Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

By Thomas 1 2

I bought a German Shepherd puppy 2 years ago for my daughter's 8th grade graduation present. Just yesterday, Rocky, started to growl at her. I quickly made attempts to correct the dog saying, " no, no growling". I returned him to his crate for time outs. He continues to do it and the last time he showed his teeth. I have had shepherds for years and never seen this happen. If anyone has ideas on how to correct this please let me know. Thank you and have a wonderful day.


Thomas from Chicago

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By Carol Swanson 36 226 Flag

March 4, 2009

I believe that animals like children "learn what they live." Have you heard that famous poem. I would check to see how your daughter relates to the animal. Does she treat him with respect and kindness? Has she shown him unkindness?

good luck

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By Patricia Nicholas 13 74 Flag

March 4, 2009

If this is a sudden change of behavior, then take the dog to the vet immediately. Chances are he is not feeling well for some reason. One of our dogs became aggressive suddenly for no apparent reason, when he went to the vet it was discovered that he had what seemed like a small injury on his neck. As it turned out, everytime we pulled on his collar or leash it aggravated the small bruise until it became enflamed. We couldn't see it because of the fur, but wow when you touched it he went wild. We've also had experience with animals becoming aggressive when they are just ill. Just like humans, domestic animals can catch a cold or other mundane illness, but, just like humans it puts them in a really bad mood. So don't do anything drastic, take the poor boy to the vet first, he may just be trying his best to communicate his discomfort to you.

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By d horner 2 82 Flag

March 5, 2009

Shepherds are very intelligent dogs but there are a lot of misconceptions in these posts.

It's not the breed; it's the owners. Shepherds, Rottis and pit bulls are all fine dogs. They are more easily trained to fight because of their extreme devotion to people. They will do what it takes to please their owner.

The owner has to be a confident leader. The owner controls the dog. The type of collar has nothing to do with it.

However, while you are retrining your dog; be careful. Use a collar and harness with separate leashes if that's what it takes for you to feel comfortable when you start the process. You can't be a calm, assertive confident leader if you're constantly worried about the dog breaking a little plastic collar clip.

Proper grooming with daily brushing, biweekly nail trimming and frequent baths can not be ignored. It should take a vet trip to find out that your dog has a sore spot. You should find those things a day or two after they happen.

Dogs don't just "snap". There are LOTS of signs before that but most people do not know enough about dog behaviour to recognize them.

There is no way to fool a dog. If you aren't confident; they know it and it forces them to become the leader even if they never would have naturally sought to be a pack leader.

The only way to gain confidence is by doing. All the posts where dogs don't listen to their owners, destroy their home, growl or nip at family members ALL tell you that the owner's have inadvertantly forced their dogs to behave as a pack leader because they do not.

Trying to love a dog into a desired behaviour is like trying to spoil a child into good behaviour.

Dogs need TONS and TONS of exercise. At least 1 1/2 hours a day MINIMUM. Bored dogs are destructive dogs. Tired dogs are happy dogs and they sleep. There is no substitute. Get your running shoes on!

To again confidence; you may have to adjust your schedule. Take to dog for a 45 min brisk walk/jogging session early and late before most people are out but not when it's too isolated beacuse you want to get a little exposure to the things that prompt bad behaviour in your dog so You can calmly and assertively move the dog along and gain your confidence.

Pick a few places where dogs are fenced in and start by walking you dog on the opposite side of the street. The second you see the dog start to focus on the other dog or passerby; give a sharp noise and continue as you were going. The second you stop worrying about other dogs and people; the dog behaves as you want.

Gradually you'll get the dog where you want them to be. Bringing along family members who are fearful of the dog will in turn help them get over their fears and let the dog know that the people are the leaders. Then finally, the dog can relax.

Also look out for places you can let the dog get a good run and chase calls while still being fenced in. I've used a fenced in area at a closed school early in the morning for this while rehabbing dogs from problem owners.

Dogs that are too protective with strangers can also be trained. You have to make them keep a respectful distance from the front door while still allowing them to bark when the bell rings. You have to quietly, bodily walk and make them yield/move back. All these things require repetition but they really work. Praise and treats come after the dog has behaved as desired.

Corrections are immediate and usually non-verbal. I say "Hay" if I need to speak at all but everyone has their own little cue. Crating dogs is NOT the answer. That makes the problem escalate especially if the dog is anxious or nervous.

Dogs must also learn to give up whatever they have to the leader. I use "drop" as a command for that and the dog is immediately rewarded with treats. NEVER move in to take something from the dog's mouth because pack leaders do NOT do that...followers try that.

It can take a lot of time to train a drop command because you have to watch the dog until they are about to drop the object of their own accord... you have to command "drop" right before the object falls out of their mouth and praise/treats for the action. It doesn't usually take many repeats for this to be learned but you have to be consistant and willing to wait/watch for the right times to give the command.

Keep the dogs off all furniture. Dogs associate height with position in their pack. The should have their own bed. Use treats to make the bed a positive thing and reward when the dog goes to the bed.

Keep the dog out of the room whenever you are eating. NO treats from your food ever! Again, dog pack leaders eat alone and have respect from their followers. When a dog comes in to get food from you, they are showing they have no respect for you.

We all love to cuddle with our dogs but never should they be sleeping on you or resting on you in any way. To a dog, putting their head across your lap means they are claiming ownership of you instead of the other way around. You can and should give affection when they are behaving as you want...calmly and quietly.

One last thing...when ever you see loose roaming dogs; do not panic. Calmly back up while still facing them to see what they are doing. If the dogs have fixated on you; run ONLY if you are very close to a safe place like your house door or a car. Otherwise calmy and smoothly, fold your arms over your chest and turn sideways; ignoring the dog. BORING objects are not targets.

Do NOT make direct eye contact as that is a challenge. Do NOT yell and scream as that will only incite the dogs to come to you

ALWAYS be safe. I bike a lot and keep a pepper spray bottle in one of my bike sacks. I can also use my tire pump as a small weapon if needed.

Most aggression is from fearful dogs. Once the dog is confident and protected; they have no fear and no aggression. For that they need a confident leader who sets rules and enforces them.

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Archive: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I have a concern about sudden aggression my 17 month old German Shepherd has begun showing. I have a total of 3 German Shepherd in the house. We also have a 3 1/2 year old male and a 17 month old female. They are all fixed. His aggression has mainly been showing towards people outside our family coming to our home. Any suggestions?

Vaughn from Holton, KS


RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Buy a choke collar and a leather leash. Begin training him to understand the command "no" right away. This is easy - just set a dish of his food on the floor and with him on the leash walk past it. When he pulls in the direction of the food give the leash a very sharp tug and in a loud, disapproving voice say "NO!" Keep walking while doing this.

Using a choke collar gives a brief but uncomfortable tug on the dogs neck. Your dog probably wants to please you so by adding a disapproving "No" it is double reinforcement.

Use this method when guests come. Tell your dog that the person (people) are okay (don't use sentences - use one word commands. If the dog approaches the guest quietly tell the dog "Good dog". If he lunges, growls, jumps, etc. at the guest yank sharply on the leash and use the word "NO" at the same time.

Do these things consistently and your dog should show remarkable progress in a short amount of time. Look for a dog training class to enroll in.

If the behavior continues have the dog seen by a vet. If the dog is male consider neutering him.

I don't know if I can describe the correct way to put a choke collar on and it is important. Thread the chain through one end. Put your wrist through the opening and if the remaining chain forms a "U" shape slide it over the dogs head. If the remaining chain is in a straight line turn the chain around and do the wrist check again. If the chain is put on backwards it can lock and choke your dog to death. Never leave a choke collar on an unattended dog for the same reason. (10/08/2007)

By Reenie

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Negative training is no longer acceptable. It's old old news. All training should be positive & a pleasant/bonding experience for dog & human. Dogs should have fun learning, & be rewarded for correct actions. Why would they want to please someone being mean to them? Why would they like you for it? We have discussed this many times. If you do a search in thrifty fun you'll find lots of info. (10/09/2007)

By Me

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

The choke collar should be worn in the "P" position. "P" for perfect. Dog should be to your left at side when placing a choke collar and using/instructing. When you are looking face to face with your dog the choke should hang as a "P" The leash is in your right hand and you use short quick pulls in a side ways motion. Use leash at a small distance for control and correction. You are teaching your dog that his behavior is unacceptable. Go to for a clear instruction. Never use a choke collar if you don't know how. You could hurt your dog and make the behavior worse. Uncle Matty can show you a positive loving approach. I totally recommend his training!
Jennifer Ca (10/09/2007)

By jjager

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

We had a "70 lb pit bull terrier" grow up with our children. That was the sweetest, kindest dog we have ever owned. BUT HE began becoming aggressive to persons that came to our house or got close to the children.

WHAT I LEARNED from that experience was to know inside me that animals (as my NC grandma said) can "sense things" better then we can about another persons behavior, perhaps they are thinking of harming us. SOMETHING for you to think about it was for me anyway. (10/09/2007)

By Paula Jo in Mebane, NC

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Check with your property insurance company to make sure the dog is covered. Many insurance companies will not insure German shepherds and other so-called aggressive breeds. I've been through a dog-bite situation (3 bites, same shepherd). Most people like dogs and do not want a dog put down, but your insurance company may give you a simple choice: your insurance or your dog. Once the dog has bitten, your rates, if you can get insurance, will be very high. (10/11/2007)

By Jantoo

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I can't believe someone has recommended using a choker and not just any choker but a CHAIN choker to train your German Shepherd! Please do not take his advice as this could not only cause a serious injury to your dog but in fact make him worse. May I suggest a Halti head collar, this is a kind alternative giving you control and a no risk of injury to your dog! This works on the same principle as a horse's head collar - if you guide the head, the body will surely follow. On a large intelligent powerful dog like the German Shepherd this will help you I could place a bet on this, you still have to spend time in training him correctly and the method I use with all my German Shepherds is to be repetitive, you can't take their guarding protective nature out of them and it would be wrong to try and do so but you can be one step ahead of them. Like I said these dogs are extremely intelligent and sometimes their teenage behavior can result from just being plain bored, make sure you spend time not just exercising him physically but mentally too and you will have a happy well adjusted member of the family. I will check from time to time to see if you reply to this or in fact anyone else does and I hope this helps if there is anything else please do not hesitate to ask (10/21/2007)

By Yvonne

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

The dog needs exercise and socialization. Exercise needs to be DAILY significant walks, adding a backpack can be helpful if needed. If you have the space, setting up an agility or obstacle course for the dogs (yes, this advice applies to ALL of them) and "training them would be helpful as well.
YOU have to establish dominance, they have to believe it's your house and you own them. Right now, the young guy thinks he's the leader and protecting you and your family.
Also if you can get help from some friends, have him on a leash while they knock on the door and enter (many times) it is IMPERATIVE YOU control all the dogs during this event training whenever it occurs. Leash them if needed but YOU must control the situation and don't stop until you do and demonstrate that; otherwise you're sending the wrong message if you give up. Doesn't matter if it takes hours, you MUST get him (and the others) to submit to your authority, this applies to the other family members as well. You need to be firm and display a calm and assertive manner, not angry, not mean.

I suggest you check out Cesar Milan's book(s) and website

By StevieRoy

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I have a GSD who will be 4yrs old this June. My trouble with Caesar is that he destroys things in the house, and if I or any family member tries to take it away from him he lunges and even tries to bite. I have sent my dog to two weeks at doggie boot camp, I even had a retired k-9 police officer train Caesar, but nothing seems to work. I never had any trouble with my other dogs. I love Caesar dearly and refuse to give up on him. I can barely walk him, because he drags me all over creation, especially when he sees our neighbors dogs.

Everyone in our small town thinks he's insane. Please help! I tried contacting Caesar Milan to no avail. I've had Caesar since he was 3 1/2 weeks old. He was very obedient until he was 2 yrs. old and became very bold. Don't get me wrong Caesar is very loving and protective it's only when he grabs something he shouldn't have, that he gets NASTY! I appreciate any advice I can get. Thanks, E.B.

By E.B.

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

German Shepherds are very intelligent and will try to be in charge if they see even a slight opportunity. From early puppy age you need to establish that you are the authority figure (top dog). Like Caesar says "Calm Assertive." It's not too late. Make him sit before you give him anything just to show your authority, his food, his treat, etc.

I usually try to bring my puppy around many dogs and people when they are young in order to socialize them so they won't be dangerous. Try one-on-one time with your dog, training him to do what you want with a treat as a reward. Positive reinforcement works very well. They love hearing that they are a "good dog." Your German Shep. is stronger than you. It's foolish to try to hold him back at the door and let a stranger inside if you think he is dangerous as he can cause serious damage to the stranger if you can't control him. Contact your vet and tell him what is going on with the dog. He should have good suggestions for you. He sees every kind of dog. Good luck. I'm probably on my 9th or 10th Shepherd now. It's usually the way the owner is interacting with the dog that causes problems.


By Stngray

Archive: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I have a 4 year old male German shepherd, we got him when he was 13 weeks old when my husband came back from Iraq. We moved a lot with him and he had to get use to many different places. When we moved to Oklahoma he was 3 years old, and that's when the problem with him started. He got very aggressive toward everyone, he bit my daughter when she was trying to grab his collar to let him out, and I know she is afraid of him a little.

Well we just found out that we have to move again due the military to Germany, and I really want to take the dog with me. All the dog trainers I have been to have turned me away, so last week I went with him to a K9 training center. As soon as we got out of the car he wanted to attack the K9 officer. The officer told me to hold up the leash and that's when my German shepherd attacked me. He bit me in my shoulder and arm, I was in shock and at that moment afraid of my own dog. The officer said there will be no hope for him, that the best thing would be to put him down.

I really don't want to do that because I love him so much even though I'm afraid of him now. If anyone could give me some advise on what to do, and if anyone knows of a rescue that takes aggressive German shepherds I would really be thankful.

Monika from Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Update: I found a home for my German Shepherd. The K9 academy took him, the officer said he can be saved and he has high hopes for him. I am very happy.


<a name="thr511942"><img src="images/articles32/sheperd-300x225.jpg" width="300" height="225" border="0" alt="Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior" hspace="5" vspace="5">


RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Make sure he is neutered first of all, and then talk to your vet about medication to put the dog on for aggressive behavior and then maybe the trainers can even have a look at your dog. No trainer wants to lose a limb to train a dog. If not find a veterinary behaviorist. They will know the combination of medical and physical therapy to help your dog improve if that is possible. (04/08/2008)

By junebug_000

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I love animals as much as the next animal lover but I think if he is that aggressive and has turned on you and your family, what's gonna happen if it bites a kid or another person or gets out? Just yesterday my kids friend's dog Sadie, bit another animal (a small yorkie), tearing into its flesh. It is part Shepard. The same dog who 2 months ago, when I came to the door to get my son, bit me through my jeans and tore a gash in my leg.

I still have a gaping hole that is healing, I think these people are nuts. They have kids there all the time, and this dog is a loose cannon. I think there is only so much you can do, and if a trainer is telling you that, you should listen. It's tough believe me, when we made our big move we had to put our 2 border collies up for adoption. Finding a good home was like saying I had to choose between my kids, but we had to do it. You don't forget but it does get easier! This is a lawsuit waiting to happen! (04/09/2008)

By KimmyLynn

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

This animal has turned on you and your child! Why would you wanna give it a chance to do it again or make it a more serious injury? I am sorry, I do speak first hand. I forgot to mention in my other post we lived on a farm and the way we met our neighbors is that we had gone bike riding. My son was 5, yes 5, at the time when all of a sudden a pack of these peoples pit bulls ran out and started to lunge at my son. I was doing everything in my power to get that dog to come towards me. I will never forget that feeling, as he grabbed onto my son's leg and tried to pull him off his bike.

The feeling of fear and imagine as I am standing there begging and screaming for help, the owner comes out and I have to plead for help. My son's leg was a mess, puncture wounds everywhere. I don't wanna ever think what would have happened, if he grabbed him off the bike. This dog was literally attached as we were trying to ride away, wouldn't let go now as I am standing there. Their children, 3 of them under 5, are telling me how this dog attacked his sister and bit her in her head and face and how he bit the other little boy in the leg. I was outraged. I asked how can you keep dogs like that when you have children and he's attacked them! I have a dog and if it ever did that it would be gone period. Believe me I became aware of the dog warden real well.

I was on a mission to get these dogs taken away and then the other one, I made sure was put down. We went through a lot of aggravation. They are lucky I never sued them for the trauma and scars! Anyone who keeps an aggressive dog better be prepared for what comes your way, and until you live through it, with your child or a loved one, don't preach to me about never too late! One day it just might be too late! (04/09/2008)

By KimmyLynn

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I have trained now aggressive dogs for 30 years, and what I'm reading doesn't sound to me that he is hopeless. The dog attacked you, cause he was confused, different place different people, and for that k9 trainer to say to pull on leash, that's just plain nuts. He was asking for that attack to happen if he was so prof. he would of never asked you to do that. That dog has a future, he still can be helped and you are doing the right thing, not putting him down. I will e-mail you my info, I will take a look at the dog. Your dog looks beautiful, he looks very well kept up, you did a great job with him, sorry you had to suffer for someone elses mistake. (04/09/2008)

By Damarion

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

A dog doesn't become aggressive on his own. He becomes aggressive because he has not received proper exercise, stimulation, attention, etc. One has to be a responsible dog owner before acquiring any pet, especially a powerful dog like a German Shepherd.

I have a one year old female, and her needs are the priority in my household. She gets attention and exercise every single day without fail, and she has been well socialized with other dogs and people since the age of 8 weeks.
She lives with two other dogs and they also receive attention and exercise every day.

I don't believe a dog cannot be rehabilitated unless it's been trained as a fighting dog. A pet that has turned aggressive can be retrained and can become a good and submissive pet, even an aggressive German Shepherd, etc.
It is utterly foolish to not spay or neuter a dog no matter how much you would like to duplicate said dog.
A careless or lazy pet owner is asking for trouble and they will surely get it, and a good dog will be the one to pay the price. It's so sad to hear of a dog turning aggressive. German Shepherds are super bright and can be stubborn. They will sometimes test you like a child. Good luck! (04/09/2008)

By Stngray

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Your dog is in the right place. He sounds like a great candidate for police training or personal protection training.
Some animals don't acclimate very well to new and strange places. Your daughter should have never grabbed the dog's collar and you should tell her not to ever do that again to any dog. Once your dog sensed that his pack leader was weak and fearful, your dog 'used' that to his advantage. HE became the pack leader.
I'm happy that he is in great hands. (04/13/2008)

By sfj

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

(submitted via email)

Hi, Does your GSD still dislike strangers coming into your house? Were you able to train him to stop? Our 8 month old GSD also dislikes strangers and we are also in the process of training. Is there hope?
Thank you!

Debbie (11/03/2008)

By jess_admin

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I wrote on 2/29/08 regarding my German Shepherd, Caesar. About how he would become aggressive whenever he grabbed something. Well I spent even more time with him and he is now a very obedient and loving pet. Yet he tends to be a bit overprotective when it comes to kids, if a stranger approaches he won't attack but will stand in front of the kids and growl at the stranger. Caesar has mellowed very much. I love my dog. (11/03/2008)

By E.B.

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I rescued a male German Sheppard one year ago. It is my understanding that someone found him wandering, crying and shaking during a terrible storm. It is obvious he had been traveling for some time, because the vet suggested flies had been eating on the tips of his ears and he weighed only 72 LBS, his pads and claws were rough and split and he was covered in fleas and ticks.

I do not have his medical history or any personal information about him. I do not even know his age. He used to get along well with other dogs, but now when a dog or people step on my property or come to the door, he becomes very aggressive and barks like a crazy dog until I stop him. It is obvious that he had been very well trained as he is very obedient when he receives a command from me. He was quite timid when I first got him as I assumed it was because he had just been neutered...?

He sometimes nips on heels, ankles and tushes when guests are visiting. Also, he acts as the pack leader near the children, so I now put him away whenever we have visitors. Is there any way I can get my GS to stop his aggressive behavior? He is wonderful and extremely protective of me. I love him so much! Please help! Thanks!

By Ruth

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

Hi. I don't know how old this thread of discussion is, but I need to say something very important. There is NO way you can compare the senseless, manic aggression of pit bulls with the behavior of German shepherds. In my country, pit bulls are regularly in the news for mauling and killing people. Not so German shepherds. Pit bulls are a terrible breed and, I believe, illegal in some countries.

On the other hand, German shepherds are intelligent, protective and respond beautifully to a relationship of trust, bonding, consistency in training and positive reinforcement. Mentioning 'pit bull' and 'German shepherd' in the same context is completely misinformed. The two breeds are worlds apart. (11/11/2008)

By Mia

RE: Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

I bought a Sheppard puppy 2yrs ago for my daughter's 8th grade present. Just today he started to growl at her. I quickly tried to tell him no, no growl. He repeated and the last time, showed his teeth.

What can I do to get him to stop this? He has been nothing but loving before this and only does it to her. Also she recently was hired 3 weeks ago to potty train a puppy, the puppy has stayed with us. Is this part of why this is happening? And what exercise can we do to correct the problem? Please help, we just love him (ROCKY). Please email me tnewby AT (02/24/2009)

By Family of 4 with rocky

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