Help with Josephine! Behaviour

Discussion in 'Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)' started by KateJo, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. KateJo

    KateJo New Member

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    Help with Josephine!

    Hello everyone! I am new to this forum, and I bring along my puppy Josephine, or Jo for short. She is a rescue dog so I am unsure of her exact pedigree but to me she looks and behaves just like a Belgian Malinois. Everything about her is Malinois, particularly in intelligence. We put her in training when she was three months old for a six-month course and she passed the entire course in less than a month! The only part of her that makes me think she is a mix is her size. She is nearly full grown (according to her vet) and she is barely 30 pounds. She is skinny, but her veterinarian attributes that to her puppy metabolism. She eats all the time! She has an incredibly sensitive digestive system too, so we only feed her grain free food which really seems to help. Anyway! I wanted some advice on how best to foster her incredibly high prey drive and protective nature. She is the sweetest dog in the world to those that she knows, but she is very hesitant around strangers. She doesn't bite or charge, but she does bark and her hair stands up on end. She is very protective of our home. I don't want these instincts to go away, but I would like her to be a little calmer around other dogs and humans. We take her with us everywhere we go (out in public) and have been doing so for about 6 months now. She does well, but is still skittish. How do I nurture her protective nature while making her more comfortable around strangers? Also, tell me if you think she is a Belgian from her picture! Maybe suggest another breed she could be? Thank you! IMG_5574.JPG
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  3. My bear Yoji

    My bear Yoji Member

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    I’m following this post with interest as our dog is the same when he is out and about.
    It’s proved quite a challenge because we live in France people we know stop to say hello, but, the French way is kissing on each cheek, so, as you can imagine everyone is huddled around the dog, which wasn’t a relaxing experience
    My hubby and I hatched a plan....if we see someone we know, get Yoji to sit, I go forward to say hello and the take over Yoji whilst he steps forward, it gave a little more distance between us all
    I know as our has got a little older he is a little calmer, so, to answer my own question and maybe yours too, keep taking them out and about and with age it will decrease.
    Can I ask about your choice of harness, the clip is on her chest, I don’t think I’ve seen one like that before. Are thee benefits of that style ?
    Philippa
  4. GsdSlave

    GsdSlave Member

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    Malka and CaroleC like this.
    Looking at the picture the ears and head suggest there could be some Gsd. (have you any pics of her standing )
    High drive dogs need lots of stimulation mental as well as physical, any kind of active sport would help ,flirt poles are also good for teaching self control.
    As for barking at strangers/dogs redirect that behavior, I would start by teaching her the ‘watch me’ command so that she focuses on you rather than other distractions.
    My dogs also have a toy just for outdoor walking if she is looking at you and/ or carrying a toy will help.
    The goal is to get her comfortable around people and dogs, which doesn’t mean she has to ‘meet and greet’.
    Quote We put her in training when she was three months old for a six-month course and she passed the entire course in less than a month!

    Would be interested to hear what the course consisted of.
  5. KateJo

    KateJo New Member

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    thank you for your ideas Phillipa! It looks like I’ve stumbled upon an international website, so in regards to her harness, I don’t know if it’s avaliable in France. It is called an EZ walk and it was recommended to us by her trainer who specializes in Belgians and German Shepherds. The clip in the front serves a few purposes. It doesn’t choke her should she start to pull, and also these dogs seem to respond better in training when the clip is centered on their chest. When holding the leash taut to have her walk beside me, the clip serves as a directional stimuli sort of like the reins on a horse. We’ve had amazing results with the EZ walk. Maybe try and find it on Amazon? Thanks again!!!
  6. My bear Yoji

    My bear Yoji Member

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    KateJo likes this.
    Thanks for you reply Kate, an interesting read
    Luckily, with Yoji he walks well on his “ short “ lead, we have a long lead so he can mumble around. If anything, we pull him occasionally, he is an Akita, they love to stop instantly, look around and snif, sniff and sniff a little more. I believe it’s an Akita trait, luckily we have plenty of time on our hands so we can let him do that.....for a while anyway
    Philippa
  7. KateJo

    KateJo New Member

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    HI Vee! Thank you for your ideas. I will have to ask my trainer about flirt poles. I really like the "outdoor toy" idea and the "watch me" command, too!

    In regards to her training, the six month course we put her in was designed for puppies who are looking to go into professional service. Here in the States, Belgians in particular are used for the police force. Our trainer works with the puppies to get them used to order, command and excess stimuli like motion sickness from being in a car or bright lights and sounds. While Josephine is not going to be a police dog, we feel that due to her (at least partial breed) we are obligated to have her well trained. To be fair, the six week course was twelve hours in total, one hour every two weeks, with monitored practice by the trainer during the time in between classes. Josephine was lucky because I was able to devote more time to her practice outside of training sessions as I am a student and am home a lot. She learned and retained the commands taught to her very quickly in part due to the time I was able to devote to her but also because she is highly treat-motivated. Her trainer felt that it would be best to move her along as quickly as possible so that she would be able to build upon the commands she learned with as few gaps as possible. So instead of waiting the two weeks in between classes, she was taking new classes three-four times a week (and skipped the last class altogether). She knows all the basic commands (sit, stay, come, lay down etc) as well as how to listen to us when in a chaotic situation. She is also proficient in protection and therapy commands (ie; "watch my back" "follow" "heel" and a special one called "patience" which is used for therapy dogs to calm their owners down during a mental health crisis.) As a highly anxious pup though (she came from less than ideal circumstances) it is hard for her to focus in a new environment. She takes guarding our home very seriously and finds it difficult to discern between "strangers" and "danger". But as the other poster replied, it is best to keep socializing her as best we can until she grows out of her adolescence.

    Thank you for all your input! :)
  8. My bear Yoji

    My bear Yoji Member

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    I bet @GsdSlave gets sick of hearing me repeat some advice she gave a while ago and it has stuck with me and I pass it on whenever I can........socialising your dog doesn’t mean making friends and expecting your dog to like everybody and every other dog they meet, what it does mean is expose your dog to as many new noises, smells and situations as possible.
    If they learn to ignore “ things “ on your travels you have worked well with your pooch. We are still working on that and he is 10 months old, I do feel we are progressing, before he used to bark at certain people, but, now almost every time we can walk straight past with no, what I call “ dramas “
    Philippa
  9. KateJo

    KateJo New Member

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    I totally agree. We want Josephine to be comfortable wherever we go. She is a small dog so it is easy to take her to most places. If Josephine sees that we are okay with whomever she is barking at, most of the time she will stop and be friendly again. But in places like the lumber store or the farmers market, she regards everyone as a threat. The same with anyone who walks or jogs outside of our house. She also has a particularly hard time with bigger men. She cowers and runs away from them even if they have not approached her. I think she was abused as a tiny puppy, which is awful. I think all we can do is give her a safe space and set a good example for who is a stranger and who is "danger," by socializing her and practicing her commands as much as possible. She is definitely improving, I just hate seeing her so anxious. Of course, I want her to be able to discern between a threat and what is safe. I understand that she doesn't need to like everyone ( I certainly don't :) ) I would just like her to express her emotions in a way that is a little less jarring to innocent passerby.

    Again, thank you for all your input. It has really helped :)
  10. My bear Yoji

    My bear Yoji Member

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    I feel just the same !
  11. GsdSlave

    GsdSlave Member

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    That is a lot of intense training in a short space of time for a young pup, am not clear why you would consider it necessary for a companion dog.
    Not all Mals or Gsd’s are cut out to be Police/Military dogs, and reading between the lines I think you may have pushed her to far to quickly especially as you say Quote (she is a highly anxious pup ).
    Her hackles going up and barking at strangers/dogs may not be a protective" behaviour but a fearful one.
  12. KateJo

    KateJo New Member

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    Thank you for your concern, GsdSlave, but I truly don't think I pushed her too far or too hard too quickly. The entire time she was in her training sessions, she was a happy little pup. You might have a misunderstanding of her type of training, as none of it was the same training that police or military dogs go through when they are older to prepare for confrontation or combat. It was training that service dogs go through when they are babies and adolescents, and was meant to socialize her, stimulate her mind, and make her easier to control, as she has a wild spirit (as most Shepherd-type dogs do which I am sure you know.) All dog owners have the responsibility to acknowledge that their dogs could be a liability one day, and so we have taken extra care to ensure that Josephine is happy, healthy and well adjusted. Her training was all positive reinforcement with pats, treats, toys and lots of fun games. She lives "the life O'Reilly" as the saying goes. She is incredibly spoiled by all those who know and love her. Without the training, she would be tearing up our front yard and be wildly disobedient. As she is not a working dog, we want to make sure that her highly intelligent mind is stimulated and that she feels she has a "job." As I am sure you are aware, a bored Malinois is a destructive Malinois. Due to the circumstances I found her in when she came into my life, it is without a doubt that her anxiety has to do with the trauma she experienced when she was a tiny baby. She was abandoned on the side of the road to die on our border with Mexico at little more than three weeks old. She was not socialized with her litter and also lacked many of the necessary antibodies from her mothers milk to properly digest food when she was old enough. She was in the intensive care unit of our local vet for a month before I brought her home with me. I always knew she was going to be a challenge when I adopted her. I've worked very closely with her trainer, who as I previously mentioned, has been training GSDs' and Malinois' for many years and helped me to raise my baby Josephine. My pup is happy and healthy in all circumstances except in unfamiliar chaotic environments. It is also a new experience for her to have full run of our front yard as we recently had it fenced in to give her a wider area to run around and play. The joggers and passerby are a new stimuli to her so I would just like to know how to calm her down so that she knows that they are not a threat.

    If you would like to learn more about Josephine, feel free to look her up or follow her on Instagram. Her daily adventures are posted under @joschmackos :) :)

    Thank you for all your help!

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