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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19467
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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MY 7 YEAR OLD NUTERED MALE GSD LURCHES TOWARDS OTHER DOGS AND

Resolved Question:

MY 7 YEAR OLD NUTERED MALE GSD LURCHES TOWARDS OTHER DOGS AND BARKS VERY AGGRESSIVELY. HE IS VERY STRONG AND I AM AFRAID HE WILL PULL ME OVER. WE USE A HALTI AND A NORMAL COLLAR. THIS IS HIS ONLY FAULT AS HE IS A VERY SWEET NATURED DOG AND VERY OBEDIENT. HE IS USED TO MEETING STRANGERS AND NEVER DISPLAYS ANY AGGRESSION. IT IS JUST WHEN WE ARE OUT ON OUR WALKS. HE GETS A GOOD WALK EVERY DAY. WE ALSO HAVE A FEMALE SPAYED 8 YEAR OLD GSD, WHO IS THE DOMINANT ONE, BUT THEY ARE WALKED SEPERATELY.

HOW CAN WE STOP HIM ALMOST DRAGGING US OFF OUR FEET?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
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My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
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In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
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What obedience training has your boy had?
If he has had training was it through a private trainer, group or owner taught?
How long has he exhibited this behavior?
Does he pull at other times when on the leash?
Does he always pull on the leash and walk ahead of you?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

answer 1


I purchased him as a 10 week old puppy and joined the kennel club good citizen classes which I took him to from being 12 weeks old. He then joined the weekly bronze, silver, then gold kennel club obedience classes and sailed through. He was socialised from a very young age.


 


answer 2


It was a group based class, aimed at each of the dogs levels of obedience.


 


answer 3


He started 'lurching' towards other dogs, in an aggressive manner, about 6 months ago.


 


answer 4


No, he does not pull at other times when on the lead.


 


answer 5


He walks by my side, maybe a head and shoulders length ahead but does not pull.


 


 


 

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Christine,

thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. The first thing I would do is not use the halti but change to the harness with the leash clip on the chest. It achieves the same purpose of pulling the dog back around toward you when they pull without putting pressure on a dog's neck. Neck injuries have occurred with the head collars.

The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. Since he just started this behavior as an adult, a medical cause is a good possibility. You can read about these here:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx
. http://www.apdt.com/veterinary/assets/pdf/Dodman_MA10.pdf

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

If there is no medical cause for the aggression such as pain or hypothyroidism, then it is strictly behavioral. In that case, there would need to be changes made in order to bring this dog under control. Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of other dogs and thus are aggressive before the other dog can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the other dogs and be the alpha member of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs).

In this case, it may be that he is now older and not as secure in his ability to protect himself or you and thus attempts to keep the other dog away by lunging and barking.
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In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry and feels that he is justified in his aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the dog. They don't know you are worried about them attacking, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the other dog. Since you are crossing the street, this is probably a contributing factor as well.
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There are some things that will make you more comfortable such as the harness (though you already have a head halti) and you might add a muzzle to ensure that he can not bite if an altercation should occur. It will keep you more relaxed. If the female is the alpha, walking him with her might also stop the behavior since it would be her job to protect him which would make him feel more comfortable on the walk.
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You will need to start back up formal obedience training or at least do some daily practice. This will help him gain more confidence in your ability to protect him as well. If you are not already practicing the NILF program, I would start making your dogs work via the Nothing in life is free program. It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

Obedience training serves various purposes which I'm sure you know. It helps their self confidence and helps them see you as the boss. And since it is the leader or boss who is responsible for protecting the pack, if the dog is made submissive with training, you are responsible for protecting him, so that can reduce aggression due to fear and dominance.

Dogs love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Using these to keep his attention on you can help reduce his lunging as well.

It will be helpful if you can find someone with a dog to help you with training. It has to be a dog he reacts to. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see him fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug to get his attention and a firm low toned "NO". You do not want to give a treat when he shows aggression, but you can use it before then to keep his attention. It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if he ignores the other dog, he gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until he is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.
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Another method gaining popularity is called Bat training and may be something that could help in this situation. You can read about it here:
http://functionalrewards.com/BAT-basics.pdf
http://ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/bat/

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19467
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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