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  #1  
Old 08-11-2006, 06:14 PM
IliamnasQuest IliamnasQuest is offline
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Default What would YOU do?

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
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Old 08-11-2006, 06:36 PM
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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.
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Old 08-11-2006, 06:36 PM
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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.
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Old 08-11-2006, 06:43 PM
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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..
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Old 08-12-2006, 03:06 AM
IliamnasQuest IliamnasQuest is offline
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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
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Old 08-12-2006, 08:36 AM
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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!
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Old 08-12-2006, 08:40 AM
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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.

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?
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Old 08-12-2006, 09:02 AM
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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.
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Old 08-12-2006, 10:27 AM
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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.
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Old 08-12-2006, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanL
OK, now what did you do? Probably something super easy and sensible and nothing like what any of us have described!
That's what I'm thinking too!
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