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Old 03-03-2010, 11:30 PM
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MandyPug MandyPug is offline
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I'm here to ask a question on behalf of a friend about her GSD pup.

For a quick background on the dog, she's from working lines, of a breeder that breeds police type dogs. She's one year old and unaltered due to desire to train in Schultzhund. She's supposed to be STABLE NERVED and that's the biggest worry. My friend is not familiar with dogs of her extreme behaviour, this is not her first GSD only her first from these types of lines. She's sharp, and very suspicious. She feels if she had stable nerves her sharpness and desire to fight wouldn't be such a problem. But, she's very very reactive, and very high drive. This creates a dog that is suspicious of everyone and everything she doesn't know. Her drives and breeding (in my friends' opinion) cause her to dart forward when uncertain and attack, instead of running away. Possibly some fear here, but again she can't always read her. At times she does show a marked nervousness in new situations, might be fear, but at other times she is fearless.

The owner has 2 other GSDs that she has trained in Schultzhund, but they're not of strict working line breedings. So this is something she's not 100% versed in. She's also hard, meaning a baseball bat (figuratively speaking) only gets her attention for a moment. She is not 'biddable' and only tries to please when the reward is in front of her face. Also not what she's used to as she's not like her other dogs that look at my friend as their 'God'.

She so far has bit twice, and regularly tries to attack strangers. When highly excited she'll even go after my friend's daughters, and will even redirect on her.

Any opinions? Advice on handling her, or even a way to tell if she is fearful, or just plain civil and reactive?

ETA: She's tried redirection and it hasn't worked. She doesn't want to do corrections because the dog isn't solid in obedience and wouldn't know what the corrections were for (ex. if she did the automatic sit at the stop, she could be corrected for leaving the sit before allowed, or if she had a recall she could be corrected for not listening). Due to the Schultzhund training they've put off obedience for more confidence building i think, i might have to confirm that but i think that's what she said.
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Last edited by MandyPug; 03-03-2010 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 03-04-2010, 12:08 AM
AGonzalez AGonzalez is offline
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Well different trainers do it differently, my SchH trainer works obedience first, as it's the most important part. What good is a dog that will bite but not let go? That's a hazard, not a good bitework dog.

Also, the dog shouldn't run away from "scary" things, that would not be a good temperament, she also shouldn't take it upon herself to attack ANYONE. That is not her job. Sounds like puppy needs to go back to the basics on obedience.

The dog sounds like a nerve bag to be honest. That is not the kind of dog you want working in SchH if she's trying to attack people. Just doesn't sound like a stable temperament to me at all.

My suggestion, obedience first, bitework second. A lot of dogs flunk out of bitework but are still useful if they have obedience training. A flunk out bite work dog without obedience is pretty well useless and dangerous.
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Old 03-04-2010, 02:17 AM
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From "A Brief GSD History":
"A standard for the GSD breed was soon developed based on mental stability and utility. The captain's motto was "Utility and intelligence". To him beauty was secondary, and considered a dog worthless if it lacked the intelligence, temperament, and structural efficiency that would make it a good servant of man."

The German Shepherd's Dog is a breed that has all but been ruined in the hands of idiots. Breeders claim that they are raising dogs with "classic" traits, who are "working" dogs. Well, here are some quotes from the creator of the breed:

"The breeding of Shepherd dogs must be the breeding of working dogs,
this must always be the aim or we shall cease to produce working dogs."

~Captain Max von Stephanitz


"Take this trouble for me; Make sure my shepherd dog remains a working dog,
for I have struggled all my life long for that aim."

~Captain Max von Stephanitz


"The most striking feature of the correctly bred German Shepherd are firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability, tractability, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility together with courage, fighting tenacity, and hardness."

~Captain Max von Stephanitz


"Utility is the true criterion of beauty."

~Captain Max von Stephanitz

Now, tell me how you breed "classic", "working" dogs, who are "non-aggressive pets" when "courage", "fighting tenacity" and "hardness" are the traits of a correctly bred "working" GSD?!?

I would say ninety-five percent of the GSD breeders out there are extremely warped in their ideas of what a good example of the breed is. It's very unfortunate that the general public has no clue as to what a "real" GSD is, or was, at this point.

After all the looking, reading & searching that I've done. The closest thing I've been able to find thus far, in hardness, tenacity and structure, to what von Stephanitz created, was a dog labeled as crazy & slated to be put down is extremely telling as to just how far off the mark the world is these days. The dog would be laughed out of any "GSD circle"...when the reality of the situation is he looks almost identical to Horand von Grafrath. Oh, the irony.

As for an unstable dog doing bite work, BAD idea. You need breaks on the race car, so to speek. Obediance needs to be SOLID before bite work is even a thought. Real working dogs need firm handlers that can train them well and WORK them everyday. Your friend needs a trainer that has worked with a dog of working lines, seek out a K-9 instructor.

Tsume is out of working lines. He runs an hour a day, trains obediance daily, and does bitework/senario bitework once a week. Plus all the normal ball fetching, bed hogging, mommy loving task of a stable happy dog.
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Old 03-04-2010, 02:59 AM
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ihartgonzo ihartgonzo is offline
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Wow... scary!!!!! Two bites at one year old? She is still a puppy. I can't imagine what she will be like when she is an adult in a year or two, at this rate.

What working lines is she from? Doesn't sound like good breeding to me. All of the working German Shepherds I know are quite sharp, but they're also sound dogs, and they are not fearful or flighty ever.

At this point, it would be a good idea to stop thinking of her as a working prospect and instead a fearful, dangerous dog. A positive-ONLY behaviorist would probably help immensely! As would desensitizing her to all that she fears, and counter-conditioning to give her a more positive view of friendly strangers. :/ Your friend is expecting way too much out of a fearful dog and working her way, way over threshold, it sounds. If a dog is not responding to redirection or rewards unless they're stuffed in her face, she's wayyyy too close to the stimulus. "Click to Calm" and "Control Unleashed" have amazing exercises for fearful/unconfident dogs, as always! Good luck to your friend.
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Old 03-04-2010, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MandyPug View Post
For a quick background on the dog, she's from working lines, of a breeder that breeds police type dogs.

A lot of breeders that claim to be breeding "police type dogs" are actually producing garbage.

She's one year old and unaltered due to desire to train in Schultzhund. She's supposed to be STABLE NERVED and that's the biggest worry. My friend is not familiar with dogs of her extreme behaviour, this is not her first GSD only her first from these types of lines. She's sharp, and very suspicious. She feels if she had stable nerves her sharpness and desire to fight wouldn't be such a problem. But, she's very very reactive, and very high drive.

There is a difference between sharp, stable nerved and reactive.

This creates a dog that is suspicious of everyone and everything she doesn't know. Her drives and breeding (in my friends' opinion) cause her to dart forward when uncertain and attack, instead of running away. Possibly some fear here, but again she can't always read her. At times she does show a marked nervousness in new situations, might be fear, but at other times she is fearless.

Is the nervousness new? It could be a fear period. How much socializing was done with the dog?

The owner has 2 other GSDs that she has trained in Schultzhund, but they're not of strict working line breedings. So this is something she's not 100% versed in. She's also hard, meaning a baseball bat (figuratively speaking) only gets her attention for a moment. She is not 'biddable' and only tries to please when the reward is in front of her face. Also not what she's used to as she's not like her other dogs that look at my friend as their 'God'.

I've had working line GSDs that were great dogs, high drive, good amount of sharpness and stable. They were not at all what you've described. Reactivity does not make for a working dog. As for not being biddable and only trying when the reward is in front of her face - that is called a BRIBE and is very poor training. It can be a very hard thing to get away from once it's been done. She really should look into clicker training and put the rewards away, mark behaviors as they are offered and then after clicking she goes and gets the reward. It makes a hige difference when you start doing that as then the dog doesn't need to see a treat/toy in order to know that there will be a reward.

She so far has bit twice, and regularly tries to attack strangers. When highly excited she'll even go after my friend's daughters, and will even redirect on her.

What are the circumstances of the bites? Again, how much socializing was done? How old is the daughter? Does the daughter live with the dog? And if so, how much and in what way does the daughter interact with the dog?

Any opinions? Advice on handling her, or even a way to tell if she is fearful, or just plain civil and reactive?

Reactive isn't at all civil. Advice? TBH, I would suggest sending the dog back to the breeder and finding someone who produces what she needs/wants. If she wants a schutzhund dog, she really should go to someone producing high quality schutzhund GSDs.

ETA: She's tried redirection and it hasn't worked. She doesn't want to do corrections because the dog isn't solid in obedience and wouldn't know what the corrections were for (ex. if she did the automatic sit at the stop, she could be corrected for leaving the sit before allowed, or if she had a recall she could be corrected for not listening). Due to the Schultzhund training they've put off obedience for more confidence building i think, i might have to confirm that but i think that's what she said.
An unstable dog should not be in training for bite work.

GSDs should be sharp, they should be high drive, they should be aloof with strangers, they should have some independence. Sadly too many people look for extremes and they think reactive is sharp and they think shy/suspicious is aloof and when you combine reactive, shy and high drive, you end up with a very dangerous combination.

My first suggestion would be to send the dog back to the breeder. If that's not going to happen, she needs to get with a behaviorist who does positive motivation training. She should read Click to Calm and Control Unleashed. Continue to socialize and work on obedience because that will help with everything. Also with the dog having bitten and regularly trying to attack strangers, she should put a muzzle on the dog for everyone's safety...including the dog's.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:17 PM
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Sharp can mean different things to different people, so I think we'd have to define that before anyone decides a dog is sharp. To me too much sharpness is not a good thing, it's something might you see in nerve bag dogs who are reactive with aggression. Reactive, at least the way this dog is reacting, isn't good. Social aggression or civility isn't bad in a strong nerved, stable dog, but when you put it together with reactivity and weak nerves, that's where you get the biters. Stable- to me that means nothing bothers the dog. Bombs going off don't cause it to blink and it goes about it's business with a purpose. A GSD should be aloof-"I know you are there, now go away". An aloof dog might greet a visitor and then they are done with them. Aloof does not mean I will not acknowledge you and if you come close I'm going to bite.

I think knowing what lines this dog is from might help some- certain lines are more defensive and civil than others and mature at different rates. Too much too soon on a dog that is not mature enough can cause problems that are difficult to resolve. I also agree that this dog shouldn't be doing any bitework until the obedience is bullet proof- if ever. Dogs with nerve issues that are bite trained are often a time bomb.
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Old 03-04-2010, 05:50 PM
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I so agree with the above posters. I'm making a guess this girl has or is czech lines?

I have a 1/2 slovakian(czech)/ddr/czech girl who is almost 2. I have always had ddr dogs and a previous one had some czech in her.

I love this dog to death) but she is not for the faint of heart. Mine has a high defense drive (which I was aware of) at this age, she is just starting to mature mentally I would say.

Suffice it to say, she had some negative puppy experiences which turned on that defense drive in a negative way to soon for her to handle mentally. I had to stop/go back to the beginning and work on undoing the damage done.

Disregarding obedience is a big mistake in my opinion, and as one poster put it, if you've got a nerve bag, schutzhund would be the last thing I'd be getting into with this dog at this point.

Having bit two people is NOT a good thing. Mine, even on her worst day, never ever attempted to bite anyone. Mine is not a fan of strangers in public, but minds her own business and would prefer to be left alone. She does NOT back off from anything, but she is not confrontational either, she will however defend herself (say a dog charged her)

If the dog is czech lines, they can be rather different than straight east german /west german working dogs. They were bred for border patrol so I believe that they tend to be more suspicious and defensive than other lines.

Anyhow, I would suggest to your friend, to go back to the basics, forget the schutzhund, and find a good behaviorist, if you can't live with a dog and be safe with it in public, than your setting yourself up for a good lawsuit..
Just MHO.
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:10 PM
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Nice post Diane!
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:22 PM
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Okay so she's corrected me. She didn't neglect it due to order of training, she has just moved cross country with 4 dogs (it was a sudden having to move too, circumstances beyond control) and it's taken a long time to get things going back to normal plus she moved somewhere snowy and the training club hasn't got started up again yet. She knows she's left it and regrets it, but the dog hasn't been started on bitework really. Just a little bit on the rag and she's starting to do more OB now that things have calmed down and the snow is starting to go away so she has more space to do it. She's also not done any bitework or sport for the past at least 4 months, mostly just hikes and walks/runs.

The daughter lives with them, she's an adult (20s i believe). The bite happened when my friend was out, the dog was crated and then the daughter took the dog out when explicitly told not to when my friend isn't home. It came to the stranger then BAM bite.

This has started to come up after the move across the country.

She's not going to bother doing Schultzhund now with the dog, she understands that she doesn't know how to handle her properly let alone in dog sports. She's going back to the basics and is going to get in touch with the local dog sport club when she can to see if she can get help with this.

Thanks for the replies, she says she sees alot of insight into it now and agrees with much said.
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:20 AM
Jynx Jynx is offline
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I think she's doing the right thing, When I went "back" to the basics, Masi was then around 6months old, and I have let her be a "dog" vs push certain situations on her.

She's almost two, her mentality is catching up with her and she's seeing the world quite diffferently than when she was younger (in a good way!)

I'm not surprised at the bite you describe above, she was on her territory and a stranger can be scarey /intimidating to a any dog. Altho, mine even with a high defense drive/suspicious nature,,will let an axe murderer in my home and act like they are long lost friends) (which I don't mind at all!)

Moving can also be stressful for any dog, settling in, not getting enough one on one time..

Good luck to your friend and hope things work out..These are amazingly SMART dogs, and handled the right way can do amazing things..

Thanks Dan !
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