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Behaviour Problem in Young Female German Shepherd


Q: Behaviour Problem in Young Female German Shepherd PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk We have a 14 month old German shepherd bitch. We also have an eight-year-old collie cross and a 14 year-old Heinz 57. These dogs are all female and have all been spayed. When the shepherd was a puppy, she was accepted into the house by the other dogs. Gradually, as she got bigger, she began to ' rule the roost' (being three times the size of the other dogs). At night, or when we were out, there was no problem in leaving the dogs together. However, when we were around the Shepherd was very spiteful towards the other dogs. If either of the other dogs moved from their bed, she would slowly move towards them until she was towering above them and then seemingly attack them. These attacks, although seemingly vicious, didn't used to result in any injury - except in one case when they shepherd herself got bitten below the eye. We are now in the position of keeping the dogs separate as the shepherd has learnt to open doors and has started lifting the small dogs from their beds or wherever she finds them and attacks them. Keeping the dogs separate however seems to aggravate the problem should they accidentally meet, and the attacks seem to be becoming slightly more vicious, although they only (at the moment) result in some minor flesh wounds. The shepherd has been extremely timid in the past, but now has got to the stage where, if she is off lead when we are walking and sees another dog in the distance she will give chase. Having said all of this, the Shepherd is a gentle and playful dog with members of our the family, children and close friends. From the age of nine weeks she has attended agility and obedience training, and she is an active member of a local K9 display team. Although she is very nervous her interaction with the other dogs in the team has settled down very well. We do not have battles there, even with 10 dogs together in a ring. We are also able to Walker in crowds of people with no problem unless there is another dog. We have tried to seek advice on this, but have been given various ideas involving segregating the dogs or using cages to keep them separate. This is not the lifestyle that we would like to live, nor one, which is very convenient or safe - momentarily forgetting the door, can lead to some fraught moments. There must be some way that we can modify the behavior of the Shepherd in order to make her more at peace with other dogs, particularly ours. It has to be noted that just before Christmas, when she was eight months old, the Shepherd developed a bladder infection, coupled with a uterus infection, which made her extremely ill. It has taken six months, many visits to the vet, many antibiotics and a large operation to clear this up. Her behavior changed at about this time. Two weeks after her operation to remove the infected uterus, we left her with her trainer for 17 days whilst we took a holiday (books and paid for before the operation). During those 17 days she drank very little and didn't eat anything. Her weight dropped from 32 kilograms to 21 kilograms despite desperate attempts by trainers and vets to feed her. Once home again we were able to restore her eating patterns and she has now almost regained her lost weight. We are desperate to solve this behavioral problem. Your comments and advice on this would be gratefully accepted.Regards, Keith and Susan Foster

A:Behaviour Problem in Young Female German Shepherd PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk Thanks for your mail. I am not a behaviouralist, and I strongly suggest you get your vet to refer you to one, as the group dynamics of a family plus 3 dogs (one of which is aggressive), are beyond the scope of e-mail advice! I am sure there will be techniques you can put into practice which will modify the dogs' behaviour, however such techniques are tailored to the individual situation, and you should get expert help.Best of luck! Sarah Mark BA VetMB MRCVS (Vet for PetPlanet)

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