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Old 16.09.2011, 15:45
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Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Good Afternoon All,

I've moved to Zuricrh 6 months ago from Dubai. In Dubai i had rescued my German Shepherd , Sheeba. She is 2 and half years old she has had an extremely sad life before we got her. At the begining she had alot of trust issues and was extremely scared of all humans. Its been a 9 months now since we rescued her, she's improved alot however she's still extremely anxious and tends to pull and bark at other dogs whenever i take her out for a walk. Its gotten so bad that im extremely scared of walking her now since there were a couple of instances where i got dragged and injured when she spotted other dogs. Those german shepherds are strong!!

I have tried working with a couple of trainers however they seem to reach a dead end with Sheeba stating she is extremely unpredictable. One trainer has referred us to a vet who has proposed homeopathy.We gave her the first pill in May and it seemed to work out. However 2 weeks ago she started acting up again and we gave her a2nd dose of the pill. The vet has informed us that this pill is no long term solution and we should try to find a dog psychologist.

The strange thing is that Sheeba also gets to go to a farm that caters to dogs as well. On this farm Sheeba has no problems whatsoever with other dogs which is extremely confusing for me. If anything the farm owner keeps telling what a great girl Sheeba is , a bit nervous but extremely affectionate. I am led to believe that maybe we're doing something wrong with her. Does anybody know a dog trainer/psychologist in Zurich that speaks English? I would really appreciate it.
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Old 16.09.2011, 21:02
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

First, good on ya for rescuing this girl, and for having the patience and commitment to help her overcome the shadows of her past.

Second, in behavior rehab terms 9 months is but the blink of an eye. So don't be discouraged, it really still is early days. I know how this can get you down - been there, am still doing that - but true rehab, changing the emotion that drives the behavior, is a slow process.

The horrors of a dog's past can cast a long shadow - we need to be aware of the depth of damage previous bad experiences can cause, and be patient. The Hooligan and I are five years down that road... with patience, understanding, love, time, more patience and more time - it will get better.

I have learned to break down my dogs' behavior problems into small goals, as the overall picture can be overwhelming. So rather than tackling 'reactivity to other dogs', I set my goal as 'today we are going to walk calmly past the yellow house where Fido lives'. And then I celebrate our 'victory' when we manage to do that. As the owner of a dog in rehab I know: you need a pat on the back just as often as your dog does.

The second thing that has helped is that I follow a two-stage process - first managing the environment, then rehab. Because rehab is a long term activity, in the early days I try to manage my dog's environment so that she does not have opportunities to practice, and thus further ingrain, the behavior I want to change. If that means a somewhat restricted environment at this stage so be it - safety first. If you give up some concrete examples of flash points that you are having trouble dealing with then perhaps we can suggest some short term management strategies.


And third - take time to enjoy your dog, regardless of what else is happening. When things are not going well with the Extreme Belltie I take a break from rehab work - we spend the day just cuddling, taking it easy. From time to time I need to remind myself why I'm doing this.

You'll have plently of down days, lots of one step forward, one (or two) steps back - that is to be expected. Then suddenly something will click, and you two will make a leap of progress together - it's those days that make it all worthwhile.

What you describe on the farm does not surprise me - behavior is often situtational. For instance, my reactive mutt is more relaxed at our Hundeschule, things that would send her into the red zone in the big wide world she takes in stride there, as she has learned that the training ground is a safe environment. By working on her behavior first within her comfort zone we set the building blocks that enable her to be successful in a more stressful environment.

Is there anyway that you could work with your dog more on the farm grounds?

I am hesitant to make specific suggestions - one cannot get a true picture of what is happening without seeing a dog, as the wrong approach can do far more harm, especially with a GSD - the breed is extremely sensitive. Also, I am not a behaviorist, only an owner with of a herd of screwed-up mutts who has therefore had the fun of gaining some experience with rehab. You would be best served by working with a good behaviorist, one who has experience with similar problems.

Could you travel to southern Germany? If so, you might try:

http://www.animal-learn.de/

Clarissa von Reinhart is a very respected behaviorist. She is the author of 'Stress in Dogs', a classic on the subject, btw. Even if that is too far away you might contact her asking for suggestions.

Wishing you and your dog all the very best.

Last edited by meloncollie; 16.09.2011 at 21:19.
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Old 16.09.2011, 21:15
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Shame you're so far away, I know a Shepherd specialist in Vaud
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:03
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Thank you so much for the responses.

Meloncollie, i understand what you're saying and agree it with it. I just can't help but feel sorry for her i would love nothing more than to take her out on long walks. My husband and i just returned from a 1 hour run with Sheeba she was doing great until she saw 2 small dogs. Hell broke loose had to distract her by continuing to run once she saw that she immediately followed however the other dogs owner was hurling abuses at us in swiss german.

She can also go beserk over imagined stuff she once dragged me cause she thought horse poo was something

I know she's a good dog and she's extremely affectionate i just wish she could have more interaction with people and dogs. It breaks my heart when people with dogs look at her like she's some nut case when in reality at home our cat slaps her around and she just takes it

Thanks for the contact will give her a call maybe we can arrange something or she could recommend someone in Zurich.
Thanks again
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:10
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

WAA I really feel for you. I don't want to worry you even more, but it is so important you get help. If anybody complains to the police about your dog's aggressive behaviour- they will insist on you getting training and pass an exam with the dog. All new owners have to do that now in CH - at the moment you are exempt, as you are not a 'new' owner- but any complaint and things will get very complicated. Hope somebody soon comes up with somebody local who can help you train her. Our dog has similar issues, for the same reason - but I m lucky I can take her out for long walks in the woods where we meet nobody (she is too old to train now, aged 14+).
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:10
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Sorry i can not help you with your situation, but i think meloncollie has made some great sugestions

I grew up with 2 german sheppards (both female and male), had them since i was 5 years old and they past away 5 and 6 years ago and i still missed them. They are really awesome dogs, and it is true they are really strong. (and they were also a little bit crazy about stuff .. dogs...horse poo...my socks...my soccerballs...my bicicle tires ....and so on)

Just to share a little story. One time the cat we had (i know 2 dogs and one cat) went outside and found herself attacked by the neighbor dogs. When the mutzli and dinky heard all the noisy, the both went outside and back up the cat. It was a really interesting to see that they considered the cat as a part of the family


Hope that Sheeba keeps improving and enjoy your dog while she is with you, remember that you are all that she has.... and also all that she needs

Last edited by Tj88; 16.09.2011 at 22:12. Reason: typo
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:21
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Quote:
WAA I really feel for you. I don't want to worry you even more, but it is so important you get help. If anybody complains to the police about your dog's aggressive behaviour- they will insist on you getting training and pass an exam with the dog. All new owners have to do that now in CH - at the moment you are exempt, as you are not a 'new' owner- but any complaint and things will get very complicated. Hope somebody soon comes up with somebody local who can help you train her. Our dog has similar issues, for the same reason - but I m lucky I can take her out for long walks in the woods where we meet nobody (she is too old to train now, aged 14+).
That's what im really worried about Odlie Was just telling my husband that its a matter of time before some of the people here will start sharing stories about one crazy shepherd and an auslander the dog seems to be dragging around. The trainer i managed to get a hold of wants to use some harsh techniques which i am extremely against. One cant use harsh methods with any dog let alone a dog with a history of abuse. I'll keep trying, have a lead however the person isn't available anytime soon.

Thank you all
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:37
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

2.5 year olds are still young, and German Shepherds have some special characteristics which make them even more of a challenge. Sheeba has her own, individual uniqueness which also brings additional challenges. The good news is that, with patience and persistence, you and Sheeba will be able to work through these challenges. Training and learning to work together will be a big part of it. Finding a mutual respect will be a big part of that, too. But also, as Sheeba gets older and has more exposure to these stimuli, she'll calm down and not react the way she does.

Have any of the trainers you met shown you alternative leash/collar ideas? There are alternatives out there that can put more control in your hands and keep you from being dragged down the street. A pinch collar is not one of these, and in CH they're not allowed (according to what I learned at SKN)

You could use a Halti aka Gentle Leader. The Swiss requirement is that you have to have a special leash that one end attaches to the Halti, and the other end attaches to the regular collar. It enables you to have more control over the dog. I think for the problem you're describing, this is something you might want to try, and perhaps with an instructor.

You mentioned also that your dog does fine with other dogs at the farm. This could be because you aren't there, and/or because the dog isn't on a leash. I'm not saying to start walking your dog off leash (you need to have control first). But, dogs behave differently when their owners aren't around, and they also behave differently when they're off/on leash. Either variable could explain why your dog behaves differently at the farm.

Hang in there. It's challenging now, but it will get better. The more you get her out and walk her, the sooner it will get better.

Good luck!
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Old 16.09.2011, 22:55
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We also have a special pup. We rescued Lily from a shelter in North Carolina. She's fear reactive, and can't really go off leash in a public area, but we've used lots of positive methods and treats and we're better at managing her behavior. She's now much better at ignoring other dogs when we're walking, just not cats and birds. She's also great at the tierheim, so it's a similar thing. We adopted her at 13 months, and I cannot imagine what her life was like before that. She's 7 tomorrow.

You might check out pdte.org - pet dog trainers of Europe, started by a Norwegian, Turid Rugaas, who's written several books on working with dogs. There are a few members in Switzerland, and some speak English. I used someone who was from Basel, but know there were also people from Zurich.

Good luck! These special pups are worth the work, I think.
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Old 16.09.2011, 23:06
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Hi WAA, great that you rescued Sheeba, deep bow to you from me. Have you considered contacting a shepherd club? (like http://www.scog-zuerichsee.ch/fotos/index.html ). Maybe they can help as they are specialised in the breed?

I dont know how they work etc (disclaimer), I just know they are there as they are close to 1 of my running tracks (imagine being chased by 7 shepherd pups wile on your morning run , makes my day)

Wish you all the best with Sheeba.
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Old 16.09.2011, 23:07
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Thanks Edot for the link have asked my Husband to get in touch with one of the swiss reps in Kloten maybe she can help or refer someone.

Thanks guys
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Old 16.09.2011, 23:16
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Meloncollie is the real expert here. Me just a dog 'owner (?)' who rescued 2 dogs with lots of baggage. Harsh training is not necessary, but FIRM is required. Pack animals have to know their place in the pack hierarchy- or it is asking for trouble. Sounds to me (from a long distance I know) that you are somewhat afraid of your dog- and this makes things much worse/vicious circle. This is not in anyway a criticism, hope you understand- just means that you need expert help. Good luck.
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Old 17.09.2011, 00:07
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Great Tip

Thanks for sharing will get in touch with them

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Hi WAA, great that you rescued Sheeba, deep bow to you from me. Have you considered contacting a shepherd club? (like http://www.scog-zuerichsee.ch/fotos/index.html ). Maybe they can help as they are specialised in the breed?

I dont know how they work etc (disclaimer), I just know they are there as they are close to 1 of my running tracks (imagine being chased by 7 shepherd pups wile on your morning run , makes my day)

Wish you all the best with Sheeba.
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Old 17.09.2011, 02:24
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

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Its gotten so bad that im extremely scared of walking her now since there were a couple of instances where i got dragged and injured when she spotted other dogs. Those german shepherds are strong!!
I am sorry if this sounds harsh but if you cannot control your dog while she is leashed, you simply should not walk her. It is dangerous not only to you from the sounds of it but possibly to others as well and until the situation is improved, which is going to take time, I would not take risks.
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Old 17.09.2011, 10:10
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You absolutely need a trainer. In the meantime though you may want to look at Turid Rugaas ' book about loose leash walking... I think it's My Dog Pulls, What Can I Do? It's not a substitute for training, but helped us when we were between trainers. Amazon.de or amazon.co.UK are sources, if I recall.

People like Rugaas have an incredible rapport and patience with dogs that many people don't have, so these things often look easier than they are. To me anyway. For us, switching to a harness rather than a collar, using a leather lead rather than an extendable one, a clicker - or a tongue click, and using small treats to reward, and sometimes distract worked wonders....over time. Everyone's experience is different though.

All the best.
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Old 17.09.2011, 10:49
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

what collar do you have? Consider one that has the leash connecting by the dog's mouth so that pulling causes the head to turn and deviates attention from the other dog. I had one for my obsessive puller, may she RIP now.

this might help short-term with the control/strength battle
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Old 17.09.2011, 11:19
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Invest CHF12 in a master control dog collar from Fresnapff and don't bother with a Halti.

If the dog is that powerful and determined a Halti won't be much use as it still requires you being able to hold the dog it just basically applies pressure to the chest and shoulders rather than the neck, you still provide the brakes. If you can't hold or control the dog, which appears is the case, I can't see it helping so it would be a waste of time and money. The master control (not a muzzle) works by using the dogs desire to pull to pull the head down to the chest, and works on the same basis as a horses reins.... No pain for mutley, just incredibly effective.

One of our young labs was a puller, I coped but he was too much for my wife and she couldn't hold him. The Master control, stopped that almost immediately, and she could walk him holding the lead in 2 fingers. After a couple of weeks, problem solved, but she does use it if she's walking all 3 on here own, more for her peace of mind rather than a continuing issue.

Good luck.
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Old 17.09.2011, 12:31
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Apologies if this sounds like a stupid question PG, but is this collar actually called a Master Control Dog Collar in the shops? Sounds ideal for my little JR Rookie who generally walks well on a lead, but occasionally goes into T.Rex mode!
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Old 17.09.2011, 12:57
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

Yes it is and they do it in a range of sizes, and it clips on the lead like a normal coller. I just checked the Fres' website and couldn't see them, and google wasn't my friend as all I got was stock control systems and those heinous zapper things, so maybe the name has changed? Here is something similar, except on the master control the lead clips to the section under the chin for best effect, the rear clip can be used when the dog is more controllable, and as a stage to using a normal collar:
http://www.fressnapf.de/shop/ausbild...hirr-follow-me

I'm doing a biscuit supply run later so will check in store
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Old 17.09.2011, 15:22
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Re: Need help witha 2 1/2 yr old German Shepherd

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If the dog is that powerful and determined a Halti won't be much use as it still requires you being able to hold the dog it just basically applies pressure to the chest and shoulders rather than the neck, you still provide the brakes.
Naha... you described a harness.

A Halti goes over the muzzle and attaches behind the head. Basically it's the same mechanics as a halter on a horse.

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