Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's Breed Got To Do With It?

Yesterday I did a behavior consult for a lady with a five month old German Sheppard Dog female puppy. The lady had taken her to another place for training where the puppy was labeled aggressive. She said that she was told to take her puppy to the far end of a store parking lot. There she was to reward the dog with treats when the pup focused on the her instead of barking at the activity by the door. She and her dog could return to class when the pup could focus on her reliably.

Ok, fine; that could take a long time without help and guidance. Dogs need to experience something when they are young if they are to be comfortable with it when they are older. A puppy that does not play with other dogs will not be as comfortable with other dogs when grown; unless great steps are taken to re-write write over that dog’s program.

This is actually a very lovely puppy, who is just being what she was bred to be. The GSD believes in intellectual superiority, theirs! I love the way first night students arrive with their GSD puppy or adult. A GSD announces, “GSD in the house.” Whether pup or adult it doesn’t matter. Unless trained they bark to inform.

Once you convince a GSD that you actually are smarter than they are, they can’t please you enough. All that attention is so flattering. I love working with them.

The dear lady was worried that her pup would never be able to play with other dogs. I allowed the young Shep, to sniff Klondyke, a ten year old Siberian Husky that has been coming to Carrvilla day care since he was six months of age. When I released her in the yard with the handsome old guy, Klondyke harrumphed her. To anthropomorphize, she looked like a little girl being corrected by grandpa. We watched her eyes as she learned manners from the wise old dog.

Next we did a leadership class. This taught her: A) she is not the leader; I am. B) Pay attention or one of us will get lost. This, as always, was so much fun. Humans always love to be the leader. When we are good leaders, the dog does not object. Who doesn’t love all that attention?

As my client enjoyed her dog’s attention, I decided it wasn’t enough to prove that she had just an untrained puppy, not a monster. I needed to show her that her puppy could get along with other females. Loose in the yard next to Carrvilla regular Roxie, the baby GSD yapped briefly. Perhaps she realized she wasn’t getting a reaction to her bluster. She then stood there just looking at the three year old lab. At this time I opened the gate allowing Roxie entry into the pup’s yard. The young dog’s ears went out to the side in a relaxed (non alert) position.

Puppies frequently become over exuberant, which seems to require them to sniff the older girl’s rear a tad too vigorously. You know what happens next: growl, possibly snap. The puppy girl backed off with Roxie’s growl. No snap required, yeah. This smart puppy learned to respect an older girl in one easy lesson.

That doesn’t mean she won’t get pushy with a younger or vulnerable pup. Youngsters who have been terrorized will frequently become k9 terrorists of the weak. If she gets the right experiences with good dogs, she can become a great day care dog.

The moral of the story is to be aware of breed tendencies before adjudicating a puppy aggressive. If this lady had squandered the dog’s puppyhood keeping her away from other dogs, adult inappropriate behavior is more likely to end in a fight.

This is a great puppy who learned a lot in an hour. I completely fell in love with her. Thanks for bringing her.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tricia:

    I can't thank you enough for the time you spent with us! You helped us SO much! I feel more confidence with her than I did before I came to see you, but, I realize we have a little ways to go. I look forward to signing up for classes with you.

    In another class I took her to, I somewhat feel my girl never had the chance to interact with other dogs once she reacted the way she did. They called her "reactive" and made me go behind a wall & get her calmed down to get her focused & reintroduce her to seeing the other dogs without reacting before they'd let her re-enter. She never had the chance. In surfing the internet, I've read this same complaint and that helps knowing other people have had similar experiences. While I know one wouldn't want a dog fight on their hands, it's kind of like applying for a job and not getting it because you have no experience, but, how does one get experience if no one gives them a chance.

    Regarding your writing......I think it's fabulous and I look forward to more of your posts!

    Thank you again sweet lady!