HOW THE PACK CAME TO BE
Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Barrett, Wesson, and Remi are three German Shepherds with three very different personalities. Barrett, now 7-years-old, was the first to join the family when their owner, Kate, fostered and subsequently adopted him in February 2012. After their 13-year-old lab had to be put down in 2014, Kate made the decision to begin fostering again with the Greater Charlotte SPCA.
The decision to foster was a strategic one; Kate was getting her family used to idea of having a second dog join them, but also allowing Barrett to ease into the socialization process in a controlled environment to overcome his fear aggression.
In July 2015, Wesson joined the family when he and his siblings were surrendered to a rescue from a breeder after contracting Parvo. After his adoption, Kate connected with the adoptive family of one of Wesson’s sisters, Remi, to set up play dates.
Unfortunately, Remi’s adoption did not work out and she was returned to the rescue. From the Charlotte SPCA, Remi was brought into Kate’s home as a foster. After another unsuccessful adoption, Kate knew that Remi was meant to be with her pack and her adoption was finalized in February 2016.
Together, Barrett, Wesson, and Remi make up the Dapper GSD pack.
BIG CHANGES FOR THE DAPPER GSD PACK
To say that it was a change going from a one-dog to a three-dog household in a six-month period would be an understatement. What made this sudden expansion even more difficult was the fact that the three dogs, despite being of the same breed, have very different personalities.
Barrett is a sensitive pup in every sense of the word and is a complete mama’s boy. Due to lack of socialization in his first home, Barrett can be shy around unfamiliar people and dogs. However, over the years, Barrett has learned that he can trust his family to guide him through situations rather than act out on his emotions.
On the other end of the spectrum is Remi, who Kate fondly refers to as her “wild child.” Remi is incredibly smart, but fiercely independent, doing everything with her whole heart and zero fear.
Then there’s Wesson, who is the most well-rounded of the three. Since Wesson was adopted at five months of age, Kate was able to start training him right away, exposing him to different situations, people, and places. He also happens to be a fantastic reader of people and other dogs and understands how to act accordingly.
Remi and Wesson are both young, high-drive dogs, which when paired with their exuberance and high energy level, causes Barrett to begin acting like a grumpy old man. He began to try and assert this dominance with Wesson and got vocal when Remi and Wesson would play too rough or too loud.
Fortunately, Kate knew what to do. Though she had already created a lot of structure for the dogs at home, Kate made a point of being even more intentional with their training and, over time, the issues lessened. But there was still much work to be done.
GETTING TO KNOW THE DAPPER GSD PACK
In the early stages of transitioning to a three-dog household, Kate attended a Partnership for Pets seminar where she first heard of Dognition. The seminar facilitators mentioned that the Dognition assessment was a useful tool to assess a dog’s cognitive profile, and Kate was curious to learn more. With three dogs at home, all of which have strikingly different personalities, Kate decided to explore what Dognition could uncover.
Armed with Dognition’s cognition assessment games, Kate spent some time learning about the cognition of each of her three dogs. After completing the assessments, she found that Dognition highlighted a lot of things she had noticed about the dogs, but hadn’t been able to define or articulate herself.
Despite what many people claim about dogs of the same breed, the Dognition individualized cognitive assessment results varied greatly between the three German Shepherds in Kate’s pack.
BARRETT – RENAISSANCE DOG
Barrett, the sensitive guy, is a Renaissance Dog. Dognition Renaissance dogs are steady performers, good at a little bit of everything. However, there were two areas that really stood out for him: memory and empathy. Barrett has an amazing retrospective memory, which helps him to take the information he has learned and mentally manipulate it. His empathy results also match Kate’s belief in that he is highly bonded with his family. Read Barrett’s full Dognition Renaissance Profile Report.
REMI – MAVERICK
Remi, the wild child, is a Maverick. Mavericks are very cheeky with a strong independent streak, refusing to conform to anyone’s standards. Similar to Barrett’s results, Remi is also highly bonded with her family and has a great memory. One area they differ though is in their inferential reasoning skills. Remi is able to solve problems by imagining different solutions and choosing the one that makes the most sense in that context. Read Remi’s full Dognition Maverick Profile Report.
WESSON – SOCIALITE
Wesson, the social butterfly, is a Socialite. A Dognition Socialite is a dog whose social graces make them easily able to interact and communicate with others. When it comes to empathy, there’s no competing with Wesson; his ability to read and respond to the emotions of others is off the charts. This also extends to his collaborative communication style, where much of the information he collects comes from accurately reading body language and gestures. Read Wesson’s full Dognition Socialite Profile Report.
DIFFERENT COGNITIVE PROFILES, DIFFERENT TRAINING
With this newfound knowledge about her dog’s cognitive profiles, Kate felt more confident on the path to continued training. It was an eye-opening experience seeing how different all three dogs learned during training, especially since Remi and Wesson were litter mates.
Knowing how the dogs think and what motivates each of them to learn has helped Kate develop individual training plans for each dog. For example, when learning something new Remi always goes first, as she loves to problem solve on her own. Once she has it down, Wesson observes Remi and the behavior she’s displaying, which noticeably accelerates his learning. Barrett goes third, as observing both Remi and Wesson perform the task helps him learn it as well as builds his confidence and motivation.
Since Kate began to use this purposeful training with the Dapper GSD pack, issues between the dogs have virtually disappeared. Kate is very grateful to incorporate this new knowledge of dog cognition into training her full time Dapper GSD pack and foster dogs.
FOLLOW THE DAPPER GSD PACK
It's not very often I get photos of all three of my monsters together, it's usually a combination of one or two of my dogs together and sometimes a friend mixed in, but all three of just The Dapper GSD crew? Super rare. So we decided to change that and took a Dapper Pack photo. And this shot perfectly shows their size variances (aside from Barrett's slight slouch). We love these little (and big!) monsters. ?
We want to give a big thank you to Kate and her pack for sharing their story with our community!
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