German Shepherd Dog > Behavioural Question - Dominant GSD in the real world. (8 replies)
Behavioural Question - Dominant GSD in the real world.
by Maxleia on 10 April 2012 - 08:00
Max is 13 months old now and I am a beginner, hence the 'I need advice'. He has one behaviour which is at times is less than ideal, as much as I think I understand it, I think I would rather not have it.
Its quite simple to explain really. When around any dog that is dominant or disrespectful, he does not like it, and won't stand for it. He is perfect with submissive dogs, and very very occasionally with dogs that are his superior he will submit then he is a very sweet patient boy. He is even great with fearful aggressive dogs, hes great for desensitising them because he does a great job of ignoring them.
I'll give an example. At his obedience class yesterday, older GSD comes in pulling its owner through the door, all brash and what not. I can see Max doesnt like this but I just keep him with me, correction, distract him with the ball. When he gets very worked up corrections are pretty much pointless. Okay, so we start the class, no problems, hes his normal attentive self, we enjoy our training. All the dogs in the class kind of know each other, so the trainer says to give them a few minutes to play, so I let Max off the lead tell him to 'Go Play.' Didnt see how it happened but he and this old GSD end up next to each other on the other side of the field, and Max, the younger and smaller of the two, with all his hackles up and tail straight up in the air puts his head over the other dog and gives a little growl. Max then just kept him there, wouldnt let him move, just kind of a heard and growl. The other dog seemed a bit unsure but certainly gave it up so to speak. If there was a psychological battle there was only 1 winner. While this was going on, I told Max no, and when he didnt stop I grabbed him by his scruff, picked him up, looked in his face, and as usual he submitted to me. Now we get back to training, he snapped straight out of it, back to bags of drive and lots of fun working with me.
Now a different example. Bella the bulldog. Bella adores Max, she will sit under him and and lick his tongue as he pants, and every now and again, hell give her a little lick. Super sweet, gentle, patient. Then he will play aswell, hell put his bum in the air and ask to play etc etc.
Is it as simple as he demands to be number 2, which is certainly the case at home with him and my other dog, and he doesnt suffer disrespect or dominance. Is it me? I get a little nervous in those situations, off lead, not on lead. On lead I dont really care I'll just correct and distract till he snaps out of it. Or is there something I am blinded to just because I adore him?
I can tell you more about him too if that will help. Lots of prey drive, pretty fearless/confident, clearly quite dominant, super sweet and gentle too at times. His obedience is good, if not as sharp yet as some videos I have seen on here, (though I am sure that is my fault), and his protection/bite stuff is great no fear, great commitment. Loves to swim and play fetch the most though, if at all possible fetch in the ocean.
I suppose my question at the end of all that is, is there something I am doing wrong? Am I too soft on him/insecure/non-dominant? Or is this appropriate behaviour for a strong dominant male GSD who is just starting to come into his own? If the second option is the case, then things like playing fetch on the beach gets a bit annoying, because many people have crappy dogs and he will feel he has to respond if they address him, if they just ignore him its never a problem. Is there a way in this case to just teach him to trust me and ignore unconditionally?
Thanks for any help.
by Sunsilver on 10 April 2012 - 12:43
|This is simple. He's a TEENAGER!|
He's at the age when young male dogs start challenging other males to see who is going to be alpha. Given what you described with the older male at the training class, I would NOT let him play off lead right now. or there is going to be a serious fight somewhere down the road. The stiff, high tail and the head over the other dog's back are classic dominance behaviours.
I think you handled the situation well, except you SHOULD have seen the situation developing, before it got to the point where it did. When I take my dogs to a dog park, or let them loose to run with other dogs, I NEVER take my eyes off them, so I can see problems developing, and nip them in the bud before a fight starts.
He sounds like a great confident dog, but you are going to have to take steps to keep him under control around other mailes while he goes through this phase. Normally, a younger dog will submit to an older one, especially one that's bigger than he is. You are EXTREMELY lucky that the situation at the dog class didn't result in a serious fight!
by Nans gsd on 10 April 2012 - 15:00
|Yes I do remember my boy acting like this and with my boy it escalated and he carried it into adult life. Sunsilver is right; don't go there again with him, keep him on lead (probably forever) or until you see this behavior stop. However, he is a GSD and he might NOT stop so you have to be in charge of the situation every second of the day with him. Otherwise, YEP, he will probably bite and get himself into trouble.|
I would work on his aus or out command, stop or whatever you have taught him and make sure that is a quick and efficient response; timing is everything. GSD males at 13 months old are assholes but you want him to stop this before it escalates and someone gets hurt and if that means he stays on leash then you know what you have to do.
My boy carried this attitude into later life and sometimes it did cause trouble with other dogs or he would stir up trouble with other dogs therefore, he could only play with females. That is one option.
I used the LEAVE IT command and my boy came right back to me, immediately, post haste. If that did not happen for some unknown reason, then back to basics, he got worked very, very hard until MY confidence came back as far as his out or leave it, so I KNEW I could trust him in any situation at any time. Probably a 95% rate and some of that comes with maturity and training and time. Best of luck with your boy, it sounds like he is a great boy. Nan
by Rass on 10 April 2012 - 15:35
|I don't believe in letting dogs loose to "go play" in a class situation... not even puppies. |
I don't want my dog to get the idea she can run up to just any old dog out there when we are there to work. This does not mean no breaks.. we take breaks playing with the toy.
Letting dogs loose together is just not a safe thing IMO (dog parks and the like be darned). Prevention is 9/10ths of a cure and dog fights are better prevented than broken up after they start.
by aceofspades on 10 April 2012 - 16:34
|I think you are getting good advice here. To add to sunsilver, I think the only reason that you didn't see it before it happened is just lack of experience on your part. This is something that only comes with time and knowledge, which you are getting. I think you handled it well, you always have to remain the top of the pack and remind your dog that he has to respect you. |
Teenage behavior, pretty typical. For some dogs it lasts longer than others, I had one that was a complete asshole right in to his 9th year, he tested my patience and strength with every outing and training session we ever had. my current older girl has never done this, and my two young one, only one really asserts dominance in any situation. Ace will but he will back down with a verbal correction ("OFF") fairly quickly. Janna often needs the reminder of a both a startling verbal command and strong negative correction and as her handler i can't show a second of weakness or second thought on what I am doing with her or she will take my weakness and run with it.
like the others said, skip the off leash in the presence of other dogs time right now. It will end bad one of these times. otherwise just remain strong and keep up what you are doing.
by vomtreuenhaus on 10 April 2012 - 21:57
|I agree with Rass...|
Dog should NEVER touch at training. Period.
Heck, when my dogs are in public I dont let them near other dogs. Let alone on the training field when we are there to work.
At the end of the day, no matter how much socializing you do or how much training you have on him...he is a GSD, and dogs WILL be dogs, especially males. Just a bad idea all around.
Why is everyone so invested in having a dog that is "great with other dogs"? Realistically...they should be "tolerant" of other dogs. They are German Shepherds....not Labs.
by Maxleia on 11 April 2012 - 07:00
|Thanks so much for the replies. They really helped a lot. I certainly feel more like I know what to do.|
Thanks so much for the advice. I think I struggled with understanding why some dogs and not others, because its certainly not as cut and dry as male and female, one of the dogs he really enjoys playing with is a male staffordshire terrier, its the dominant/disrespectful (of him or his space) dogs that get him a bit riled up. If I think about him as a teenager, that makes perfect sense. As far as watching him, I normally do, but the problem is definately a lack of experience, because I am not always sure exactly what the communication is, so I am unsure about when to intervene more so than not always being aware. But I am learning and really trying my best to learn.
Thanks for that advice Nan, I will work on that too. I can go up on the mountain at my house and work without fear of interruption. I think what may have made this problem worse is about 10 weeks ago he injured his shoulder (no malignancy, just a muscle/tendon injury), so I have had to keep him very quiet, which is very very difficult. I have only really made an excuse for training, where previously he'd walk and/or play with me everyday. So there may be some built up frustration is what I am getting at.
Rass, why I enojoyed the 'dog park' with him is basically because it is a massive beautiful park. He used to completely ignore all other dogs (maybe a 1 in 100 exception) which was ideal for me, so we could go there and work and play for hours, near as makes no difference, with no interruption. I think I agree with the playing not being necessary in training however, definately not anymore. He has been moved up to the top obedience class as of next week though, so now he'll be the youngest dog by a bigger margin, maybe it will be a less testy situation. Fewer young males, who are maybe a little disobedient/dominant coming into their own. And I certainly do not care about having a dog that is great with other dogs, I want him to be like he is with people essentially, which is tolerant if forced to interact otherwise ignore, unconditionally, and of course affectionate with those he knows.
As a side note, and really a practical point, would something like a pinch collar be helpful in a period like this? Make the corrections count a bit more so to speak?
by Sunsilver on 11 April 2012 - 23:18
|Pinch collars work really well for strong dogs that won't listen to a flat collar or choke chain. I adopted an 85 lb. 3 year old male GSD who had never walked on a leash before. I put a pinch collar on him, and by the time the weekend was over, he was walking beside me like he'd done it all his life.|
I was able to discard the collar not long after, but whenever his manners on the leash started to get sloppy, I'd bring it back out. again. He'd know right away I meant business, and he'd stop pulling without me even having to do a single correction!
Get someone who's familiar with these collars to help adjust it and teach you how to give a proper correction with it. If it's too tight or too lose, it won't work. Also, make sure it's good quality. The prongs should be blunt, not sharp, or you risk hurting your dog. The dog also should never be allowed to pull when wearing this type of collar, or he will get desensitized to it. (Same goes for other collars as well.)
by Maxleia on 12 April 2012 - 10:08
|Hes fine on the lead, walks nicely. Just thought to really let him know that this behaviour is unacceptable. That kind of thing.|