German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
475 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Shadow our female gsd is 14 1/2 months old generally she is very friendly and extremely social with both people and dogs (in fact she is well know locally for how friendly she is with other dogs). However for the past approx 6 weeks she has started to become leash reactive/aggressive towards other dogs, not in all situations though. If its a dog that is known to her, she doesn't care and wont react. If it's a dog that isn't known, sometimes she will ignore it other times she will bark and lung like she is possessed. :eek:

Some examples;
We were leaving the beach, Shadow was on her leash heading to our car with us. There was a strange GSD with his owners on a leash heading out of the car park. Approx 10 meters in between both dogs, Shadow was minding her own business (she'd seen and heard the dog), this other dog was going crazy. After about 20 seconds of this other GSD going crazy Shadow reacted, a few very menacing barks, growls and a lung in the other dogs direction and then she stopped and walked on like nothing had happened.

If Shadow is leashed and a strange dog approaches her first reaction is 50 percent of the time to lunge and bark at them, however if said dog backs down or submits she then is fine. If we were to take her off leash as the strange dog approaches she is friendly. (I know this one is self preservation mode)
If we have one of our older little dogs with us this happens 100 % of the time if the strange dog comes within 15 meters of the little dog (like she feels responsible for keeping her brothers and sister safe) she has even reacted like this with dogs she knows, when it involves her smaller siblings.

She gets all aggressive barking in the car to if my younger son is in the car and another dog comes to close to the outside of the car, even if the other dog is across the street from our car.

another example;
We were walking to the shops yesterday, (Shadow, my 21 yr old son, myself and my 12 yr old son). Shadow was ahead walking to heel with my older son, just looking back every now and then checking to see where the rest of us were. A lady crossed the street with her jrt they were walking a few meters behind my younger son and myself. The jrt started yapping at us. shadow walked for perhaps another 2 meters then turned around and pulled on the leash and gave two almighty deep threatening barks, my older son said " Shadow enough", she stopped and walked on, looking back every few steps, until my younger son and I had caught up.

my questions is, Is this a fear thing or is she trying to be protective? It is always worse if my younger son or our little older dogs are with us.
And is this just a phase?

What should we be doing about it?
At the moment, we are trying to just ignore it and move her on, when she starts pulling on the leash my older son will grab her collar, stand between her and the threat and tell her firmly enough.

Your input would be good.

For the record generally she is really well behaved, very social and extremely gentle. These instances thank goodness aren't a regular occurrence, but are getting there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,602 Posts
If she's on a leash and the other dog isn't, she's at the disadvantage so it makes sense that she doesn't react badly when she's off leash too--equal footing.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
2,967 Posts
It's extremely hard to say what exactly is going on without seeing it if it's fear or if someone's just growing up and maturing. Most of the mature shepherds I know are not super social and in love with dogs outside of their pack.

If she's growing up...this is sort of what we went through with our female around that age. They stop being puppy friendly and they start asserting themselves more.

Watch for cues that the other dog is giving to Shadow. You say she's fine if the other dog is submissive...what if the other dog is standing tall and assertive is that when she gets rowdy? She may be reacting to the other dog's dominance. I know my males can get snarly if other strange males present challenging posture. And Anka will not tolerate a dominant bitch. Really watch the situations to see if you can find a common thread.

With this growing up would also come the need to be territorial over the car and the people in her family. Our female is probably the dog we have that is most protective over the vehicle and the house...but like yours only when people are in it.

Another perspective on the leash reactivity if this is her growing up and asserting some more dominant/protective type behaviors and not fear based behaviors (where she feels like she can't get away and so has to act aggressively). Leashes are like umbilical cords. Our dogs can feel us through them. Tight pressure on the leash (such as when a dog pulls into the lead) will first engage the opposition reflex and cause the dog to move even further forward and the other thing a tight leash does is let the dog know that their person is with them...they can literally feel your presence behind them. This gives some dogs MORE confidence. So if she's reacting to dominant dogs on lead...with the tight leash she knows you're there to back her up, and when you let her go...well then she's not so sure you're there and she'd better not start something she can't handle. I sometimes think of those cartoons you see with the little guy confronting a bigger bully with his friends...telling them to Hold me back! Hold me back!..what happens when the friends let go...suddenly the little guy isn't so keen to fight anymore.

I would stop her. I wouldn't ignore the behavior because rarely do dogs just grow out of things without training. Does grabbing her collar and telling her enough break her from it pretty quickly? If so then I would do it, and I would do it the instant she starts before the barking. As soon as you see her key in, I would haul her in and tell her No, or Enough. Other things like asking for attention or different obedience commands as the other dog approaches may also be good ways to go. A dog that is paying attention to you, can't be focused on and lunging at the other dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
475 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Great advice, thank you. We will keep up the training, trying to stop/redirect the aggression before it escalates. She is stopping quicker each time my son tells her "enough". Distracting/redirecting her is a challange when she is in full mode, in fact basically impossible. :( BUT, we will stick with it, she's teaching us as much as we are teaching her. :)

Actually something else you said about not knowing many adult shepherds that are super social with other dogs, I to have noticed this and will be doing our best to curb it where Shadow is concerned, without pushing her to much, if that is possible.

She is a pretty amazing highly valued member of our small family, we just want her to be able to achieve her personal best and have a long happy healthy life. Once again cheers and thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,472 Posts
Shadow and Molly are the same age and Molly started doing this a little while back too :( In response to my questions it was suggested to me to read 'Feisty Fido - Help for the leash reactive dog' by Patricia B McConnell. ' Click to calm' - Emma Parsons. Maybe see if your library has them.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top