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Canine Behavior/Is the behavior of my dog normal?


I have a german shepherd. I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. When I got him I put him with our other dog(labrador) of 4 years and my german shepherd liked him, but recently our other dog(labrador) had passed away and our german shepherd seemed different. We live next to a rail road and when a train passed they would both howl happily,now my shepherds howl sounds like as if he were growling and he sounds depressed. My german shepherd used to be energetic before our lab passed away. Is it separation anxiety? What should I do? Should I get another dog? Help please.

Your dog is behaving normally.  Do not reward his "depression" by trying to jolly him out of it ("it's ok.....good dog....", etc.)  He is missing his "pack" mate (the other dog) and it will take him time to adjust and to find a new "place" in social hierarchy within your family.  You may distract him if you see him moping around with a short "party": clap your hands, sing a song, when the dog comes to you (with wagging tail, ears forward, HAPPY), praise him lavishly, end event.  You are now rewarding a normal response.  Within a few weeks, your GSD should return to normal.  He may begin "guarding" your home a bit more than you would like.  If that happens, re-post using followup feature.  Do NOT get another dog at this time.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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