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Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

Posted by shannon01 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 1, 09 at 2:39

Our german shephard is 11 mo. He has always been mouthy. He loves to gnaw on bones. We tried training him to kiss, or lick, instead of gnawing on us. He is not actually biting us, more gnawing us. It is not agressive snapping, more nipping at our sides as he passes buy.

He has a really high prey drive which is hereditary in german, german shephards, more than the americans. Our siamese and him have been raised together and she loves him but he mauls her. They love to go under the table and play. She in the chair hissing and hitting at him, he with his mouth open trying to lick and put her head in his mouth. We supervise this play because he is a large dog. She literally looks for him so he can catch her. But he is big and having more than 80lbs run down the hall or down the stairs after her is a bit much. So we say No Kitty and monitor the time together.

He has done really well with training and actually did a down stay for 20 minutes while dh drove away with others in class. But in our culdesac he stays and when dh goes back to get him, he bolts and takes off like crazy. He will do a down but again, just as you approach he bolts. Or if he is commanded to come he will come just up to you, lay down and then bolt as you step forward to stand beside him.

We do not allow him on furniture and he likes to take his chew bone and chew on it while he sets it on sofa next to whomever is sitting there. He wants us to hold it while he chews on it.

He is still a pup and has a long way to go. He loves the agility part of class and we hope to do more.

So lately he has regressed and we are wondering if it is time to snip his boys. We want to make sure his growth plates are formed as our first shephard had horrible panostiitis (sp?). We were warned that Germans do not fix their dogs and just learn to control them. Well we are not in germany and do not plan to breed him or show him so a snipping we may one day go.

He went through a phase where when I tried to correct him, he wears pinch collar with long leash so we can correct him if he takes off or is caught on the sofa, etc, he would growl/bear teeth and act like he was going to bite. I guess he sensed my fear because I finally shoved my hand into his mouth and told him to go ahead and bite me. He barely, very slowly clamped down but stopped once his teeth actually touched my skin. Not a mark left on me.

So now when we reach for leash to correct him he is no longer growly. But he started to really behave so we did not have to correct so much.

But now he trots past us and nibbles at us. He tries to nip our heels when going up or down the stairs. When we try to switch from pinch to say choke or regular collar, he gets mouthy and really wiggly.

He has never liked hands to go over his head, most dogs don't like that so it is no biggy. I always praise him by comeing alongside him and reaching down to pet chest. He likes that.

He definitly sees dh as alpha but we are wondering if he is starting to challenge that because of this recent behavior. The other day dh said it was time to go outside and workout with him. He asked pup to heal. Pup came around dh, nipping at dh's hip and started jumping up and down and pawing at dh. It was really out of control. Once outside and doing his routine with him, pup did all the commands just right and calmed down.

So anyone out there wonder if this is just his trying to dominate us all again, he is doing this stuff with all of us. Does anyone think it is just time to snip off the testosterone? We know he is still a pup and has a LONG way to being a real dog. But we also want to make sure we are not letting him go bad when he really is a great dog.

He is home during day alone outside in nice big area. Neighbor dog and him get along just fine throught the fence. Kids play with him and have him inside when they get home. Then we come home and are all together. DD takes him for nightly walks, I take him every morning and dh works him nightly. We know he gets lots of our time.

Any ideas? He can be so good and follow commands for his age and drive. But then he just is all over the place and nipping at us.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

The following advice only pertains to aggressive or dominant dogs, not all dogs.

Know why many dogs don't like hands over their heads?

That is dominant behavior. Petting on the chest is actually submissive behavior. Ever see how wild dogs greet an alpha---they crouch---and get lower than the alpha.

It is fairly normal for young dogs to test the pack order---gender makes less difference than attitude.

It is very difficult to raise many dogs as single family pets. Reason being that dogs are pack animals and it is inbred for them to be a part of a society. Put them alone and that instinct has no use, so it gets misused.

Many people train their dogs and expect that training to take care of all the problems. Not gonna happen. An active dog has to expend the energy---HAS TO expend the energy. Working dogs were bred to work, hunting dogs bred to hunt---and so on.

If we as owners do not provide suitable pack communities and necessary work or work substitution activities, our dogs will develop problems.

I rescued a GSD/chow mix. He was super aggressive and uncontrollable---at least by the very nice family who got him as a puppy. He is so alpha, I let him pick his pack mate---our second dog. Because one dog in a family is not a pack.

For the first three weeks I had him, if I had touched him as I made corrections, he would have bitten me. Most people say that is unacceptable. I feel it is natural---given his lack of discipline before.

He is now well behaved---but still very alpha. If I allow him certain liberties---such as getting on the bed---he regresses a bit and gets dominant.

Why? Because that is his nature. He is wired to be that way. We let him pick his pack mate---because he was alone and had no other dog to be alpha over. That was causing behavior problems. Since adding the second dog, his behavior is back to normal.

Your dog needs the pack order. He needs daily exercise. He needs set rules that never get broken without swift consequences. The training helps establish leadership, but is just the beginning. You and your DH will have to be pack leaders first. You do not have a dog you can cuddle with before the fire. You can cuddle---but you have to cuddle as the dominant leader---scratching rapidly on the top/side of the head, for instance. The dog has to stay physically below you---not on the couch beside you.

I spent so much time being the alpha to Max in order to rehabilitate him, I had no connection other than training. Once his behavior became more predictable, we bonded.

He comes to me daily for the head scratch---his sign I am dominant and he accepts that. But---if I slip and allow him to be equal---you can see the change in his attitude quickly. We play---keep away is his favorite. He dares me to take the tennis ball. I allow him that game---but he is aware any time I decide to take the ball---he obeys.

Oh, Max is still whole. Unneutered. Complete. Why? Guard/protection dog. The community in which we used to live was such it was a good idea to have a dog like that. Max is actually the third guard dog I have had. All males and all unneutered.

You cam clip yours, but do not expect that to make much of a difference in his attitude/behavior.


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

"Oh, Max is still whole. Unneutered. Complete. Why? Guard/protection dog."

"You cam clip yours, but do not expect that to make much of a difference in his attitude/behavior."

So which is it?

Shannon, I have very limited experience with German Shepherds-
I once rescued a puppy (I'm guessing it had been dognapped & then abandoned) & I finally gave her to a family who had just lost their old GS because I faced the same daily challenges you're talking about.

Every morning I had to get up & look that puppy in the eye & stare at her until she looked away, & every time we were in the same place at the same time, I had to pay careful attention to where she was & what she was up to & I had to be ready to bare my figurative teeth to get her back in line.

Since I'm more of a Lab/Golden/slobber-face-dog kind of person...my life was miserable!

Summer's new family taught her to sit/stay while I was sitting in their swing, they took her for the week-end "on approval", & they called back Sunday to say they were thrilled, they loved her, etc.

(& they changed her name to Sylvia...)

If I were in your boots, I'd check with a knowledgeable vet &, if his age & growth plates & whatnot don't present a problem, I'd have the little toot neutered right away-

can't hurt, might help, & he can run faster without 'em anyway.

I wish you the very best.



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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

My point was that neutering does not always make much of a difference in behavior.

Being alpha---or pack leader---effectively does make a difference.

The female he picked and we adopted is neutered. Neutering is a good idea for controlling the number of unwanted animals. But, neutering just to make a difference in a dogs behavior is not always effective.


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

I have to question how much exercise this dog is getting. No mention of it in the OP, not only does the dog NEED to be fixed, but it sounds alot like from his behavior this dog is bored out of his skull. Can ou give information on his daily routine???


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

From the OP re exercise:

"He is home during day alone outside in nice big area. Neighbor dog and him get along just fine throught the fence. Kids play with him and have him inside when they get home. Then we come home and are all together. DD takes him for nightly walks, I take him every morning and dh works him nightly. We know he gets lots of our time. "


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

OH DEAR! BE AFRAID FOR YOUR CAT! I had a young (about 1 yr) Chow mix and a lab mix also a beautiful white cat. They all slept together and played. Never a growl, the cat would rub up against the dogs. The dogs would play pretty rough at times. I left one morning and all 3 were sleeping on the bed. When I cam home several hours later the cat was dead in the middle of the floor. Not a mark on him. I am sure the dogs started playing and the cat got involved.It must have been a quick grab and toss, obviously the cat had not felt threatened or tried to run under the bed. I believe he had a snaped neck. The dogs were not right when I got home, I could tell something was wrong. I know they did not mean to do this. Please be careful!


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

The dog needs more exercise time. And the time needs to be other than the same routine. The dog is bored.


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

My first reaction on reading your post was the fear your big dog might accidentally injure your cat. Please consider Lisa1310's heartbreaking story.

I do believe your dog has reached full size now, so it should not affect the growth of his bones to have him neutered.

Neutering is healthier in many ways for your dog, lowering the risk of prostate problems and some common forms of cancer.

Whether or not it calms him down, he won't feel the urge to search for females in heat, which gives him less motivation to escape from your property.

Here is a link that might be useful: article on neutering


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

Thanks for the replies.

I do realize that neutering will not guarantee anything but figure it is worth a try to see. We discussed behavior with unneutered males and in Germany they simply manage their dogs, same with females. We thought we would see how it goes. We have also discussed the cancer issue with many knowledgeable dog folks. Just like with anything there is lots of ideas about this, the cancer risk, the need for hormones during growing, etc. We hoped to get past full growth and neuter away.

I hope my post did not come across as him being agressive, he is best described as dominate, or trying to be. DH has definitely established self as alpha. I come second. Our 8yr ds quickly established himself as next. Our 12yr dd was slower to come around. Pup was over her for a while until she established herself. It was amazing to see her win her place above him.

I watched this new behavior last night. My dh was away for an overnighter and pup was so good for me. Not annoying, no dominating behavior at all. Soon as dh returned he started acting out. When dh was asleep on sofa he kept trying to get up with him. When corrected he started biting at leash and it actually looked like pup was trying to keep dh from getting ahold enough to "yank". Nose curled, teeth bared, little growly noises and gnawing but nothing one would consider something to fear. We remembered the breeder working with him and he would do this to her, when he was first training. He quickly responded to correction and her display of being alpha. So dh corrected and commanded and pup calmed down. I could see as an observer that this was clearly him trying my dh's patience and ability to be alpha.

As for kitty. All play is supervised. Baby gate at stairs provides ability for her to be away from him when she needs to be. He is not allowed to just roam the house and go after him. We are working on him staying and ignoring her when she comes down. Problem is she wants to play with him so she taunts him. Just now, he is in kennel beside me so I can type. She just came out of room and he sees her. If I let him go he would pounce after her and she would get undersomething just enough for him to be able to sniff her and she could play fight with him.

I do recongnize that he is a carnivor, a dog with a high prey drive. I would be a fool to not take responsible actions with them. They have been together since 3mo each and the relationship has grown a lot. But it has a long way to go.

When we are out and about he is great. He does not bark or react to other cats or dogs at all. He looks of course but does not go crazy. Went to friends house to drop something off. He stayed in a down stay, on leash, and even when friend talked to him he just stayed there and wagged his tail. We actually have a few other shephards that walk near us. My dd had him and passed a couple with two dogs. They stopped to chat and mine simply sat next to her and the other dogs, well trained, stood wagging. When we walk past people who are walking he turns a bit to sniff but stays on course. He does not jump up, well unless it is my daughter's one friend. He likes her in a strange way- lol.

As for boredom. Of course he gets bored. But we do work with him daily, he is with us when we are home, takes several walks a day, goes with dh in jeep when he runs errands. He goes on huge hikes a few times a month. He goes to classes weekly. We do not go to dog parks. I do have toys for him but wonder what else I can give him when he is outside by himself. He loves nylabones and has this big blue ball with a smaller rolling ball inside it. But there has to be some other things I can give him. He has three different kinds of chew toys out there and we change them up.

Any suggestions for toys to safely give him for outside?


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RE: Is it time to 'snip' the problem so to speak???

Please have him snipped ASAP after consulting with your vet. He is old enough, you are not showing him and don't want to use him for breeding. While it *may* not make much difference to his behavior it is the responsible thing to do. I'd also be worried about the kitty. Good advice above.

At 11 months he is still a baby and energetic. It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things.

You said:
"But we do work with him daily, he is with us when we are home, takes several walks a day, goes with dh in jeep when he runs errands. He goes on huge hikes a few times a month. He goes to classes weekly. We do not go to dog parks. I do have toys for him but wonder what else I can give him when he is outside by himself. He loves nylabones and has this big blue ball with a smaller rolling ball inside it. But there has to be some other things I can give him. He has three different kinds of chew toys out there and we change them up.

Any suggestions for toys to safely give him for outside?"

I'd be out there playing with him -- my dogs are never unsupervised in the yard, but I'm weird like that ;-)-- try fetch with a ball and frisbee. Train tricks, you say he is in classes, have you tried agility and rally-o? He sounds a lot of fun to work and play with.

For indoors, Kong toys can give hours of occupation, especially if you add low-fat cream cheese, banana, or peanut butter with a little of his regular dry food (use part of breakfast) and freeze them.

Good luck.


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