great with not reacting to them at all, just looking at them/general interest. But now he wont shut up, he displayed aggression to another shepherd at schH (who knows why...). I hope this is just some strange fear period because I really dont like what happened with my confident, "I can take on the world, nothing phases me" dog. I'm perplexed. Nothing has changed, our training is still the same, no life changes etc.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,369 Posts
Maybe he's going through a stage for some of it? Ollie is doing something similar right now, he's been socialized up the wazoo and exposed to almost everything I could find. But today I took him to my parent in laws, he's only been there a couple of times. They have shiny slick hardwood floors(unlike at our house, our hardwood is unfinished) and he was kind of crawling across it at first, same with their deck for a few minutes until he got used to it. They also have a little fawn statue in their garden and he was hackling and circling it, I had to go up and pet it to show him it was ok. And well you know about his leash reactivity though he's never shown aggression to a dog. He's also recently been randomly spooking to noises and sudden movement. Can't really blame him for the fireworks, that's probably sometimes he's never heard before... Though I'm not really sure what to do about it other then staying calm yourself since you don't know when someone is going to set them off. Can't wait till the 4th has passed. :p

They're only a month apart and both intact males so I dunno maybe another fear period. I'm just doing more positive exposure work now with treats and praise. We're also doing more classes now... Possibly he could benefit from another class?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,182 Posts
Berlin is 11 months old, male, intact. He was socialized extensively and exposed to as much as possible from a young age. He has always been confident, sure of himself, never displayed aggression or fear...but that has all changed these past few weeks. He has begun displaying fear behaviors, today on our walk, someone let off a few small fireworks, and he booked it, and wouldnt stop until we were home. :confused: He shuts down from minor corrections (pulling on the lead when tracking/not getting something right - just gives up) He has been showing aggression to a few dogs...and is definitely being reactive toward them. *sigh*. What happened...and what do I do? :(

Could this be alittle regression in training? Cruz ( my male GSD) never counter surfed, and rarely jumped up on people a month ago. Then all of a sudden I can't keep him off the counter at times and he's become really unpredictable with his people greetings. We talked to the trainer tonight and she said sometimes they will regress. But he's still only 6 months.

As far as Berlin, and I'm guessing here, would it benefit to go back through some basic training techniques to get him back on track? I know, I've had several Shepherds, and they all reacted differently to fireworks. One of my most confident GSD's Rocky would cower under my rolltop desk during the 4th. I've grown to dislike the 4th of July because of it. It took him completely out of character and took him a good three or four days to get back to himself. Another GSD of mine Molly was totally opposite, she would actually attack them. I had to be careful because being outside she was fine as long as they were a few yards away from her, but get them to close and she'd go into attack mode on the fireworks.

Maybe just give him alittle time and go back through some training basics?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Definitely not excited for the fourth now. Was planning on taking him to a fourth of july festival thing, theres dock diving there, but there will be fireworks at night, might as well not do that huh. And yes, I have gone back (waaay back) to the basics. I have actually stopped alot of obedience for now besides some easy stuff he already knows (just reinforcing it now) and have been focusing on play/building drive/having fun. Hope it helps with the confidence thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,259 Posts
I think he needs to see you as his leader so he knows he can count on you, that will take some pressure off him thinking he has to be the one to handle situations.
I almost think you should keep on with teaching him new things, that will boost his confidence when he gets it right.
And even though he's showing some reactivity, I'd let him know going off on other dogs is unacceptable. Try to get his focus back on you when he starts in and praise him big time with food or toy.
The tracking situation is odd, though. I don't understand why he shuts down? I'd like to see a vid of the tracking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I think he needs to see you as his leader so he knows he can count on you, that will take some pressure off him thinking he has to be the one to handle situations.
I almost think you should keep on with teaching him new things, that will boost his confidence when he gets it right.
And even though he's showing some reactivity, I'd let him know going off on other dogs is unacceptable. Try to get his focus back on you when he starts in and praise him big time with food or toy.
The tracking situation is odd, though. I don't understand why he shuts down? I'd like to see a vid of the tracking.
By basics I meant, like foundation work of heeling, front etc. I tried to go too fast and set him up for failure with that. So I have been working on things that he *can* succeed with, such as pivoting on the perch (he is doing great with it) among other things..I agree it will build confidence. When he starts going off on a dog, there is nothing I can do to get him to focus on ME, all I can do is pull him away until the dog is out of sight. Is a prong correction acceptable for this?

Actually, with the tracking I just started to let him free track, I think you might of been the one who said you let your dog figure it out on the track in my other thread? He did excellent. I have not pulled or even put any pressure on the line since so not sure how he'd act now. I can post a video of the first time I let him 'free track'

Berlin Free Tracking - YouTube

And heres one of him before, while I was holding the line. He didn't shut down here, but was 'pulling'.
Berlin tracking 6.15.13 - YouTube
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,452 Posts
See if you can find a breed trainer or old timer to tell you what they see....I have seen this scenario many many times, but it's better to get first hand reads on the cause.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,182 Posts
Sent from Petguide.com Free App

It's always good to go back to basics sometimes. Does he seem to show apprehension to going outdoors? If not, maybe the fireworks has nothing to do with his lack of performance. If so, it may have everything to do with it. If it does, he maybe in a hurry to get back inside. It may just take some time for him to regain a comfort level outside again. If he goes out and seems comfortable outdoors, then maybe he's just bored with excersises you two go throuh. I'm reaching here, but maybe take him to a different location to run through your tracking exercises. Just change the routine up. Also take break away from it likw your doing now and just enjoy each others company cor awhile. Heck, I'm no dog shrink, these are all things I'd try myself if I were in your shoes.

Cruz hasn't quite come around with his confidence yet. He's made improvements, but dogs his size still push him around alittle so I limit his exposure and monitor his exposure when he gets it. But we are at the base of basics right now. We had been working on a "leave it" command where you put a high value treat under your hand on the floor let him try to get it while commanding him to leave it. He is suppose to eventually walk away. Thats the desired behavior. Got to the point he just wasn't getting after he demonstrated he knew the command in the beginning. He regressed on me. So I didn't work with bim on it for an entire week or more. We tried it again lastnight and he performed the command perfectly first time. I was amazed. I think he just got burned out and frustrated with it before and just needed a break from it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
538 Posts
We went through a very similar fear phase with our Jake around the same age. We'd been having a dog walker come into the house since Jake was 9 weeks old and she had noticed some fearful reactions in him to the point that something scared him one day and he bit her. To this date we have no idea what scared him.

We got Jake vet checked ... full blood workup and found nothing from a health perspective. Then we hired a dog behaviourist and had a couple sessions with her to deal with the fearful and reactiveness. Now at 17 months old, he seems to be over it. He comes a lot of places with us, gets walks in the park almost daily, etc.

It could just be a phase, but it might be a good idea to do some work with a trainer that can help you get past this. It seemed to work well for us.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,195 Posts
find a trainer/behaviourist? start your OB and socializing all over.
do some easy things. keep the training light and fun. maybe
you could find a dog or two that your dog gets along with
and train around them. i'm just guessing at what you should do.
it's what i would do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
627 Posts
When DH and I brought our pups to the firework show we had our pockets loaded with treats and acted as human pez dispensers. When the first super big firework went off both started for a second but we distracted them with a command and food. By the time we were 10 minutes into the show neither cared about the fireworks. We made them complete the command first, less they associate being afraid of the fireworks with the food, thus rewarding them for fear. We've gone back to the firework displays every year since then with no problems.

I would suggest trying distraction and desensitization with fireworks. Freyja first experienced thunder when she was going through a fear stage and distraction and desensitization worked wonders (playing fetch in a thunderstorm). It takes time and patience, and sometimes even some friends to help out, but I'm confident that you can work him through this fear.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top