Barking German Shepherd. Three Black German Shepherds

Three black German ShepherdsThese people are heroes! They already had eight year old Jet and then, four months ago, adopted a companion for him – one-year-old Cody.

Just after that they were asked to foster Jake, age 4, and he has just been left with them! Life will be a lot easier when a home is eventually found and they are down to the two dogs again.

Common sense and love

Common sense and love has brought Cody on wonderfully. He was extremely fearful when they first got him, but now all three dogs can be walked together – even to the extent that they go on a group dog walk at weekends with lots of other dogs.

All three dogs are completely unfazed by their little toddler daughter and this really is an achievement with dogs that have come from uncertain pasts.

Barking German Shepherd

The problem is, again, aggressive behaviour towards people coming to the house – from Cody. Another barking German Shepherd. I say ‘aggressive behaviour’ because he’s not an aggressive dog, he’s fearful, and all he knows is to respond aggressively.

Barking German Shepherd

Cody

So many German Shepherds I go to bark, lunge and may bite if given the chance when people come into their homes. Cody is crated but on the occasion that prompted them to contact me a friend was at the door. Cody had managed to break out of his metal crate and he flew at her, biting her arm. Skin wasn’t punctured so his aim wasn’t to destroy her – it was to get rid of her.

A big warning.

If a guest is in the house Cody has to be kept away, because the barking German Shepherd reacts if they so much as move. The other two dogs are just majorly excited.

I sat down – dogs find standing people far more threatening – and all three were brought in, one at a time, on lead – the calmest one first. The lead was dropped and the next dog fetched. Cody who was last barely reacted to me and I ignored him.

Soon I was dropping treats on the floor and he was coming to me to be fed and touched. I stood up. I walked about. It gave the lady great encouragement and hope to see what is possible if people behave the same way as myself with the dogs.

A calm alternative

All three dogs are being taught a calm behaviour incompatible with excited turmoil and using manic play in order to unwind. In a few minutes they were learning how to lie down quietly for the lady without even having to be told (see picture).

So many GSDs I go to are reactive and scared of people (and there are a lot, with another one tomorrow). Wouldn’t it be wonderful in a dream world if people breeding Shepherds accepted that guarding breeds of this sort who are easily spooked in particular need proactive and intense socialising from about 5 weeks onwards. They would only sell pups to sort of people who are committed to continuing this.

By about four months old the best opportunity for bomb-proof socialisation is passing.

I would bet that far more dogs end up being put to sleep for biting someone than would ever die of diseases from exposure to vaccinated dogs. Like human babies, for the first weeks they inherit immunity from their mother and her milk anyway.

Blind Black German Shepherd

Black GSD is yawning, uneasy

Jet

Here is Jet – yawning. He’s feeling a bit uneasy in the presence of their other black German Shepherd Max who is just out of the picture. Max is blind, just a year old, and they have had him for just a few days.

After a promising start, things have deteriorated between the two dogs who have now had four fights – each one worse than the one before ending with a visit to the vet for Max. For the past two days they have been kept completely apart, their first reuniting when I was there.. They were both soon lying down, seemingly relaxed, so I feel things haven’t yet gone too far.

The big problem is that the two dogs don’t understand one another. Jet will be giving all the right signals and body language that he wants to be left alone, but of course Max can’t read them. Jet can’t know this. Max, on the other hand, tries to use Jet as his eyes, following right behind him which Jet doesn’t like. Max started nipping him or maybe he was just grabbing onto him – perhaps because Jet wasn’t doing what he wanted – and eventually, having warned him with signals and growling, Jet turned. Other fights followed.

Outside the house Max is terrified of every sound, resulting in hackling, barking and even grabbing quite aggressively. He has no idea where he is. For this reason the first thing they must do is to allow Max to gain his bearings and a sort of mental map of first his garden, and then very gradually, outside the front of the house. This responsibility is with the humans not with Jet, so he needs a lot of walking alone on lead around the place. He sometimes loses the door in from the garden, so I suggest they put something scented near or on it.

Max' eyes look normal

Max’ eye

For now the dogs will only be together when their baby is in bed and they both are on hand. Both should be trailing a short lead and everything should be calm.  At the first sign of tension, someone needs to walk or stand between the dogs, splitting them up – just as another dog would do.  Poor Max has been passed between about five different people in the past few weeks, which would be bad enough for a dog with eyes, let alone a blind dog.

I hope, taking it slowly, that they can help these two dogs to understand one another, help Jet to be tolerant, and help Max to be more independent, so that they can all get along happily. It is a small house and keeping the dogs apart and taking them separately to the garden is complicated. It goes without saying that their dear little girl is their number one priority.

This photo of one of Max’ eyes is interesting. You wouldn’t know he was blind to look at him. I took it close up using flash. Most dogs’ eyes would glow white because to give good twilight vision they possess a light-reflecting surface known as the tapetum lucidum which operates like a mirror.

The next day I received a phone call. For the safety of their little girl they have decided to return Max to the the rescue. I agree that this is wise and must admit the situation worried me. Good rescue organisations do home checks before placing a dog. Whilst this couple would be ideal if they didn’t have a toddler, it’s not the right environment. He will now go back into foster. I do so hope a forever home is found for Max with someone experienced andwith  no children, where he is the only dog. In his short life this blind dog has had to adjust to seven or more different homes, and it’s testament to his basic sound temperament that he is so friendly.