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Dog Reactive GSD

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by ConnieWoodman, Apr 2, 2020.


  1. ConnieWoodman

    ConnieWoodman PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,

    If anyone can help or offer advice, please do, I will take any help at the moment.

    I have had dogs my whole life, including GSDs, but had them all from pups and they've all been beautifully behaved.

    Just over a week ago I rescued an 8 year old GSD. He is lovely with all people. He's learnt the basics; sit, wait, come, paw, watch, heel etc. But he had never met another dog before I got him so had been majorly undersocialised. And as I've never had a rescue before, I've never had to deal with this. He is so reactive to any other dog. Whether they're off the lead or not. He barks, pulls, hackles up. Even if they're in the distance and he just spots them. He is a big dog and has nearly pulled me over once. I've tried various people's approaches like Caesar Milan, Shaun Ellis and a few others and just nothing seems to work. I try to be really calm and if we see another dog not tighten the lead and just keep walking and not react to him reacting, I've tried telling him off but this works him up more, I've tried when we see a dog in the distance giving him a treat or tennis ball to associate something positive with dogs and this actually makes him worse. But I just don't know what method to try now. He is better if we walk in circles, his hackles are still up but he doesn't bark as much as he's still moving, whereas if we're stationary and at a narrow place he gets a lot more aggressive. Difficult to say if it's aggression, anxiety or undersocialisation or a combo. He has also attached very strongly to me and potentially he is being overprotective of me. It's embarrassing because people look at me like I've just raised a dog really badly and it's frustrating because I don't know what else to do and we have to keep making U-turns in our walks to avoid others. I haven't tried him off the lead because I'm not sure if hed come back if he saw another dog so I can't say how he would be off the lead. I want him to be able to enjoy walks, relax and maybe just ignore other dogs if not be happy around them. I want to give him the best rest of his life I can as his past hasn't been great, he deserves that but I'm unsure of where to go from here. He's walked between an hour and 2 hours a day and we do training to mentally stimulate him.

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Hi and welcome :)
    Am I reading correctly that you've only had him a week? And in that week you've already tried multiple approaches? If so, that would be my first place to start. Consistency. Whatever you chose to do (**) you will need to do it consistently until you see improvement.
    (**) That said, I would not choose any methods Cesar Millan related. The man is a charlatan who couldn't read a dog if it came with subtitles.

    Perhaps check out Suzanne Clothier. She breeds GSDs and is extremely knowledgeable in dog behavior and training. She has an excellent searchable blog and several talks on youtube that may be helpful.
     
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  3. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    OK you are asking wayyyy too much wayyyy too soon. You really shouldn't be walking him much at the moment - once a day is fine and keep it calm and not too long. And keep your distance and let him sniff. Stay as far away as you can from other people and dogs. One week is nothing. He hasn't settled with you and you are already asking him to listen around MAJOR distractions that you already know he isn't good with.
    Take a few days off walks if you can, even a week. Let him just chill and stay calm at home and work on your relationship and training.
    Please don't use training tips from CM or Shaun Ellis, they know nothing of the current science behind dog behaviour and training. Use lots of rewards, look up Kikopup on YouTube, the School of Canine Science has great videos too.
     
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  4. ConnieWoodman

    ConnieWoodman PetForums Newbie

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    Hi guys,

    Thank you so much for both of your replies. You're right in that my expectations are probably way too because of the dogs I've had before but they didn't come with problems. I need to lower my expectations of him at this stage. I will try to do less length walks, with more calm sniffing rather than purposeful walking at pace. And more exercise (as he seems to have a ridiculously high amount of energy) by playing fetch in the garden.

    I am checking Suzanne Clothier out now.

    Thanks for your advice!
     
  5. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Brain games will tire him out more than a walk. I think it's something like 10 mins of mental exercise is equivalent to an hour of walking? Also because he seems like he has loads of energy doesn't mean he does have it. It could be stress. You might find teaching him to be calm helps that nervous energy go somewhere more appropriate.
    I adopted an 18 month old collie about a year ago. Now collies are supposed to be nuts right? Well, pretty much all I did for about the first month was teach him to chill and build our relationship. He loves to be out with us but in the house he just chills. You'd think he was lazy but it's just because I taught him to chill when we aren't doing anything.
     
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