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New owner of 4 y/o GSD    Behavior and Training

Started Nov-21 by joebergsr; 453 views.
joebergsr

From: joebergsr

Nov-21

My family just over the past three days took in a 4 year old German shepherd female. She was previously highly trained and has shown no aggression whatsoever to children. I have two boys, age 1 1/2 and 3. When my younger child cries, she becomes very excited and has nipped his foot. Any suggestions or thoughts to this behavior? 

DW (GSDogwalker)

From: DW (GSDogwalker)

Nov-21

It could be prey drive kicking in.  Nipping is not biting, it could be a way of communicating or showing anxiety, but it could escalate to a more serious bite. Being close to babies is different than being around children.  Does the dog have any experience with babies?  For now, if you are committed to keeping the dog, I would not allow her access to the children at all until they are older. That takes a lot of effort on your part, but I would not risk harm to a child, especially for a dog with an unknown history.  You might also want to get a few sessions with a private trainer to see if you can stop her from nipping and an evaluation as to whether you should keep her,

DW (GSDogwalker)

From: DW (GSDogwalker)

Nov-21

What kind of training does she have? Obedience?  Schutzhund/IPO? 

joebergsr

From: joebergsr

Nov-22

I am not sure of the actual training, but I will tell you that she is highly trained. She responds to commands in German and has had prior exposure to children but not in a 24/7 scenario. I spoke with some friends who are k9 officers and they suggested that it just may be her concern for the child’s safety. There is no aggression behind it whatsoever, more angst than anything. She’s a good girl and is fitting in perfectly in every other instance. Just want to make sure we don’t act too quickly. 

DW (GSDogwalker)

From: DW (GSDogwalker)

Nov-22

She may be highly trained but does she respond to you as the handler when you give a command?  A mother dog will teach her puppies to behave by nipping.  She may be confused if she has not been around  many babies. At 18 months, your child is moving and making noises she is not used to.  I would make sure she is always in a Down stay or a Sit stay when your child is in the room, for now. I would never leave her alone with either child until you are positive she will not react with her teeth.  Continue to reinforce the commands.  Even a well trained dog can forget or lose some of their previously learned skills if they are not reinforced.

If it was my dog, I would get one of the K9 friends to run through all possible commands to see what she has been trained to do and then work on Out/Aus commands to stop behaviors instantly.  You need to know how to stop her if she does something she is trained to do by mistake, like if someone says something that sounds like a command she knows.

joebergsr

From: joebergsr

Nov-22

She certainly recognizes me as the alpha. Last night, when it occurred, I immediately gave her the command to sit, which she did right away. We are monitoring her actions with the child. I went into my son's room last night and calmed him in his crib. She came with me and I gave her the command to lay down, which she did and attempted to show her it was "ok" that my son was fine. She seemed to respond.

I've just never had a GSD before, we recently lost our family mastiff who was an incredible dog from day one. It's not fair to compare one to another, which I am not trying to do. I've just fallen in love with our new girl and I want to make sure we are going to be fine moving forward. They are such intelligent creatures, which makes me more comfortable with training her appropriately. I just figured I'd ask some of you all who are much more familiar than me.

tami4gsd

From: tami4gsd

Nov-22

Hi there! You've only had the dog for a few days, so most likely she is still very confused as to what the heck is going on! Even if she recognizes you as alpha, she doesn't recognize the kids as alpha (and she needs to) and she doesn't know the rules of your house yet. I agree with DW that I would not allow the dog to have access tot he kids unless there is direct adult supervision. Something could happen in the blink of an eye and you sure don't want that to happen! Without seeing the dog and her actions, it's hard to get a real good grasp on what she is doing. I think you are right though that it isn't aggression. She may be showing her own maternal instincts and she thinks you aren't responding quickly enough!  The temperament of the GSD is much, much different than that of a mastiff, but they are usually very good with children and very protective. So my first instinct is to say she is trying to tell you the child needs something and the only way she knows to do that is with her mouth. I have a 3 year old female who grabs my hand with her mouth when she is excited, but she would never think of biting anyone. In fact, she is a certified therapy dog so she is very gentle. Keep up the good work with her and correct the behavior. Use the down command like you have been and once she learns that you are in charge of the kids and very capable of taking care of them without her help she will most likely be just fine.

DW (GSDogwalker)

From: DW (GSDogwalker)

Nov-22

You are handling her well.  My working line dog pulls on my sleeve and nibbles on my clothes to talk to me or show affection.  I am more cautious with children and unfamiliar dogs.  Is this dog from a rescue or did you buy her from a trainer or previous owner?  Rescues don’t always have a lot of information on a dog, so they observe and share that.

I would still want to know what she is trained to do.  If she is trained in protection that is different from owning a dog trained in obedience only.

German Shepherds are excellent family dogs when trained and socialized, and when they have experience with children.  

joebergsr

From: joebergsr

Nov-22

I got her from a coworker who had to give her up due to housing issues. She is obedience trained and has had exposure to children of similar ages. Last night when it occurred, I went back and forth with the owner on possible ways to address it. Again, I am so new to this I just want to make sure I’m doing the right things for everyone involved. 

DW (GSDogwalker)

From: DW (GSDogwalker)

Nov-22

When a dog is rehomed, it can take 2-4 weeeks for them to be comfortable enough that you will see the full personality come through. Take it easy with her, give her time to adjust and let her have time to herself.  At her age, you don’t have to deal with puppy behavior.  The previous owner can be a good reference for you.  You don’t want your children to be afraid of her, either.  

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