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Dealing with a dominance aggressive German Shepherd (long)

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by josh86k10, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. josh86k10

    josh86k10 1/2 ton status

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    About 2 months ago, my girlfriend and I adopted a 2yr old neutered male GSD. He is an intelligent dog and knows several commands which he cooperatively obeys (barring when he is overly excited/distracted... but I attribute this to his age) including your basic sit, lie down, come, and a couple of "cute" ones like sit up, give-me-five, etc. He is very protective... which I like... unfortunately, he doesn't seem to know when to stop. I like him barking at strangers, but once we have established them as friends and accepted them into our home I would like the aggressive behavior to end... and it does... temporarily.... only to start again seemingly without provocation. Once he starts, it's like death wobble, you have to stop, pull over and start out all over again... a simple NO will not suffice, the entire introduction process must be performed again.

    My girlfriend and I are also frequently the recipients of the growling, barking, and snapping. Keep in mind he is my [and her] best friend 98% of the time, obeys my commands, accepts handling, allows me to place his food in front of him and remove it at will. It usually occurs of a morning, when I/ Elizabeth are getting ready for work/ class. Once one of us leaves the bedroom to do the 3 S's, Logan will not [without a confrontation] allow us to reenter the room, come near the other, or the bed. I am affraid that he is going to hurt somebody. Not myself, I have been trained on how to handle/restrain combative dogs from working in the veterinary field, but he genuinely frightens my girlfriend, and I am affraid he could hurt her (he is pushing 100 lbs).

    I have tried "dominating" him (Forceably flipping him onto his back and holding him upside down and helpless until he ceases to resist for 30 seconds or more), to no lasting (or sometimes any) effect. Once released he returns to the same behavior. Whipping him when he is in this "mode" is actually counter-productive as the aggression only escalates.

    I genuinely love this dog, but I fear he will hurt my girlfriend, a guest, or worse escape the fence (he is a pretty good escape artist), hurt somebody, and get us sued.

    I have another GSD (Riley...intact 3yr old male) that we raised from a pup that would never think about showing a tooth to me or any of my friends. Logan was originally adopted to be his playmate following my recent move from an apartment to my first house.

    I don't have any money to dump into any professional training. Would continued at home training fix this? Anybody have any tricks? I thought it would get better with time as he became adjusted to his new home/ parents... unfortunately it has not changed.

    I called his previous owners to see if they wanted first dibs as I am strongly considering finding him a new home. He was originally a 75% outside/ 25% inside farm dog on 10-15 acres. He now spends 75% of his time inside and has a .5 acre fenced back yard. I think he would adjust better to another farm.

    My mom came to visit for a couple of days to see the new house, he snapped at her this morning, that may have been the last straw.

    Thoughts? Sorry for the long post.
     
  2. dontoe

    dontoe 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Sounds like my Husky!!! I've had to beat the crap out'a him several times. That or I was gonna shoot him. He seems to be improving over time.............SOB dog!!!
     
  3. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    Chain him up for a few days and piss on him every chance You get when Your home. He will get the picture, and no I'm not joking. Watch how other male dogs dominate one another.
     
  4. dontoe

    dontoe 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Is that why my former supervisor used those tactics on me? :o
    Hmmm.....:mad:
     
  5. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    No, You just enjoy golden showers Donald:D
     
  6. shewheeler

    shewheeler 1/2 ton status

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    My male GSD mix sounds like a cousin to yours, but without the aggression. He was a handful until he was almost 3 and is 8.5 now. He has turned into one the best dogs I've ever had, but he's lucky to have lived past 2. Like yours, beatings didn't phase him... just a big game :doah:

    One thing you might try is walks / play sessions with him. If he came from a place with a large area to roam and spent that much time outside, he is probably experiencing energy build up now that he is mostly indoors -- taking the form of aggression. I noticed a dramatic change in my GSD when I started walking him every single day. He really mellowed and we bonded a lot. I love my puppy:o
    [​IMG]
     
  7. josh86k10

    josh86k10 1/2 ton status

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    Well, Riley and Logan kind of wear each other out playing keep away and play fighting etc. That's a good thought though. That's another of Logan's downfalls.... HE SUCKS ON A LEASH! But I just got a pair of "no-pull" harnesses. Being my jogging buddy may help, I've just been afraid to take him to the running trail.... for fear he may eat an old person out power walking :D.

    I tell you what though, I think he may know I'm considering giving him the boot, because he's been an angel all evening since I called his original owner. Sixth sense :confused:?
     
  8. josh86k10

    josh86k10 1/2 ton status

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    Here they are by the way. The first is Riley about a year ago on a hiking trip, the second is Logan in the back yard recently (his tail was bitten off by a pig).

    IMG_0938.JPG

    Logan.jpg
     
  9. 3 on the tree

    3 on the tree 1/2 ton status

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    After a year of battling with my Akbash, I got a book on wolf behavior and applied that. The results were astounding. One trick I picked up years ago, was a water pistol with vinegar. When they don't listen, a shot in the face. After a while, all you gotta do is say pistol. My dog has also been rock trained. If she does not listen outside, I tell her " I got a rock". She then pays attention.
     
  10. BizeeB65

    BizeeB65 1/2 ton status

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    Those all sound like good suggestions. (well, cept the pissing match!! )

    It's always hard getting a dog that was not yours as a young pup, cause you really dont know what it's been thru for sure. I would not allow the dog to sleep in the room if he is causing trouble in the mornings. As far as escaping, Shepherds need TONS of exercise and mental challenges (as i'm sure you know), so more of that might help the escaping. The vinegar pistol method may help too, but dont shoot the bed!

    Here's Toby. He's a year and a half, and a super huge DOOF. Looks just like Logan!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. camiswelding

    camiswelding 1/2 ton status

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    josh... lets see if I can help...
    I have had /passiveaggressive service and protection dogs most of my life.. mostly shepherds...

    With no disrespect to my fellow ck 5 ers.. "beating" him is absolutely out...all that does is make the dog worse;; and break him down into a fear biter... you wouldnt abuse your child.. why your dog.. people that do are sick... really sick.. usually iggnorant macho redneck crap they learned from daddy..... this shows a lack of basic dog knowledge

    learning about establishing dominance is absolutely in..
    As you know dogs are pack animals.. it is up to us to learn the "keys to the car" in this case what is going on inside this dogs head ... smart gsds have the intelligence of a seven year old human..

    Working with the dog is paramount to having him obey you as alpha male and your g/f as alpha female... however ..you inherit all the "bad" things he learned in his time under someone else.. you have no idea what they did to him.. although with some simple testing ( there are about 6 basic tests)you can learn a couple of things..
    I have had two GSD's out of about 20 that were "untrainable".. they were so ****ed up by their prior owners that full dominant actions wouldnt work ... and they werent reliable... and an unreliable protection dog is a loaded gun .. unholstered laying around.. its just a liability... in my case I found a home for one.. and kept the other one sequestered away from people and never off leash,, because he wasnt trustworthy.. and only because I could read him and I was always ready as alpha male... As a policeman you cant even think about a dog that isnt 100 percent reliable... from bad guys to little kids.. most flunk out of the testing program for one reason or another
    When I went through German police dog school we actually had a final exam of seeing if the dogs would alert and bite in the real world.. without a long story a number of transients had rude awakenings...
    to teach a dog to give up its life for you willingly means you have to really understand them
    anyway

    back to your problem...
    the dog already knows he has your g/f lower in the pack than him... her training him using conducive training exercises (searching is a great one) using proper equipment... muzzle, lead, choke chain... and as a last resort a training collar, called a stockel collar... is the way to his head.. food reward priase,, and an hour a day.. 30 minutes mornng and night consistently produces a minimally trained obedience dog
    Through PROPER and judicious use of equipment the dog can be retrained... but for this you absolutely need professional help... I suggest your local schutzhund club... or even ymca.. if the instructor has appropriate training.. most basic obedience people do not,, A basic schutzhund obedience course is the best way to go... these are people passionate about working dogs
    You must get on this problem and be absolutely consistent in praise, obedience, play and pack order///

    I could write you a book... you need professional help

    There are no bad dogs ..only bad people.. it is people who screw up the dogs.. all they want to do is please

    There is a great book
    SHUTZHUND.. by Susan Barwig.. I highly suggest it for self help
    If you cant invest the time and minimal money in the dog I respectfully suggest you find it a great home with someone who understands working dogs
    I cant tell you how many times I had to zipper a pitbull with a machine gun because some ghetto fool screwed him up... makes me hate people

    cam
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2006
  12. chevyfumes

    chevyfumes Court jester

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    Watch for the muzzleflash!
    thanks again Cam, and by the way my tofurky sammich was really good today...;)
     
  13. josh86k10

    josh86k10 1/2 ton status

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    Camsk5, thank you for the well thought out, helpful reply (not saying that the others weren't). Unfortunately, I do not have the money at this time to hire a professional (I'm a veterinary student at UTCVM). I don't necessarily want or need him to be an obedience champion, just to learn his rank in the pack. I do understand that training (other than simple...me dominant...you not) is a great way to do this.

    Riley is your typical family dog. He has his bag of tricks (sit, lie down, shake, stay, come, inside, outside, get down [off the furniture], load up, unload [into/ out of the truck]). He loves everybody and everybody loves him. A little spoiled. He's kind of a weenie but that's okay. I do beleive he would protect us if the time came. He does get between us and Logan during the episodes and growl/ snap at Logan as if to say, "hey man, what the hell are you doing, that's my mommy and daddy."

    For a while I tried not to treat them differently as I know it is hard on Logan losing his original parents. I let them have free run of the house at night. When Riley was a pup I locked him in a crate at night to help house train him. Once he got the hang of it I stopped.... I think he would let his bladder rupture before he weould have an accident in the house. Do you think locking Logan in a crate at night would help fix this? Would it cause any issues between the dogs, one free, one locked up. I don't want to punish Riley for Logan's mistakes. Would confinement help lower him on the totem pole a bit?
     
  14. cbbr

    cbbr 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    I use bird dog (read:shock) collars on my labs. Keeps them in the yard (underground fence) and off of the furniture. You have to read the books, but a little reminder when they screw up goes a long way. Once they get properly trained, you don't even need batteries.
     
  15. 90blzr

    90blzr 1/2 ton status

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    If you are serious and are willing to take the time and make the effort, start reading here: www.leerburg.com and for your specific problem here: http://www.leerburg.com/dominantdogs.htm Read and read and read and then read some more. Ed has an insane amount of good info on his site and is constantly adding to it. It will put you in the right direction for sure. Like Cam said, there arent bad dogs, just bad people.
    Some people shouldnt be allowed to have dogs...PERIOD. So many dogs are ruined because some dumb**** gets ahold of them. Another topic for another day...

    Anyways, start there, its a there is a wealth of knowledge and info. Its very easy to ruin a dog, unfortunately its not so easy to fix it.
    Good luck.
     
  16. camiswelding

    camiswelding 1/2 ton status

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    no.. probably not at this point.. confinement might actually exacerbate the negative behavior... I might add.. chaining a dog up is cruel unconscious behavior.. think about a human athlete being chained and not allowed to practice hs sport each day... very shortly he would exhibit negative behaviors...dogs are athletes to the nth degree,,, because they operate on instinct

    the germans use crates from day one with their dogs...apartment dwellers have them sleep in the crate overnite.. but from birth they are trained the crate is their safe "cave".. they want to go into them... but dogs are accepted in society over there and go everywhere with their owners..work eat etc.....
    you might consider estaiblishing boundries and you MUST be consistent... ALWAYS.....allowing him to jump up on you one time and hugging him and then smacking him away when he does it and you dont want him to only confuses him...
    Dogs live in the here and now and are very forgiving of the cruelty we as humans perpetrate upon them trying to control them
    As we see in color dogs "smell" in color.. we have a 3 sq inches of sensory perceptors in our noses.. a dog has over 27... they can smell a man's single drop of sweat in a field (dead air no wind) several sq miles wide... NEVER EVER strike your dogs face... use the techniques alpha wolf would use.. the non sensitive area between their shoulder blades... a firm push down to the ground with =verbal commands NO.. for behavior modification.. this is something like what described and is one level down from the alpha roll.. dog rolled onto his back exposing his belly like a wolf would do... the longer it takes for the dog to look away from your direct stare or the more he struggles,, the more dominant the dog is... if he NEVER looks away...in his mind he is dominant over you and you cannot trust him (and I am NOT suggesting your dog is this way at all from what you have described.. if he was he would do things like bump you out of the way when you are walking and other behaviors showing dominance)
    Discipline must be instant and timely.. a dog will never understand a minute later about negative behavior you want to modify that occured in the past... this is where YOUR training and YOUR learning to read the dog is important.. you must be ready

    I might suggest you expand on the keys you already have... the sit /down /stay.. food reward pavlovian response... I totally understand you dont want an "obedience champion"... basic shutzhund obedience courses arent for titles but for livability with the dog in your pack... they arent expensive.. but they do require perhaps 4-8 days a month for a couple of months
    take both dogs out ON LEASH.. learn how to use a choke collar APPROPRIATELY (you will ruin the dog if not used properly)... begin by allowing your dominant dog to be in front but as his obedience gets better he gets moved around in the pack... and gets to deal with alpha male and not where he feels like he wants to be... when properly trained the choke will no longer be needed and he will step up to the plate to please you...
    Teaching him to search is a natually fun and bonding technique to discipline.. its a little hard to descibe in a thread how to do it.. but Barwigs book can definately lead you.. no pun intended in the right direction

    Shock collars, aversion therapy, can be effective in a limited sense... before it is even considered on the hardest dogs the handlers have to experience the FULL shock themselves... its unpleasant... and ruins dogs when used improperly.. I look at it as typical iggnorant american behavior looking for an instant fix to something that takes effort, dedication, and involvement.
    The typical GSD lives ten years if they are healthy... a little investment into training pays back 100 times over... most of the training is for the human.. the dog already has it figured out

    Fumes... a tofu a day keeps the doctor away

    There are no bad dogs...only bad people
    I dont have nor did I ever want kids... I wanted to live with the dogs.. the pack has perfect order unlike humans.. when my k9 service dog died a piece of me died with him.. He would get out of the radiocar.. stretch.. pee.. and make a bullet line to the suspect everytime.. and bite to dogcrap out of them if warranted or ordered..and then little kids could pull his ears.. thats a working dog
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2006
  17. cbbr

    cbbr 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    I agree with your comments regarding the shock collars, and yes they do hurt at the higher levels. Mine have a tone warning and like I said, once the dogs are trained, they very rarely even hear that. Like many things, if used correctly they are helpful and if misapplied they make things worse.
     
  18. beater_k20

    beater_k20 Banned

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    skip the no-pulls, they're crap. get a 5' or shorter leash. when he pulls, make sure you have a firm grip on the leash, and take him down with it. 2 or 3 times, he'll get the picture. my neighbors train shepherds, they use it, and we have used it on our border collies. our female we only had to do it once.
     
  19. bigbluesuburban

    bigbluesuburban 1/2 ton status

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    josh86k10...

    If you are not willing or able to follow the suggestions of camsk5 I ernestly suggest that you put this dog up for adoption.

    I also need to point out that this statement...

    "For a while I tried not to treat them differently as I know it is hard on Logan losing his original parents."

    Couldn't be any further from the truth. Dogs live in the moment. I have worked with horribly abused dogs that are fear biters, food posessive and just about every disorder you can imagine and the first thing that we start with is establishing dominance in the pack. Dominance is not to make the dog fear me, but to let the dog know that I am in charge and when I am in charge everything is going to be AOK. And most, not all, but a high percentage of dogs respond instantly to calm assertive energy. The can feel that they are being led and you can almost see the stress, anxioty, and fear melt off of them. But you MUST be consistent.

    I am not going to write another lecture/book in this post, camsk5 has already taken care of that with a high degree of accuracy and thoughtfullness. Remember that if you can't afford a trainer, there are LOTS of people out there willing to help you for the sake of the animal. Tap into those resources.

    I did read that you are a Vet Student... And I don't say this lightly... I suggest that you include dog training for YOUR dogs as part of your educational budget for being a Veterinarian. If you do not understand your patients then how are you going to be a successful healer.

    Ok, enough lecture. Seriously, get some help. If you had a kid with a diability you wouldn't spare any expense to help them. If you think believe that your dogs are your sole responsibility then you need to step up to the plate and be a GREAT owner.
     
  20. josh86k10

    josh86k10 1/2 ton status

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    A few things:

    1. First and foremost, thank you all for your advice. I sincerely appreciate your help, and I mean that.
    2.
    It's not a question of whether or not I am willing, but professional training costs money...money I don't have. Vet school is very expensive, very demanding, and very job prohibitive. I paid for my undergraduate degree without the help of mommy and daddy, and will continue to do the same for veterinary school, which doesn't leave much room in the old wallet. I am, however, willing to work with Logan at home. I should also add that I agree with this statement.
    3.
    I took this as a little condescending in tone... if it wasn't (and it probably wasn't) then I appologize and retract the following statement, which will probably come across a little defensive in tone. I only take this so personally, because I have worked so hard to get to where I am. Veterinarians and dog trainers are very different professions, although each must have at least some knowledge of the other. I am certainly not, by any means, a dog trainer, but I do know a little and am pleased with how Riley turned out. Unfortunately, Logan already having problems from his previous owners is proving to be more of an issue. Logan needed a home and I gave him one, time will tell if he may also need a little more than I am able to give him at this stage in my life. A lot of free time and disposable income are just not something I have. Furthermore, I worked my ass off to get into vet school and am proud to say that out of 764 very qualified applicants I was one of only 70 that were accepted. You don't get into vet school unless you deserve to be there, I can assure you. Unless you go to that one in the Carribian, then maybe :crazy: :D. I will, however, admit that more of my training deals with large animals like cattle and swine than companion animals.

    All of my other pets in the past, I have raised from pups. They seemed to just automatically accept me as the alpha. I fed them, taught them a few basics, dominated them as pups (mainly to make my life and the vets job a lot easier: it's not fun pulling blood, clipping toenails, or taking the temperature of a 100 pound [or a 10 pound one for that matter] dominant aggressive dog... I know, I've done it), socialized them a bit, and they just seemed to turn out all right. Logan came full grown and with baggage, but we'll get through it one way or another.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2006

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