M’Ocean became a lot more intense as he hit full maturity at 3 years old. The best way I can explain it is, he became more like a wolf. Yeah he’s got his Rally Obedience levels one and two but his 95 pounds of serious intact male German Shepherd was making it too risky for me to ever let him off leash in the real world.
Recently, after A horrible thing happened I started my new “adult dog” training plan by neutering him. The testicles have been gone three weeks, and I’m already beginning to notice some improvement in his energy and frustration level. I’m also grooming him daily. I’ve always noticed that dog cuddling and brushing is good for “gentling” dogs and now science can explain how friendly human’s gentle petting and grooming of dogs helps cultivate the cuddly friendly hormones. https://news.arizona.edu/story/hormone-could-be-making-your-dog-aggressive
And, after addressing the hormones, I’m harnessing his really big mouth. M’Ocean’s dog social environments have mostly been indoors or on leash. Outdoors, I’ve been cautious about socializing off-leash, as M’Ocean’s so powerful, he can easily overwhelm every dog we’ve ever seen. He’s done well in big groups, on this beach, when he was younger. Wearing a muzzle, and getting neutered for him is sort of like a golfer’s handicap. It knocks him down to size so he can’t lord over all the citizenry, at least, not with his mouth. And I don’t want him barking at other dogs or reacting, I’m going to wait until these dogs doing this stuff on the beach is old news, where he can just hang out and watch and feel bored, and then I’ll let him onto the beach. Check in here if you want to see how it goes, I’ll post what I try and how his dog-social behavior changes. Everything is always changing, right? Nothing stays the same, it’s either getting better or getting worse. He could still knock some over or squash another dog, but on a muzzle, he can’t bite. Disarming teeth can slowly open a new world of safer social possibilities for dogs and handlers.
I got this muzzle from ETSY (excellent buy! Bespoke Premium Leather Muzzle, listing #565458786) about one week ago. It’s made of woven leather, very strong, with little metal rivets. I lubed it with a little petroleum jelly. M’Ocean can eat, drink, bark, swim and (most importantly) SNIFF and practice tracking in it! Having a super comfortable muzzle helps dogs feel relaxed and “normal” while wearing it. They are just exactly what I was hoping to find!
Dogs act nice when they feel nice. Conditioning a friendly (Oxytocin) emotional response in connection with dog/dog social interactions takes time, and kindness. Some trainers get faster submission by conditioning intimidation, but unhappy emotional responses have many unhappy side effects! At three and a half years, M’Ocean is still a young dog. Dogs can live to be 15 years or older. This is still just the beginning of M’Ocean’s adventures with me.