What would YOU do?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by IliamnasQuest, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. IliamnasQuest

    IliamnasQuest Loves off-leash training!

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    The scenario:

    Four month old German shepherd puppy. Owner boarded the puppy for a week or so and the boarding kennel took the puppy to a training class (without the owner's consent). Owner gets puppy back, puppy now has the behavior of lunging at the end of the leash and barking uncontrollably when it sees another dog (owner says he never did this before). Owner is a quiet woman, not sure how to handle this behavior.

    They come to puppy class. Ten puppies in the class. GSD pup barks constantly in a VERY loud voice - to the point where no one can hear the instructor. The instructor asks the woman to take her dog out and they set up a more private training session instead. I am asked to come to the training session.

    At the session: I arrive, woman and puppy are already there with the other instructor (who instructs the puppy class). Puppy has a flat collar on and also a gentle leader harness (that connects at the chest). Leash is connected to the harness. Puppy is very friendly to me, happy to greet me, wants to jump up but otherwise very nice guy. I have the owner take him out in the middle of the training area and then I bring in Trick (10 year old female/spayed GSD). When I come through the door, the puppy erupts into loud constant barking. Even when I had Trick lay down and look away from him, he continued to bark. Body language: at the end of the leash, lunging, hackles up.

    How would you have handled this situation at this point?

    Melanie and the gang in Alaska
     
  2. whatszmatter

    whatszmatter Guest

    That's a young pup, take it further away and distract it. We have puppies do that at training all the time, usually ignoring it and getting their attention, some people have clapped, others give really gently annoying tugs on the leash, others have done nothing but sit there until the dog was done barking and came to them and got rewarded. Usually we try and keep them beyond their threshold with play and slowly work towards, or bring another dog in closer till they get used to it, I"m sure you know what i'm talking about. You might have to be outside, as it sounds like you're in a room, might be a little too snug in there. get it around other dogs often at a distance of course. when you can work your up to working next to others great, but I'd always be ready for someone to act out.

    I'm not sure what I'd do about the class the puppy took, who knows what really happened, and unless the pup was attacked by another dog and someone admits to it, nothing can really be done about it at this point.
     
  3. poodlesmom

    poodlesmom New Member

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    Hmmmm, that's a tough one. The owner says he was previously exposed to other dogs and never had this problem? If that's the case it sounds to me that he had a very bad experience with another dog either when he was boarded or when they took it upon themselves to take him to training.

    If it were me, at this point, I think I would concentrate on building his obedience responses on heeling, sits, etc. Once he is doing reasonably well with those I would then try to work him around a calm dog that is his size or smaller - not really close but within sight. If he gets into a frenzy I would step up the obedience routine so that he would have to concentrate on the owner instead of the other dog. As he improves, slowly over time, gradually decrease the distance between the dogs. If at a certain spot he starts up again increase the distance a little until he returns to being calm. I think it is going to be a long, gradual progression.

    It's so hard to try to come up with a game plan and even harder when you aren't there. It's going to be trial & error. Did he ever have play sessions with other dogs prior to this boarding experience? If he did perhaps you can get him together with a dog he has had a fun experience with before.

    I'd really be interested to hear how this progresses.
     
  4. RD

    RD Are you dead yet?

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    Boarding can do that to dogs... My Lab/Chow mix was boarded for a couple of weeks, and I imagine she took to barking and lunging at the fence because that is what all the other dogs were doing. She was uncomfortable around other dogs for a while after that because many were probably threatening her in Dogspeak, day in and day out.

    I would have probably allowed the puppy to continue barking and rewarded even a split-second of quiet, using that as an opportunity to divert his attention and reward him even more for focusing on the food/toy, the handler, basically anything but Trick. Of course, I don't know the dog and don't know if it's highly food/toy motivated (if it's a GSD pup I tend to assume it is) but I've had success with simply rewarding a diversion of attention. The dog may always be a bit reactive, but if its attention is focused on the handler, the problem will greatly diminish and the handler will have more control over the dog.

    If the puppy was in a complete frenzy, I would have taken it farther away (leaving Trick where she was... If Trick was removed the pup could have gotten the idea that barking and throwing a fit would make the bigger, scary dog run away) and then waited for a little bit of calm behavior to reinforce..
     
  5. IliamnasQuest

    IliamnasQuest Loves off-leash training!

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    Thanks for the responses .. here's a bit more information.

    This pup was way beyond the typical "gotta bark at puppy class" pup. It was a frenzied constant extremely loud bark, fully focused on the other dog and out of control. I saw it with just my one dog in there, I can only imagine how he was in the middle of a bunch of dogs. He was incapable of responding to his owner when he was barking frantically, short of dragging him around she had no real options. We did have her trying to click and reinforce even the tiniest bit of hesitation in his barking, but he continued on for some time.

    The training room is quite large and he was clear on the other side of it, but still it was within his reactive distance. I'm not sure how far a dog could have been from him before he reacted.

    We did do some things while he was there but I'm interested in hearing more people's thoughts before I tell what we did.

    Melanie and the gang
     
  6. DanL

    DanL Active Member

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    GSDs are vocal for sure but they shouldn't bark constantly, and when one has the need to be at the end of the leash, hackles up, and barking continually, that sounds like fear to me.

    I would try and get him comfortable around other dogs by introducing him into a room with 1 small dog, (at least with my guy, a smaller dog isn't as much of a distraction as a large one) from a distance. Let him enter the room with the other dog already there. Work on his focus and make him do some repetitive tasks to take his mind off the other dog. When he behaves as you want, reward. Gradually close the distance between them (not necessarily in a single session). Then gradually introduce new dogs.

    OK, now what did you do? Probably something super easy and sensible and nothing like what any of us have described! :)
     
  7. Julie

    Julie Are You Blowing Me Off?

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    I am interested in what you did and if it worked. When we let Rocket outside she does this thru the fence of our backyard. She is fine when on leash walking or during training (unleashed) with other dogs. I guess she is trying to protect her turf, which I guess is a little different. The neighbor has a dog and she doesn't mind her, but if a strange dog wanders into the neighbors yard you would think my dogs are aggressive maniacs. :rolleyes:

    Did you find out what caused this for the shepherd pup? Was it a poorly taught training class, or because the dog was boarded ?
    How was the behaviour remedied? :)
     
  8. tinksmama

    tinksmama New Member

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    could it have something to do with a feeling of sudden insecurity,i.e. the age of pup, mixed with being left in a scary environment, it figured out a way to handle its new setting(not good) and now it does this?
    I honestly think that's what happened with Tinkerbell, she's no GSD, she's 6 pounds,and I didn't leave her at a kennel, but a friends home. In that time, she became very people scared. previously it had been big dogs that freaked her out, now it's people, and she growled and was awful to all my frineds visitors too, a new thing. Now when we go walking, she sets up a huge alarm at anyone, and won't let even my neighbors whom she knows touch her! No one hurt her at friends home but she has different training techniques than I do...
    \ I can only guess that for her right now the world is scary, b/c i wasn't there to help her understand what happened with all her familiar training stuff, and something in her changed a little. Now when we go walking, she's always on alert, tail down and watchful, I feel bad for her - and am hoping that with some proper training I can get her past her fear.
     
  9. oc_spirit

    oc_spirit Snow Girl

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    What is the puppy like offleash around strange dogs? Sometimes just eliminating being restrained by the leash can have a very different effect, or even actually letting the leash go slack and allowing the puppy to investigate the situation on his own and realize that he has nothing to fear. Of course this should only be atempted by knowledgable people and in a controled environment so niether dog gets hurt.
     
  10. poodlesmom

    poodlesmom New Member

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    That's what I'm thinking too!:D
     
  11. silverpawz

    silverpawz No Sugar Added

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    Is the dog food motivated? Stuffed Kong with a boat load of peanut butter. Keep the other dog far away and let the pup much on the Kong. Only works if the pup is either very hungry, or very food motivated. But when it works, it works wonders for getting the dog to calm down and relax. (would give the Kong BEFORE the other dog showed up.)

    Body blocking. Assuming the dog is not food motivated enough to concentrate on the Kong. I would move in front of the dog, step into her space and make her back up a few steps. Gotta be sharp about this, quick steps, stand up straight, etc. Continue to body block untill the dog stops trying to go around you. Then ask for a sit. Reward. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    This is a young dog and behavior like this needs to be stopped right away or else it can only get worse as the pup gets bigger.
     
  12. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

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    My puppy went through something similar at 4 months. She has been at dog shows since she had her second set of shots and was used to seeing other dogs and pople. She and her litter were socialized WELL with people and other dogs.

    At 4 months though, she went through this. She would bark and raise hackles etc. Although probably not as badly as the GSD puppy, it sounds like. She was fine with of course, my other dogs, and some friends dogs too, but being on lead around strange dogs was scary. I did not do much clicker work with it. I would take her to Petsmart, on a day when I thought only a few dogs would be there and walk around w/ treats. When I saw another dog I would strategically move around to be where she could glance at the other dog then I would duck behind an aisle taking her w/ me. If she wasnt barking I would treat her. This worked, to a degree, I didn't see a marked improvement right away, but I could tell she was going in the right direction.

    I just kept working on that, but Im conviced she has been 'growing' out of it. She is 5 months now, and much better. as long as you don't stop taking them to class and socializing, I think that he will grow out of it. Tell her not to push him though.
     
  13. x Liz x

    x Liz x :]

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    My dog barks for ages at dogs when she see's them. When she was a puppy she was lovely to all dogs, & so I asked my friend Lisa if her dog was friendly, because I thought it would be nice for Holly to have a dog friend lol, & she said he was, but he attacked Holly, & made her bleed =/ :( she now dislikes most dogs & always barks at them. This was after a few monthes of running away and getting me to pick her up lol.
    I'd make the dog look at me instead of the other dog so he finds it harder to bark [ i always find holly has a harder time barking if she isnt looking at the object which she's barking at in the first place.] then i'd introduce him to an older dominant dog on a different side of a fence or with something inbetween until his aressive behaviours dwindles & then introduce them properly.

    probably the wrong thing to do though =/
    I know it would work with Holly, but all dogs are different. :]
    good luck.
     
  14. GSDlover_4ever

    GSDlover_4ever New Member

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    Ok, first of all bringing another dog out was too soon, IMO. Thats why I work from home, in the early stages of training. I would work on focus and the "watch me" command. Make the dog really hungry, dont feed him for a day, and I can almost gurantee he will focus on the food. Make him work for his food. Built up his focus THEN add dogs to the scenario. I wouldnt be concerned with the sits and downs right now. Strictly FOCUS. Now when the dog is ready to go out, nothing around him matters when you say watch me. You have the food, you are more important, ONLY if you manipulate the food drive.

    I had that problem with Hondo. He decided to act a fool around other dogs, but when I say watch me, everythng else in the world disappeared. Thats how I did my dogs.
     
  15. Jynx

    Jynx New Member

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    I don't have a suggestion on what I'd do, but can I ask a Q?

    Did you let him approach any dog and get up close and personal and what happened if you did? (I know not many want to use their dogs as guiena pigs on a dog like this, just curious) And I'd also be curious as to his actions offleash around another dog?
    OK MElanie time to spill ! *vbg*
    diane
     
  16. IliamnasQuest

    IliamnasQuest Loves off-leash training!

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    Some great responses here! Thanks!

    Okay, so what I did .. *L* .. I told you that I had brought Trick in and she was in a down-stay. I left her there and walked over to the owner (talking to her was difficult across the room as her pup barked SO DARN LOUD! *L*). The pup ignored me, was still at the end of the leash barking.

    My assessment of the situation is that this pup didn't have a clue as to how to act. He had some fear, possibly brought on by an experience at the boarding kennel (and possibly during a fear period). His reaction now was to lunge and bark and he was learning that not only would dogs go away from him, but that his Mom would pull back on the leash and be his support.

    So I asked the owner to drop the leash and walk away. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless they have a very secure dog (like Trick). Trick is a pretty amazing girl - she is the one we use in the puppy classes to stop the overly rambunctious pups. She's dominant but in all the right ways. Not aggressive but she will use her body language to "explain" the proper behavior.

    The owner looked at me and I said "Trick is okay. Drop the leash if you're comfortable." She let go of the leash and turned away and her pup immediately stopped barking and turned to look at her. It was actually kind of funny .. *L* .. he barked a time or two at Trick and then turned and followed his Mom. No barking, hackles down at this point. I had her just leave the leash loose.

    She was amazed. But so much of fear aggression is fueled by the concept of the "pack support" behind the dog, and that's communicated directly to the dog by the leash. Without holding the leash, there was no longer that communication and the pup stopped because he no longer felt he had the back-up.

    I told the owner to reward any "positive" behaviors the pup offered from this point out. She was to click and give him treats when he looked at her, or when he ignored Trick, or did a sit, etc.

    Then I released Trick from her stay. She came over to us, the pup hackled up a bit and barked and she ignored him. She came to me and I gave her a treat, and the pup stopped barking because she didn't even look at him at that point. He came closer and was curious and she turned to look at him. He was cautious but we humans just stood back and let them interact. Trick went to him and sniffed him, he hackled a bit but she just ignored that for the most part. When he got a bit pushy, she shoved her neck over him and pushed him back.

    Before too long they were wandering around the room, going from person to person to get a treat. So I went out and got another dog - my young chow who is 21 months old and FULL of energy. She was also in heat and wearing "undies" .. *L* .. I expected that this pup was too young to react, but if he did I would have taken her out right away. As I was going in and out the door, I had the woman pick up the leash so that the pup wouldn't sneak out. When I came back in with Khana, he again lunged and barked. She dropped the leash and he stopped.

    I turned Khana loose and she raced over to him and he ducked away from her in surprise. She is SO friendly and kept running past him and finally enticed him into a game of chase and play. He was hesitant and almost didn't know how to play, it seemed. Khana ran circles around him.

    Soon after that another person arrived for the next class, with a young Airedale. Again, when the GSD pup's owner picked up the leash, he started barking but it wasn't as nearly as frenzied and she was able to back up and have him follow her so that she could reward him. He definitely was showing an improvement already. Within a short time we were able to turn him loose again with the Airedale too (and Trick and Khana still in the room). The four dogs wandered around and interacted peacefully.

    I've found that most of the time, with young dogs, they just need proper interaction to understand how to behave. We don't know what happened to make him act fearful, but a dog like Trick is invaluable when it comes to helping pups like this. Trick is so solid, so reliable that we can turn her out with a fearful pup and she will not react badly if the pup acts stupid (lunges and snaps, etc.). When the pup realizes that there isn't a problem and relaxes, then it's time to up the criteria a bit by adding a dog with a higher energy level. Next week we are meeting again, and I'll bring a couple of other dogs so there are some new ones there.

    And the woman's assignment was to find a safe playmate for her puppy, and to continue to reinforce the "good" behaviors. A good part of the whole procedure is showing the owner that they have a normal puppy with some slight fear issues, but who is capable of interacting without a problem. NOW is the time to work with this, and I'm really glad that she didn't wait until this pup was a year old and completely out of control.

    I am a strong advocate of early socialization - early as in before they ever leave the breeder. And I encourage everyone to go to puppy classes and to socialize throughout the dog's life. There are some out there who say "my dog never needs to meet another dog!" and I strongly disagree with that because meetings between dogs DO happen. It's our responsibility to provide the dog with the tools in how to understand dog language and proper behavior, and that's done by socialization during that early developmental time and continuing on from there. Training classes are so important and I get mine out at the age of 8-9 weeks (yep, that young!) and keep going to various classes. This is why Trick is as solid as she is (that and good breeding). This is why I have chows that can be taken into a mix of dogs and turned loose, with no fear that they'll start anything with anyone.

    I expect this GSD pup will be just fine. The desensitization that so many mentioned is another option if there isn't a dog like Trick around. But I really recommend getting the dog off-leash even if you have to put up an exercise pen to separate the dogs. It makes a huge difference to most dogs when the leash pressure goes away. I've worked with many "aggressive" dogs (almost always fear aggression) and we would put the dogs behind an ex-pen and then reinforce for all non-aggressive behavior. Nearly all of these dogs were able to integrate into a normal class situation after going through these sessions.

    Melanie and the gang in Alaska
     
  17. tinksmama

    tinksmama New Member

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    This whole on/off leash thing is a big??? for me right now, Tink is a tiny 5 months, same issues, yesterday she ran over to the neighbors with no apparent fear or aggression to check out their huge aggressive dog who was barking wildly.... I panicked, ran over and grabbed her leash to get her away from him, completely undoing everything I'm trying for, and THEN she started growling with hackles up and i had to drag her away....
    What else could i have done at that moment? I already know it's my fault for having her loose anyway....
    how do I accomplish an off leash meetup for her?
     
  18. oc_spirit

    oc_spirit Snow Girl

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    Woohoo I was right!!! :D lol Glad you had success with this!
     

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