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Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

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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 d horner [1]03/05/2009

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.

By Patricia Nicholas [13]03/04/2009

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.

By Carol Swanson [17]03/04/2009

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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