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Hi all,

Tanner recently turned 9 months old and I am worried about his barking/growling at people, mostly at men. I am worried that without the right course of action now, we'll be facing a similar situation to this: http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/aggression-good-bad-ugly/147050-aggressive-people.html, especially because we got him from the same breeder.

We have had Tanner since he was 8 weeks old, done TONS, I mean TONS of socializing. He has been everywhere with me from day 1. He was never that excited about strangers, but up until he was about 6 months old he pretty much ignored them while we were out and about. Then he started growling at people, most of the time just men, who approached us. We were in the middle of a basic OB class at the time, and I asked our trainer, who also happened to be his breeder, about his behavior. He said that it was just part of the GSD's personality. Now, I'm not brand new to GSD's; we already had Minnie, but she was from completely different lines (She's mostly American and he's a mix of Czech and west German lines), so I thought that maybe the working line dogs were more weary of people (Minnie loves everyone immediately). So I went with it.

Well, now he's getting worse, especially with people in our home. The weird thing is that he is mostly freaked out by men. While we were up at my in-laws for Thanksgiving he never took his eyes off of my FIL, and if my FIL walked in Tanner's direction Tanner would start growling and barking at him. Thankfully my FIL wasn't upset by it, but it bothered me a lot.

I am not sure if this is fear aggression, but I think it is. He puts his hackles up and his head and his ears down while he growls. If my FIL walked towards him, Tanner would try to run away or hide behind me. I do NOT try to sooth him when he does this because I know it's just reinforcing the fear, but other than putting him in a down-stay I don't know what to do. Plus, when we first got to their house, Tanner was very restless, and ran into the dining room and went a runny #2 all over their new carpet. :shocked: Thank God my MIL is a nice person.

Now here's the weird thing - Tanner is SO weary about my FIL (and any other guy for that matter), but when he thinks my FIL isn't paying attention to him, Tanner gets curious and will walk up to him and sniff him. So long as my FIL pretends like he doesn't notice, Tanner is fine, but if my FIL so much as looks at Tanner, Tanner puts his head down, growls, and runs away. Also, Tanner will take treats from him. He will play fetch with my FIL and BIL outside, but he won't tug with my FIL. He will tug with my sister and my MIL.

:help:

I don't know what to do. We just moved to IL (near southern side of Chicago), and I'm looking for a good trainer. :( Any suggestions you have will be great.

He has NEVER bitten anyone but I'm afraid that, with the way he acts now, we may be headed down that road.
 

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At 6 moths old he is just afraid. Depending on what you are looking for I would have had your FIL give your dog some treats it almost sounds like your dog is playing a game with your FIL.

As far as not liking men you just need to work on that but ignoring it will just become a bad situation sooner or later.
 

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I and others have posted to the Victor's mom, here: maybe something will help
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/aggression-good-bad-ugly/147050-aggressive-people-3.html

I agree he is reacting out of fear, and he's in the mindset of "I'm gonna get them before they get me" mode.

As I told Victor's mom, you may never be able to truly 'trust' him with people, but you can manage him..One thing on your side is he's young, but then you have genetics which are implanted deep.

For him, I would have no touch, no talk, no staring, no petting, by ANYONE he is unfamiliar with, your FIL, put him on the big "ignore", and what happens,,well now he's nosey and wants to know "why" he's on the big ignore and goes to check him out. Your FIL did "right"..IGNORE him..

If he's food motivated, have strangers TOSS him treats, while he is on IGNORE.

I can't help with trainers, I'm not in that area, but I like the book Control Unleashed which has some good ideas,,and Fiesty Fido..
 

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I and others have posted to the Victor's mom, here: maybe something will help
http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/aggression-good-bad-ugly/147050-aggressive-people-3.html

I agree he is reacting out of fear, and he's in the mindset of "I'm gonna get them before they get me" mode.

As I told Victor's mom, you may never be able to truly 'trust' him with people, but you can manage him..One thing on your side is he's young, but then you have genetics which are implanted deep.

For him, I would have no touch, no talk, no staring, no petting, by ANYONE he is unfamiliar with, your FIL, put him on the big "ignore", and what happens,,well now he's nosey and wants to know "why" he's on the big ignore and goes to check him out. Your FIL did "right"..IGNORE him..

If he's food motivated, have strangers TOSS him treats, while he is on IGNORE.

I can't help with trainers, I'm not in that area, but I like the book Control Unleashed which has some good ideas,,and Fiesty Fido..

We also found out Tanner and Victor have the same bloodline. Victor had
cryptorchidism(undescended testicles)as you probably know is hereditary. Tanner had it as well. Tanner could also have the aggressiveness too unfortunately. I just hope his can be stopped before it escalates as bad as Victor's. You all have been very helpful----Thank you!!
 

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Are either one of you in contact with the breeder? The age of Tanner is normal for this FA/reactive behavior to begin. Managing the pup thru it is really important of course.
Michael Ellis has some good clips on different forms of aggression/puppy fear periods.
I'd look at those for a bit more understanding. Leerburg Streaming Video

Sometimes when genetics are so strong for unstable temperament all we can do is daily manage these types for their life and keep them from failing.
Onyx is the same way, unfortunately.
 

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Are either one of you in contact with the breeder? The age of Tanner is normal for this FA/reactive behavior to begin. Managing the pup thru it is really important of course.
Michael Ellis has some good clips on different forms of aggression/puppy fear periods.
I'd look at those for a bit more understanding. Leerburg Streaming Video

Sometimes when genetics are so strong for unstable temperament all we can do is daily manage these types for their life and keep them from failing.
Onyx is the same way, unfortunately.

The last time I had contact with him he yelled at me and my husband. We were trying to get help for Victor's aggression issues which he tried to tell us was normal for the GSD breed. He first blamed Victor's aggression on the fact that we weren't keeping up with his training which was not true I work on his training daily. Then he proceeded to yell at us to beat him and if that did not work to put him to sleep. He told us he did not want that dog back at his facility. We were suppose to have a 6 month trial period but he lied about that. We would never allow this man to have him back anyway after his outburst. This was back during the summer. My husband did get to speak to him one time a little later and he admitted that Victor's mother was very people aggressive(frenzied). I have not spoken to him since that last nasty call. This man knew she was extremely aggressive towards people and still continued to breed her.
 

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Jim Mora is an excellent trainer, he may be a bit to far away but I would still call him. He does go to people's homes and also trains at his facility with you and will also board and train. If he is to far away perhaps he can recommend someone closer. Here is his website Home I highly recommend him!

Best wishes to you and tell him Valerie Twombly sent you.
 

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i totally agree that having people ignore him is the best way..........no eye contact, no talking to him, no touch etc........you have to learn to tell every person he comes in contact with how to act around him..........and if you think there will be people around that won't listen to your instructions put him away..........

and i do think its fear based..........do not ever push anything on a dog like this........careful conditioning exercises with people you trust that aren't afraid of him...........let it be his decision to go sniff someone, and as said if he gets to that point have them drop treats, but still ignore him.................very, very slow process, but trust can be built, i know because i have a dog like this...........he had every and all opportunities from day one, classes, socializing, every place i could think of.........its a genetic trait unfortunately, but can be managed..........my experience is that unless you have a totally trustworthy trainer that has a clue (which alot don't unless they have dealt with this problem) i would educate yourself, learn to watch your dog for triggers, the body lauguage, etc............with my dog his eyes harden up, the front of his body tenses, and he gives a few low whines........knowing all this you can predict a situation, and help avoid reactions.......
 

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Yes, I have been in contact with his trainer. He told me, again, that it's just his age and him being a GSD, and if I socialize the heck out of him that he'll grow out of it. I think that is partially true - even Minnie was a bit weird at that age - but I really want to work with him to make sure he doesn't get worse.

I can tell when he's going to have a problem - he locks his eyes on the person and will refuse to look away. The situation is worse in a closed environment, like my house, than it is outside or in a large pet store. I can walk him past people and dogs and get him to focus on me and tell him to leave it and about 98% of the time he does. The other 2% he's growling or doing his "buff buff" thing, but he doesn't lunge for people. Most of the time he's really close to me or trying to scoot away from people.

I will check out the links and that trainer. This is going to be a long road.
 

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Vat - he looks like a great trainer, even though he's two hours away from me I'm going to give him a call. This is very important to me, and Tanner is worth the drive.
 

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I think you have a real good chance to help Tanner before he gets to Victor's level of aggression. Victor was already 13 months when we got him. His previous owner let him roam free in the house at first until he started getting aggressive with strangers. He bit servicemen before because she would bring people in her house with him loose. Then because she did not try to correct the behavior she crated him for the rest of his time with her. She took him back because she had lots of company in and out and he had to crated all the time. He did go through agility and his CGC with the facility/breeder but once he got with a family he bonded so deeply the aggression just escalated from there. I believe Tanner is still young so you have that on your side. You now know the potential is there in his blood but you are gonna try to curb it. I am so glad this forum has brought us together to try to help these two great dogs. :)
 

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I am so glad this forum has brought us together to try to help these two great dogs. :)
Me too, Leslie. I know how frustrating it is to love a dog so much but not be able to trust him around other people.

I watched the videos on fear periods and WOW were they informative - much different advice than I received from the trainer. I think I may spend the better part of today watching more of the videos.
 

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An in-person evaluation by a good trainer will distinguish fear aggression from other behaviors. If Tanner is exhibiting fear aggression, with your commitment to him, he may be conditioned into a happier state of mind. I have very little experience, but desensitization to strangers really, really helped with Wolf several years ago. The goal is to change Tanner's mind about what strangers represent. As others have said, don't let Tanner get into a situation in which his best option (in his eyes) is to "get them before they get me".

It's really wonderful that you want to help him through this and based on my single example, I think you may find that you can slowly and lovingly change Tanner's attitude toward new people.

Good luck.
 

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I've been doing a lot of reading lately, because Boaz has fear aggression towards other dogs. Everything points to practicing NILIF. So, I've started that last night and I'm also starting to work on his obedience training at home without distractions. I just need to make sure I do it daily, and not weekly.
 

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Carole we already practice NILIF every day. We've been doing it since we brought him home. I really do think it's helped a lot.
 

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Just an update - I spoke with the trainer recommended here and he really seems to know his stuff. He gave me some tips, and I'm going to go take Tanner to see him in a few weeks. :)
 

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Just an update - I spoke with the trainer recommended here and he really seems to know his stuff. He gave me some tips, and I'm going to go take Tanner to see him in a few weeks. :)
I am so glad, you will like him he is very good. He will be well worth the trip and maybe after you meet him you can work something out. If anyone can help you he can! I would love to hear how it goes, keep me posted.
 

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We're going to start by teaching him a few tricks, like bow or beg, for him to do around people. Jim, the trainer said that it doesn't sound like he has "forward" aggression (where the dog is out in front, trying to kill people), which is a good thing. He usually barks and hides behind me. So what I need to do is get him more comfortable around people. After I get some of the tricks down (he just learned roll-over yesterday! Huzzah!) I'm going to take the drive to meet w/ Jim and he's going to give me a better idea of how to handle Tanner when people are around. I just watched this video of a dog and his owner who had worked with Jim. The dog was a rescue, and terrified of everything before training, according to Jim. When I watch this, it lets me know that I can work with Tanner and that we CAN get through this. :)

 

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Yippee, I am glad he could give you some things to work on over the phone. He understands our breed and I call him our local dog whisperer, lol. He has a true gift with dogs. I can not wait to hear how your pup progresses, I am sure with help you will get thru this. It is really amazing watching the dogs get that focus you see in the video. I was so proud of Max when he reached that point. Jim was a great help to me, Max while dog friendly always had to bark and pitch a real fit when he saw another dog. Jim gave me the tools and knowledge to correct this problem before it escalated.
 

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great news! definately keep us updated on how things progress!
 
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