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Help with DS behavior quirks

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michelle_renee
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Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Tue May 19, 2015 10:48 pm

Hello all!

I have a Dutch Shepherd/German Shepherd mix named Ember.
She is about 8 months old and around 55 pounds.
I took her to puppy classes starting when she was 10 weeks old over a period of 6 weeks at my local PetSmart.
There was one other dog in the class, a male Labradoodle. It took her that entire period to even begin to trust and try to play with him.
During the classes we were instructed to walk our dogs around the store and get them used to being around people and other dogs. She was fine around the people, and would even allow them to pet her at that time. If she saw another dog, typically her response was to growl and bark. She would stand very still and her tail would be straight up. If the dog tried to get close to her she would back up and continue to growl. I had one good experience with a Great Dane, though. I talked to the Great Dane's owner, and she had her dog lay down and Ember felt more comfortable with this, enough to get close and sniff. She was still jumpy but it wasn't nearly as bad as her experiences with hyper dogs trying to get in her face which resulted in her either trying to nip at their face or the other owner getting angry with me for not controlling my dog, which I was clearly trying to do. :?
When she does get frantic and barks at other dogs, I try to get her to sit down and will give her a treat when she does. Lately though, I have not been able to distract her from them at all. I have had to remove her from the situation because she now barks and tries to get to the other dogs, no matter what the other dogs are doing.
When I take her to the vet, she now growls at everyone she sees that isn't me or my mother. She has lunged at some of the assistants and bit one of them when they were trying to hold her still to look in her ears.
They have told me that when they take her to where she can't see me that she calms down considerably.

My main concern with this is her biting someone, or someones dog because they ventured too closely. I am not planning on trying to take her to dog parks or anything as she clearly doesn't want to get on with other dogs, which is fine, but I just wanted to see if anyone has any advice on how to get her to act more civilized when I have to take her around strange people or dogs.
She is generally fine if someone comes to the house, as long as they come inside. If they are outside, she will typically go up to them and bark wildly. I have found that if the other person will squat and talk to her calmly for a moment she will relax and go onto something new.
I'm wondering if it has something to do with her being on the leash, or if it has to do with me, or something else entirely.

She's such a sweet girl at home, I just want her to not act like a maniac in public!
I don't have any experience with this type of behavior so any help or tips would be greatly appreciated!

Edit: I've attached a couple photos of her, one with my Italian Greyhound that was a rare moment of my Greyhound tolerating her big little sister!
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Ember
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simbathedog1
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by simbathedog1 » Wed May 20, 2015 4:29 am

I'm certainly no expert but will give you my two cents worth! We got our DS from a shelter when he was about a year and have had somewhat similar experiences. From what we've learned i would suggest. ...
1. Don't reward the bad behavior with treats at the pet store. It will encourage it. Instead redirect her attention to you and calmly move away from the situation. Reward good behavior.
2. Don't force contact with dogs or strangers. Yes, get her familiar at a distance but watch her body language and let her have that space she needs to feel comfortable. Hopefully with time she will relax some.
3. However, don't expert her to act like a golden retriever. It's not her nature.
4. Get a basket style muzzle for vet trips. You can feed her kibble through the muzzle to distract her so she doesn't eat the vet. We've gone from full force "I'm going to kill the vet" attitude to most recent visit just a couple low growls even with 4 shots and a blood draw. But it's taken two years.
5. They are very intuitive. If she picks up on your feelings of uncertainty or skepticism about someone she will protect you.
6. Our guy seems to have fear aggression. Don't know if that's what's going on for you or not but help the dog feel confident. Do that by telling her exactly what to do. When we first got simba I had heard about how the DS is an independent thinker but I overlooked the fact that they THRIVE ON BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO. Uncertainly makes my guy wild. And positive reinforcement will get you a lot further than punishment .

Just my opinion. Like I said. .. I'm no dog expert but that's what we've learned from this journey.

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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Wed May 20, 2015 12:36 pm

Agreed. DS are independent thinkers and have very personalized personalities. However, they love to work. Working means someone is leading them. If not they'll go back to their roots of "protect something from everything". I would start off working on desensitizing her to other dogs. Work at a far enough distance that she's not reacting or stressed - however far that may be - and treat her every time she looks at a dog. Depending on resources you may want to use any friends with dogs and just have them pass back and forth. Work in small time increments. At first you'll be basically marking (are you familiar with marker training?) and rewarding the SECOND she lays eyes on the dog. Then you'll build up the time she must remain calm to get treated. Some will at this point start asking for a "look", which you can do if you prefer (I would suggest teaching and practicing the command at home first). When she's good with that, move a few feet closer, again staying where she's not reacting. Rinse and repeat. As you get within 10-5 feet I would be working with neutral dogs. Sometimes an overly excited dog sends them into "wtf" land or prey. As she proves she's fine with neutral dogs, rinse and repeat with other more excitable dogs, always working from most calm to crazy very slowly.

As for meeting dogs, look into circling in at an angle, having the other owner position their (again, preferably neutral dog) with butt facing her, or the dog laying down. Keep her calm throughout the process.

With all this make sure you're marking at the exact right second. The wrong timing can cement bad behavior. If she's going over board, stop and walk off. No treats. No begging to follow. Just turn and walk off and tell her no.

For people same process. Crouching, turning at an angle, not making eye contact all make the person smaller to the dog therefore less of a threat. I worked a lot with people ignoring my dog when we were out. No one was allowed to meet him and if they wanted to talk to me about him they hand to turn at an angle. He got the idea after a lot of exposure and treating for good behavior. He's still not fond of people, especially if he doesn't initiate contact, but he is tons better than he was. He rarely reacts and if he goes off a simple "no" or "it's fine" calms him.

The vet thing is totally protecting. Best thing is lots of happy visits and you remain calm, hand off the leash for her to get doted on by the staff. Tell them not be all sweet when she reacts. Some vet staff do the "oooooohhhh it's okay it's fine" and that isn't leading the dog. It's excusing the behavior. Once my vet sort of took charge and H realized "oh, same rules apply when mom is here" he was tons better. He still has to go back by himself but he's so food motivated he doesn't care.

Is she more play or food motivated? Use whatever is her strongest motivator at this stage be it food, tugs, balls, ropes, whatever.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by Raven » Wed May 20, 2015 4:46 pm

I just posted a lengthy reply and got booted off when I hit "submit." Will re-do in Word and paste.

Has anyone had this recently happen to them, get booted off????
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Wed May 20, 2015 9:35 pm

Yup! I usually back browser and copy and paste if it will let me. It's a timeout thing I think?
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by LyonsFamily » Wed May 20, 2015 10:22 pm

Raven wrote:I just posted a lengthy reply and got booted off when I hit "submit." Will re-do in Word and paste.

Has anyone had this recently happen to them, get booted off????
At the very least, I always Hit Ctrl A, Ctrl C before hitting submit. It will select all and copy and if there's an error, you can paste it somewhere. You could also type in word or take the time to actually paste it as a back up somewhere, but as long as you copy with Ctrl C it's saved on the clipboard and it takes no time at all.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by LyonsFamily » Wed May 20, 2015 10:37 pm

For the OP, I condition to a basket muzzle for all reactive/aggressive dogs. It's also good to have your dog trained to one in case of an emergency. Odin wears it from start to finish at the clinic and I show the bite if they need to see it. I've had very good success transitioning a muzzle conditioned dog to a face halter/halti/gentle leader type collar for out and about interactions.

The majority of the population that's stupid enough to run up on a dog assumes it's a muzzle and backs off. For reactivity it works two ways. 1. If the dog learns that wearing a muzzle means they can't bite (taught during conditioning) they also feel the face pressure of the halter and have the same conditioned response (less attempts at biting)

2. It gives you control of their head which means in a herding dog, control of their eyes. Reactivity in herding dogs is almost always related to their desire to watch and control. They tend to get worked up because of the leash and lunge out of frustration. If you can control the head from early on, you can prevent a lot of reactions before they start. I prefer to combine this with a front command as in sit in front of me, facing me.

A couple of cautions with head halters, they can really hurt the neck and spine if the dog resists them and tries to get the thing off or pull away. That is why conditioning is an absolute must. They also can slip off, so a backup is required. I've had the best experience conditioning for the muzzle first, then moving to the head harness since you can start with feeding treats by using the muzzle as a cup. I used to not be a big fan of them, but I've worked with a lot of herding dogs with dog re activity, and it's been an amazing tool.

I also needed a competition friendly backup for getting to and from the ring at dog shows and since prongs are only allowed at UKC events, and ecollars aren't allowed anywhere, the head halter has been my best option for that. I take it off right before we enter the ring. I have Odin on one that has a built in backup that clips to a flat collar and the leash. I leash him to that, hold the leash in my right hand, and grab his flat collar if I need him extra control with him close to me.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by Raven » Thu May 21, 2015 2:37 am

Thanks, Kira and Stephanie for the suggestions. I whined about it to the admins and Bob was quick to check it out. (Time-out thing.) We had a pretty short time-out some years back, but admin waved some sort of magic wand and made it longer. Must have quirked out again.

Bob's the knight in shining armor behind the scenes. He takes care of stuff all the time, every day, without members knowing who he is or that he even lurks in the back office scaring off all our computer gremlins.

WE LOVE BOB! :love: :party1: :cheer:
Though I can only hope to become the person who my animals believe I am, the things that they have taught me have made me a better human being. ~~~Sharon~~~

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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Fri May 22, 2015 1:00 am

Thank you all so much for you awesome responses!
I appreciate it so much.
Hearing about what everyone else has experienced is so helpful. It's always good to see you aren't the only one! haha!
So sorry I haven't responded already. I wanted to have time to individually respond to all of you, but life just gets in the way sometimes! That being said, it's really nice to see people who are invested not only in their own dogs, but in helping others as well. :)

Ember and I have been working doing some of the things you have suggested and she is already showing signs of improvement.
I met with a professional trainer in my area this morning to sign her up for some more classes as well.
We are going to be working out the issues with her and then diving into protection training!
I'm very excited to see her improve thanks to advice from you all and this new training! :)
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Fri May 22, 2015 1:51 am

Also, the trainer that I took her to explained to me that if my Dutchie's mother was in fact a German Shepherd, she would have to have longer fur than she does according to recessive genes for long hair in both breeds. For any that read my initial post in the new members, I never met her mother because the people who bred her told me the mother had gotten hit by a car after the pups had been weaned. I was skeptical of course, but I didn't know any better at the time.
I'm not sure if the owners just didn't know what the mother was, or if they had some reasoning behind saying she was a German Shepherd, but in any event I feel that Ember is more than likely either mostly or 100% Dutch.
I know that doesn't really change much regarding the training, but I just thought it was worth mentioning.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by LyonsFamily » Fri May 22, 2015 8:03 pm

michelle_renee wrote:Also, the trainer that I took her to explained to me that if my Dutchie's mother was in fact a German Shepherd, she would have to have longer fur than she does according to recessive genes for long hair in both breeds.
Sorry, but using the recessive/long hair gene logic has nothing to do with whether it's a GSD/X or not. Your trainer also has no way of knowing if either parent or both had a recessive long hair gene.

If both parents happened to have a hidden long hair gene, then there's only a 25% chance of producing a long hair which means there's a 75% change of getting a short hair. You could've easily gotten any of those puppies from a mixed litter with a different phenotype when it comes to hair length, yet they all would've had the same parents.

You would have to do a genotype test for long hair on your dog as well as both parents to apply any sort of relationship regarding passed on genes. Since the mother has passed now, that's impossible.

GSDs make up a good amount of the DS history and KNPV bred dogs still have even maybe 50% GSD in them. There's absolutely no way of knowing how much "prebred" Dutch Shepherd your dog has in it unless you have DNA confirmed FCI papers or even UKC papers if the ancestry is known for many generations.

Now, being 50% GSD doesn't make it any less of a working dog. There are great dogs competing in KNPV, ring, etc that are half malinois and still labelled as DS. My dog Elli, who was born from UKC papered parents has malinois and tervuren behind her generations ago.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Fri May 22, 2015 11:20 pm

Thank you for the extra information!
I'm really not educated about any of it so I appreciate any extra info I can get.
I've gotten a lot of incorrect information given to me by so many people, I try to be more skeptical and do the research myself but I really didn't know where to start with this.
I think I may have misinterpreted what he said, anyhow.
Either way, Ember is a lovely dog. I love both breeds.
I just wish there was some way to figure it out without paying for a DNA test that may or may not be accurate(from what I've read on the forums here and other places).
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Fri May 22, 2015 11:23 pm

Based on what I do know though, and her looks, would it be correct for me to just refer to her as a Dutch Shepherd since I don't know what her mother was and I know her dad was a pure-bred Dutch?
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Tell us about yourself: DS and Mal foster newly approved aug'12 by NADSR and ABMCR. high-functioning Autistic in nyc/hamptons in my 60's. Rescued the smartest dog i had ever seen off nyc street in 2000. Tracedog's intelligence exceeded by multiples my judgement that day. My first [and only as of 10/2012] dog turned out to be a DS, perhaps with a touch of something else, but attention to detail, behavioral traits, and physical habits, movement, and skill identical to DS. But MUCH more intellectual ability. supremely confident in all settings, fearless, very outgoing and social with people and friendly with dogs. Seldom apart in over 12 years, Trace Dog was the most important relationship of my adult life; he was my partner. He died july17,2012. i am dying without him. www.youtube.com/tracesobaka www.dogster.com/dogs/637612
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by johninny » Sat May 23, 2015 12:24 am

absolutely yes, unless something in her behavior suggests strongly otherwise. she looks like a DS. if she acts like one, then regardless of %s from various shepherd lines [ which is an issue with the breed in general ], then she IS a DS.

my own Sakima i think is mostly DS, but both physically AND mentally/emotionally, there is something slightly off about him; so i consider him a mix because he does not match perfectly DS characteristics for body structure or behavior. having said that, he runs circles around my 2 ''pure'' DSs during play time [ fetch, catch, hunt, reaction time, speed, agility ] despite his slightly stocky build [ compared to the DS build ]. so if i were to describe him physically or behaviorally, he would certainly come off as a DS. but in the end, his brain does not seem wired as peculiarly as a DS brain.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by LyonsFamily » Sat May 23, 2015 5:34 am

michelle_renee wrote:Based on what I do know though, and her looks, would it be correct for me to just refer to her as a Dutch Shepherd since I don't know what her mother was and I know her dad was a pure-bred Dutch?
I would. Unless you're talking to a person big on FCI purebreds, but they call even the UKC dogs mixes.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by Tripmomma » Sun May 24, 2015 6:58 pm

I have had some very similar issues with my now 6 1/2 month old. I have found, after listening to the advice from this group and her breeder, that bringing her fave toys (it helps that my girl is INSANE for toys, way more than food even) and engaging her in tug play around people totally takes her attention off those around us. She has made HUGE strides and I am starting to feel much better about her getting through this stage.
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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by lindalew » Mon May 25, 2015 2:01 pm

Hi there. I'd suggest following all the great advice here, and just keep working with her. Don't give up. My girl was horribly dog reactive (always good with people though). We even went to a reactive dog class with a behaviorist when she was 15 months old, which she flunked out of. Dutchess will be 2 in August, and she is turning into the best dog ever! We go can go everywhere now, and the difference from seven months ago is amazing to me. So lots of patience and time, and just keep working at it. Good luck!

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Re: Help with DS behavior quirks

Post by michelle_renee » Thu May 28, 2015 2:55 am

Thanks again to everyone for the replies and advice!
I've been working with her a lot recently, using several of the tips here and she is already showing improvement!
I think all of this in conjunction with the obedience and protection training I've started her in is going to make a huge difference!
I'm so grateful to find such a great community here and look forward to sharing many other experiences with everyone!
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