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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2002
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    5,990

    Default GSD owners, and social anxiety issues?

    I recently 'adopted' a one year old GSD that was not properly socialized and now has some fear-agressive behaviors towards strangers and new dogs - barking at strangers, lunging at dogs, and I'm told he has become defensive with dogs that run up and aren't respectful of personal space. I got him from the breeder, the original owners had returned him because they didn't have time to deal with him and he was 'unmanageable'.

    He's fine once he's been introduced to the strange person or dog, and is relatively uninterested after that. Since he's been with me he's progressed from barking and lunging at dogs and people on walks, to being able to walk past neighbors outside and dogs in yards quietly, although he is still a little on edge about the dogs. When he starts to lock onto something I typically put him in a down until he's back to focusing on me, and then we continue. This has worked fairly well so far, and considering the amount of time he's progressed nicely.

    He tolerates the yippy little pomeranian owned by the property owners (two houses, one property - they are good friends, I rent from them), and enjoys playing with their great dane. He no longer tries to play with the cats, either. We go on field trips to the coffee stand, to my parents and friends houses, visit new people, and a few of them have dogs. Again, after the initial meet-and-greet, he's back to being happy to lay at my feet. Prior to that, he whines, cries, and barks nervously (not aggressively). BUT...

    Last week we had an 'episode' where he ended up barking at my friend's husband - the folks that own our house. My friend and I were outside with the dane and GSD, who were playing, husband came into the yard and they ignored him for about thirty seconds and kept playing, but the next pass they made by him the GSD stopped and began barking at him, and was rather close to the man. The GSD is about 100lb and tall, and I think it scared him. He was acting visibly scared, which likely did not help the situation. I was able to call him off, but could not figure out WHY this happened - he's met the guy, seen him outside before, and he wasn't acting suspicious or trying to be sneaky.

    So, I've been told I need to either do something about the behaviors, or he's going to be returned to the breeder. IMO, he's made great progress already, but I know we have some GSD owners and others who work with/train dogs, so I thought I'd see if you COTH'ers have any thoughts or ideas. I have a call into one of the local dog trainers that also runs a Schutzhund club, but haven't heard back yet.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
    lies with in us. - Emerson



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2001
    Location
    virginia
    Posts
    316

    Default GSD

    I got my alpha male dog when he was 7 months old. I was his fourth home. He's huge and very enthusiastic. He had never been taught manners nor boundries. He was so far gone, I had to send him to a professional trainer for three weeks. I really didn't want to return him to the previous owners because I believed, underneath the hysteria, there lurked a really nice dog. The trainer gave me to tools and he's made incredible progress in the past 7 months. It's tough to manage a dog with attachment disorder. Good luck! Hang in there!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2009
    Location
    Location: Indiana, but my heart is in Zone II
    Posts
    2,815

    Default

    Well, first- I have 2 GSDs. Any chance that the dog was trained in Schutzhund? ( both mine were). ONly asking b/c it "sounds " like the barking close is the "Bark and Hold" they teach them which is then usually rewarded with a ball or a "bite" to the helper. This simulates a dog finding an intruder in training ( just some background). oh- I just saw you had a call to the Schutzhund club. THAT IS GOOD. The trainers know what they are doing, for the most part, and can possibly help you work on at least getting the animal managable.

    My male will always bark at someone. The only difference is that he knows that when I say "platz" I mean it.

    Good luck and keep me posted on this one!
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2002
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    5,990

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pennywell Bay View Post
    Well, first- I have 2 GSDs. Any chance that the dog was trained in Schutzhund? ( both mine were).
    Not a chance in the world, unfortunately. They took him home as a pup, and while he rides in the car wonderfully, it doesn't appear that they ever took him to a public place or to play with other dogs. At some point they decided to get him a 'friend' to keep him company, which turned out to be another male that was apparently a little rowdy. The 'last straw' for them was when the other male dog came running up to the woman that owned them in the yard one day - the GSD became defensive of her and I think they got into it. I'm also told that she and her husband fought a lot, and the husband may not have been the nicest to the GSD.

    He knows basic commands - sit, down, stay, and come, although when I brought him home SIT was the only one he half-knew. His stay is unreliable beyond about 15'. He knows a handful of other words I use on a daily basis, as well - no, wait, crate, inside, car, leave it, out, and quiet. He's not terribly motivated by food or toys, so it has been a slight challenge to work with him when he loses interest. Despite his age he's a relatively laid back character. He knows 'heel', but not in the sense of return and heel, just in that when he's on leash he should be next to you and sit when you stop (he came this way, I didn't teach it).

    There's only so much I can accomplish in a short amount of time, so I'm hoping the Schutzhund club people can offer some guidance. They have group obedience classes, as well as private sessions and a 'boot camp' like deacon's mom mentioned where they board and train. Thanks for the thoughts so far, keep it comin'!
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
    lies with in us. - Emerson



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2007
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    75

    Default

    I have a large white GSD. My advice is to give your friend's husband a pocket full of tiny cheese cubes and sit him in the yard, facing sideways from your house -- so he can see your door out of his peripheral vision -- not facing the door. You exit your house, walk the dog up to the friend who engages you in conversation and is not looking your dog in the eye (very important) and has a tiny piece of the cheese casually in his hand. the dog walks up, you put him in a "sit', friend gives cheese. Dog continues to sit quietly (5 seconds or so) more cheese. Continue with good behaviour=cheese. If dog is relaxing, maybe friend can pet dog.

    I know you can't do this with everyone, but it sounds like this guy is pretty important to you keeping the dog.

    Of course you need the husband's consent and cooperation to do this -- hopefully he'd be willing.

    the Schutzhund club is an excellent resource.



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