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Hi. I have 2 dogs "my dog", is a 3 year old neutered male pit bull, and "my girlfriend's" dog, who is a 4 year old neutered Australian/ German Shepard mix. I have had the pit bull since he was 8 weeks old. he is very mild mannered, and LOVES to play with other dogs. The Shepard has been at my house since about September. He is not very well behaved at all. I believe that he was poorly trained. (I am not saying my dog is an angel by any means!)
Some of the problems that I am having with the dogs are:
The shepard is CONSTANTLY going after the pit bull. Always biting at his face and growling. You can see it in the pit bull's face that he HATES this.
The shepard PUSHES the pit bull out of the way at food/ treat time.
The shepard is always wanting to playfight, when the pit CLEARLY does not want to.
The shepard mounts the pit bull, again, you can see that he HATES this.
The shepard frequently takes toys away from the pit bull.
I usually say "NO!" firmly. The pit bull understands, but the shepard does not. I will say NO, and stand between them when there are problems. I try to establish myself as the "pack leader", and I believe the pitbull gets it.
My girlfriend does not react in the same way. She will say stop, but not very sternly.
My dog has become a different dog since the shepard came along. He looks beaten down and depressed. Honestly, I don't know why he takes this abuse from that dog. Not that I WANT them to fight. My dog just will NOT do that.
He often doesn't obey when he's told NO in other situations. It's like he just doesn't learn. I actually wondered if he has problems hearing, because he pays ZERO attention to what he's being told sometimes.
I am at my wit's end with that dog. I'd hate to have to say the dog has to go, but I don't know how much more my dog and I can take. I am pretty sure where he was living before he did whatever he wanted with NO discipline at all.
I just don't know what to do now.
 

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It sounds like the Shepherd mix has had little training and no limits.

Firstly, forget pack leader stuff. The whole "being Alpha" thing was proven to not really apply to dogs so much. (http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/alpha-fallacy)

1. Instill NILIF for the Shepherd and Pit Bull (http://www.dogforums.com/dog-training-forum/6856-nilif-nothing-life-free.html)

2. If the Shepherd does something to the Pit Bull that the Pit Bull doesn't like, remove the Shepherd from the room. If the Shepherd can't play nice or is bugging the Pit Bull, calmly and silently take the Shepherd into another room and close the door. Let him sit there for 4-5 minutes or until he is calmed down. Allow the Shepherd back in the room. If he behaves, awesome. If he starts doing stuff you don't like, remove him or redirect his attention to something else you do want him doing.

3. Start exercising the Shepherd more. He sounds bored.

4. Enroll in a training class or start training the Shepherd yourself 10-15 minutes a day. Training is mentally tiring for dogs. Try clicker training, it is actually a lot of fun and dogs can learn a lot and really love training this way. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv1uvvqaSw)

You do not want the Pit Bull to think he needs to defend himself. That would most likely end badly. It is your job and your responsibility to defend your dog. It is your job to remove the Shepherd from the situation when the Shepherd gets to be too rambunctious and vice versa if the Pit Bull ever bothers the Shepherd. You may have to remove the Shepherd from the room 20 times within an hour, but do it. This is teaching the Shepherd that if he bothers the Pit Bull he will be removed and will have no one to play with. If he behaves, he gets to stay and hang out.
 

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Crate and rotate while you work on getting more control on the Sheperd... Buy a playpen and a nice bed so your dog can chill safely when you can't be watching.

Don't leave these dogs alone together. Ever.

If your dog decides to put a stop to all of this, it could be devastating.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice. I will use it.
We BOTH have to get on board with this and be consistant. She keeps saying "he will let him know if he wants him to stop", but as mentioned, I don't want it to end like that. I can actually think of 2 instances when he tried to take a toy, and the pit bull barked in a tone that I NEVER heard him use before. After that the shephard stayed away for a while, but it never lasts. I want to avoid something really BAD happening. If I can't make things better he has to go.
 

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Thanks for the advice. I will use it.
We BOTH have to get on board with this and be consistant. She keeps saying "he will let him know if he wants him to stop", but as mentioned, I don't want it to end like that. I can actually think of 2 instances when he tried to take a toy, and the pit bull barked in a tone that I NEVER heard him use before. After that the shephard stayed away for a while, but it never lasts. I want to avoid something really BAD happening. If I can't make things better he has to go.
If you are clearly seeing that he hates what the younger dog is doing, then he is probably already giving off "stop" signals to the dog and the young dog just isn't getting it. I seriously think the next time he wants the young dog to stop, he very well could do it himself if his owners don't step in. I am just reiterating what other people have said, but it is up to you as his caretaker to stop the harassment. Don't let him have to stand up for himself. If you want to avoid something bad happening, follow all the advice given so far from other members. I know how hard it is to have opposing views on dog care and training, my boyfriend and I occasionally argue over it too, but if this isn't dealt with it could turn into a really bad thing. Don't put any boyfriend/girlfriend feelings into this, it is about the physical, emotional, and psychological well being of your dog, which trumps any relationship in my opinion.
 

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Maybe the shepherd wasn't socialized with other dogs enough when it was young, so it doesn't understand your dog's signals. Keep interrupting the bad behavior and separating the dogs as others suggested.

For the problems with pushing for food and stealing toys, start by reading the sticky: Practice with them for just a few minutes a day and I bet they will improve.

I usually say "NO!" firmly. The pit bull understands, but the shepard does not. I will say NO, and stand between them when there are problems.
. . .
He often doesn't obey when he's told NO in other situations. It's like he just doesn't learn. I actually wondered if he has problems hearing, because he pays ZERO attention to what he's being told sometimes.
The word "NO" means absolutely nothing to a dog. Your dog is used to you, you've probably trained him what you want "no" to mean, and he's used to reading your tone of voice and body language. Your girlfriend's dog doesn't know you as well. For a word to have meaning, you must train it by always associating the same thing with that word.

If you want "no" to mean "stop the fighting" then you will just have to pair it with the action of separating the dogs every time it happens for awhile. Don't include a lot of unnecessary talking when you do it - just state "no" firmly, one time, and separate them without any other fuss. Us humans are horrible about babbling on to our dogs about how "you're a bad boy you shouldn't do that stop jumping on him" and so on... just say "no," act, and shut up ;) (I'm always having to remind myself that my dog actually doesn't understand English.)

When the shepherd figures out that when you say "no" it means he's about to be taken away and ignored for a few minutes, it should start working to end the fights. But it will take time, and you will have to back up that word with the same action every time.

You should probably teach more specific cue phrases for other behaviors you want from the dog. Like "leave it" when you don't want him to take a piece of food that falls on the floor or grab some roadkill during a walk. "No" isn't just going to magically be a universal cue the dog understands in every situation, although over time he probably will come to understand that your tone means you disapprove of what he is currently doing. Look up food zen, there is a sticky here:

I'd hate to have to say the dog has to go, but I don't know how much more my dog and I can take. I am pretty sure where he was living before he did whatever he wanted with NO discipline at all.
I just don't know what to do now.
If he never lived with another dog before, then he doesn't know what to do, so he just needs to be taught what is proper. And yes, your girlfriend HAS to be equally on board with helping you teach them. Personally speaking, I don't think it's fair to expect your gf to give up her dog, because you did accept him into the house along with her... but I would hope she is willing to help. Maybe have her read this stuff on the forum as well, and if her dog doesn't have any basic obedience skills, encourage her to start there (it can all be accomplished with positive reinforcement!). Maybe you both could choose some training format or book or online resource to follow and each work through it with your dogs so you are sharing the commitment of it.

And in the meantime while you work on these issues, make sure you have a good way to manage the dog's interactions. Do they each have a crate to go into? Do you have door gates or some reliable means of separating them into different rooms while you are not supervising? They don't have to live/play/eat/sleep together 24/7, especially when problems exist, so make sure they're kept safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I started saying "NO", and putting the shep in a different room last night. I kept doing it until he finally stopped harrassing the pitbull. I had to do it at least 10 times before he caught on and stopped. i will continue to do this. My girlfriend says she is on board with this, and she will try and help. I really don't want to make her get rid of the dog, but if things don't change I will have to. Her son will take him if he has to, so it's not like he will end up in a shelter if I say he has to go. I didn't really want him here in the first place, but that's another story. Honestly, I still don't, but I know she loves the dog.
The shep was actually living in a house with a lab puppy for about 4-5 months before he came to live here. I am not sure how he interacted with the puppy, but i know he wasn't very well socialized. He was never walked or anything. They just tied him to a tree in the back yard when he needed to go out.
The pitbull is very well socialized. He used to attend "doggie daycare" 3 times a week, but I had to stop for financial reasons. He was so well behaved there that they actually used him to help new dogs adjust to the group. They would team him up with new dogs until they were comfortable. (I know it seems like I am making my dog sound like an angel, but I know he's not perfect either).
Last weekend, we got together with a friend who has a pitbull. The shep and that pitbull chased each other around, and mine just kinda walked around and moped. This is SO unlike my dog. Every time he tried to join in the playing, the shep would come after him, so he just kinda gave up. I miss the way he used to act.
 

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I started saying "NO", and putting the shep in a different room last night. I kept doing it until he finally stopped harrassing the pitbull. I had to do it at least 10 times before he caught on and stopped. i will continue to do this.
I think this is a great idea. In my household I have a dog who plays too roughly at times as well and I have to do a version of this as the dog who gets the brunt of it doesn't really stick up for herself and I can see that she doesn't like it. My word is ENOUGH instead of no, but the principle is the same. He gets two verbal warnings and if he doesn't quit he gets kenneled (or put inside if the dogs are outside). Good luck, if you and your girlfriend are both very consistent I think he will catch on.
 

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I miss the way he used to act.
When a dog's behavior suddenly changes usually a vet trip is in order. Is he more lethargic? He may have a thyroid problem or something that may just make him more subdued and sleepy. Or maybe he is sore and running around/playing isn't as comfortable.

Also, it may not just be the Shepherd that caused his behavior change. It sounds like you are really stressed out over having the Shepherd and this stress could easily be felt by your Pit Bull. Much less living with a girlfriend too, if the Pit Bull wasn't doing so previously. Try relaxing more around the Shepherd. Spend time alone with each dog so they each get "you" time to bond with and play. I think if you were to create a better bond with the Shepherd, teach him some useful commands (stay, go to mat, etc.) then you will be a lot less stressed out with all of this and your Pit Bull won't possibly feel "neglected".
 

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I really don't want to make her get rid of the dog, but if things don't change I will have to. Her son will take him if he has to, so it's not like he will end up in a shelter if I say he has to go. I didn't really want him here in the first place, but that's another story. Honestly, I still don't, but I know she loves the dog.
I know you didn't come here for relationship advice, but I'd dump your butt before I got rid of my dog. You might want to consider why you think you have a right to "make her get rid of the dog" and why your dog is more important than hers.

Otherwise, carry on. Shepherds are smart people pleasers. He'll figure it out if you gently lead him where you want him to go.
 

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I know you didn't come here for relationship advice, but I'd dump your butt before I got rid of my dog. You might want to consider why you think you have a right to "make her get rid of the dog" and why your dog is more important than hers.

Otherwise, carry on. Shepherds are smart people pleasers. He'll figure it out if you gently lead him where you want him to go.
My dog is not going anywhere. Not trying to sound like an a-hole, but that's the way it is. He's been here 3 years, she moved in last June, the shep moved in around September/ October. I was not on board with him coming to live with us, long story how he ended up living with us.
As far as the pitbull's health. He has recently had a complete check up, with no issues.
I have taken him out by himself, and he seems happier when he's away from the other dog.
I have been putting the shepard in "time out" when he goes after the pitbull, and it seems to be working. Last night there were a few times when I saw him start to go after him, then he would look at me and walk away. I think he's starting to get it.
 

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I have been putting the shepard in "time out" when he goes after the pitbull, and it seems to be working. Last night there were a few times when I saw him start to go after him, then he would look at me and walk away. I think he's starting to get it.
Awesome! Give him a treat when you see him do that - it'll reinforce the fact that he made the right decision :)
 

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Also try giving the shepherd mix some work to do. He sounds bored, they are very smart dogs, when not stimulated enough, find their own means of entertainment : harassing the pit, people, becoming destructive, etc. Lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation games, as well as the advice above will show you a different dog.
 

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we are trying to walk both dogs more, and set up more play dates, and go to the park more. i have a big fenced in yard and when the weather is nice they both love to stay out there all day.
i am hoping to see him become a different dog. i just don't need the stress of the bad behavior.
 

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Quote Originally Posted by sportsterrider44 View Post
I have been putting the shepard in "time out" when he goes after the pitbull, and it seems to be working. Last night there were a few times when I saw him start to go after him, then he would look at me and walk away. I think he's starting to get it.
Awesome! Give him a treat when you see him do that - it'll reinforce the fact that he made the right decision :)
That's it right there you got him MARK that behavor as soon as his head starts turning to you JACKPOT reward that first few days then go down to a variable reward system.USE a marker word or clicker "charge the marker with treats". Keep working with this dog you'll grow to love him FAST :)

Also just wanted to add! Not sure how long your keeping him in a timeout! Sounds like if you put him in a room he starts flipping out and your waiting a long time before he calms down "just by his character".You can try a time out and count to ten and if he's calm remove him instead of getting him all worked up for 15 minutes to calm state. It sounds like you might be past the timeouts if your marker NO is turning his head to you! When he turns his head to don't forget to show him what you want, "redirect" get toy, sit, come for treats....Just keep showing him the behaviors you want- like all the good behaviors during the day!-good sit.settle.down.We tend to just always correct.....Keep telling dog what he is doing correct reward hell catch on quick!!!!!

Good luck great advise from all! awesome site !
 

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we are trying to walk both dogs more, and set up more play dates, and go to the park more. i have a big fenced in yard and when the weather is nice they both love to stay out there all day.
Maybe you are missing the point ?

It seems as though the shep mix needs more TRAINING, ... interactive human-to-dog training. Not more walks, not play dates with other dogs, not alone time in the yard.

Start some structured, and FUN one-on-one training, with the accent on LEARNING. Develop a positive relationship where YOU are included.
 
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