Champdogs Information Exchange
Hi, im new here. Im a wheelchair user and have a female GSD now nearly 4 yrs old. We have always had GSDs as we are obsessed with the breed. All was well until she reached 18mnths old. Shes walked every day come rain, shine, hail, snow u name it for 2 hrs or more in shifts, i do afternoons for a good hour, husband does mornings and evenings. Up until 18 months i would let her off lead to play in the river, with other dogs or just rush around having fun. I loved walking her. Then totally out of the blue she ran at and went for a man walking towards us not once but twice, barking and growling, i called her off, apologised profusely, put her back on the lead and took her home, i was mortified to say the least. Since then I now walk her only on the lead and she (we) hate it! Now, she barks at people if they get too close, she doesn,t like children and is agressive to some other dogs. However with my husband she is an angel. He doesn't walk her on the lead, she is fine with most other dogs, is lovely with other people and ignores children! We have bought her up exactly the same as our other 6 dogs but i don't understand why she is like she is with me. At home she is beautifully behaved although she has her moments, she is very loving and very obedient but out with me she becomes evil. Ive tried treats but she sits quietly for the treat then turns nastily on the other dog. I now find myself apologising to anyone coming towards us because i know shes going to bark at them. She even turns round to bark at people walking up behind us. Shes such a Jeckle and Hyde im at my whits end! Shes very strong and i walk her with a Gencon halter. I have to keep the lead short when people are near as she can sometimes launch herself at them and hurt my arm so having a short lead stops her full weight. People are very kind and say she is only being protective of me but im not so sure. Does anyone have any advice please?
It sounds as if she's got into her head that she must defend you (but not your husband). There's a lady who lives near me who is having this problem with her male GSD who behaves well with her husband and lunges/barks when out with her.
Unfortunately I don't know how they are solving it other than that they are seeing a positive behaviourist about it.
Soind like she is resource guarding and I are the resource.i think it may be wise getting a behaviourist/ trainer involved who understands the situation and uses positive methods
Is it possible for your husband to walk her with you and perhaps he could control or redirect her behaviour and help her to realise she doesn't need to defend you, if that is what she is doing. I would suggest professional help as this behaviour could take a serious turn for the worse as you obviously realise and needs to be addressed very soon, maybe you could get a recommendation for someone local and have them out so you can meet and see if they would be a good fit for you and your dog.
01.05.17 08:29 GMT
Definitely get professional help. This has already been going on for a long time so will be learned behaviour now, and harder to undo. It does indeed sound like resource guarding. Try and walk her in quieter areas if you can - her stress levels will rise with each encounter and more stress means less ability to learn.
To me a huge factor in her aggression is your own feelings/emotions. You expect her to show the aggression, you anticipate it, you fret it - to dogs these emotions are clearer to read than to us words. And she acts accordingly. Compared to you, your husband is confident no aggression is going to happen, doesn't anticipate/fret it, and the dog is calm and normal.
Another thing I believe that substantially contributes to the situation is you walking her on the lead. While her first episode of aggression was caused by something else, putting her on the lead on that occasion and on every occasion from then on when she is with you most definitely registers in her brain as connected to aggression. Many many dogs, and many of them GSDs, are very reactive when on lead and then completely change when let off. Which would also help to explain her behaviour with your husband being completely normal.
To be honest I would put protection of you compared to of your husband as the last possibility/minor contributor, definitely behind the above two. In particular your feelings when you are with her, its exactly like when people ride a horse and are afraid, the horse will know it straight away and if disposed, it will react accordingly. Or when people are approached by a dog and are afraid, the dog will know it straight away and if disposed, will react accordingly. But both animals will be complete angels with another person who feels completely in control of the situation.
Just to add to the above I too would suggest looking for a *very good* behaviourist, who will help work on her underlying disposition to react, her behaviour on the lead, and of course help you to regain control over the situation.
Thank you all for your replies. Yes i agree with all of you. I have been out with my husband to show him how she behaves with me, guess what? She was perfect, no issues at all! I can see that my putting her on the lead when she launched herself at the man would have had an effect on her, he actually asked me to put her lead back on as she scared him to death!! I have started walking her at quieter times and she is a bit better regarding barking at people but she is selective as to who she barks at and to which dog she snarles at, so to cover every eventuality i just warn everyone that she may bark. Ive noticed that she barks mostly at men and doesn't like eye contact with strangers so i try and distract her as best i can, that also helps. I'm going to find a behaviourist who can help me with her and hopefully i will be able to let her run off the lead. Thank you all once again for your comments.
Thank you all for your replies. Yes i agree with all of you. I have been out with my husband to show him how she behaves with me, guess what? She was perfect, no issues at all! I can see that my putting her on the lead when she launched herself at the man would have an effect on her, he actually asked me to put her lead back on as she scared him to death!! I have started walking her at quieter times and she is a bit better regarding barking at people but she is selective as to who she barks at and to which dog she snarles at. Ive noticed that she barks mostly at men and doesn't like eye contact with strangers so i try and distract her as best i can, that also helps. I'm going to find a behaviourist who can help me with her and hopefully i can let her run off the lead once again. Thank you all once again.
I absolutely would not let her off the lead unless you are 99% certain she is going to be calm and reasonable, it may well be a contributory factor in her aggression but it would be completely irresponsible to risk other people and/or their dogs not to mention totally stressful for you. I really hope you get her sorted out, it's a wonderful breed and we have had several over the years, some of the loveliest dogs we have owned, so keep going
11.05.17 16:41 GMT
Hi, so sorry, i did reply a while ago but seems it didn't get posted!! I absolutely would not let her off the lead until i know she is going to behave, i wouldn't take the chançe. I am looking for a behaviorist that i am happy with and hopefully we can improve her issues between us. Thank you for your response.
11.05.17 17:37 GMT
Cannot resolve your issue with regard to the off lead have you considered maybe hiring an enclosed field for her to run in where you know o one can come in. Which would lower your stress and be a starting point. There are quite a few doggy daycare etc that hire fields now.
I found a facebook group a while back which looks great but not much round Suffolk
They are called DINOS - Dogs In Need Of Space - and have a map showing places that will hire out various size secure areas/fields for dogs who need to run but who are not dog friendly etc
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