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un-sociable german Shepard

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by davidkeir9659, Aug 21, 2009.


  1. davidkeir9659

    davidkeir9659 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, im looking for advice on our (3 years old) shepard Jay. I have had shepards for years but he is different in his ways, i no all dogs are different but i will explain why he is from others we have had.
    1. He growls when you put his food down for him, i no its a protection thing but yesterday my daughter put his food down and before he even got to it he started growling and even bared his teeth, this frightened her to say the least. We have told him off in the past about the growling and now if you walk near him when he is having his food he walks away and wont go back until you tell him to. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!.
    2. Sometimes when we have gone to bed and our daughters come in late he will growl at them.do you think this is due to us going to bed and he goes into protection mode??
    All advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    David ( Harrogate).
     
    #1 davidkeir9659, Aug 21, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2009
  2. noushka05

    noushka05 Unicorn denier. Snowflake. Activist ;)

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    Hi Dave, if you post this on the training & behaviour section you should get some good advice:)
     
  3. sequeena

    sequeena PetForums VIP

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    Hi I'm not sure what training you've done but have you tried going to training classes or seeing a behaviourist?

    Random question but is he neutered?
     
  4. davidkeir9659

    davidkeir9659 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, thanks for that, we have trained him ourselves and yes he has been neutered.

    Dave.
     
  5. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    1. Stop allowing your daughters to put food down for him until it's sorted.
    Do NOT tell him off for growling - otherwise you risk him skipping the warning and going straight for the bite. Get hold of a book called "Mine!" by Jean Donaldson which deals with resource guarding - it will give you steps on how to make sure that you going near his bowl is a GOOD thing.

    Try to leave the dog alone when he is eating - he is obviously not happy with people near his dinner. Have you tried hand-feeding him?

    2. Possibly he is protecting - possibly he is resource guarding. Impossible to tell without seeing him.

    While reading "Mine" will help, I'd recommend you get a decent behaviourist in, especially as it isn't just food guarding.
     
    GSDlover4ever likes this.
  6. davidkeir9659

    davidkeir9659 PetForums Newbie

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    Many thanks for that...dk
     
  7. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

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    hi, having said that a behaviourist might need to be brought in,

    i would suggest to habituate the dogs in getting the food from your daughter,
    that is done in simple little steps:
    1) ask your daughter to prepare the food and,
    2) your daughter, standing at a threshold (with door) and everybody else out of the way,
    3) your d. should try to put down (decisively) the bowl, at any early sign of reaction from the dog, retract the bowl and close the door and wait some thirty seconds until the dogs on the other side is calm,
    4) no fuss, no shouting, just the simple actions
    5) repeat this exercise until your d. is confident that the dog won't growl, bark or bear teeth

    GSD are very intuitive dogs, i am sure that after some repetitions will get the gist of what is going on and will act accordingly, though this has to be done over several days/weeks so that conditioning and counter-conditioning can be learned and established through repetition and association;

    6) to complement this part of the exercise it will be ideal that your daughter would give, form time to time, some tasty treats to the dogs, just for being gorgeous, without any reason...

    7) another complement is that your daughter gives the dog his bowl, empty, just to habituate the creature to respect whoever in the family feeds him/her, at this point if the dogs has been good (no growling, barking etc) your d. might want to play a bit and go to point 6) above

    the exercise though does not finish there...

    8) once the dog and your daughter are getting the whole point, your d. should gently, without startling and in view of the dog, be seen to approach while dog's eating. at this stage she will not touch the food.

    to make things more interesting, i did put the bowl in a bucket, and if i was going near and the dog barked, growled etc...i took away the bucket (with the food in it, through a rope attached to the bucket...) it might looks draconian, but it served the purpose to bond and get mutual trust during dinner time...and no accident happened.

    one recommendation though, please do these steps in total safety, do not upset the dogs and do not continue in case some of the behaviours (of your dog and/or your daughter) are getting out of hands (like distress, frustration etc)...

    the aim to keep in mind is that the whole thing has to be a serious game and while doing the steps, the body languages (of the dog and your daughter) are the most important thing to master (without shouting at the dogs, screaming if something doesn't go according to plans etc...) when the dog performs well must be praised in high tones of voice...

    please be safe when doing the exercises and consider to get help form a trained/professional behaviourist...
    hope this helps
    best
    d
     
  8. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    Good post and that book is very good. I like Jean Donaldson- she definately knows her stuff.
    I defo agree about not allowing the child to feed the dog.
    IF it is resource guarding (you will need to see a behaviourist to confirm it is),I would keep all toys/high value things tidied away and not loose around the house. Swaps tend to be a good starting point in avoiding resource guarding behaviour. :)

    ETA- just to repeat what colliepoodle said. definately DO NOT tell the dog off for growling, to the dog's mind this means that this warning has not worked and you may see a proggression to a bite.
    An article I read described resource guarding as in a sense a type of fear- fear of loosing something. Please don't think your dog is dominant or consider being firmer/ going down "making sure you are the leader" rigmarole with him! A good positive reinforcement based behaviourist well help you :)
     
    #8 lemmsy, Aug 23, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2009
    Colliepoodle likes this.
  9. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

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    Child???

    i thought your daughter comes home late, when you are in bed... so, she/they is/are child(dren)...???
    well, if this is the case, disregard my suggestions and get straight away to the behaviourist...

    best
    d
     
    #9 dimkaz, Aug 23, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2009
  10. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Sorry but I think that is absolutely dreadful advice and I urge the OP not to follow it.

    Give the dog its food - but snatch it away if it growls??

    That is tantamount to teasing and is asking for trouble.
     
  11. princessx87

    princessx87 PetForums Senior

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  12. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

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    quoting from "bahaviour problem in small animals" by: J Bowen (veterinary behaviourist at East Sussex uni) and S. Heath (veterinary behaviourist, Cheshire).
    "Owner must stop confrontation over food and give the dog several smaller meals of a diet that find less attacritve. ...(omissis)
    in mild cases where there have been no bites, no punishment and the dog shows growling only as it eats, ignoring the dog and not reacting to it may cause the problem to subside. when growling is intense or the dog turns away from its food to growl or bark at a person, but there have been no bites or any signs that there might be an attack then ....use the method described in advice sheet 4 appendix 2..."
    and the advice sheet shows a structured way to get the dog to eat calmly etc etc...
    my suggestion uses the same principles therein presented but makes it more playful albeit equally structured.

    the bit of my experience that i have added, happened to the point where i was more confident and also trusting the dog that would not attack...AND i had to change the method described by the vets because the dogs was getting TOO EXCITED when i entered the room with the bowl to make sit, stay, and give small quantities... this structured approach has the same steps but i deemed it safer and got the same results.

    HOWEVER MY SUGGESTION TO CONSULT A VETERINARY BEHAVIOURIST IS THE FIRST AND FOREMOST ADVICE I GAVE....


    Colliepoodle, on which basis do you think my advice is dreadful? if you have some experience and references, please pass them on, as i am always eager to learn
    thank you
    d
     
    #12 dimkaz, Aug 23, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2009
  13. princessx87

    princessx87 PetForums Senior

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    I do thing that in the first instance a GSD isn't a small animal and i am unsure of how old the child is but a GSD bite is more dangerous in my eyes, then to a yorkie bite!

    OP my advice would be for one person to feed the dog and learn to gain the dogs trust, whilst you are searching for a behaviourist!
     
  14. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    I think your advice is dreadful on the basis that taking a dog's food away from it is EXACTLY what it is afraid of and why it is food guarding in the first place.

    The quote you supplied mentioned stopping confrontation over food, which I heartily agree with and I can't see how giving a dog its food and then taking it away again is avoiding confrontation *shrugs*
     
  15. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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  16. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

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    I don't know what to say, the "thingy" i described is a structured process of habituation, conditioning and counter-conditioning mixed with play positive reinforcement with the aim of building mutual trust and without making it boring for the dog and dangerous for the person...but obviously that's your opinion and i respect it.
    On the other hand i used and still use this book and sometimes, given the size of the dogs compared to my size (both dogs together are heavier than me, and i am a bit overweight...) i have to change and adapt the methods given that i was dealing with adult dogs re homed from the the dogs hom....with issues...many issues.

    well, they now eat together in separate bowls in the same room (or separately, wherever i decide is most convenient), they sit and look at me, not the food, until i suggest they can go and have it, they eat slowly (given the risk of bloat) and if one finishes early then moves aside or leaves the room until the other one has finished hers. and the process has gone through without a single incident, the dogs enjoy their training and food-time has become playtime! and mostly they trust people around their food and i trust them to have their food when there is people around.
    probably i have just been lucky!

    :)
     
  17. WalterKitty

    WalterKitty PetForums Member

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    im just looking at this from a human point of view and if someone keot taking my food away i would watch it like a hawk every time i got fed.if someone kept coming and adding small bits of food on to my plate and not taking it away id eagerly await their arrival at my dinner table:)
     
  18. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    Precisely. Your second sentence pretty much sums up a proper, effective method of teaching a dog not to food guard, as opposed to the "Tell 'em off" theory.

    Sure, telling a dog off for growling MAY work. But all you've done is suppress the behaviour. The dog is still uncomfortable about people near its food but how would you know - after all, it doesn't growl any more! Until one day it is more uncomfortable than usual - maybe he's hungrier than normal - and doesn't bother with the warning and goes straight for the bite.

    Whereas if you make hands near food bowl a GOOD thing, over time the whole emotional response to people in proximity to food changes. You aren't suppressing the reaction - you've changed it.

    It's like the difference between putting a cork in the end of a hosepipe - or turning off the tap ;)
     
  19. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

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    and

    Originally Posted by WalterKitty View Post
    im just looking at this from a human point of view and if someone keot taking my food away i would watch it like a hawk every time i got fed.if someone kept coming and adding small bits of food on to my plate and not taking it away id eagerly await their arrival at my dinner table

    hi again, i don;t knowl what shrugs means...however, i understand your point of view... if they were to take away your food from in front of you...etc ...my point was to turn a potential source of aggression in a moment of serious play to reinforce the bonding and make the food less valuable so that it becomes not worthy of getting guarded....that was the point of the whole exercise including the treats and the play...(obviously taking care of safety first!!!)

    to the OP, i would still suggest to call in a behaviourist if they don;t feel comfortable with any of the suggestions received...

    i only wanted to help, having tried and tested the method and trusting the sources... anyway, to each their own method, i can only ascribe my successes to luck and my failures to lack (of good old common sense)...
    d
     
  20. GoldenShadow

    GoldenShadow PetForums VIP

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    Behaviourist sounds like a good bet, make sure you can find one willing to come into your home to view the full situation or somewhere they can see it as opposed to you just telling them what happens as it is easy to misread things or not see things that behaviourists can pick up on.

    It sounds like your dog just doesn't trust people with his/her food and wants guard over it. I have to say that when my dog was a pup I was told to take his food away from him for a half minute or so, then give it back, and the idea of that was meant to be that he would let me take his food as I have the right to do so, but that he would get it back as soon as he was calm. I'm not suggesting you do this, it was just what I was told to do with my puppy.

    From an outsider who knows bugger all, do your daughters do much with your dog or are they away a lot? Rupert certainly has less respect for my brothers as they aren't there enough for them to do much with him, so he doesn't really listen to them or hold them in very high regard. I get them to do little training things with him or little games so that he is aware how he has to behave around them, he saw them as littermates for a rather long time. Not giving this out as advice, I would speak to a behaviourist first off, its just another situation.

    Good Luck :)
     
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