German Shepherds Forum banner
1 - 20 of 101 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. We have a 15-month-old GSD, Margot, who seems to be getting worse in terms of behaviour. She has recently been spayed but we're not sure this has anything to do with it. A long story short:

We did original training classes when she was very young with what I would describe as a "soft" training school. It was all treats and rewards and praise and repetition until your dog did the required thing.

We stopped training classes due to Covid so we were working with her ourselves for about 6 months.

In the last few months, we have found that certain of her behaviours were getting worse - pulling on the lead, barking at the window etc so we looked into new training for her. We went for a trainer that specialises in working dogs.

This trainer was much more of the "hard" training approach. He emphasised control, making sure your dog knows who is boss and only rewarding with treats when the dog is following instructions exactly. He also recommended changing to a leather slip lead for her walking and control. I was very apprehensive but decided to try it if it was going to make a difference.

Some of her behaviour has improved as a result - she walks closer to me when out and about. However, she is still pulling on the slip lead consistently and choking herself (and yes, I have put it on the right way round - lots of googling on that one!) and she is never relaxed when she's on it.

She has also become more nervous and thus more aggressive to other people and dogs. Even though she pulled a lot previously with an extendable lead or clip lead, she was always relatively friendly when she met people. She is now much warier and has barked aggressively a few times when we've been out and close to other people coming the other way. This happens both on and off the lead.

The trainer also recommended using the slip lead when people come to the door to get her out of the habit of barking - basically holding her in place until she calms down. She is doing it to some extent but she's still choking herself most of the time and it's very distressing.

The final straw came this afternoon when some friends with a small child called - Margot has met this child before in the house and has been absolutely fine with her. Today, with the slip lead on, she lunged towards her and very nearly bit her.

We simply have no idea what to do - our lovely dog (if somewhat headstrong in some areas) seems to be turning into an aggressive monster that we don't recognise. We don't know whether this is the new style of training, the slip lead, whether this training style is making her worse etc.

Please, please help us to understand what is happening to her! The thought of her becoming dangerous or, even worse, hurting someone is too much to contemplate! However, we also know that her previous behaviour (pulling, not listening) is not acceptable either so we're totally stumped!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,109 Posts
teenagers! sounds like she's having some trouble with reaching maturity. Is she a purebred? Or mixed with something else? How is her health? Is she intact? (she may be seeing other people as a threat to her motherly instincts). I'd suggest a trip to the vet for a checkup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,520 Posts
How did you react when she lunged at the child?

She's reached the teenage stage, where many GSDs suddenly forget their training, and need to be reminded, and put firmly in their place when they forget.

Many dogs become more protective of the home and their owners during adolescence. She need to know she doesn't need to protect you, because YOU are in charge.

Dog Photograph Dog breed Carnivore Gesture
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
teenagers! sounds like she's having some trouble with reaching maturity. Is she a purebred? Or mixed with something else? How is her health? Is she intact? (she may be seeing other people as a threat to her motherly instincts). I'd suggest a trip to the vet for a checkup.
She's pure bred, her health is generally excellent. She had an infection about 4 or 5 months ago which needed antibiotics and she had a tick which we got out straight away when we spotted it. She's been spayed very recently which may have something to do with it? If she's scared after that happened to her perhaps? She's been fine with us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We removed her from the child straight away but the damage (metaphorically) had already been done by then and the child was terrified! We felt awful that it had happened, especially as she had met and played with her before.

Re: putting her firmly in her place, that sounds like you think the trainer is on the right course with the slip lead etc?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,084 Posts
The OP said she is spayed.I think the slip lead is very likely to cause her to be even more agitated. Ineffective tugs become a nagging irritant instead of a correction. A correction will make the dog cease immediately. You follow up by giving her a task you can reward her for.
She also needs a couple of sessions of vigorous exercise daily to burn off energy and snuffle around just being a dog.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,084 Posts
I'll add when receiving guests, gate her in another room so she can observe at a comfortable distance and have your guests ignore her completely. You can teach her a place command eventually. She can learn to be neutral at the very least.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The OP said she is spayed.I think the slip lead is very likely to cause her to be even more agitated. Ineffective tugs become a nagging irritant instead of a correction. A correction will make the dog cease immediately. You follow up by giving her a task you can reward her for.
She also needs a couple of sessions of vigorous exercise daily to burn off energy and snuffle around just being a dog.
Can you explain what you mean by "a correction" please @dogma13 ? I do feel like the slip lead is more of an irritation for her at the moment.

Normally she gets plenty of vigorous off-lead exercise which she loves but our vet recommended a couple of weeks of on-lead walks until she's fully healed from her op. It makes it harder, certainly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,520 Posts
Yes, I do. We're talking about a breed of dog that has been bred to protect, not a lap dog. You need to set very firm boundaries with them, or they WILL take charge. They should NOT be the ones making the decisions about who is welcome in your home.

How can I explain this without making you think I'm being cruel or abusive?

You have to suit the correction to the dog and the severity of the offence. Some GSDs shrug off mild corrections. Others don't. I used to own one of those dogs. Needless to say, she was a rescue. When I tried introducing her to my male GSD, she latched onto his hind leg, and would not let go. Verbal reprimands did nothing. I corrected her with the prong collar just as hard as I could. I kicked her just as hard as I could. I even kicked her in the face. She paid no attention to me at all. Finally, in desperation. I sat on her, hoping I could use my hands to choke her out. That did the trick, and she FINALLY let go.

You'd better believe me, after that, the next time she went after another dog, I corrected her so hard she yelped. It was the last time she ever tried to do that when on leash.

If my dog had lunged at that child, she would have gotten a correction she wouldn't have forgotten any time soon. I save gentle corrections for things that aren't going to cause bodily harm to someone else.

As was said above, ineffectual corrections are useless.

And training SHOULD be more reward based than punishment based. But for major stuff like this, I don't fool around. After you've experienced something like I posted above, you'll do anything you can to prevent a repeat!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,106 Posts
I disagree with letting a dog self correct until it calms down. You are rolling the dice with what association the dog is going to make with the correction. I much prefer a verbal followed by a quick correction and then a command.

Timing is really important, and so is the intensity of the correction. How does the dog behave for the trainer?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32,790 Posts
I'm with @dogma13

That line is causing frustration and it's built up to the point of an almost bite. You can teach your dog to walk on a flat collar by teaching her to release to the pressure. Put a prong on her to stop her pulling and teach her to Leave it.

The only time I use a choke collar (which IS what the slip lead is) is to shut down a reaction. However, I'm super tired of trainers only shutting down reactions with harsh corrections and never teaching the dog any skills to cope with stress and live in society. Your dog wasn't even having episodes of having reactions until you started using the leash so that was definitely the wrong tool for the job.

Look up They Naughty Dogge blog and search loose leash walking. She has a great article explaining how she teaches it. Teach your dog Leave It and correct her with a prong collar for not doing so. And teach your dog a skill to cope with stress such as Look At That. And...teach her to Sit. She can't lunge and react if she's sitting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,566 Posts
When correcting an unprovoked growl or lunge/snap at a child, I'd correct it as if the bite happened; swift fair/firm and leave no doubt to them that they never want to do that again. Anything less than that is poor communication and not fair to the dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,566 Posts
I'm with @dogma13

That line is causing frustration and it's built up to the point of an almost bite. You can teach your dog to walk on a flat collar by teaching her to release to the pressure. Put a prong on her to stop her pulling and teach her to Leave it.

The only time I use a choke collar (which IS what the slip lead is) is to shut down a reaction. However, I'm super tired of trainers only shutting down reactions with harsh corrections and never teaching the dog any skills to cope with stress and live in society. Your dog wasn't even having episodes of having reactions until you started using the leash so that was definitely the wrong tool for the job.

Look up They Naughty Dogge blog and search loose leash walking. She has a great article explaining how she teaches it. Teach your dog Leave It and correct her with a prong collar for not doing so. And teach your dog a skill to cope with stress such as Look At That. And...teach her to Sit. She can't lunge and react if she's sitting.
Oddly enough, no matter how excited Rogan gets even with exciting strange dogs or coyotes) he will sit in a heartbeat to diffuse situations. If you can teach a down in that situation, you're gold but I think that sometimes puts a dog in an uncomfortable compromised position.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I disagree with letting a dog self correct until it calms down. You are rolling the dice with what association the dog is going to make with the correction. I much prefer a verbal followed by a quick correction and then a command.

Timing is really important, and so is the intensity of the correction. How does the dog behave for the trainer?
Forgive my ignorance, it may just be terms I'm not familiar with but what do you mean by "a verbal", correction and command?

She is OK for the trainer, and OK for me some of the time but I think she's scared of the trainer and the environment. She visibly shakes when she gets there. When I am walking with her I feel like I'm constantly correcting her with the slip lead and it makes little difference except to make my arm ache! :confused:

To contrast to the bad experience with the kid, we have had a tradesman in today as well. She barked in an absolute frenzy when he arrived but once she had worked him out and he was in the house, she pretty much lay down beside him all day while he got on with his job. She is such a lovely dog when she's calm.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,084 Posts
@turntableslave Jax and David are pros at handling and teaching reactive dogs and owners. Take their advice to heart:)Lose the slip lead and the current trainer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,814 Posts
You are probably better off with a prong collar. Check the Leerburg.com for using and measuring the correct collar size. She sounds like a normal bratty adolescent teenager dog. GSD can get pretty intense in these stages. It's not a good sign that she is afraid of the trainer. A good trainer is adored by it's canine students. It's why they often want to go home with me after a private training. I consider that my main pay off, without wanting to sound too braggy 😉
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,106 Posts
What you are doing isn't working. I would shift gears towards OB with lots of rewards and quick, meaningful corrections for non compliance. If that means a different trainer, then so be it.

I use slip leads for handler aggression and for dogs that get crazy amped up on a prong in situations where that's not a good thing. I see no need for it here, and it doesn't seem to be effective in the manner it is being used.

Shaking doesn't mean fearful, it could be excitement. If she is in fact fearful of the trainer, that would be a red flag.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GSDchoice and Jax08

·
Registered
Joined
·
32,790 Posts
Forgive my ignorance, it may just be terms I'm not familiar with but what do you mean by "a verbal", correction and command?

She is OK for the trainer, and OK for me some of the time but I think she's scared of the trainer and the environment. She visibly shakes when she gets there. When I am walking with her I feel like I'm constantly correcting her with the slip lead and it makes little difference except to make my arm ache! :confused:

To contrast to the bad experience with the kid, we have had a tradesman in today as well. She barked in an absolute frenzy when he arrived but once she had worked him out and he was in the house, she pretty much lay down beside him all day while he got on with his job. She is such a lovely dog when she's calm.
Here is the answer to your question. This says everything. Get a different trainer immediately. One that will teach you fair, balanced, obedience and will teach her skills to cope with life. Sounds like you just had a brat that needed obedience and now you have to undo the fear and anxiety this trainer created.

Your "correction" for the behavior should have gone like this. Dog reacts. You say Sit! (because you can't correct an emotion but you can correct disobedience and because sitting is the opposite of reacting), the dog ignores you so you issue a firm correction and then you say again Sit! Dog complies and you reward for complying with the sit. David may do it differently but this has yet to fail me and gives me the results I need when done consistently. And I work on being proactive. I will Sit my dog before they can react and reward for hte right behavior. If the dog is reacting, you have already lost control so then the battle is getting that back. Up your obedience and engagement and half of your battle is won.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32,790 Posts
What you are doing isn't working. I would shift gears towards OB with lots of rewards and quick, meaningful corrections for non compliance. If that means a different trainer, then so be it.

I use slip leads for handler aggression and for dogs that get crazy amped up on a prong in situations where that's not a good thing. I see no need for it here, and it doesn't seem to be effective in the manner it is being used.
100%.

Only I use the slip for any reactivity to shut down the reaction whether it's handler, dogs or people and it's the only time I use it. I use the prong for all other corrections of non compliance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,867 Posts
So to me a correction is a quick collar pop whether flat or prong. To clarify for the OP, (and me) is that what you all are referring to?
 
1 - 20 of 101 Posts
Top