Not Pit Bulls, but GSD question

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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 1:15 am

Our youngest GSD Yaeger is a real butthead at times.
We are currently fostering another GSD, who is younger, and Yaeger bullies him something terrible.
Not vicious, but annoying, to be sure. For instance if the other dog wants to go see the kids, Yaeger will run over and bump him out of the way with a snarky growl, not allowing him to see the kids.
He did this before, with a collie we fostered.
Today I finally grabbed Yaeger's scruff and shook him a bit and made him go lie in his area in the laundry room just after he "corrected" the foster.
Michelle, got any ideas on how to handle this? He's too big to scruff often
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Postby katiek0417 » March 26th, 2006, 11:33 am

My old trainer specializes in GSDs (has 8 himself) and he deals with the GSD rescues and all and he's had to deal with this issue himself...

What I've heard him tell people in your situation is this: the foster is the "new" pack member. Your youngest is trying to let the foster know that he is not part of the pack yet. Your kids are part of your GSDs pack. You can't make your GSD accept this foster...it will take some time. Sometimes the best thing to do is to let them work it out on their own (as long as it's not a full-blown dog fight). If you constantly intervene, you are sending a message to Yaeger that you do not respect their pack order (especially if you are constantly correcting him for going after the new pack member).

GSDs (and other herding dogs) are very much pack animals (more than other dog breeds, IMO)...and they very much live by pack rules. If there was really an issue (in your other GSD's minds) then they would correct Yaeger. Alphas will not necessarily coddle the lowest pack members, but they'll correct another pack member if the lowest is getting picked on too much....
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby mnp13 » March 26th, 2006, 11:34 am

lol

How tall is he? If you stand straight up with your hands to the sides, can you reach his collar with your hand (no leaning)?
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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 11:38 am

Yes, Michelle, he's that tall. 27" at the shoulder. He weighs around 100lbs.

That makes sense Katie. And I used to do that with him when he'd be on Alec 24/7 (the collie). I'd finally say "Enough is enough!" and make him go elsewhere. Yesterday the scruffing was about that...he'd been on the dogs' case all AM and I finally said that's ENOUGH and sent him to his corner.
He's not violet and the other dog accepts the "corrections". It's just nervewracking for me and somewhat for the foster.
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Postby mnp13 » March 26th, 2006, 12:00 pm

That's a bummer, the front feet off the floor walk is a great wakeup call when necessary.

Anyway, I disagree with Katrina to an extent. I don't think dogs have to be allowed to 'pick' their order in the family, you can set it up and enforce it. We did that with Connor and Ruby and as long as you are consistant they will adapt. You need to decide who is where in the pecking order and they have to accept that order.
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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 12:09 pm

It's pretty well worked out right now. That the foster (see his dogster page here: http://www.dogster.com/pet_page.php?j=t&i=285382 )
accepts and doesn't challenge him is a relief. He's just happy that he has a "pack" I guess, to call his own.
But I agree...there's times when I call a cease-fire with Yaeger, he doesn't like it but he accepts it.
I sometimes joke that Yaeger thinks of himself as the "judge and jury" and he actually breaks tiffs up between Lambie (whom he adores) and the other dogs.
Dog justice isn't our justice, that's for sure. I think it's more pure however!
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Postby katiek0417 » March 26th, 2006, 3:37 pm

This article might help. It was written by Jerry Bradshaw, one of the founders of PSA, and a very well-respected trainer throughout the country:

http://www.tarheelcanine.com/articles/s ... ivalry.htm

Michelle, Nisha is clearly the alpha in the pack at my house; Sacha clearly the underdog (so to speak). Nisha is only 7.5 months old. There can be different social structures within a household. There is one for my social structure: I am the alpha, then Sacha, then Nisha (and Sacha always gets treats first, gets fed first, gets to go out first, etc). Between the two of them, though, Nisha is absolutely the alpha. There are still minor challenges, but Nisha wins every one, and Sacha offers up her neck. Some dogs aren't meant to be an alpha.

Take Wes and his 8 GSD's as an example, they have had Shep the longest, then Kane, then Kasi, then Gypsy, Dominic, Lucha, Lico, then Kona. They always get fed in that order. They always go out in that order. I can promise you, though: Kane is the alpha of the pack of dogs, even though Shep gets "alpha treatment" by the family.

For centuries, wolves and wild dogs have figured out pack orders in the wild. Who are we to decide what pack order they should be in?
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Drusilla SLUT- Pet
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Postby katiek0417 » March 26th, 2006, 3:57 pm

Also, Michelle, keep in mind that Conner is a male, Ruby is a female. You can have an alpha female and alpha male in the same pack with little or no issues.
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
Sacha CGC - Dumb Lab
Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
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Postby SisMorphine » March 26th, 2006, 4:04 pm

katiek0417 wrote:This article might help. It was written by Jerry Bradshaw, one of the founders of PSA, and a very well-respected trainer throughout the country:

http://www.tarheelcanine.com/articles/s ... ivalry.htm

Michelle, Nisha is clearly the alpha in the pack at my house; Sacha clearly the underdog (so to speak). Nisha is only 7.5 months old. There can be different social structures within a household. There is one for my social structure: I am the alpha, then Sacha, then Nisha (and Sacha always gets treats first, gets fed first, gets to go out first, etc). Between the two of them, though, Nisha is absolutely the alpha. There are still minor challenges, but Nisha wins every one, and Sacha offers up her neck. Some dogs aren't meant to be an alpha.

Take Wes and his 8 GSD's as an example, they have had Shep the longest, then Kane, then Kasi, then Gypsy, Dominic, Lucha, Lico, then Kona. They always get fed in that order. They always go out in that order. I can promise you, though: Kane is the alpha of the pack of dogs, even though Shep gets "alpha treatment" by the family.

For centuries, wolves and wild dogs have figured out pack orders in the wild. Who are we to decide what pack order they should be in?

I very much agree with this. I have seen it's workings.

My old neighbors have 4 dogs: a Foxhound, a Boxer, and two Doxies. The Boxer was their first dog, is the oldest by 4 or 5 years, and therefore they decided that she should be alpha. From the time they brought home the 8 week old Foxhound puppy, the Boxer was fed first, pet first, treated first, etc.

When you walk into that house the Foxhound, now 2 years old, is CLEARLY dominant. She is keeping the Doxie puppies and the Boxer in line at all times. The owner admits to the fact that the Foxhound appears more dominant but they want the Boxer to be dominant since she is older. But because they are trying to enforce an unnatural pecking order there is conflict between the girls.

They went away for a few weeks at the beginning of this year. I spoke with the housesitter and the afternoon dog walker (I was the morning feeder) and we decided that we would treat Daisy as the alpha (she was having some problems adjusting to her family being away and we hoped it would help out). She was fed first, pet first, etc. After just 2 days there were no spats for the rest of the time. They had ALWAYS fought before because the Boxer was being told she was dominant so tried to live up to those standards, and the Foxhound was actually dominant and was fighting it. But once the Boxer was being told that yes, the Foxhound was the queen bee in that house, she was okay with it, the Foxhound was okay with it, and frankly the Doxie pups could have cared less either way.

And I also look at it that any dog who comes into this house will be lower on the totem pole than Wally. Wally is a very very dominant boy. And just because I bring in, say, a Mastiff, who is taller so I decide he needs to be the dominant one, it will cause HUGE conflicts. Wally is king poop in this house, to any dog. At other people's houses who have dominant dogs Wally is always treated after the dominant dog of that household to ensure that realizes it is not his home, he is not in charge. If the dog is submissive to any degree than Wally is treated first.

By using this method I have never had an issue with Wally and another dog who is either staying here (foster, boarding, etc) or with any of the dogs I used to house sit for. I firmly believe that their place in the hierarchy is from birth, to a certain degree, and unless you have multiple dogs who are mid-pack level, you can't force hierarchy amongst them.


Wow, I hope at least some of that made sense . . .
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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 4:30 pm

katiek0417 wrote:Also, Michelle, keep in mind that Conner is a male, Ruby is a female. You can have an alpha female and alpha male in the same pack with little or no issues.

I see that with our Libby and Hunter. Hunter's the alpha male and Libby is the alpha female. She's alpha over Yaeger and now Lambie, and even the foster dog. What's interesting is the alphas don't interact much with the underlings. Yaeger is the one doing the interacting and moderating, correcting, etc.
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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 4:37 pm

No you can't force hierarchy at all...you can help defend it as in the case of Lambie vs. the others. She won't be alpha, EVER, because she's a baby, and she's new to the house.
But you can't tell her that. So we give back the toys she steals from the other dogs, right in front of her so she gets the message that we aren't going to tolerate it, even if they don't kill her out of respect for us and because that'd be messy anyway.
For the most part the dogs are ordered in the way they came into the house. Our dachshund doesn't care either way because he's rarely interacting with the big dogs in a meaningful manner.
The worst squabbles we've had were when Libby and Yaeger entered the house at almost the same time, we were fostering her and chose to adopt him. She became a failed foster along the way but for a bit, it was nasty until they got it established. I'll still see them playing some and suddenly she'll mount him!! It's kind of funny, if you think about it, he's so much bigger.
Then the 2nd worst squabble is Yaeger vs. Hunter, but Hunter knows his rank. Yaeger is an up-and-coming so to speak who, by his sheer size, thinks he OUGHT to be alpha. It just doesn't work like that.
If something happened to Hunter, I'd really be on pins and needles because that would leave Yaeger and Libby as the alphas and she's dominant enough that there might be problems.
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Postby mnp13 » March 26th, 2006, 5:19 pm

Well, I'll happily disagree. :D

I think if you enforce YOUR structure long enough you can create the hierarchy that you want.

When we get lax with the Ruby and Connor issue he immediately begins to challenge her. Everything from trying to kick her off the bed to peeing in her crate and peeing on her bed. As soon as we go back to reinforcing the sructure that we want things settle down quickly.

We did this on purpose. Connor came to me very thin and very weak. We knew that any order struggle would be very bad for him because of that. We also knew that once he got stronger he could cause other problems if we had challenges. So Ruby is first, Connor is second, end of story.

On top of all of that are the cats. No matter who starts what, the cats never get in trouble the dogs do. Merlin used to chase Cleo away from her food dish, steal her toys out from under her and annoy her in her crate when I wasn't home. None of the dogs mess with the cats.

With work you can enforce the hierarchy you want, it's a pain until you get used to it. If you are the 'alpha' then you can choose the structure you want and you back up the one you want. That's how it has always worked for me anyway, including with fosters and temp fosters.

Just my opinions.
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Postby msvette2u » March 26th, 2006, 5:41 pm

Actually I think you're right Michelle...but that said, I'd never mess with the structure they are comfortable with because I don't have the time to always enforce things...to give an example, Yaeger would like to be the alpha and we could let him since he's much larger, but to rearrange it all, omg...the work involved! If I really hated the way they had things set up I'd mess with it, but it works well for them and for us, so we leave it be.

Another example, I thought of while re-reading your post, is if a foster comes here and tries to become alpha. There's no way that's going to work and I won't hesitate to let the foster know, and if it doesn't respect that I won't foster it. Unless the dog is really old, older than our dogs, I'd not even let it try. And usually they don't. Copper, being 8, yet newer to the house, would still get hierarchy over Hunter, solely due to age. We'd defer to that even if Hunter doesn't see it that way. But then again they don't interact enough to warrant enforcing that to any great extent.

I guess we contribute as well, to Yaeger's not being able to overthrow the regime here, because of the sleeping arrangements, Hunter and Libby sleep in our rooms and so does Copper. Yaeger used to be crated at night but only because he wanders so bad. He goes into the kids' rooms 50,000 times a night to check on them (he worries about them more than we do!) so finally he sleeps in Ashley's room, with the door shut, thereby effectively eliminating any chance he'll defend us against any break-ins!! ;)
(I'm joking of course but it is kinda funny to own dogs to guard you then tie their paws so to speak!)

The cats here are the same way as yours. Nobody messes with the cats. Copper snapped at one the other evening and I jumped all over his case and he got the message, cats are untouchable!!
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