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Update: Serious Agression Issues German Shepherd Pup


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Hello, regular contributors may remember our 'plight' with a very full on GSD boy puppy and the slight feelings of desperation and hopelessness that engulfed us as we struggled with what appeared to be very aggressive behaviour. The topic has been closed now as it has been some time since I wrote, but I thought, as we approach his second birthday, it was the right thing to do to let anyone interested, how things ended up.

Well right now as I write, he is sitting at my feet. He has not chewed, barked, growled, jumped, corralled me nor stolen anything and chewed on it or ruined any furniture - soft or otherwise - for ...well I cannot remember. He and I now actually have a relationship and I KNOW he really likes me - quite a lot, but I can sense he knows his place with me and displays affection appropriately - well most of the time. He is good with visitors, but I keep an eye on him and check him the minute he does something slightly dodgy like jump or nibble.

He has a lovely kindness about him and a sense of humour - I never would have thought it possible. He doesn't appear to be too fearful of much, though is wary of things he does not understand eg the leaf blower or the vacuum, however he does not back down but keeps his distance and an eye on it. I accidentally stepped on him this morning but he did not fuss - and neither did I; he really should not have been standing there, crowding at the door. We both got on with it without a fuss. He is never food, bone or toy aggressive. He will wait until I am away from his food dish before he approaches it himself. He likes other dogs and if off leash plays well and tempers his strength depending on the size of the dog.

We worked with a few trainers and all assisted but we found the most success was with the one who was able to do some assessment of his personality: he was very dominant but also passive, so basically he was very, very strongly driven to be on top of everyone and everything and would bully his way through as he had learned that worked as it was the last thing I had expected. However, he was not necessarily aggressive - which was a relief. Tactics used were tried and true: desexed at 6 months, use a HALTI, feed him last, NEVER allowed on any furniture eg lounges/beds etc - even now, pull him up at doorways and gates etc - no charging through first etc. And of course, the main thing was to let him know who is boss, which was really quite easy: ignore him, not make a fuss, not respond to his fuss - no matter how difficult it was to ignore him. Once he was calmed and moved away THEN I could make a fuss of him and by that it is a nice pat, lots of praise, a treat, depending on what had gone on. If he brings a toy, ignore. I decide when a game starts and finishes. I think also I had completely emptied myself of any confidence I had. The final straw was when he pulled me over and I required surgery to fix what had been broken. I knew then that there was no where else to go but up and just stopped worrying about what to do and just started doing it. Sounds easy now...anyway, just kept working on things one by one, day after day and now when I look at him I am so proud of both of us.

Eats a combo of grain free dry food diet and raw food. NO human food as snacks etc. (well rarely) Not sure if this is something which is helping his behaviour but has helped scratching.

Things are not perfect by any means:

Problems we still have are and are working on to varying levels of success:

Dog aggressive when on leash - not sure why this started but it did one day and continues. Off leash he is a friendly, fun dog to other dogs. I currently walk him on leash at night/middle of the day when chances of running into other dogs are minimal. He spends one day a week at the kennel we have used since we got him and in a controlled environment he off leash plays with lots of other dogs - well and without incident. We have a mobile vet so he can get care without freaking other dogs and their owners out at the vets. I can hold him as he really is all bluff and just jumps up and down and barks and he has a halti on, but other people are not sure. I am not into frightening people. We have moved to a bigger house with bigger yard for him to run.

Still a bit obsessed with cars, though easily distracted. It is more of a joyful, welcoming behaviour than aggression but a good yank on halti and "LEAVE" command has some effect. He is kept well away from roads.

mmm...the cat. NO progress there and they are kept well separated. The cat lives upstairs and is fed before the boy and he is not allowed on the steps up to the cat's room.

Not sure if he is a bit TOO protective. I try not to let him sit at the door or gate during the day too much but if someone comes to the door he certainly lets them know he is there - pretty scary. Once people are in, he is ok under supervision.

I hope that if anyone is having trouble with their young GSD this helps. Tomorrow is always a new day to start again...:)

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This is the old thread if anyone wants to go back and review what they posted in there (eg me).



I do love an update.

good yank on halti and "LEAVE" command has some effect.

I'm pretty sure that's not how haltis and other dog head halters are meant to be used.

The way Susan Garrett does it, is to hold the lead in the left hand and slide the right hand (or swap for your strong hand/arm), with the base of your hand first, so that it comes up under the dogs chin where the lead attaches and then sort of twist the wrist and bring the dog's head away from the thing (car) that they're looking at, get him looking at you.

There's no "Leave it" or cue... he's got to learn to make a good choice without you telling him what to do.

She holds until the dog is calm and paying attention to her, and then releases to see what the dog's choice is, if the dog turns towards the thing again - if he's calm and looks ok, if he starts to move/lunge/obsess, she turns the dog's head again.

She uses it to get control of the dog's head and where it is looking rather than as a punishment for being naughty.

You can actually break a dog's nose (or the dog can do it to itself) if you yank hard and sudden enough - which is why it needs to be on a short lead so the dog can't get the momentum up and you don't use it like a choke collar (no yanking).

When I used a gentle leader, I generally had two leads attached - one to the collar or harness, and one to the chin strap so if my dog did launch - I wasn't risking breaking her sinuses.

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as MRB said: the use of haltis has some risks as they give the handler a mechanical / leverage advantage that allows him to use less force. Similar to using the jack to lift a car: while it makes it easy for us to lift the car, the weight of the car is still the same. Imagine a 5 meter leash attached to a harness, a collar, and halti and a dog that accelerates full and get stopped abrupt after 5 meters by the leash: with the harness there might be no injuries, the collar might break his neck....the halti will...

Edited by Willem
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