Are GSD's Always Worried?

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by Peacock, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    Okay, another post about my dear dogs. I'm trying to understand my GSD. Rocky, the Lab mix, is a big loving goofball. Him, I get. The GSD, Maverick, was 4 when we adopted him, and he didn't always have the easiest life. I don't think Mav was abused, he just wasn't shown a lot of love and didn't socialize the way you'd want a family dog to do so. He's come a long way since we've had him, but he and I are still a bit at odds sometimes.

    Remember a few months ago I posted all freaked out because he'd been growling at me? He still does, but I've decided it's not a threatening growl. He's a very smart dog and his growl is just a way to communicate he's not happy or he's feeling insecure. He growls in complaint when I make him go to his cage at night, but he goes anyway. "Grrrrr....okay FINE, mom." :) He growls when he's sleeping by the couch and I startle him.

    He clearly prefers my DH and is quite affectionate with him. He's reasonably affectionate with me, but only when DH isn't there. It's funny; sometimes I'll call Mav and he starts to come over, then catches himself...oh no, I can't do that, mom!

    But most of all, Maverick always seems so WORRIED about things. He always seems to wear this anxious, concerned expression. I mean, he's not high strung and nervous, just watchful, ever watchful of everyone and everything. A total contrast to Rocky, who hit the puppy jackpot and hasn't a care in the world.

    I told DH one night that I thought Mav ought to have a German name...like, I dunno, Klaus or something. Then I came up with the nickname Sauerkraut. You know, 'cause he's always "Sauer." Therefore Mav and Rocky are "Sauerkraut and Weiners." :p

    Edited to change this -- it's "Wieners", not "Weiners". Then again, "weiners" would be pronounced "whiners" ('cause in German words ie is "e" and ei is "i") which makes perfect sense for a spoiled pup. ;)
     
  2. GoldenMom

    GoldenMom Well-Known Member

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    A worried/watchful look/attitude is very common for shepherds. It's one of the things that make them such good guardians.
     

  3. NCGirl

    NCGirl Well-Known Member

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    Alert is good, worried is bad. A GSD should be self-confident and sure of himself. Maybe he isn't worried, but his forehead is all scrunched up cause he is pondering life real hard :shrug:
    :)
     
  4. RandB

    RandB Well-Known Member

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    Shepherd dogs are very sensitive to everything that goes on around them, hence they worry about things more than some other types of dogs. You really haven't had him for all that long of a time yet - he is probably still figuring things out around your place. Especially if he has changed from an outdoor dog to indoor, there is a lot of stuff for him to think about. Hopefully he just needs more time to understand his new life, and then he will relax somewhat. The holiday hustle and bustle can also be disturbing for some dogs. My Belgian shepherd notices any little change around here, and has to inspect it to his satisfaction, or it will bother him. I think all herding type dogs are this way - that is why breeders will tell people they are dogs "not for beginner owners".
     
  5. Deb862

    Deb862 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with GSD's being "not for beginner owners." We have an 8-1/2-year-old GSD that we got from an award-winner breeder; however, we have noticed that our Viktor has a few "mental" issues as well. Someone above was correct when they said that GSD's should not be worried or anxious (ours is, too). They should be self-confident. Unfortunately, I've read that sometimes in breeding quality GSD's some of the pups in the litters have "deficits," and one deficit can be mental soundness. Our male GSD also growls and has actually bitten both of us on occasion. DH got real tired of this and decided to try some Dog Whisperer psychology on him. Turns out, Viktor's growling was really mostly about dominance, which GSD's are also bred for, and the next time he lunged at my husband he pinned the dog on the ground right on the street and proceeded to show him who was boss. After a few times of doing this, Viktor has not lunged at or bitten us again. He still occasionally mumble-growls but knows his place. I really think GSD's need a "firm handler" or else they will definitely assert themselves as pack leader. It's just in their blood to do so, and at 100+ pounds they have the power to back it up!
     
  6. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    edayna, glad to hear "Sauerkraut" is settling in. It just takes some time. Deb's right on the dominance thing. There's a training method used by the Monks of New Skeet that's worth exploring and might help you zero in on some details for Mav's training. Shepherds need jobs and maybe Mav is worried because he doesn't really have one. Something to consider anyway.

    One of my shepherds jobs is to keep the furniture warm:

    http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o53/ARbluegecko/cats002.jpg

    http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o53/ARbluegecko/cats001.jpg
     
  7. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    well, armchair dog-whisperer style, Mav probably looks worried because he thinks he's the alpha dog when your husband isn't around--he's supposed to be in charge and he doesn't have a clue what to do, and this worries him. If you let him know that *you're* the alpha when your husband is gone, then he doesn't have to carry that burden and can be free to be himself.

    Plus he needs a job. Dog whisperer does things like getting a backpack for the dog and having him carry stuff on walks, then walking to places where dogs are allowed and having the dog carry home the loot (eg: walk to a petstore and buy dog food, walk to a sidewalk stand and have the dog carry the flowers, etc.). Better to find some livestock for them to herd, whether the stock 'need' it or not.
     
  8. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    Thanks for the advice. I think Mav's accepted me as "substitute" alpha; he always does what I tell him to do. It's just that when DH is here, Mav always looks to him first when I issue a command, like "well, should I?"

    Mav's job is to protect the backyard from unauthorized birds, squirrels, or cats, and he does it very well. :) He's a lot grumpier when it's raining and he's not allowed out as much. The trouble, I think, is that he lacks an indoor job.

    We can't take Mav on walks. I've given up. Nor can we take Mav anyplace in the car, because he is a Total Basket Case in the car. He loves it, but pop out the leash and he turns into something like a hyperactive child who drank a six-pack of Pepsi. Yikes! Which is a real shame because I was making serious headway with Rocky and leash-walking when we got Mav, and Rocky's great in the car.

    I don't think Mav is mentally unstable. I think he's just had kind of a rough life. He's very smart and concerned about doing the right thing. We just have to help him learn what that is. If it were up to me we would never have taken him because we are beginner dog owners and I knew better. I like him a whole lot, don't get me wrong. He's happy here because we have plenty of space and he's very well cared for. It's just not the best fit either way. But what'cha gonna do? We have him, and that's that. We all just have to do the best with what we have.
     
  9. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    Try putting Mav on the leash IN the house. Take him with you as you do chores and put him through basic commands. Sit, down, stay, heel etc It'd be good for both of you.
     
  10. NCGirl

    NCGirl Well-Known Member

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    This is not true. A well-bred litter should NOT have any pups with mental deficits, or unsoundness. If a litter has pups with real temperament issues then both parents should be spayed/castrated and any unsound pups/dogs should be culled.

    German Shepherds kept at a working weight should be:

    Females : 50-70 pounds
    Males: 70-90 pounds

    A german shepherd dog is a medium size dog that should be agile and able to work. Large dogs are not usually agile and not able to work as well as medium size dogs. Dogs over this weight should be spayed or castrated and taken out of the breeding pool though they can make fine pets.

    The most important thing with a German Shepherd is a SOUND temperament. A good dog can go out into public without fear or barking or hackling up at strangers for no reason. They are self-confidnent and sure of themselves and will not act inappropritely towards someone unless there is a reason too. A young dog under say 12-18 months should think everyone is their friend and should be taken out and socialized to the hilt. This is very important. Natural protectiveness will come with age.

    Yes, German Shepherds require a firm but fair hand. They can be ok beginners dogs if the owners are willing to put in the time to become knowledgeable.
     
  11. NCGirl

    NCGirl Well-Known Member

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    Edayna, I suggest you spend plenty of one on one time doing obedience with your dog. This is what will really seal the deal with his bond to you and his willing to listen to you. Often male dogs will do just as you describe. Look to the man of the house as alpha then assume that he is next in line. If this is not acceptable to you then you really need to put in the hours hammering out the obedience with him. Lots of downs and down stays. YOU feed him and make him sit or down for 1 minute, 2 minutes then 5 minutes until you say it is ok for him to eat. Keep a leash on him while doing this so if he breaks you can pull him away from the food bowl by the leash. I don't believe in messing with a dogs food bowl, but that's another story. This whole thing of making him sit or down EACH and EVERY time you feed him even if it is just for a few seconds will do a lot for you. Try that.
     
  12. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Edayna, you REALLY need to watch The Dog Whisperer. It airs on the National Geographic Channel, if you get cable or satellite TV. If you don't get these services, then you can buy it on videotape or DVD at WalMart and Target and other stores of that type. The whole thing about not being able to walk him, etc--that show will teach you how to fix ALL of it. Really! You gotta see it!