Friday, February 15, 2013

Dog on dog aggression

A dog fight typically appears far nastier to the human eye and ear than actually occurs.  I would predict that the majority of dog on dog injuries are greater when humans attempt to manage the canine to canine introduction dynamic.

Clearly our domestic companion, the dog, is not wild.  At the same time, as confounding as it may seem, he is not human either.  The dog is a domestic animal:  Present scientific natural history data contends that the longest relationship between the human and the wild started with the Canis species.

With that, there must be a clear division in this one aspect:  Humans and canines, although both mammals and social, are not the same at all.

Whereas we humans may meet one another with a forced, pretentious, possible genuine smile and a hand shake; canines introduce themselves with scent, vocalization and body positioning.

In human terms, forcing your potential new found acquaintance to the ground and holding him there would be considered insane at best, but is most likely a crime.  At least in a Western society.

In dog terms, the same act establishes nature's "pecking order."

Whereas us humans have a splendid vocabulary and analytics to treat new social interactions "humanly", the dog has only his immediate senses, physical body and experiences to guide him.

The misnomer that female dogs will not "fight" one another perturbs me.  I perceive that female on female aggression is as much, if not more, a concern than any other.

However, there is a clear intolerance of male dogs to other males until the "pecking order" is established.  Of course a "dog fight" occurs to establish that "pecking order."  In my experience, the majority of times this physical expression manifests,  it resolves its self in seconds.  Once again, I attest that human involvement most definitely will prolong the interaction.

I'm not saying humans should absolutely not interject.

If they are so inclined, I would suggest dog owners study the video addressing aggressive dogs.

I contend that the information contained within this particular video helped me today.

The more information you have from the most sources you can get, the better you and your dog will be.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Socialization redefined

Earlier I posted about the importance of socializing your puppy and young dog.  

Now I would like to share an excellent premise about socialization from Ed Frawley at the Leerburg Kennels.  It was presented in the video "Your Puppy 8 weeks to 8 months."  Although I don't necessarily agree every Leerburg method is perfect for every dog and handler, I do believe there is plenty of sound advice from them.

From the article:  

Our definition of socialization is to get our dogs comfortable with new places and circumstances. We want our dogs to be indifferent to people places and things. I want my dog to look at strangers as part of the environment and something to ignore not something to interact with.
When we take our dog into strange new environments we want our dogs to willingly look to use for leadership and direction.

The full article can be found at:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

aus dem Tongass Wald at 1 year

Photos of eight of the nine aus dem Tongass Wald GSDs at around 1 year:

Smaragd "Jade" (and Vader "Kohl" on the right):


Pflaume "Salua":

Stahl "Steel":

Gold "Ludo":

Wasser "Sadie":

Rostig "Kenai":


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pflaume "Salua" updated photo

Here is "Salua" with his owner at their summer working home in Kodiak, Alaska at 9 months old:

Monday, May 28, 2012


The Kriminalpolizei kennel surely must have captured the GSD founder's favor.  In 1925 he crowned Klodo vom Boxberg conformation champion.  Klodo's pedigree certainly reflects von Stephanitz's early efforts with a sound representation of the modern GSD's primary foundation sire, Hettel Uckermark.

However, Klodo's dam's second sire, Jung Tell von der Kriminalpolizei, forever cements this kennel's breeding efforts in our German shepherd dog today.

Jung Tell von der Kriminalpolizei:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

German shepherd dog dewlap:

There is plenty of concentration focused on the German shepherd dog’s physical characteristics that address the obvious structural issues. 

I see a trend in our breed that has not been approached.  The loose skin under the chin and on the front of the neck is certainly not acceptable.  Regardless, it remains and unfortunately is not commented upon.

There are some breeds of dog that have very loose skin around the front of the neck. 

I feel strongly that the GSD should have tight skin encapsulating the neck, male or female.  This is independent from the male “mane” that develops later towards his adult life.

I also concur that singling phenotypical traits is not part of a productive breeding program.  However, mindful consideration of the dewlap trait should eliminate it as an aberration in a decade if delicately addressed.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photos: 6 Months

Here is a sampling of some of the pups at 6 months:

Smaragd "Jade":


Pflaume "Salua":


Wasser "Sadie":


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nostalgic Image Comparison

Here are two prior photos of Kohl adjusted to black and white:

Here is Roland v. Starkenburg:

And his grandfather Beowulf Sonnenberg:

Founders' Tree

The following is a representation of the founding bloodlines for the Vader Kohl von Ruhl x Kora Lynn vom Fjordland litter aus dem Tongass Wald.

Founders' Tree

The left-side of the document is a five generation pedigree table.

On the right is a "tree" illustrating the ancestors' founding sires' bloodlines for five generations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dog Parks

A negative dog park event occurred today with one of the pups.  I expressed my feelings about dog parks in the Q and A section of the litter's website, but here is an article by Ed Frawley that should cover all the basis: - Dog Parks, Why They are a Bad Idea

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Halo "Jackson" Update

We have received several updates on the puppies from their respective owners over the weeks through email and Facebook.

One owner in Fairbanks has no internet connection so we receive monthly telephone calls to update us.  Jackson, formerly known as Halo, is growing huge per the report.  She impresses them with her intelligence, although we hear about that trait from all the owners.  One good "scolding" is all it takes to correct any misdeed, and she appears to think twice about doing it again.

She loves the cold, which is a good thing because it is 10 below in her area presently.  She plays for hours outside in the subzero temperatures.

Jackson has made good friends with the youngest of the 4 Shih tzus she is homed with, and keeps to herself around the others, who can be nasty to her from time to time.  One of the Shih tzus is a male and lured her a distance away from the house the other day.  They both got in trouble for venturing too far, and the new owner intends to monitor that closely in the future.  Luckily for Jackson, she has several acres to frolic around in.

Yesterday, Jackson alerted and made a "ruckus" at the door.  Bewildered, the owner investigated and found a Moose out in the yard.  He is very pleased with her ears and response to unusual happenings outside the home.  She reminds him of his first shepherd from many decades ago, and could not be happier with his new dog.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Animal Digest Definition

Just today I was apprised that some commercial dog/puppy kibble contain "animal digest."

I found this definition for "animal digest" from the USDA website:

animal digest. A powder or liquid mixture of breakdown products from animal tissue resulting from the controlled action of one or more enzymes. Digest contains only trace amounts of feathers, hair, horn, or teeth. Digest must name its animal source (such as beef, chicken, or pork digests). Regulate as rendered and processed protein under  Animal Waste and Related By-Products on page 3-2-1

Here is the referenced document "Animal Waste and Related By-Products on page 3-2-1."

With all the complexity involved in "animal digest" as a rendered and processed protein and the fact that at least one major dog food manufacture does not name its animal source of "animal digest" (on the label) as presented in the above definition, I will be sure to feed "animal digest" free foods to my animals from this point forward.

Friday, December 30, 2011

GSD skull vs. Wolf skull

One of these things is not like the other.

German shepherd dog skull:

Wolf skull:


Try finding the differences.  There are surprisingly many.

Start with the lower jaw.  (Unfortunately the German shepherd dog's teeth are not correct)

German Shepherd Dog Puppies - 14 weeks old

Friday, December 16, 2011


I found this description of the Frankish herding dog Berger Picard’s temperament on Wikipedia and thought how perfectly it describes the seemingly close relative, the German shepherd dog:

The Berger Picard's attributes include a lively, intelligent personality and a sensitive and assertive disposition that responds quickly to obedience training. By and large, Picards are laid back and mellow but they are known for having a stubborn streak and being reserved towards strangers. They require a lot of socialization during the first two years of their lives.  Picards are energetic and hard working, alert, loyal and sweet-tempered with children. They are happiest when they have a job to do. They also have a protective nature, making them good guard dogs. However, they are not excessive barkers (at least should not be)
…the breed also has a well-developed sense of humor, making them an endearing companion, and they continue to be used very effectively as both sheep and cattle herder in their native land and elsewhere.   Like many herding breeds, Picards require human companionship and lots of it. Since they can be demonstrative to their owners and enthusiastic friends towards other animals, formal obedience training and plenty of positive socialization is a must. Athletic, loyal and filled with a desire to work a long day, the breed excels in any "job" as long as enthusiasm and praise is a part of the task.

Continued and varied positive socialization for a puppy is vitally important to his future stability.  Dogs that are separated from new experiences and environments in their youth tend to be “wild”.  The task of polishing a dog’s behavior by involving him in as much of your life (in and out of the home) as possible can seem trying, but the work you put in now will pay-off.
The goal is to increase your puppy’s confidence so that he faces life with assurance, instead of timidity, which may result in a fear-based aggressive dog.
Although I don’t feel a German shepherd should be described as “happy-go-lucky”, he should be relaxed in truly non-threatening circumstances.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dog Training

Dog training occurs every moment you are part of your dog’s life.  If you are not actively engaged in any variety of formal training, then most likely some degree of pack structure training is occurring.

By formal training, I mean any canine discipline, such as obedience, tracking, scent training, agility, etc.

As I’ve promoted earlier, using local resources for formal training guided by an effective trainer will pay in dividends.  Your investment in your animal appreciates as your dog becomes more valued as a willing worker and an obedient companion.

Other training resources exist in books, video, and the web.  I feel the more effective methods you know and can apply, the more ideas you will have to draw from in future need. 

Dogs are so thoroughly entwined into human civilization that nearly all dog owners are to some degree dog experts.

There may be those who are well schooled or more importantly, those that have years of successful dog handling that may deserve the title “Dog Expert.”  However, I cannot presume that one method of dog handling is more successful to another.

One variable is that dogs individually, are dynamic.  The energy state, intelligence, loyalty, etc., vary, as do the humans that interact with them. 

Dog handling can vary remarkably from region to region around the planet.  With all the working breeds of dog and all the jobs asked of those dogs, it behooves dog handlers to educate themselves in as many human-dog interaction methods as practical. By using objectivity and logic, the best methods can be implemented and adjusted for specific needs.

The ultimate goal is a human that uses the dog to help decide what communication is needed to get to the end result.  The totality of the tools and tricks to use is truly infinite.  Reading the dog correctly facilities quicker and more effective results.  Arriving at this point requires putting your time in with your dog.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Puppy update

The pack is shrinking but the puppies seem to be business as usually here.

Pflaume and Wasser were invited to one of our grandson's kindergarten class.  This was a great socialization opportunity for both pups.  It is hard to duplicate 16 excited 5 and 6 year olds in the same room, at the same time.  A great experience for all.

The whole German shepherd pack, including parents, visited the vet two days ago.  The exams continue to be favorable and the inoculations remain current.  All went very well except for Kohl.  We now know he hates to have his temperature tested.

The puppies weights at the vet were:

Smaragd - 23.6 lbs.
Halo - 21.0 lbs.
Pflaume - 28.4 lbs.
Gold - 23.3 lbs.
Stahl - 28.1 lbs.
Wasser - 21.6 lbs.
Rostig - 25.5 lbs.

German Shepherd Dog Puppies - 11 weeks old

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trust, Respect and Manners

Respect from your dog is easy to describe.  Your position in the pack, as perceived by those that are naturally keen to pack structure (namely the dog) is the absolute indicator of the level of respect extended to you. 

I am not diving to depth in my thoughts on pack structure with these comments, but I feel it is important to know that your position in the pack is not secure without constant maintenance.  Additionally, an Alpha position you may hold in the living room does not establish an Alpha position in the bedroom, or kitchen, or the park.  Pack dominance if you care to have it, requires respect in all territories.

So if you are Alpha everywhere, you have respect everywhere.

The only gradient of respect I can perceive is fully proportional to the degree that you are challenged for Alpha.

Trust, is independent of respect and facilitated by manners.  You expect the best of manners from your dog, in return your good manners will only set an example as well as nurture trust between you and your dog.  If you are not clear how to extend the best of manners to you dog, spend sometime with a well-established dog pack. 

The Alpha does not barge and bully his way around as a matter of recreation.  In calm, normal conditions, all pack members move amongst themselves politely.  An insane, completely random pack leader will quickly become untrustable and a strong urge to escape the insanity or remove it will most certainly manifest.

Trust is the first and most important condition to established with your pack.

There are volumes of good information about pack structure, trust and respect, so good theory should not be hard to find.  You can e-mail me if you need any assistance in locating good advice.  My e-mail address is:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is an excellent example of an obedience trial from the 2010 USA Working Dog Championships.

The GSD (Hesy Naspo) and the young lady handler (Samantha Jimenez) are 7 years old in this video.

Make no mistake that Hesy owns an outstanding Czech utility dog pedigree:

Here is their protection trial:

Her tracking trial is not available.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Puppy update

Here is a short report of the litter’s recent activity.

We have three different vacuums staged throughout the house all the time.  The pups are becoming more familiar with them.  The overall progress is very good.

After more than a week of gradual conditioning to increasingly loud music, the entire litter received a pass two nights ago when they all reacted perfectly during Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog at ridiculous levels.

Rostig and Stahl performed outstandingly last night when I tested their tracking in the snow, during a windstorm in a completely unknown yard.

I invited them into the back yard at dusk.  I quickly walked off to a dark bushy corner and hid.  Together they followed the perimeter of the yard in a deliberate and ordered fashion when eventually their noses worked up to me.  I could not believe their resolve against the 30 mph winds that created chaos all around them.  The way they worked the fence-line seemed as if Kohl’s Czech boarder patrol ancestors were manifesting themselves.  I am so proud of these dogs.

The pups prefer to relief themselves outside, but when duty calls and the doors are closed, paper training has really paid off.

The pups continue to meet new people and receive regular visits from the girls next door.  The girls are quickly becoming the pups favorite friends.

We have received a great response from several excellent potential owners throughout the state.  It is refreshing to know that Alaska has a strong community of savvy German shepherd enthusiasts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Without elaborating on the several differing views from knowledgeable professionals about proper feeding quality and quantity, the following views do appeal to me:  Most veterinarians would certainly argue that a high quality commercial dog food supplied once or twice a day will sufficiently support your adult dog’s nutritional needs; and some very reputable breeders abide by a 100% raw meat diet.  Both schools have valid arguments to support their positions. 

You may have noticed that normal sized dogs have teeth remarkably similar to a wolf’s.  Physical evolution has not changed so great in the era of the domesticated dog that they have lost their meat eating teeth.   I feel it would be safe to assume that the remainder of the dog’s digestive system has evolved at a similar pace.  With those observations and assumptions, an easy presumption is that a diet similar to a wolf’s would promote your dog’s best health.

You may also have noticed that a dog eats a bowl of kibble much more slowly than a similar sized piece of meat.  Typically a normal sized dog consumes a rather large chunk of meat in seconds.  Again the assumption is that the gut was “designed” to work large pieces of protein and fat.

Cooked meat naturally seems a wiser choice to ensure elimination of bacteria and other toxins.  Cooked bone however becomes brittle and easily shards into dangerous blades that can damage a dog’s digestive tract.

Kibble eliminates concerns for punctured organs and food poisoning is nearly a non-issue. 

You may have noticed that dogs appear to survive well on a pure kibble diet.  Based upon their labeling, nearly all commercial dog food seem to have a smartly designed balance of nutrients.

Kibble also helps support good dental hygiene.

With these major points in mind, I feed the adult dogs a predominately kibble diet with some fresh raw meat every other day or so. 

I try to use whole pieces of venison, although I do use fresh store bought beef (including burger) and sometime chicken as well.  Proportionally, the raw meat is a very small part of the overall diet. 

I use two or three different types of kibble at each feeding.  I feel a wider variety of nutrients will serve my dogs better.  Plus, here on our island in Alaska, merchants sell out of stock from time to time. Weeks may pass before a particular brand of food becomes available again; so unplanned changes in diet are only in part.  Additionally, I typically offer kibble with a meat product as the first ingredient.

I feed the adults once a day in the evening (except for Kora during her pregnancy and nursing).  I am also very careful to not over-feed them.  A dog that is not fixed, gets regular exercise, and is fed properly should look rather thin in the mid-section.  Over feeding a dog so he will get big does not serve in his favor.

As a growing puppy, Kohl’s weight trailed behind the German shepherd growth chart that is easily found on the internet.  For nearly a full year, his weight stayed at 77 lbs., but with his heavy East German bloodlines, he has continued to increase in weight.  The heaviest he weighed was 92 lbs. just around the time Kora went into heat with no change to his diet or routine.  He has dropped back down and maintains around 85 lbs., an excellent weight for a male GSD.

At feeding time, the adult dogs are fed together.  We have never had aggression from any dog at feeding time because they must be calm and attentive to me before allowed to approach their bowls.

I offer fresh water at all times.  Using water as a reward is useless in Ketchikan, Alaska (rain averages around 13 feet annually).   Water is plentiful with every visit outdoors.  Additionally, our German shepherds have a high demand for water.

The puppies should be down to two feedings a day shortly.  I use a puppy kibble and one can of puppy food at each feeding, slowly phasing out the canned food.  I have also offered very small portions of venison a couple of times in the last two weeks.

Using the feeding guidelines on the kibble packaging is a great starting point, then with small changes in quantity, dialing in an appropriate serving size is more controlled. 

Puppy kibble may be offered up to a year of age, but I suggest a switch to adult food at around 6 months.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Puppy update

The greatest event for the pups since the last update has been a trip away from home to visit the veterinarian’s office.  The nine received exams, DHPP vaccines and a second round of dewormer.  All checked out very well and were a huge hit amongst the staff and visitors.  I was impressed again by the professionalism of Dr. Mangis and the team at the Ketchikan Veterinary Clinic. 

At 45 days old, the puppies have increased in weight from 9.5 to 11 times their whelped weight.

Paper training in the kennel where they bed at night is 100% effective.  Everywhere else, paper training is improving, but not perfect.   I am truly impressed with their strong doggy nature at so young an age. 

They are very smart.  Behavior I have instilled in the adult dogs is reflected in the puppies without consciously meaning to; while I prepare the dishes for the puppies, they calmly wait siting near with full attention on me.  A part of the adult dogs’ feeding ritual is that they all sit calmly with their attention on me before I permit them to approach their dish.  I have not purposely implemented feeding the puppies in this manner.

Rudimentary prey drive is very strong in all of them.  Scent tracking for kibble is a lot of fun because they can’t quite see the small bits being thrown.  They do respond promptly when they hear it hit skip across the floor.  Watching them work intently with noses to the ground for such a small snack is remarkable.

In the morning, they are released from the kennel and fed in the adjacent laundry room.  When the food is gone, they are invited into the front yard.  It is always dark and the weather is usually no great surprise for Southeast Alaska in the fall. 

When the novelty of the great outdoors wears off, inside they go for a nap in the laundry room.  They sleep very soundly when the clothes dryer or washer is running.

The remainder of the day they make multiple visits outside and a couple visits up the stairs to the main floor. 

Nearly every front yard adventure prompts a visit from new people that walk by.  Kora always makes a little time to play with the pups, but her size, speed and agility visibly humbles them.  The few times Kohl has ventured with them, his interest in play is predominately with Kora, not the pups. 

Kora’s maternal aggression is waning towards new people and practically non-existent towards our dogs. 


Of course we always supervise the other dogs when they are with the puppies.  For the most part the puppies find better things than the older dogs to molest, but from time to time they seem to gang up on one of the dogs and it becomes real uncomfortable quick.  The alpha male German shepherd and the crotchety old mix-lab rescue have no problem breaking away from the pack to the sanctuary of the bedroom, escaping the mayhem of the inquisitive youngsters.

Kora still nurses freely at times but the end is certainly near.  The puppies demand for milk seems more of a habit than anything else.   

Slowly, but surely, the puppies’ indoor experiences accumulate.  Amongst the group of experiences confronted and accepted are a loud TV, a cat, the running vacuum in a distant room, and a 6 month-old baby.  A major milestone to achieve will be close proximity to the vacuum with the same disinterest.

Crate training has started for them, very gradually and in twos for now.  Every trip to the store or other errand is accompanied by a pair of the pups. 

Temperament testing is continuous.  The puppies have subtle changes in results from day to day so repeated testing is crucial.  I am impressed by the puppies, and believe their new owners will concur.

This week the puppies will be introduced to the leash and get to explore parts of the neighborhood.