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Thread: Help! Pups Turned into Guard Dogs!!!

  1. #1

    Default Help! Pups Turned into Guard Dogs!!!

    Hi all,

    as you know, I have two rescue rotty shepherd mixes. I've had them since they were 8 weeks old. They are now seven months old. They had a rough start to life but have been doing really well. They are two of five dogs. They have had heaps of socialisation with other dogs and people and are responsive to directions from the children and I. They are walked every day and I am always in training mode with my dogs.

    I had my sister and family visit yesterday. They have not seen the pups since they were a few months old, but the pups responded in a friendly way and then went on with their day, which is how they behave around guests generally. Everyone else left and my sister and I spent a couple of hours together, including taking all the dogs for a walk and then coming back to eat dinner.

    I went out to pick up some of our older kids from town, leaving my sister behind with all the dogs, who were sleeping (it was fairly late, about ten, when I left).

    I have a new puppy on trial and she was crated and sleeping.

    My sister was reading in the lounge and when the puppy got up, she stood up to take her outside to go for a wee. When she did, the two shepherd rottie pups woke up and started barking and growling at my sister.

    She said they looked fearful, but defensive and stood a fair distance from her, but she thought they were behaving as though she was an intruder. She got pretty scared and she told them repeatedly to go outside, which they eventually did. They barked at her from outside for a few minutes and then when they had stopped and calmed down, she let them back in and they reverted back to their usual behaviour and slept.

    I feel terrible, as they have never done that before. I can only assume that they got confused when they woke up and I wasn't there and she was, but it has got me really worried. The only similiar behaviour I've seen in them is at the dog park when they bark at people/dogs they don't know, for which they are corrected and they then carry on as usual. They have never growled at anyone at all and if anything, they are reserved around other people.

    I am pretty intolerant of any unstable behaviour in my dogs and I am devastated that the first time my sister was looking after them, this should happen. I can't blame her for being scared and upset.

    I want to take absolute responsibility for what happened and I don't want to make any excuses for the dogs just because they are rescues either.

    In all the years of owning dogs, I've never had this happen and I feel like they are untrustworthy until I address the behaviour. I need training advice on how to teach them that this is undesirable behaviour and I certainly wouldn't want to have them keep on doing this kind of thing.

    What does everyone think?

    Cathy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Rural Western Australia
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    At 7 months old they could be entering another fear period. I think the best thing is to keep really socialising them and giving them good experiences, but be aware that they could be in a fear period.

    Do you have a local dog club where you can take them for obedience training. I joined my local dog club and it was a great way to train and socialise my dogs and lots of fun too. There were also experienced people on hand to talk these things over with. We had a number of young GSDS come through in various fear periods and the classes did them the world of good.

    I have the most gentle ACD but the one person she has always barked at is my sister. I am not sure if it is we are similar but not similar that confuses her. She has got better over the years and now tends not to do this but occassionally she still does it if my sister makes a sudden move. It is not an aggressive bark or growl though and my sister just ignores the commotion. I also only see my sister intermittantly because of distance and she clearly confuses my dog. My dog doesnt do this to my nieces or BIL, just my sister.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Queensland
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    Continue to rear the dogs right and see how they do in a few months time, pity your sister was scared too, fear is a bad thing to show already scared dogs, she has possibly caused an over reaction to what was only a pair of somewhat surprised and startled pups who woke to find a relative stranger in their home, pretty normal reaction for them to show when you consider their breeding.

    Her reaction has probably made them really scared instead of reassuring them, any Mastiff breed is normally defensive, Shepherds are more prey driven, mixing those two breeds may make for some uncertain traits.but no reason to think them dangerous from that one incident as Kalacreek has said, they may also be going through a fear stage and not as confident as they will be later.
    If they do continue to show fear biting tendencies they may need to be carefully watched at all times, but do give them a chance to mature before deciding, and then maybe get a trainer with plenty of experience in protection type dogs to asses them to see where they really are coming from.

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys,

    yes, there are certainly obedience classes around my area and I will look at both that and a trainer session.

    I was talking to a friend of mine about it all yesterday - she is the one who had the pups when they were found dumped - she is pretty on the ball and questioned me closely on what happened. She asked me all the details and how my sister was to the puppy who needed the toilet. Apparently, when the two seven month old dogs originally woke and gave a bark at her getting up, she then roused on the pup who was about to wee on the floor and dashed over to stop the puppy. My friend suggested that this escalated the situation too, as well as the fact that my sister got scared. It also turns out that she yelled at the dogs and banged a dustpan and brush at them once they continued barking.

    So, definately a bad combination!

    When they barked at her the next morning and I was there, I was able to tell them a firm 'no' and they went on about their business.

    Also, the fear period must be a factor, as I my older nephew stamped on a bug on the floor right next to where one of the dogs was asleep and she jumped up and barked a lot at the noise.

    Incidentally, my sister-in-law came to visit last night and has not seen the dogs at all. No reaction to her whatsoever at first, then wagging tails, happy faces. She has stayed the night and been up and down the hall , etc. without them batting an eyelid, as they have been with every other guest.

    Maybe the point about sisters is something to consider too?

    Anyway, I feel like I am getting some perspective on the incident now and it's something to be aware of, but I think it was more of an unusual situation that escalated and it's obvious my sister won't be dog minding anytime soon, lol. She was pretty negative towards them when she left, which didn't help.

    Any other thoughts would be most welcome,

    Cathy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rural Western Australia
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    2,639

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    Quote Originally Posted by chisa View Post
    Thanks guys,

    Maybe the point about sisters is something to consider too?

    Cathy.
    It is intriguing. My sister rescued an abused cat and this cat was absolutely terrified of all strangers and would dissapear. I had never met the cat and went round to visit my sister. She wasnt home so I let myself in. Her cat came running up to greet me and settled on my lap while we waited for her.

    She was amazed, as I was the only other person this cat had ever let near him. To him we were one and the same.

    It is a bit ironic that she is the only non stranger person that my dog has always barked at!

  6. #6

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    Yes, it's quite strange.

    I think that ultimately, I will need a behaviour consult though, as the pups have anxiety about some new people and situations and I need strategies to properly assess and deal with what's really happening for them that they need to respond this way.

    Watch this space, I guess.......

    Cathy.

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