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GSD -who's the alfa?

2bigdogs
June 27th, 2007, 08:49 AM
Hello everyone,
We have a 2 yr old GSD...up untill this morning he has never challenged our position as 'leader' of the pack. Here's what happed:

My husband sees GSD bullying ( putting his open mouth over our other dog).
Husband jumps up and gets in between both dogs and reprimands GSD. GSD growls at my husband with his fur standing up on his back...husband directs GSD to 'LIE DOWN' ...GSD continues to growl and refuses to lie down. After a minute husband directs GSD to the quiet area ( a positive time out area thats gated..we use it like you would a crate) GSD goes to the quiet area and lies down but is still growling at my husband and 'staring him down' . After a couple of tense minutes GSD looks away. We then ignore GSD...for the next 30 mins or so ...he acts strange...we let him out and he just slinks around the back yard...I go out an thow a ball , nothing...he just sits there..looks strange..

* sigh* I'm scared now b/c I've never seen him behave this way. We have a call in to an excellent dog professional who we hope can help us...Our GSD is 105lbs and we have children at home...I'm nervous. I've asked them to not engage him in any way..to just let him be for now. I talked to our vet this morning and she told us that we should NOT got in between the dogs , that the oldre dogs doesn't need defending, he knows hes not the alfa....that we should respect GSD'd position....my question is...How do we make sure that GSD doesn't think he's 'above ' us? How should we handle this in the future...
Any suggestions or info would be greatly appriciated...
Thanks

lilmegshepherds
June 27th, 2007, 01:26 PM
Hello everyone,
We have a 2 yr old GSD...up untill this morning he has never challenged our position as 'leader' of the pack. Here's what happed:

My husband sees GSD bullying ( putting his open mouth over our other dog).
Husband jumps up and gets in between both dogs and reprimands GSD. GSD growls at my husband with his fur standing up on his back...husband directs GSD to 'LIE DOWN' ...GSD continues to growl and refuses to lie down.

Had this been my dog he would have had a leash snapped on his collar and he would have been assisted into the down position. By stepping on the leash. Then rewarded for the down. GSD's are extremely smart and yours now has learned...growl, put hair up and I do not have to listen.

After a minute husband directs GSD to the quiet area ( a positive time out area thats gated..we use it like you would a crate) GSD goes to the quiet area and lies down but is still growling at my husband and 'staring him down' . After a couple of tense minutes GSD looks away.

When he looked away a reward should have been given...Good Boy and at that time the lesson was learned.

We then ignore GSD...for the next 30 mins or so ...he acts strange...we let him out and he just slinks around the back yard...I go out an thow a ball , nothing...he just sits there..looks strange..

He knows you are mad at him but he has not established why. Ignoring him for 30 minutes is not something he would understand as punishment. He has no idea why you did that. He is not playing ball because he is not sure what you want from him now.

* sigh* I'm scared now b/c I've never seen him behave this way. We have a call in to an excellent dog professional who we hope can help us...Our GSD is 105lbs and we have children at home...I'm nervous. I've asked them to not engage him in any way..to just let him be for now.


Excellent a trainer will be able to offer you hands on assistance.

I talked to our vet this morning and she told us that we should NOT got in between the dogs , that the oldre dogs doesn't need defending, he knows hes not the alfa....that we should respect GSD'd position..


Exactly between the dogs. They know where they belong in the pack order and nothing you do will change that. Live with it; as long as they are not hurting each other.

..my question is...How do we make sure that GSD doesn't think he's 'above ' us?


Easy as pie and a daily thing

1} Never free feed a GSD. He is fed once or twice a day and he has 10-15 mintues to eat.
Make sure you call him to you; give him the sit stay command and then place his food on the floor. Give him a release command so he knows he is allowed to go and eat. We use OK!
Alpha controls the food in everyway.

2} Never allow GSD to pass through a door way or hall way before you. Alpha leads the pack on the hunt and alpha passes through all narrow spaces first.

3} Never allow GSD on the furniture! This places him on your level.

4} Never allow GSD to see you cleaning up! Sub Ordients of the pack are responsible for cleaning the den.

When you as for a command you ask once and expect it to be follow.

Never give any command you do not intend to follow through on!


How should we handle this in the future...
Any suggestions or info would be greatly appriciated...
Thanks


If this happens again; leave the dogs alone to work it out.

If your hubby ever gives the down command again or any command and it is ignored.....snap a leash on to the dog and do some obedience work. Ensure all commands that the dog knows are followed.

Take 5-10 minutes out of your day each day and do some basic obedience training.

Raising, training working GSD's this is common and we deal with it almost daily. It is not a hard thing to do!

Duchess
June 27th, 2007, 02:12 PM
The fact that your dog was growling, hackling, staring down, slinking around the yard and sitting, acting strange, are big red flags to me. I would take him for a vet check if this is new behaviour and describe it in detail. Sitting in the yard, staring, and ignoring a ball if he normally goes after it doesn't sound quite right.
In terms of how he interacts with your other dog, letting them work it out is in my opinion a good way to wind up with a hefty vet bill. I think your husband was right to stop the bullying and keeping a drag line on your GSD will give you some control without having to reach in between dogs and grab collars, and will help reinforce commands.

~michelle~
June 27th, 2007, 02:19 PM
a vet visit is definately in order.

Dog Dancer
June 27th, 2007, 06:16 PM
Lilmeg seems to have some really good advice. I know it's hard not to step in when the dogs are working it out, but sometimes they need to do that. It's especially hard when a younger one wants to move up in the pack. It's hard to watch the senior get taken down a notch, but for them it's all part of life in the pack. I agree I would put a line on the GSD so that if things got way out of hand you could grab on and snap it to bring in some control. A vet visit also would not be a bad thing just to rule out anything abnormal (ear infections or such). A behaviorist is excellent - go with that as well. But I agree with Lilmeg that you need to step up the daily reinforcements of Alpha status. NILF - nothing in life is free. Make the GSD earn it all, even the tummy rubs.

pags
June 27th, 2007, 06:49 PM
I have to agree with the advice given so far... (Excellent advice) And in particular a somewhat inbetween approach as far as interfering with the dogs' pack interaction. Like Dog Dancer said -- it's a good idea to let them work it out.. but also having a line on them to have some control over totally over-the-top behavior is excellent. We kept our new dog on a lead around Judge for just this reason until we were able to stop over-zealous shenanigans with a verbal "STOP".

And by the way -- It was a little traumatic to see our older dog getting moved down the pack ladder by our little upstart puppy!!! But it IS best to let them work it out... We may judge pack order by birthright (or seniority) but this isn't necessarily how it works in the dog world. The thing that remains woefully important is for you to remain alpha to both dogs. Good luck!!

Oops -- I meant to mention this (I'm feeling scatterbrained all of a sudden)... When we raised and worked with GSDs.. our trainer told us that interfering in lower pack affairs was basically challenging a dog for a position that SHOULD BE unimportant to us... which would totally shake up pack order. Example: Dog A is 'bullying' Dog B for dominance.... Human A (Alpha!!) interferes by reprimanding Dog A only ... Dog A takes this as a challenge for position over Dog B... Which is actually kinda weird for Alpha to do since he's already Alpha... Therefore Dog A sees the position of Alpha open for challenge.

Hope that makes sense!

BMDLuver
June 27th, 2007, 06:51 PM
Personally, when I have two dogs going at it here, I leave it be.. the only time I intervene is if one is about to get hurt. They have to establish pack order amongst themselves without interference.

Lilmeg has excellent advice on the rest. I concur that the 30 minute time out was to no avail as the dog no longer had a clue what it was for.

mona_b
June 28th, 2007, 10:56 AM
I honestly don't think he was trying to be "alpha"

Sounds to me that Bucky was playing.And yes this is how they play at times.Dogs do put their mouths on others when playing.Mine always did this.

Unless you hear yelping or crying,let them be.If Bucky gets a little rough,then end it by telling him "enough"..I did this with my guys.And I raised 2-3 month old GSD's,so there was alot of rough housing...LOL...And this is how my current GSD and my brothers partner(GSD) play.If it gets out of hand,then all we say is "enough" and it stops.

This is the first time this is happened right?..So something triggered his actions.My opinion is that hubby shouldn't have jumped up and gotten in between.I think if anything,Bucky may have been startled and was not trying to be alpha.

IF this happens again,tell hubby not to get in the middle.And if he wants the "play" to end,then just give the "enough" command..Then have them both lay down.And praise them both when they do.

I have raised GSD's for 23 years.And I did all the training.They are a very smart breed.And I'm with this breed at work also.And you should see them play.LOL

Spirit
June 28th, 2007, 11:07 AM
I agree with Mona. It definitely sounds like your dog wasn't doing anything wrong, and doesn't understand why it's owner got angry with him. Situations like this, esp with GSD's (a dominant breed), can cause the dog to see instability in it's pack leader (getting angry for no reason), and can sometimes lead to said dog trying to take over the role, if not fear them (hence the sulking).

GSD's (as already stated) are a very smart breed. Your dog knew what he was doing, I'm sure... and that was to protect against possible danger (owner suddenly, with no reason that the dog can see, stood up and got angry). Submissive dogs would sulk away in fear. Dominant ones would challenge back, or stand their ground. Yours definitely sounds confused as to what just happened.

2bigdogs
July 9th, 2007, 03:25 PM
Hello everyone,
I just want to thank you all for the advice and support you've given me. thanks for taking the time to reply.. I'm happy to say that Bucky seems to be his old self again...the advice given makes alot of sense...
We have been letting the dogs be...even though it can be difficult to see an older dog move down the ranks..
I do control all food...he sits and waits for the 'ok' command to eat...then the bowl goes up..
The advice to never let him see you clean the house would be really difficult as we live in a very small house..
Bucky does sit on our couch...this was a mistake on our part when he was a puppy...is it too late to start saying no...he sleeps there at night, thinks its his bed..??
thanks again everyone,,,this is all new for me...I appreciate the help.

BMDLuver
July 9th, 2007, 06:05 PM
Personally, it's fine if he sleeps on the couch provided that's his bedtime spot. However, if someone else needs the couch, then Bucky must get on the floor to defer to the rest of the pack, meaning the humans. Make sense?

2bigdogs
July 10th, 2007, 07:40 AM
Hey BMD...yes, that sounds right to me...
We don't hesitate to tell him to get down if we need to...and he does...no problem..* sigh* there is a lot to learn and figure out ...