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Serious Agression Issues German Shepherd Pup


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That's such positive news. He may never be an absolute angel, or the life of the party kind of dog (many of us have to be careful in realtion to dog to dog interactions), but he will be picking up the more confident vibes from you, and it should now be an upwards spiral (with maybe the odd blip - but you will have tools and confidence, and back up to deal with those.)

Well done! :thumbsup:

Here's a link to a great article I just read this morning, which I think you wi;ll be able to put into practice now. I'm a great believer in teaching dogs, especially smart dogs :) , lots of 'stuff'. Have fun.

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  • 1 month later...


I know it has been a while but I thought I would let all who were interested know of our progress. I believe I have managed to attach some photos as well. One was taken today and the other was when he was about 9 weeks old. As you will see, he knows what the camera is all about. He is quite funny with this, he will sit and have his photo taken and then come up to me sniffing the phone until I 'show' him his photo.

Well I feel a lot more knowledgeable now and if only one could turn back time, I would go back to the very first minute our little boy arrived home. He managed to wrap me around his paw right from that first second - but live and learn.

Biting: has mostly stopped. He still has a nip - but I pull him up IMMEDIATELY so it is slowly diminishing. I have to say here that I have always been able to do things like touch his food, remove his food, touch his toys and bones and touch him while he is eating and he has never displayed any aggression. He came 'programmed' to sit back until his food was put down before moving towards it and does so in a calm manner and eats/chews slowly. I never actually taught him to do that, he just did it from early on. He now actually waits until I go back inside before he approaches his food. Again, I never actually taught him to do that but we have always rewarded him with verbal praise when he did it.

Aggressive behaviour: rounding up/snapping/snarling. I can advise that this has gone by 99.9% He tried it on the other night. I was bringing some clean washing inside and he decided to jump up and try and remove one of the garments from the basket. I asked him not to but must have let the "tough" guard down for a minute and he came at me snapping and snarling and doing his funny yelping bark. I just marched at him and he immediately stopped, with a look like "oops, I forgot". Now he seems to just save that behaviour for things like the garden rake or spade.

Walking on lead: still a tough one but slowly getting there, very slowly getting there. He understands heel on leash, and will do it with treat and reward and will do it for a while without a treat but if distracted, will pull again.

Sit: excellent, no problem, will do it even if a bit distracted or 'on edge'

Stay: we are working on just using the sit command for this and it is working well. I tether him now and again eg when out walking and need to clean up his business, I attach him to the nearest tree. It is much safer than trusting him not to do something which may lead me to "stinky poo fingers" He is very good and sits and waits patiently. Also do that around the yard when I am trying to get something done without him sticking his nose in. Also, if he is going a bit crazy about the bush turkeys or the like, to calm him down.

Down: very good, no problems

Come on command: depends, still a bit shaky when he is off leash

Barking: still having trouble with bush turkeys and neighbours driveway and people at side fences. I am 'camping' out in the backyard morning and afternoon during the relevant times and doing his "training" homework or playing ball so as to distract him. Making small progress. Mornings are pretty much incident free but afternoons he is very hyper.

Sleeping: don't hear a peep all night. take him out at the crack of dawn for piddle. goes back in until it is safe to let him out in case he barks. he does not sleep during the day at all

Eating: no problems

Other dogs: sometimes is a bit "in your face" with them (bigger dogs) and other times is able just to "hang about" without too much interaction. Have decided the dog parks are not for us. He got bitten and lost some hair last time as he was being a bit too curious with another dog who appeared to be ok but obviously wasn't. He likes smaller dogs and is very gentle with them.

He was desexed about a month ago.

Major concern at present: he hates the cat and I am not sure what he would do if he got hold of him. There was an incident a few weeks ago where he got into the house somehow (think a door was left open) and came running downstairs to where the cat was. It all happened so quickly I did not see but according to my husband he managed to get hold of the cat and some fur was flying. I got hold of him and the cat took off. I keep them separated but there could always be an accident where the door is left open. This worries me greatly. He is certainly not aggressive like this towards adults or children or other dogs. Just the cat and bush turkeys.

What I have discovered is that he really hates being told what to do by me. I have finally got him to "drop the ball" when we play fetch but initially he "spat it out" at me. It is definitely a constant battle to be the boss of him! The main thing is that I do feel like I AM the boss now and even though I know certain situations may lead to his trying to have a nibble on me I am not frightened. Sometimes when I chastise him by pulling his collar he will snap and look away and have a grumble but falls into line. I guess I am feeling that he doesn't like me very much :confused: but at this stage, I guess it is not about that and again, I guess what he is understanding that I am the boss and is respecting me more which is actually what a dog does to say he "likes" someone, maybe?

I am worn out, I have to say. My day revolves around him and I get little else done, though do try to. Is that normal? At the end of the day, I am exhausted and he seems to be more hyped up than ever.

We have a trainer coming in once a fortnight and helping with correcting walking issues, dealing with distractions and other issues which crop up. What I have learned from her is that we need to be patient and let him learn at his own pace. He is only 7.5 months old, but being a big dog it is easy to expect too much too soon. I have no doubt that he is a very smart dog and as Tassie says above, he will probably never be an absolute angel. But he has a great sense of humour and a taste for the mischievous AND is very handsome - a proverbial 'bad boy' perhaps :) . I am also aware that he would LOVE a day job but he is stuck with me.

Again, thank you for all your lovely and kind and helpful words. I will continue to post, if that is ok. It helps me heaps. :D



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You are one dedicated lady :)

He does sound like a real handful for you, and you are still working very hard to keep things in order.

Does the trainer you go to teach you how to build you relationship oth him and motivate him so he loves doing what he's told? Maybe ask her about it?

Edited by raineth
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Thanks, Raineth. I must say that at the end of today, am feeling a little down as there seems to be a lot of work for little gain. The most important thing for me at this stage is that his aggression is manageable and I am no longer frightened of him. He was so naughty this afternoon, I was talking to my neighbour and he started to bark. I attempted to chastise him and then he started getting really bossy and barking and snapping and herding me into the corner of the yard. Fortunately, my neighbour saw the funny side and said she thought he was wanting me to play with him. I had to explain that he was trying to interrupt our conversation and make it all about him and be the boss of me - which I guess in a way is a game to him! I managed to restrain him and make him sit at my feet, all while ignoring him and not rising to the bait. He calmed down. Oh, the mind games! On a positive note, I had a friend over today for a few hours and while he was very excited when she first arrived, he calmed down and behaved well ie no barking and hanging about the door carrying on.

I will talk to the trainer about relationship building with him because I think that is what is missing here. The only time I really feel he is having a great time with me and lets me know is when he is off leash. But unfortunately we are not really at that stage where I can do that confidently as he is still a bit of a loose cannon.

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Just out of curiosity, what does your trainer recommend you do about the cat? That to me is a serious problem.

We have actually had two trainers, the first came and sorted him out immediately with the aggression and pushiness and the one we have now is working through the remnants of this and everything else. Our first trainer suggested that we tie something smelling of the cat to the dog's collar and vis versa. As we have been working through everything else we had put the fact that they didn't get on low on the priority list until this incident and just vigilantly kept them separated. The cat now comes upstairs (inside) and appears to be tormenting the dog by sitting or standing where he can be seen and the dog goes nuts on the other side of the door. Yes, it does seem like a mad house around here, sometimes. I am thinking that the issue has gone way past the solution of tying things to respective collars. Will revisit this problem in the next session with the trainer.

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I think you are doing a really great job. You must be exhausted and frustrated but I'm amazed by how much love for your boy shines through your posts.

Your attitude towards him is wonderful. Be proud you aren't just putting it all in the 'too hard' basket. It would be easier.

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I love a good update.

I'm glad you're more aware of when he's training you instead of the other way about.

Something in dog training (and maybe human training) that really does my head in - but it works... is the harder you make the dog work for something the more they value it, and the harder they work for it. So really really important to know what your dog finds rewarding - obviously verbal praise is enough to encourage a behaviour you want as you found with the way he eats his dinner...

With the barking - you know how one dog in the neighbourhood barking - will have all the other dogs around - join in?

So when you "chastise" for barking - I suspect he thinks you're joining in.

With my dog I do a collar grab and hold - With yours - maybe a down stay (give him a job) would be better.

My dog did not get stay at all until I made her do it in front of her dinner, and I added in distractions to that (pay attention to what your dog finds distracting eg movement, toys being thrown, better food offers etc and use these). So then you only reward the dog when it can perform a task it knows - when you present some distractions...

Other ways to get distractions - is to practice in lots of different places - from rooms around the house and the yard and then out in the park etc.

And practice asking the dog to stay in all these different places - while you run past - in front. or from behind to in front or from in front to behind. Make a game of it. See if you can get your dog to work when he's a bit excited and then build on that.

The thing about attaching a bit of cat smell the dog collar - I don't understand that. The dog is already very familiar with the cat smell... I'm thinking along the lines of using the cat as a (distant) distraction and asking the dog to work (eg sit stay or drop stay) - while the cat is in view (but still safe). Reward calm behaviour. Reward the dog for being calm when it can see the cat. Beware of back chaining (ie dog is naughty then calm - don't reward that).

Above all - pay attention to how well your dog can do a task (in that particular environment with that level of distraction) and only reward average or better performance. Don't reward stuff ups or slow performance. You can pat maybe but no treats or praise or whatever it is that he works hardest for.

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