Dogs are incredible creatures. They are loving, fun, smart and incredibly loyal, however they can be a handful!
German Shepherds, like our Doogle Jesse, can show signs of reactivity. German Shepherds are known for guarding, reactivity and/or aggressive behaviour. How German Shepherds are brought up, what environments they are or aren't exposed to influence the type and intensity guarding, including sometimes aggressive tendencies.
It's important to know that reactivity is not aggression. It can lead to aggressive behaviour but generally, reactivity is a sign of fear, anxiety or stress.
Jesse - Our Colourful German Shepherd
We brought Jesse into our home in March 2021. She was this gorgeous white fluff ball and at early stages showed really high intelligence from sniffing, training and behaviours. We were determined to do everything for Jesse, training, treats, puzzles, walks, socialisation and more!
The weekend before we were ready to put Jesse into doggy day care to start her socialisation and exposure to other environments she fell incredibly ill. Returning from a walk with Jesse in the fields near us, we found her limping on one leg and suddenly showing large swelling around her hock joint.
We were shocked how fast she declined. We rushed Jesse to an emergency out of hours vet to be checked, and to our dismay they didn't really care. We were told to monitor her but told it was probably a ligament issue and to take her to our normal vet the next day. Jesse continued to declined that evening, panting excessively, unable to walk, and was completely out of sorts.
The next day we brought her to our local vet (who we love!) and knew something wasn't right. The previous diagnosis was completely wrong! After blood tests and scans they placed her on intravenous antibiotics, fluids and monitored her while they got advice from an animal specialist hospital.
That afternoon we drove Jesse to the specialist hospital to be looked at and to do further tests. After this extremely stressful situation for Jesse the vets identified Jesse had sepsis in her hock joint that was killing her.
We were so lucky and thankful to our vet and the specialists. After nearly a week of being in the animal hospital Jesse was recovering and showed positive signs. However, unfortunately, Jesse was not going to recover or allowed exercise for another month and half until full signs of the infection and treatment are completed.
Jesse was confined to the house, small pick up walks to the bathroom and back the bed (or our couch for love!). Even though during this time we tried to do small things with her, we were extremely limited exposing her to other dogs, people, cars, cyclists and more.
German Shepherds may start around 12 weeks but really reinforce reactivity/guarding behaviour around 6 months from what we were told and researched. Jesse lost crucial time due to her injury in being exposed to reduce her anxiety, fear and being overwhelmed.
In our next post we'll share more about her journey as a puppy and what we faced and how we worked with her to develop and manage her reactivity.