What do you do when a German shepherd is so scary no one will come to the house?
What do you do with a German shepherd so scary no one will come to the house?
I have worked with many dogs in my 26 years of being a dog behaviourist that are scary, that will bite you, that are so confused and frustrated they believe if they make everyone go away, life will be quiet and calm.
Now that might not be the description of a biting dog you were expecting. One particular word was missing.
What was that word? Aggressive. or Dominant, ok that’s two words but it is still a surprise!
I don't believe in using those words to describe a biting dog. If a dog is appearing to defend itself, there is a reason. Not ill treatment in this case but endless attention from people as a puppy fuelled by big reactions from owners and that makes sufficient stress for the dog to not be able to cope.
Dogs usually go past their ability to cope when we go past ours as owners.
Just read that again.
Now read this:
It is usually the owners who push their dogs past their ability to cope.
Just read that again.
Excessive play, prolonged periods of excitement and play, rough play, wrestling, endless ball throwing, tug of war games are the most common ways we can push our dogs beyond their ability to cope and think clearly.
Yet these are the very things we are taught our dog loves doing so we must do them otherwise our dog will be bored, won't know we love them, won't be having any fun.
What if your dog is only doing these things because that is the only way he can get your attention, can get to spend time with you, can get you off your phone and realise he exists?
Dogs will do things they don't enjoy just to get their fix of you, just to get some attention, just to spend time with you.
That is a real shame because your dog would rather be with you and enjoy your company without having to resort to putting themselves through prolonged stress.
I know I am asking a lot, asking you to think differently, asking you to consider your dogs needs for what they actually are and not we have been conditioned to think they are.
I spend my professional time teaching people that their dog does not always enjoy being excited, wound up and on the go. These are the behaviours that can cause stress, frustration, resentment and these are the behaviours that can cause a dog to go so far beyond their ability to cope that they lash out is one final, desperate attempt to get you to stop, to get you to listen, to get you to consider their needs and feelings.
When a dog gets to this point, it is deemed to be out of control. Ask yourself this question, who has made your dog be out of control? Who has caused these levels of stress that your dog can't cope with.
Is your dog aggressive or just desperate to be listened to?
I know what my views are, I have no doubt yours will be different.
To change the behaviour, you have to change the dogs expectation of how people will behave and how much control over a situation they will have. You have to change how stressed and anxious the owners are and how they handle the dog around other people.
This was only my third visit to this dog and as you can see from the photographs, I am sitting not too far from the dog and the dog is relaxed and calm This is the first time I have been able to be in the same room as the dog and the dog be calm.
I have completely changed the owners behaviour and that of the family and we have stripped the behaviour back to its beginning and rebuilt it but this time based on trust and control, now the dog is starting to trust the owner is in control so the dog can be more relaxed.
Everyone is noticing the dog is getting calmer, the owners parents and parents in law now visit again because of the change in the dogs behaviour and are happy to be in the same room.
I got my client to not only take these photographs, but to video some of the session so they can show family and friends just how much better behaved the dog is becoming so family and friends are happy to come and visit.
There are two other dogs in the house as well and I have included them in the behavioural changes I have made with the owners so there is a much more level playing field and the dogs are treated much more equally and much more calmly and this is very evident and is helping with the German shepherd.
Our work continues so will the improvement.