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Why is my GSD doing this?

(20 Posts)
DizzyDummy Fri 23-Sep-11 00:37:42

We recently got a rescue GSD who is lovely in most way but every now and then for no apparent reason he will attack one of the other dogs and not just a warning to them but a full blown attack. When it happens it is not over food or toys it just seems as if a switch goes in his head and he goes into attack mode. Is it worth getting a behaviourist (sp?) in, has anyone else had this problem and what did you do to resolve it? Any help would be really appreciated, thank you.

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 01:15:08

There may be several issues here. One - do these attacks have any particular pattern (same dog, dogs of the same breed, same places, etc)? Maybe it is an unpleasant experience from the past. Is this a result of poor socialisation? You have to play a detective here and break the pattern, but using kind methods - those are the most effective and long lasting. Also, sounds like he was prevented (punished?) for showing the signs of being upset (low growling, showing teeth, etc), so he skips this (warning) stage. Sorry I am a bit tired now, but will try to write more tomorrow in the day time. Definitely get professional support (and please NOT Cesar Milan admirer!!). It is a very serious issue and your dog may end up in deep deep trouble if he causes enough damage to another animal, let alone to a human. Well done for trying to resolve it rather than dismissing it.

DizzyDummy Fri 23-Sep-11 10:46:09

bemybebe thank you so much for responding, yes, now you mention it he does skip the showing teeth, low growling and just goes straight for the attack which means we are constantly on edge when he is around our other dogs, 95% of the time he is fine with them but we are on constant alert for the other 5%. We got him a couple of months ago when he was around 1 from a rescue centre. We never let him off the lead near other dogs when we are out as he just wants to fight. A friend of ours was in the garden recently and jokingly held out his arm whilst running away and our GSD launched at the arm in the way police dogs do, thankfully our friend had a thick jumper on and quite frankly it was a stupid thing to do near a new dog but it does make me wonder whether he is a police dog reject, is that possible? What do the police normally do with their rejects? Otherwise he is a lovely dog who never shows any sign of aggression towards people (aside from our stupid friend!).

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 11:43:30

Where did you get him Dizzy? A good rescue would have evaluated him and give you advice about training, behavior, etc. If, indeed, he was a "reject" of some programme they should/would have known it and warned you about it. The fact that he can attack a human is very worrying even if the dog was provoked (it was your friend who was so utterly stupid as to carry out his prank).

Here are a few links and
Whoever you choose please please please make sure that they are using kind methods. Not only it will help you to resolve the problem rather than mask it under the layers of further fear, you will get a true trusty companion. It will require some work, but there is also fun in working with your dog.

I can also thoroughly recommend looking for a good dog forums (sorry MN) just because there is infinitely more information. is very good and they have a lot of good professional behaviourists/trainers/breeders posting there. I am sure there is something for specifically GSD, but it is a good start, plus there are a lot of people with LabX or even different breeds posting there. No sweat.

I had GSD once, he was absolutely adorable! Good luck with yours!

SparklyCloud Fri 23-Sep-11 11:44:56

Could it be jealousy? Is one of your other dogs near you, or members of the family, when he goes for them?

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 11:53:44

Ah, forgot to mention - I do not think he is a "police training reject" just basis the chasing and launching incident. It is actually a pretty normal dog behaviour and some trainers use this urge to chase when training a dog to return to the owner...

Catsmamma Fri 23-Sep-11 12:01:22

one of our gsds will grab arms....they are both ex guide dog trainees. We had them from pups, and know them inside out

I think it is something they do...Keller does it to the children if they run away from him! (children are teens and should know better!!)

It does sound as if your boy does have a few issues that need work though.

DizzyDummy Fri 23-Sep-11 16:05:25

Thanks for all the advice. He came from a reputable GSD rescue who said he was dog friendly and to be fair in the first few weeks he was OK, just when he got his feet (or paws!) under the table he started acting in this way, I'm not sure if it is jealousy as the attacks are random and can be when the dogs are away from us, toys or food. Never had a dog, GSD or otherwise, that attacks without cause or prior warning such as growling.

Will look on the suggested forums and see if there are any behaviourists in this area. Thank you all again.

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 16:17:38

good luck!!!

Rhinestone Fri 23-Sep-11 20:59:41

You should also get him checked out by your vet to rule out a physiological reason. But if the vet gives the all clear then definitely get a behaviorist but do avoid any who talk about dominance / pack theory or who seem to be fans of that utter fucking cunt celebrity dog trainer Cesar Milan.

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 21:31:26

Rhinestone is absolutely right, sorry I should have mentioned the vet, this is the first place for you to go. Any behaviourist that is worth anything will tell you to go to the vet first also.

DizzyDummy Fri 23-Sep-11 21:46:08

Thanks for those posts, I have taken him to the vets and they say he is fine, huge fans of his actually as when he is good he is lovely. Don't know much about Cesar Milan but alot of people I talk about GSD's do advocate the 'pack theory' as they are quite dominant dogs, is this wrong then? (not asserted this theory though)

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 23:56:41

pack theory will tell you that dogs are basically domesticated wolves, it was particularly popular in the 60s. since then plenty of research was done to prove it not to be the case. Cesar Millan (Dog whisper) photogenic charms on tv worked a treat to revive this theory. it is considered wrong and even harmful by many in the field, who adopt reward-based approach to training. i will try to link something tomorrow

bemybebe Fri 23-Sep-11 23:58:57

just something quick before i come back tomorrow

DizzyDummy Sat 24-Sep-11 19:18:48

Thanks for that link bemybebe, very interesting.

daisydotandgertie Sat 24-Sep-11 22:09:35

I'd suggest going back to talk to the rescue - I'd expect a good breed rescue society will have resources available to help you solve this and will actively want to solve the problem. It's worth a try.

DizzyDummy Sat 24-Sep-11 23:29:49

daisy I did consider going back to the rescue but I am worried they may insist on taking him back which is NOT what I want at all, he is part of the family now. I am going to contact a behaviourist as recommended.

bemybebe Sat 24-Sep-11 23:58:45

This is dog is your dog now, they have signed over the ownership I suspect, so they cannot 'insist' on anything, only suggest. At least ask them for a recommendation, they may have someone really good local to you and, since they are a charity, maybe at a reduced rate. I really hope they give you support, especially since good homes are so difficult to come by. I do not know of course but I believe it is worth a try.

I was hoping to find a link to the website that discusses modern training techniques and explains why dominance/pack theory is flawed. I cannot find it (i even posted it once to somebody else's thread). I will keep looking. Meanwhile I came across this one,

bemybebe Sun 25-Sep-11 00:01:03

If you are somewhere close to Chertsey in Surrey, it is worth giving The Company of Animals a call. I took my dog to classes there and the trainers are superb.

daisydotandgertie Sun 25-Sep-11 08:38:53

But he's now your dog. They can't insist on taking him away - you've taken ownership of him I presume.

And you say they're a reputable rescue - they'll more likely be relieved to work with you to fix the problem and pleased with their decision to place him with you in the first place. No-one could ask for more commitment to responsible and loving dog ownership than you're showing; asking for help when you come up with a problem you can't solve is admirable.

And it happens all the time, no matter how experienced a dog owner you are. I happily ask for help training my girls when I can't work out how to make them 'get' a new thing - or when trying to iron out a deep seated fault. A change of approach is often just what they need.

No matter what you choose to do - he's lucky to have you.

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