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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello guys, once again I need your advices and help, if you get any idea why is this happening and how to cope.

Our 10 months old German Shepherd female puppy seemed happy until today. There were some issues which lead to the lack of previous regime, for maybe two weeks now? Few changes happened lately and the biggest one was old, badly injured and ill stray cat, that I found and tried to rescue. The tomcat spent two days in our house and after attempts to heal him and visiting vet, the next day we and the doctor agreed to let him pass away, as he only got worse after previous care.

Our puppy was curious about the cat all the time and maybe did not understand why she does not have acces to all parts of the house anymore. But she did not seem to be in any distress (unlike now...). She was even more trying to get us play with her and so on, she got her attention (or at least we tried). After I came back alone from the vet, she even came to me and tried to cheer me up merilly, as my BF was comforting me as well. The big part of it is the fact, that I felt like hell about everything of this accident and could not let it go immediately after leaving the clinic. And I know that dogs are empathetic beings.

What I don't understand is why it's happening two days after all of that? The next day after euthanasing the cat she started to act very weird around me. The same as when she was resource guarding that empty patte box I gave her to lick a while ago. Lowering her head, avoiding eye contact, not even seemed happy seeing me after whole night (unlike my BF, his daughter or granny, she is excited about them...). She just seemed like "leave me alone, I don't even want to go for walk or in the garden." She lost her apetite for beef meatbones treats she normally loves. It seems like she eats her food only because "she has to", no excitement here.

Today was a peak which made me kinda heartbroken. Not even that I couldn't save the cat, made very poor judgement and spent more money than we could afford RN on keeping alive a pet, who just hoped to die and be left alone, so I prolongued his misery for nothing. But after that I want to move on and feel ok again, but my dog is not ok now.

Our puppy loves sleeping at the basement door, because in summer it's the coolest place. I've never noticed her guard this place before, she always respect me and BF about entering whichever place we need at the moment and she never minds. But today evening BF and kiddo went to see a movie. Me and puppy returned from go for walk, she lied down at the basement. After two hours she came up and ate her dinner, then went back there. I was cleaning up the whole appartment, so I wanted to mop the floor in the hall as well, and at the basement.

So I removed the curtain and proceeded to go down there, while saying "come on bro, gonna clean this place".

And she was already standing on all fours and growling at me! I put the curtain back and went away then, with "WTF" feeling. After twenty minutes I tried to lure her for opened door, to get her out of there just for a little while, to sweep the floor there. She checked the situation and then went back to the basement door, when I was finishing, she high pitch barked at me and gave me a warning bite. :cry: I had to leave the small brush and dustpan there, because she literally would not let me to take them...

I asked my BF to confront her (after another 30 minutes, when they came back from the cinema), and she did the same to him - so it's not only about me, as it seems.

I am heartbroken, because I was the one who wanted dog. I am the "main" master, but It feels such unfair, that she probably connects me with everything "must" and bad, and my BF is her favourite anyway, and tbh it seems she loves everybody around better than me. I am just her matter of course person and the only thing that probably works in my favour is that I feed her. I made peace with this fact, because it can't change my feelings for her, but this situation and her behavior made me cry and feeling betrayed, unaccepted and endangered in my own home.

Did she feel like this before, because of the cat and because of that she acts like this now? I am afraid that she will start to resource guard more space, and I don't want to live in fear of dog I love, but which doesn't give a flying heck about me and fancy everyone else above me.

Some aditional info: About a week before I found the cat, I also noticed mild sleep aggression in her. She had her first heat when she was 7,5 months old, it lasted for about 3 weeks and her behavior was more cuddly, but ok. Also two weeks ago arrived my BF's daughter to stay with us for the rest of a summer, but puppy loves her dearly - only she can't anymore sleep on the bed where our kid is sleeping for now.

Sorry for the long text, guys. I will appreciate greatly any advice or opinion. Thank you!
 

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I don't think the cat issue will be connected (but perhaps others will see a link that I'm missing).

I'd like to know more about the sleep aggression, and whether you going to the basement might have disturbed her? When she is sleeping, is she normally left alone? How did the sleep aggression come about?

Also, the growl and bite - if the bite broke skin our normal policy is to advise a professional behaviourist but I realise this may be difficult or even impossible where you are, so I'm happy to run with sensible replies from members for now. Anyway, these things are fairly high up a whole hierarchy of warning signals that a dog will give before reaching that stage.

To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

So I need to ask, have you noticed any more subtle warnings?

We have a lot of information about resource guarding here but the go-to book is Mine! by Jean Donaldson.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
JoanneF:
Hello, thank you for your kind reply. :)

Well I think, that the cat was only addition to more things. I bet the main thing is the lack of the regime and stability she had before and the small changes around her. There was also one day (after that cat was putted to sleep) we stayed up long and my BF was playing with her maybe around 3 o clock in the morning, because she came as she heard us. Not a good idea, it may have messed up her sleep regime as well. The next night at the exact time she woke up and started to seek attention to play with us again, maybe? By whining, chewing into squeaky toy and making loud mess (which she never did before), ahe also throwed the armchair on the floor! And the next morning after that yesterday came and she was already cranky...

That sleep agression you asked about: It was really like nothing - she was sleeping at the front door, I went to the bathroom, she opened her eyes and was looking at me, more like in half sleep state. I just petted her a little on her head and she started twitching her upper lip a little. So I stopped quickly and let her be, and she fell asleep again almost immediatelly. I doubt she knew about me confronting her at all. There were no other cases of that, except that thing yesterday - she could have been only tired and cranky because of that?

She is used to people walk around her while she sleeps like all the time. She picked for her favourite sleep room the hallway and that's the problem maybe. Sometimes she frowns, more like "sighs" loudly, when people walk around her why she is sleeping, like she doesn't like it, but maybe it's not related to it. Sometimes she wants to sleep in room with me or the kid during the day, when she have the acces to our rooms, but mostly she prefers hallway and the basement steps area. Everybody knows not to disturb her on purpose while she sleeps, that situation with the sleep aggression was really one exception after very long time.

About the bite - it actually was not a real bite, just a warning bite/nip, it did not hurt at all. She just snapped at my hand with one single high pitched bark. And yes, there were warnings before, but I did not see them because of the curtain maybe, so she started to growl as I removed the curtain, and the rest you know already...

Oh and this! She does the thing with nipping when I try to collect some grass in our garden for neighbour's chicken. She is like very upset with me pulling the grass out of the ground, as she knows that I am going to throw it over the fence to the chicken. She whines, barks and goes all bananas with snapping after the grass and my hand, and tries to cover all the areas of the ground from which I try to pull the grass from. Once our neigbour was pulling out the knapweed from pavement in her garden and our pup again suddenly high pitch barked at her, so everyone was startled. What is this in your opinion? Is it also related to resource guarding?

Thanks again for the links and reply! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
JoanneF:
Hello, here is update: I got few messages from fellow dog owners. Many of them said, that it's almost surely false pregnancy issue. I tried to search this and it really makes sense. It would never occur me that it's "that" common issue in female dogs...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's exactly what I said as well, that she does not carry toys around and that's why I didn't think about false pregnancy, but more people said that this is not the only symptom of false pregnancy and that female dogs don't have to do this to have this issue.

Other things fit. It's about two and half months from her heat right now and that's when the other symptoms are usually in peak. About the exercise, she seems to have less energy and does not want to do anything almost ever, but I will try to make her to go on the longer go for walks at least.
 

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And yes, there were warnings before, but I did not see them because of the curtain maybe, so she started to growl as I removed the curtain, and the rest you know already...
Just to pick up on something you said yesterday.

A dog doesn’t escalate from wide eyes, yawning, avoidance, etc, to a growl and air snap that quickly.

What we mean is that she may have been giving off these signals that she wasn’t comfortable for months before resorting to growling and air snap.

Do not pat a dog on the head unless it’s fully awake and alert.

I’m not entirely convinced that the aggression is related to a pseudo-pregnancy - she doesn’t sound like she’s nesting, she’s not carrying toys around, you haven’t mentioned any of the physical symptoms such as enlarged mammary glands or lethargy;

As your dog is a GSD, I wonder if she’s chosen your partner as her person. They are known as “one man dogs”, and while they will show loyalty to other family members, there’s often one person who’s their favourite - and that isn’t necessarily their main care giver;

Yes, barking/snapping at your hand, trying to cover/protect the grass, is resource guarding.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
LMMB:
Hello and thank you for you comment.

Yes, she definitely likes my BF more and might pick him as "hers" person. But I hope it would not make her hate or dislike me? Or why did you mentioned it? I am going to look at those links, thank you. But I doubt it will get any easier with reading about it, because I already know that she will never fancy me the same as she fancies him.

That is why I said those things before, I am kinda heartbroken that I am doing like everything for her, and still I am just a matter of course to her. Even if she likes me somehow I guess, my BF does not have the time nor enthuziasm to be the full time master, so I have to learn how to cope and have a good relationship with her. Still feels unfair inside though, no matter what. If she would only know how much I care about her and how much my BF is just like "I like you dog and whatever", but... You know what I mean. Maybe she picked him right because he did not care that much. And maybe because he is a male.

And to the false pregnancy... It does not have to be that critical case, but the hormonal fluctuations after heat can cause dog to be nervous, depressed, anxious, even hostile. I meant just that few months after her heat. Many people said that some female dogs cope with the hormone changes well and some do not.

And about the warning signals. She did the air snap on him (BF) as well, the same evening and only in that specific area - basement door place. Also she is less entuziastic about everyone, I think that I maybe felt that this is only about me, because I am the one who spends the most time with her and around her.

About that grass... WHY the grass? What to do about the fact she feels competent to claim even the grass as hers own? I guess it's not ok and I don't know where did it come from. Not to mention that she does this to my BF as well.
 

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The "resource" your dog is guarding is herself! I've seen this 1000 times, especially with German Shepherds.

Your puppy has been tolerating things that make her uncomfortable, like excessive attention and confusing direction, for some time. As she matures she'll be less and less tolerant and more and more likely to take a stand against it!

Is it possible for you to hire an experienced trainer to help with her? It would save you lots of time and work!

With a german shepherd less is more when it comes to attention. Be there, nearby and even interacting, without any touching of any kind. Let her know that you won't grab or try to pet or otherwise interfere with her when she's near or resting or eating.

Teach her, using ample treats and praise and play, what you want. Watch Kikopup on YouTube for help with that step.

The grass thing is about play, so play with her! Throw some grass! Laugh and have fun! And above all, lighten up!

You'll find that once you stop actively pursuing her as you go about your day, she'll begin to relax. The main thing is to be consistent. She needs to trust you to "act" in a predictable way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
BigBlackDog
Ok, no I feel like a total idiot, that I did to her things she did not want, and she was too patient with me until now. I didn't know that GS dogs hate touching, cuddling and attention. All the time I was giving her what I pressumed she will appreciate and what I thought made her feel loved and safe.

I did a lot of reading before we got her. There were never any mentions about the fact, how to handle the dog in these things. All the time the same - friendly dogs, love their family, love children, love interaction. Not a single mention not to pet them (too much or ever), etc... Now I wonder if her showing belly was really requirement for belly rubbing, or just sign of submission. I am worried I did it all wrong all the time.

Thank you for your reply, I am going to find some info about different approach and consider trainer. I would like to know more about things you said you've seen 100 times, because in this case I never got that information about dogs tolerating/not tolerating accesive attention, petting, etc, and those misunderstandings between dogs and people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just a quick update:

Cressida was pacing around, came to my room with wagging tail, while I was on my way to BF's room to ask him about shopping time this evening. She came to him, they cuddled, he was like "geez, no pls...", she was all excited, licking his face. A sit next to him/ them, she gave a slight side look, but all ok. Then I wanted to slightly pet her on her back as well, meanwile he was doing it.

I got another quick side look and she licked her lips.

So, apparently I broke her trust and relationship with between us.

Again, thank you guys so much for your wise and kind advices and opinions.
 
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