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I have a female 17 month old GSD, Greta. I have had some apparently fear-based problems with Greta practically from the start, but we have worked hard and, although they are not solved, have been progressing quite well, at least so I thought. Recently, quite out of the blue, Greta had a serious altercation with one of my other dogs. I am unsure which dog started it, but Greta finished it. My daughter would like to take Greta for a few weeks to her home, in another city, to work with her. I am needing opinions about whether or not I should permit this.


For me, the pros are:
1. Daughter is not a professional dog trainer, but she has had modest success with her own large dogs (whom Greta loves). Also, she is a more dominant personality than I am.
2. Daughter has many friends who have dogs and are willing to allow Greta to socialize with their dogs in a controlled environment, which Greta does not get much of at home.
3. Greta has stayed with daughter while we were out of town in the past, so shouldn't suffer any abandonment issues.


Cons:
1. I fear my bond with Greta will be damaged. Will she turn into daughter's dog and not remember or love me anymore? I know that sounds sort of silly, but it worries me.
2. The progress we have made, for instance in our walks (Greta now walks like a dream!). I am afraid when I get her back, we will have to start over?
3. Their routine and lifestyle are different from ours, so will Greta have trouble returning to "our ways"? For instance, daughter and her husband keep different waking/sleeping hours because of their jobs.


So, does anyone think the temporary change of environment/leadership would be good for Greta? Or would it be harmful? I am grateful for any opinions. Thank you.
 

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I would say send Greta to your daughter if for no reason other than the training resources we have up here.

The GSD club has upcoming obedience and socialization workshops in June and July (they do it monthly). Ideally you’d be able to take Greta yourself, I promise it’s worth the trip and the $30, but your daughter could be a good proxy if she was open to it. Go the GSDCMSP website for dates and locations. I would take her at 10 for the Q and A session and then at either 11 or 1 for obedience (depending on how advanced she is for obedience).


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Dog aggression with dogs in the same home usually does not translate to a lack of socialization or training.

Is your other dog a female? How old is your other dog? How big? Is your other dog or Greta dominant? Submissive? How is your other dog with dogs outside your home? Is the other one dog aggressive? How do they normally get along?
 
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The other dog was a small terrier. I would say that she was the dominant one. She would often snap and bark at my much larger dogs. Greta normally would try to get her to play, never seemed too concerned about her. I am unsure what set them off, but they got in a fight and the little dog wound up at the ER, where we had to have her put down from her injuries. This is still fresh and it is difficult to explain.
 

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The other dog was a small terrier. I would say that she was the dominant one. She would often snap and bark at my much larger dogs. Greta normally would try to get her to play, never seemed too concerned about her. I am unsure what set them off, but they got in a fight and the little dog wound up at the ER, where we had to have her put down from her injuries. This is still fresh and it is difficult to explain.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Was this your dog, or a foster?


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Thanks. We fostered her starting in 2011, but officially adopted her in 2015, right after I lost my first GSD.
 

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The other dog was a small terrier. I would say that she was the dominant one. She would often snap and bark at my much larger dogs. Greta normally would try to get her to play, never seemed too concerned about her. I am unsure what set them off, but they got in a fight and the little dog wound up at the ER, where we had to have her put down from her injuries. This is still fresh and it is difficult to explain.
I am sorry to hear about your loss.

It seems to me that Greta had enough of the snapping and barking, who knows, maybe the small terrier might have even bit her this time. I had a similar incident happen with a very easygoing GSD and a Poodle/Terrier mix that did the same thing. One day the GSD said not today, and hurt the small dog when it bullied him. I rehomed he small dog for his own safety.

What is it that your daughter plans on working on with her?
 
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IMHO this is not a socialization issue. Could have been personal between these two dogs, or something that one or the other did that day...who knows.

But based on that, what are you hoping to gain by having your daughter take her? If you don't have a specific goal in mind?
 

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I’m very sorry for your loss. I know you have struggled with Greta’s temperament in the past. If she were my dog, I wouldn’t allow her access to other dogs after this. I would not be allowing your daughter to introduce her to other dogs for “socialization”. Dogs don’t need other dog friends. I would be teaching her to be neutral toward other dogs out in public, and I don’t know that I would trust her to be in the home with other dogs right now. Crate and rotate would probably be where I would go, at least for now. I would never allow her free reign with another dog unless there was direct supervision after this. I would be finding a very knowledgeable trainer, one familiar with German Shepherds and aggression, and have her evaluated. I know you don’t know exactly what happened, but you owe it to your other dogs, and the dogs of others, to not allow this to happen again. It very well may not have been Greta’s fault, but you cannot allow a situation in which this could happen again to exist. I wish you the best of luck with Greta and figuring out a way to manage her in a safe way.
 

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Thanks all. I am having trouble with the quote option.


Tim: I think you hit the nail on the head. I need to consider whether there is any real goal to this idea.


Gypsy: I appreciate what you said. I agree to the point that they don't need to be friends with every tom **** or harry dog we come across, which is why we don't fool with dog parks. However, I do think if a dog can play with a few hand picked stable dogs, it is nice for them. And the more good experiences she has with dogs, the better. Greta does have a history of being able to do that, as long as there is a stable, alpha human there to guide it.


I ran the recent experience by my trainer. Given what she knows about Greta, as well as the small dog, and the factual account that I gave her of what I witnessed, she believes it was a one-time incident, a regrettable thing that can happen between dogs, that will most likely never be repeated. But that we should also be extra vigilant.
 

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I am sorry to hear about your loss.



It seems to me that Greta had enough of the snapping and barking, who knows, maybe the small terrier might have even bit her this time. I had a similar incident happen with a very easygoing GSD and a Poodle/Terrier mix that did the same thing. One day the GSD said not today, and hurt the small dog when it bullied him. I rehomed he small dog for his own safety.



What is it that your daughter plans on working on with her?
I don’t think the plan of her daughter using her dog or her friends’ dogs is safe, but I would still recommend a trainer we have up here. If Bridget can’t bring Greta to his workshop herself, and if her daughter can handle Greta, it could be worth a try.

Greta should not have access to any other dogs, nor should she be “socialized” to do anything other than just handle herself on leash with other dogs in the vicinity. No play, no off leash time with other dogs, no meeting on leash.


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Thanks all. I am having trouble with the quote option.


Tim: I think you hit the nail on the head. I need to consider whether there is any real goal to this idea.


Gypsy: I appreciate what you said. I agree to the point that they don't need to be friends with every tom **** or harry dog we come across, which is why we don't fool with dog parks. However, I do think if a dog can play with a few hand picked stable dogs, it is nice for them. And the more good experiences she has with dogs, the better. Greta does have a history of being able to do that, as long as there is a stable, alpha human there to guide it.


I ran the recent experience by my trainer. Given what she knows about Greta, as well as the small dog, and the factual account that I gave her of what I witnessed, she believes it was a one-time incident, a regrettable thing that can happen between dogs, that will most likely never be repeated. But that we should also be extra vigilant.
I think you have to realize that people might be understandably reluctant to let you use their dogs to help with “play with stable dogs” for Greta. There is flatly NO WAY I would allow contact between my dog and Greta if I were asked. It is way too big of a risk, and I would not ask that of my dog. It isn’t the responsibility of other owners or dogs to help Greta.


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Thanks all. I am having trouble with the quote option.


Tim: I think you hit the nail on the head. I need to consider whether there is any real goal to this idea.


Gypsy: I appreciate what you said. I agree to the point that they don't need to be friends with every tom **** or harry dog we come across, which is why we don't fool with dog parks. However, I do think if a dog can play with a few hand picked stable dogs, it is nice for them. And the more good experiences she has with dogs, the better. Greta does have a history of being able to do that, as long as there is a stable, alpha human there to guide it.


I ran the recent experience by my trainer. Given what she knows about Greta, as well as the small dog, and the factual account that I gave her of what I witnessed, she believes it was a one-time incident, a regrettable thing that can happen between dogs, that will most likely never be repeated. But that we should also be extra vigilant.
I genuinely hope your trainer is right. I also hope you tell each and every dog owner who offers up their dog for this the events which transpired between Greta and your other dog BEFORE they let their dog play with Greta. Please do the responsible thing and give them the facts as you know them and then let them make decisions.

I also truly hope your trainer doesn’t still believe in dominance theory (alpha human). If they do, I would find a different one.
 

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I'm so sorry about what happened with Greta. That must have been very traumatic.

I don't require my GSDs to socialize/play with non-leashed dogs. They don't seem to care about it in my experience and would rather spend time with me (and my family). I do require them to be neutral and polite around other leashed dogs when we are out in public. This is not negotiable.

If Greta were my dog, I don't think I would let her play with other dogs. Given her history, it may not be wise. But I am not a trainer or an expert of any sort, just a GSD-owner and worry wort. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I would not send her off to your daughter with the intentions of making her a dog-park kind of dog, but if you need help with obedience or with her behavior around other leashed dogs when out and about, then perhaps it couldn't hurt to have someone work with her. But ultimately, as owner, you would have to be the one to learn to work with her (because dogs can behave one way for one person, and a different way with someone else). So you could probably get similar or better results by hiring a trainer near you who can see you interact with Greta. On the other hand, if you just need a break from Greta for a couple weeks to process what happened, I would think that is understandable. I don't think it would hurt Greta or interfere with your bond or schedule.

Do you have other dogs in your household? If so, what ages, sexes, sizes? Are you worried about Greta's interactions with them? You could consider crate/rotation. I have two male GSDs that I have chosen to keep seperate. It is kind of annoying but not that bad. One dog stays upstairs and the other stays downstairs (or in the fenced yard), and I switch them every couple of hours.

Again, I'm sorry you're going through this. Please keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
When this idea came up, it was indeed about "a break from Greta." But now that things have settled down and we are able to look at the situation more clearly, and keeping in mind the responses from you-all, I am now re-examining my motives and whether there is really any point to it. I will post later about what I decide. Thanks again.
 

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I genuinely hope your trainer is right. I also hope you tell each and every dog owner who offers up their dog for this the events which transpired between Greta and your other dog BEFORE they let their dog play with Greta. Please do the responsible thing and give them the facts as you know them and then let them make decisions.



I also truly hope your trainer doesn’t still believe in dominance theory (alpha human). If they do, I would find a different one.
Going along with this, I would really think about this whole situation and really consider whether it was manageable long term. And even if it is, are you up for it?

Greta has shown some dangerous behavior that could put your other pets and your fosters at risk. She could be a risk to other owners and their beloved pets if there is any slip at all in management. You could be on the hook for an awful lot if you keep her. No one would judge you or think the worse of you if you do some soul searching and find you just don’t think you can keep her or manage her responsibly. I think you would find understanding and support rather than judgment if you ended up not being able to keep her.


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Greta should not have contact with ANY other dogs. She killed one! Sending her away only makes the problem worse once she comes back. Time for you to take action and separate her from the others. If the others are fosters I would stop fostering and keep Greta as an only dog without access to other dogs, ever.
The best case scenario for this accident would have been female - female aggression, which is normal in GSDs. But maybe she has a genetically unstable temperament. We can't see this from here.
 
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