unsociable berner pup

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog General Discussion' started by debandtony, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    We are new to the berner family. We got our pup in December, 2011. Mac is a very unsociable bernese pup. Is this common and fixable?
  2. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    My frst Brnese was the same unfortuntely we never fixed completely. He did we later find out have underlying isues too. I am sure this is not the problem with your pup though.

    1) How long have you had him home and how old is he ?
    2) What sort of behaviours is he exhibiting when being unsociable ?
    ) Have you or are you doing anything at all to try to combat the situation ?

    Firstly Bernese can be a bit wary they tend to weigh things and people up sometimes. They should be able to do this but of course when they feel secure things are safe they should happily greet and wag their tails.

    I would suggest doing everything slowly and in his time do not force him to greet people or other dogs unless he feels comfortable. If he doesn't move on or if in the house and people are visiitng find him a safe spot he can lay watch and listen if he is uncomfrtable to interact. Do not make a big issue out of it the time to do that is when he has had a positive experience then treat and fuss.
  3. Rowan

    Rowan New Member

    Good Morning Deb and Tony,

    Like you when we first got Fynn he was very unsociable and used to keep out of our way and sleep next to the back door and hated cuddles :) .......But how thing have changed he is the biggest Lap Dog I have ever met and always and I mean always has to be near one of his 'pack'. :D

    I think it took about 4 Months for this to happen so please dont worry to much but you do need to get him out and about to meet other Dogs,Children and people as the can tend to be very shy and the earlier you start the better,Fynn is still wary of loud noises and sudden movements!

    Puppy School worked wonders for us as he met lots of new people,dogs and new smells when he was small.

    Can I also ask how old Mac is ?
  4. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    Hi Rowan, Mac is 5 months old and great with those he sees daily. Strangers not so much. I have consulted a trainer and learned that the breeder we acquired him from is know for this personality :confused: we are hopeful that we can get him more comfortable with others. we look forward to any other suggestions anyone may have to help us with our pup.

    also, we went to the vet and they told us Mac could develope something called fear aggression. he is s scared of people that we are concerned he is going to bite someone. he growled at someone that came to my work the other day, and it is starting to concern us. we sometimes have young children around the house, and i don't want a mean dog. i have always had friendly dogs, and i want it to stay that way.
  5. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    Mac is 5 months old, we have had him since he was 9 weeks old (December, 2011). I take him to work with me and when people come in that his is not familiar with he barks and won't go near the person. He keeps a safe distance and watches. Yesterday, although, the person tried to get him to come to him and he backed away, turned, growled and went back in to my office and layed down. He would not even go to the person when he tried to give him a piece of hot dog. I have been bringing him to my daughters school when I pick her up and we bring him to our local pet store. We are consulting with a trainer on Monday. To date everything we have been told to do is socialize a lot. It seems he has to have at least 8 visits by the same person (close together) before he will happily greet them. I'm so sad about this because with us he is sweet and loving. I feel we were terribly betrayed by the breeder.
  6. JBeaner

    JBeaner New Member

    Can I ask what breeder you purchased your Berner from? Or if you don't want to disclose the breeder's name, at least the city/state (assumming you are from the states).
  7. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Ok firstly do not stop him growling this is good in the way he is warning and not just going straight in for the bite. You will soon learn his body language too. We never had to muzzle Ollie inside or out when walking we could tell he was uncomfortable in certain situations so either never took him there or kept him safe. He wore a harness and if when out an about you sensed people wanting to come over to say hello we would politely ask them not to touch him or look at him or talk to him most obliged you always get the od one that thinks they can solve the problem he would growl they would back away and we would move on. If people did as we asked Ollie would happily sit or lay and wait while we chatted. he would get a reward for this good behaviour.

    Inside we would keep him in the kitchen behind a baby gate so he could see and hear what was going on but didn't have to interact. Some people he was happy to be around others not it was very random.

    We were told by a vet at the RVC he was fear aggressive she said if he was just plain nasty he would not lie down or sit and growl he would go straight in to bite. He did have to be muzzled at the vets but I must say after 3 days of being hospitilised he was not wearing a muzzle when the neurologist and nurses worked with him closely. It might never be solved but it can be managed not an easy job but can be done. The behaviorist who helped us told us when people enter the house ask them to throw a treat to the floor no eye contact no touching no talking to the dog. Yo can then move onto the person having a treat on the arm of the chair and just let the dog approach and take the treat again same rules as before. It may work it may not but well worth a try.

    We took Ollie away on holiday our fisrt one with him when he was around 4 months old we knew we had a problem when he hid under the camper van when people approached to say hello to him. Never ever push him past his comfort zone. That is very important learn what he can manage and draw him away when you know he has had enough.

    Are you in the UK ? If so can I ask who the breeder is ? Message me please if you feel you cannot put it on the forum.
  8. CharlieBern

    CharlieBern New Member

    How does your pup act around other animals? Our Bern was very weary of strangers in the beginning, and still is to a certain extent. We started taking Charlie to a dog park nearby, and his fear of people was lessened by the presence of other dogs. Now he's friendly and outgoing 95% of the time. The situation at your office sounds like what we used to encounter at places like Petsmart. A strange closed off environment can make the dog anxious....resulting in fear or aggression.
  9. Rowan

    Rowan New Member

    Have you approached the breeder to ask if they have this problem with the Sire or Damm or any of his siblings?
  10. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    Hi JBeaner, Yes, we got him from Dorothy Childs in Montgomery Center, Vermont.
  11. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    Hi Rowan,
    When we met Mac we got to meet the Sire and he would not come to us at all. The breeder told us that he got this way after he was shown in New York City. I spoke with a trainer last week and was advised that she has had experience with this breeder's pups and they have this personality and her breeder knows about the breeder where we got Mac and she indicated "red flags" about Mac's breeder.
  12. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    No we are in the states. We got Mac from Dorothy Childs in Montgomery, Vermont.
  13. debandtony

    debandtony New Member

    He's good with other dogs-loves them! We are thinking we may take him to a puppy class for socialization. How old was your puppy when you starting taking him to the park and how old is he now?
  14. SebbysMum

    SebbysMum New Member

    Your aggressive puppy

    Sebastian was really wary of pretty much everything when we first brought him home. People, pets (including our very old and kind cat), strange objects (tarps etc).

    In order to correct this I mostly just used the same type of training I use for my horses. Positive reinforcement and lots and lots of repetition and exposure. Here is a short step-by-step that might help.

    Determine who he is most comfortable with (most likely the person who does the primary training) and work on basics (sit, lay down, come, etc) given that he is old enough. It is all up to you really; if you think he is up to it then you know best, if not, it may be best to start with more basic things ie. Call his name and if he looks at you praise and/or treat, this way he will learn his name and its a pretty easy behaviour.

    Once you have that down when it is just you, bring someone else in the room (it can be anyone as long as they are CALM and able to sit quietly while you work) and work on the same thing until it is easy (happening at least 9 times out of 10 is my general rule for pups, given their short attention span.. but make sure the LAST one is correct.). When the dog is comfortable, move onto the next step.

    Now have that SAME person who was sitting quietly perform the behaviour with the dog a few times. Again, when the dog is comfortable move along.
    Note: If the dog is visibly upset, go back a step or two. PATIENCE is key.

    Once the dog is comfortable with that, the primary handler can leave the room and see if the dog is comfortable with the second person.

    Now that you know the dog is comfortable, you can start introducing new things; plastic bags, fans, bicycles, kids, adults.. anything! Start out having them in the room, then you can bring the dog up to them, let him sniff, explore, on his own terms, and every once in a while bring his attention back to you by asking him for the behaviour you have been practicing.
    Note: keep in mind that these things should be done in a calm and controlled environment (ie a living room or fenced backyard; a dog park is probably not a good place to be doing this)

    When you do bring your dog out into the world (ie to a dog park or on a walk where you will encounter new people) be sure to reassure him and make sure he is comfortable. Don't be surprised if he hangs around you a little longer than normal, he is LOOKING FOR VALIDATION. If your dog is looking at you he is asking "Hey is this OK? Do you think it's going to hurt me?" You have to be the encouraging voice of reason for your puppy. They are like children and don't know better than to be cautious of things. Go SLOW, being impatient is only going to make things worse. Bring your happy voice and a few treats to make sure he really enjoys his work, and enjoy yourself as well. Be glad for the puppy days, as hard as it is to believe, you WILL miss them! :)
  15. frisssel

    frisssel Member

    oh boy do i feel for you. we recently adopted a dog, husky/lab. she has been a real challenge.

    first, my berner storm, when we got him as a pup he was timid. we took him every where and always had treats. people made a fuss over him and he learned people were good. he loves everyone.

    Emmy, the other dog. yep, she has been a handful. she was not socialized, used on a dog sled team and never a house dog. she hated men. yep, hated men.

    she is not good with other dogs, but loves storm. we had to learn her body language. she always has her hackles up, but if her tail is wagging she is ok. when she gets excited we take the time to calm her before she meets and greets. I make her and storm wait before they greet.

    she has come a long way. we have had her for 6 months now but still needs a lot of work. just the other day I had to send her to bed because she got aggresive with another dog that she knows and likes.

    have patients. i know how frustrating it can be. but it is worth it in the end.
  16. jcinadr

    jcinadr New Member

    Same issue - also from Dorothy Childs

    I am having the same issue and met with a trainer last night. I have a 2 year old male who is showing fear aggression. It is a very sad situation as he is always stressed and it is uncomfortable to have anyone come to the house. We are considering medication - but really uncertain about what to do.
  17. Millie

    Millie New Member

    No kidding

    Hi - I think Mac may be from the same litter as our little girl Millie. We got her from Dorothy in December 2011 as well - if you saw the litter, she was 1 of 5, and has a blue eye.
    Anyway, Millie was incredibly timid when we got her, sounds very much like Mac. Never aggressive, but scared of everyone. When little (and adorable), she would rather have sprinted into traffic than get pet by strangers. Broke many little girl's hearts. She has since improved incredibly, though she is still shy, she will usually tolerate petting from new people now, and has many people she is familiar with. Has Mac improved?

    Thanks, and look forward to hearing more.
  18. BernerMax

    BernerMax New Member

    I love Berners. Just got to this Forum yesterday, and it is making me sad!
    While it is true that an excellent Breeder (few and far between, do you really want to wait 2 years for a dog)- will have unfailing sound in temprament dogs,
    I feel that people donot realize that the Berner is not a large Golder Retriever!
    They were historically, Homestead guardians!
    They love their people and their Farm animals, and anything else is Gravy!
    I do believe there is a Breed tendency to be reserved with strangers, that can be worked with / out of with extensive socialization and training (that is where You come in)-- but is the Breed tendency!
    And our Max is very similar to yours, reserved and barking at Strangers, and we dont need him to be a golden retriever-- if we wanted one we would have gotten one!
    he does not growl at people, and is trustworthy around children-- he avoids, shies away from does not attack, and with the children that come home with my daughter, he will accept over time, he is a big sweety-- But friendly and outgoing to all comers, NO.

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