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154 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My 7 month old Shepherd is driving me crazy. I’ve had him since 6 weeks old. I started training him the day I got him, he’s so smart and so sweet, but the older he is getting the worse he is, high energy, high anxiety, just high high high everything. Can’t take him to the vet cause he won’t let them do anything, can’t muzzle him cause he freaks ouT. His energy is so intense that one of my other dogs started getting really aggressive towards him.

After a big fight I called a trainer and did an evaluation for him and the dog that attacked him. The 7 month old will be picked up by the trainer on the 1st and take him for 4 weeks, he will come to my house once a week with the puppy for in home training sessions with me and the aggressor dog.

In the mean time I have the dog who is attacking him in a pen and crate situation. Shuffling dogs around all day long so everyone gets outside and inside playtime. I’m exercising everyone, especially the 7 month old and continuing the training I’ve been doing while I wait for the 1st, but he isn’t getting better, he seems worse. I’m not giving the puppy attention when he is excitable cause I know that won’t help but he is just so excited all the time, so now I feel like I have to just always ignore him unless I’m yelling at him not to do something bad and that makes me feel guilty.

This whole situation is so stressful , I can’t rest and relax, I’m Doing everything I can to make all the dogs happy till the trainer comes. I was just outside with the puppy and two of the other dogs and had him lay down, he was calm so I pet him and he got all excited and jumped up to go bark at the fence and slammed his head into my shin. I lost it and just started crying.

I’m just so frustrated. I really hope this trainer works out cause I can’t live like this. I’m sorry about this post, I just have to vent. I love all my dogs but right now I can’t even look at the 7 month old, I feel so defeated, I’ve tried everything I can, just hoping the trainer has better results. I love him so much, I feel like I didn’t everything right and I feel like a failure, like I failed him. I just want him to be a well balanced, respectful, and I want to trust him not to destroy everything, I don’t want to be yelling at him cause he is constantly doing something g he shouldn’t be. I tried everything I could think of.

Has anyone done a board and train? How did it go?

556 Posts
I've never used a board and train but I've owned several shepherds......first off, take a deep breath it gets better. I've heard lots of mixed results on the board and train, but one thing you really need to do is have the trainer take some time with you and the dog together and show you personally how to handle the dog. Trainer can teach the dog commands, how to listen and all that- but its going to fall apart if your handling skills aren't there. Some one on one sessions between a trainer and you and your dog is something I'd be looking into if I were you. It really sounds like he's just not getting the structure and discipline he needs. Some of these dogs need to literally be taught how to settle down in the house and not harass everyone constantly. The one we've got now- my wife called him satan dog for about the first year. This was her first shepherd and a big shock to her system lol. She kept asking whats wrong with him, saying he was defective etc. Hes was just so different from the labs and pits she was accustomed to. Look, not rewarding them for crazy behaviour is good and all but sometimes you just have to take him outside and exercise him and get it out of his system. And if he's not behaving indoors then he loses freedom. Freedom is earned by good behaviour. He keeps harassing your other dogs he gets leashed. Inside the house. Or crated. This is a breed that's meant to have more determination than your average dog. Good when you direct it to something constructive. Not so good when you dont have good control over them. If he's harassing the other dogs to the point they get really mean with him you to step in and take control. Thats your job. If you feel like yelling at him then put him up instead. Another factor here is impulse control. This is a learned skill. It takes time and practice for your dog to be able to control his instincts and urges. As a younger dog ours would try to relentlessly harass our older lab, goats, chickens......if he was allowed to. Corrections from the lab didnt phase him one bit. She could nail him hard enough to make him yelp and one second later he'd be jumping all over her again. Anything that moved must be chased. It takes training and time to get past all that. It's do-able, dont give up. Take him outside and play with him, exercise him then crate him. Give yourself a break. Or bring him inside after, leash him to you and just sit and chill. Teach by example. There's light at the end of the tunnel. What you describe here is not uncommon for the breed. The first year or two can be very trying. And then all of a sudden you'll wonder where this great dog came from and where did your hellion go. Ours is now two and a half yrs old and he is trustworthy with our goats, chickens, other dog- actually he's trustworthy with them unsupervised now. It took alot of time and effort but so worth it for what a shepherd gives back in return. You just need someone who knows the breed to spend some time with you. If you go for the board and train, just remember you're still going to need to keep up the training after. Like, almost daily. Once he's been taught obedience you'll both be able to have fun with it. All the shepherds I've had loved daily training as long as you make it fun. Another thing that may help you is NILIF. Nothing in life is free. You can google it but its basically having the dog earn everything. I raise mine this way. Its as easy having him sit before you put his food down. He has to do something to get what he wants from you. He wants that ball in your hand- " down. Good down " now you give him the ball.
Hang in there!!

154 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you!
The trainer I picked is one I know through my old job at an animal hospital, he knows the breed welll, loves them and has one of his own. He did an assessment last week with the Shepherd (Max) and also with the dog who is being aggressive (Joey) while Max’s energy and behavior definitely contribute to Joeys aggression, Joey also has some other issues to work on. Max has a laundry list of issues. He will take Max on Monday for four weeks, once a week he will bring Max to my house for a training session with me and Joey. While Max is gone with him, the trainer will also he doing other training sessions at my home with me and Joey.

I’m not new to owning and training dogs, just new to owning a Shepherd. I started Max’s training the day I brought him home. He sits before feeding, even lays down while I prepare foods. I worked on his fear of people and dogs when he was 4 months old and we got past that. These other issues Max’s has I just don’t know how to fix myself, though I have tried.

Makes me sad that Joey is acting out like this. He was always everyone’s best friend. Any dog he would see outside or any dog that would come for a visit, Joey was always their first friend. I even had a roommate who moved in and she had a very very aggressive dog, and I did all the introductions and training with that dog. Joey was even his first friend. After two weeks that aggressive dogs was totally fine and part of my pack. (This dog and roommate have since moved out)

I feel bad for Joey cause I just don’t trust him around Max at all, so Joey is in a pen with a crate attached. Joey is ok with two of my other dogs so I do a lot of dog juggling to make sure everyone has plenty of playtime inside and outside the house.

I’ve been exercising Max a lot every single morning, honestly I probably exercise him too much since he is a large breed puppy. But I just want him to get tired. It doesn’t help.

Been teaching him down stay and to stay like that till I say ok, seems to work sometimes.

I watched the trainer during Max’s assessment on the leash and took what he did and used it on our walks. Max has actually gotten sooooo much better and doesn’t pull, so that gives me hope that once he comes back, and the trainer gives me the tools to further the training that we can be a happy pack again.

I just hope I can get Joey past his issues. Not only is he being aggressive with Max and we had a huge fight. He is also being possessive over the new kitten, and he snapped at my adult cat when the cat was laying next to me and Joey was by my feet. ( I have since blocked off access to the couch from the dogs)

I miss my happy go lucky pack.

851 Posts
Try working on relax and impulse control with fun games, exercises, special outings

Aarggggggh! I just spent a whole bunch of time writing you a very detailed reply of some of my thoughts and things I have done to successfully help my dogs when we had issues like yours. BUT---then somehow the dang post disappeared off my screen before I could hit send/post reply!!! Grrrrr hate that.

So, I will try to rewrite it for you, hoping it may help you all.

Sounds like stress build up from bringing in the new pup and having everything change in your home due to new pup. New pups are downright exhausting and can be so annoying to older more mature dogs. Very annoying.

And the new pup changes EVERYTHING, and I mean everything. Schedules change, attention changes, training times for the other dogs change, walks together can change, sleeping/resting arrangements, sleep time changes, owner exhaustion can occur and the dogs sense this....yada yada yada. Obvious right? But so hard to remedy as we are only human and only have so much energy and hours in our day. Dogs thrive on patterns and regularity and consistency...raising a new puppy throws this all of kilter.

Usually all the attention goes to the new pup because it has to, esp in the 1st four months when we gotta really work with them as there brains are forming. So much learning and teaching to get in. Sigh. The original dogs in the family usually get shorted in attention and training, even if we try hard to be fair. It is just that pups need so much dang attention and work to keep them safe and raise them right.

It makes total sense to me that Joey could be getting highly frustrated with young pup Max .For a zillion reasons. Pups have zero boundaries and relentless energy, and hate taking no for an answer. Very annoying to older dogs. Joey is probably thinking "I said no, and NO means NO, now leave me the heck alone!!!"

Whereas young pup Max is probably saying.."Heyyyy big brother, I like you, can you play with me pleeeeeeeze?? I know you said no, but surely you don't mean that, right??? Come on, get up lazy bones, join in, lets wrestle!!"

And then because Max is too hyped up nonstop, knows no impulse control yet, can't take no for an answer, won't bugger off, Joey finally has to "get serious" and use aggression to get Max to knock it off. Which then gets Joey kinda in trouble or separated.....

I don't know if this is the case in your home, but I can see how it could be very easily in so many cases. It was starting to happen in my house til I remedied it asap. Puma pup was so annoying to shy Gracie, getting up in her face, bounding into her, jumping on top of her, asking her to play, etc. I had to be very careful and watch them closely at all times together otherwise I knew it could seriously escalate like it is happening in your case.

One time I seriously asked my sig other in frustration---"Why in the world can't Puma pup take no for an answer and read Gracie's body language and back off??" His response? Because she is a PUPPY!!!! And I am the one in the house who is all into dog training and behavior etc!!! But I just didn't get it at the time......

So what are some things you can do to help your situation?

1)I would suggest spending lots of your time on FUN impulse control games! Use food rewards and praise. Teach leave it, drop it, wait, stay, flirt pole, stay with me (as people pass by) etc.

2)Cut out some of the physical exercise if it is too much and work hard on mental workouts and fun tricks. This will tire out your dog, esp the smart breeds like yours. I do this nonstop with my dogs. Plus it is fun for you too! This way it will relax you as well, which in turn calms your dogs nicely.

3)Practice "watch the world goes by" with the puppy (and with the Joey too!)
This is so important for long term training success and life success. I basically take my dog outside to various places and we plop down together and watch the world go by together. She can either lay down near me or sit calmly as we do this. I initially give tons of tiny yummy treats to teach her to chill out next to me, then the reward gets to be that we spend our time together taking in all the sounds,smells, sights, people, birds, etc in our environment.

THIS IS MY #1 Recommended thing I do with dogs to get them to have an overall calm, relaxed, polite, confident demeanor.

4) I take my dogs esp Puma pup, to see other animals in pet stores, etc and have her be very, very calm and polite in their presence. She gets highly rewarded (food/praise) for laying quietly and watching the other animals as I talk gently to her about them. This teaches amazing impulse control for her around other animals. Which helps immensely with her around my older dogs, cats and our yard squirrels and the neighborhood deer. etc

This would probably help you with your other pets as well as Max would learn how to be more chill around them! Plus not only is this super fun for me and Puma but she is tired when she gets home from our special "visit the animals" outings!

5) I take Puma to other stores, banks, businesses where pets are allowed. I bring amazing food treats. I train her "service dog" style so when we go out she has very polite, calm, respectful manners. She is heavily rewarded for all good behavior choices when we are out on our fun field trips. She loves it and so do I. She gets to meet people, sniff stuff, investigate new places and smells, etc. But by doing this I get to teach her awesome stuff, especally LOTS of impulse control. When we get home, she is pooped from all the mental stimulation/lessons and she has ZERO energy left to annoy my older dogs and cats.:)

6) Give your ultra smart, hard working Shepherd breed pup a JOB!! These types of dogs thrive when you teach them a job. I taught my shy fearful Gracie dog to feed all our pets including the cat that she was terrified of previously. She calls them to each meal with certain barks, and omg she is happiest when she is so proudly doing her JOB! (Gracie is a blue heeler mix)

Heck even my lil chihuahua Sparky is now helping Gracie by making sure the cat actually appears for dinner as Gracie is calling her. So damn cute. Dogs love jobs! I am sure your Max would love a job, too! Gives them confidence and pride.

6)When pup Max is acting crazy hyper, separate the dogs, but give amazing bones or chewy things or bully sticks to older Joey to let him know he is good and valued, and to relieve his stress, and to keep him busy. This is what I did ALOT at my house as we were raising Puma pup.

7) Take time to relax yourself. If only for a moment. Balancing dogs can be so hard and stressful and challenging and exhausting at times. I know. Believe me I know. I love all my dogs, but when we brought in our new pup unexpectedly, our lives completely changed. We went from a very quiet household of 2 dogs, 2 cats, to this plus a pup. Big difference. Huge difference. Being honest here.

But doing the things I wrote above has helped our entire household immensely. Puma is now a bit past a year and everyone is getting along beautifully now. Sure there are occasional grumps and bumps, but nothing like before when she(the puppy) was younger and less well trained and mentally conditioned.

Hang in there, ok? Your dogs love you!

I feel for ya, I get it. It's not easy. Some days I wanted to run But then I would miss my dogs too much. Lol. Some times we just have to laugh at all our crap, right?

But---It will get easier as you work with the situation! It did for us, so I have faith that it will for you as well!:)

All the best to you and your dogs. And cats....:)

851 Posts
I personally am not into Board and Train programs for my dogs

Has anyone done a board and train? How did it go?
Sorry not much help here on this, I have never done a board and train, and probably never will. But this is just my opinion, I am sure others have had success with their experiences.

I strongly pondered it at first when I adopted/rescued my shy extremely fearful Gracie dog. Because I was at a total loss of how to work with her or how to help her. I actually walked her into a very well known center here that does board and train programs. She couldn't even function at that point, not even meet the worker or take any treats from me. It was heartbreaking.

I told them her history. I asked them what they recommended for her. They said to drop her off and leave her for a few weeks/month for board and train. I was shocked at their answer. Drop her off? NO way. Uh uh. Nope, not happening. She had been rehomed 4 times (over three years) before I got her, gone to foster care, shelters, huge painful heartworm vet treatments, and then finally to us.

We had no bond or trust yet and I sure as hell wasn't going to drop her off there, with her thinking I, too, had abandoned her. No way. She deserved better.

So that is how I started studying dog behavior to truly help her. I am so glad they offered this and I said no. Our whole life may have ended up very differently, possibly with her being euthanized due to her extreme fear responses. I still keep their business card in my car to remind me of how hard I have worked and studied to help my beloved deserving Gracie.

Anyway....I wouldn't do BNT now or in the future because I would always want to work with my dog and the trainers. I want to learn how to truly teach, not just have them train my dog.

So much has to do with how the owner communicates with their dog!!

And every dog is so different! We have to be able to learn how to adapt to each dog in a way that really makes the dog want to and be able to truly respond.

Plus I always want to see what they are doing with my dog, to my dog. I want to make sure their values and morals and training ethics align with mine.

Sometimes BNT training facilities can promise one thing and do other things behind closed doors. Like use shock collars, etc even when they do not disclose this to the dog owners. ICK. I have had friends that have worked with dogs in "reputable" facilities and believe me this happens....

I am certainly not saying all BNT facilities are not reputable, but in general it is best to do lots and lots of research first. Plus these programs are sooo expensive in many cases!!!!

But saying all that---as long as you are comfortable with this and know the facility and staff, you will probably be just fine. Maybe show up announced here and there...just to be sure all is going well.

And perhaps---maybe having a short break from Max will help you to relax a bit and help your other pets to get a break.

But like others have said here---working directly with a trainer and your dog (not a BNT) will probably give you the very best long term results as you will learn how to communicate most effectively with your dog at this particularly challenging stage of puppyhood with Sir Max.

Best to you. Keep us updated ok?
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