Managing a reactive German Shepherd can be a deeply emotional and complex journey, fraught with misunderstandings and societal judgements.
Recently, President Joe Biden’s German Shepherd, Commander, has thrust this subject into the global spotlight, reminding us, that challenges with reactive dogs aren’t limited by status or geography. This scenario resonates with numerous German Shepherd owners, who frequently face similar situations but lack the resources and societal understanding that come with reactive dog ownership.
The Biden Family’s Quandary
The Bidens are far from isolated in this conundrum. Over the years, we’ve offered support to hundreds of families with similar experiences. Their German Shepherds are unconditionally loving and gentle when at home. But the moment they step outside, a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation occurs, leaving owners to face unpleasant situations, judgement, and shame.
Joe Biden’s predicament is further complicated by his public standing. Every action he takes is subjected to intense scrutiny, making the situation that much more challenging. However, his ability to discreetly whisk Commander away for specialised training isn’t an option many can afford.
A Dog is an Owner’s Responsibility
The onus of responsibility firmly lies on dog owners to ensure their pets behave appropriately, both at home and in public. Owning a dog is not like owning a lifeless thing; therefore, a long-term commitment that extends to seeking professional help when behavioural challenges arise. We at Royvon strongly endorse force-free training methods, in contrast to balanced or aversive training techniques, as adding aggression to aggression simply exacerbates the problem.
Address Behavioural Signs at an Early Age
A prevailing myth among some German Shepherd owners is the belief that reactive behaviours in their pups will naturally vanish as the dogs mature. This misconception is often responsible for delaying necessary behavioural interventions. Such behaviours do not merely disappear; instead, they become deeply ingrained habits that are increasingly difficult to change as the dog ages. Therefore, it’s important to modify unwanted behaviours early and start training the puppies as soon as possible.
Try Not To Modify Your Own Routine To Compensate
One of the first concessions many reactive German Shepherd owners make involves altering their routines to walk their dogs during unsociable hours. Early mornings and late nights become the chosen times for a stroll, minimising the chances of running into other people and pets. While this tactic may offer a short-term fix, it’s far from a sustainable long-term solution. The emotional and physical toll on the owner grows over time, contributing to a feeling of isolation and stress.
Seek Professional Help from Specialised German Shepherd Experts
Owners must be proactive in seeking advice on reinforcing desirable behaviours while discouraging undesirable ones. German Shepherds can be adept at self-reinforcing their negative behaviours if not properly guided. This is where professional assistance becomes invaluable. It’s crucial to consult experts who specialise in force-free German Shepherd training methods rather than traditional balanced training techniques, as adding aggression to aggression does not solve the problem but often exacerbates it.
Force Free Training for German Shepherds: B.F. Skinner’s Theory in Dog Training
Behavioural Psychologist B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning can offer a strong foundation for German Shepherd training. Skinner’s focus on reinforcements and punishments as behavioural modifiers aligns well with the requirements of managing a reactive dog. Positive reinforcement, when applied correctly and immediately following the desired behaviour, can work wonders in modifying a dog’s actions. It’s not just about handing out treats; it’s about timing, consistency, and the nature of the reward.
Conversely, the absence of reinforcement can aid in gradually diminishing undesired behaviours. For example, if a German Shepherd displays aggression toward a moving vehicle, ignoring this behaviour while rewarding calm responses can gradually shift the dog’s actions. But if an owner reacts by yelling or showing tension, it could inadvertently serve as a negative reinforcement, exacerbating the problem.
Commit To Your Gog’s Wellbeing and Development
For the owners committed to the long-term wellbeing of their German Shepherds, it’s vital to recognise that reactive behaviours can be dynamic. They can change based on a variety of factors, such as environmental changes, the presence of other animals, or even the dog’s health status. Ongoing training and occasional professional consultations can provide a framework for long-lasting behavioural modification.
Transforming Rupert: A Case Study in Training Reactive German Shepherds
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we took on a similar challenge by adopting Rupert, a 16-month-old German Shepherd who displayed extreme reactivity to moving stimuli, for example, cars, bicycles, or running children. His aggression levels were disconcerting. However, our expertise in training reactive German Shepherds gave us the confidence that a well-structured approach would alter his behaviour.
Within a matter of a few months, Rupert underwent a complete metamorphosis. He transformed into a loving, reliable companion who could be trusted without the need for a lead. This transformation was possible because of my awareness and application of effective, force-free training techniques. Yet, for the average dog owner without this knowledge, the labyrinthine world of canine reactivity can be overwhelming.
If you’re grappling with a reactive dog and thinking of finding an expert service, we highly recommend reviewing our customer testimonials speak volumes about the success we’ve achieved with many clients facing similar challenges.
A Challenge Best Faced with Professional Guidance
As the Biden family deal with the complexities of managing a reactive dog under public scrutiny, their plight serves as a touchpoint for broader societal conversation. Empathy and understanding are essential for those dealing with similar challenges, yet they should not replace actionable steps for behavioural modification.
Navigating the world with a reactive German Shepherd can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience. By acting upon early warning signs, seeking professional guidance, and employing time-tested and confirmed behavioural theories such as B.F. Skinner’s, you can transform a difficult situation into a fulfilling human-canine relationship. Here are some tips on how to improve the quality of life with your German Shepherd.
If you’re grappling with the challenges of a reactive German Shepherd or any other breed, professional help is available. Through education, patience, and expert help, you can enjoy a harmonious life with your beloved pet and forget the burdens of reactivity and societal judgment.
Why Choose Royvon for Your German Shepard
Our bespoke, breed specific residential dog training programme is meticulously designed to meet each dog’s individual needs. Initial agreed-upon goals are set on the first day, with tangible results typically observed by day 21. In addition, we provide five hours of owner training to ensure the behavioural changes achieved are enduring and are easily maintained by yourself, as our business goals do not revolve around customer retention, we are only striving for pure satisfaction.
We’re very sympathetic to the situation the Biden family is in during this complex time. (Read the full story about Biden’s German Shepherd incident here.) We can fully empathise with the emotional intricacies involved in owning a reactive German Shepherd and facing the judgement that can come along with it. If you find yourself ensnared in a similar challenging scenario, know that professional help is within reach. Our dedicated team is available for online consultations and face-to-face sessions when possible.
Together, let’s work towards a world where dogs are not only well-behaved but also appreciated for the irreplaceable companionship and joy they bring into our lives. With a little expert guidance, a happier, more fulfilling relationship with your dog is not just possible; it’s probable.
If you think that’s too much hassle, bring your dog to Royvon!