My GSD is sometimes aggressive? challenging? toward me.
This has happened enough times that a pattern seems to be emerging, and I wanted to get some community input on it. Background: we adopted Ben from the pound 6 months ago, and we believe he is about 16 months old now. He was half-starved, emaciated, low energy, and lacked confidence, but as he has become healthy his is "coming into his own", showing more confidence and seeming more at ease, which is great.
But there's a pattern that has played out three times now which has me concerned. I take him with me to wait for my 11-year-old son's school bus in the afternoons. Usually he's a saint, just laying calmly at my feet until the bus arrives. But today he was restless on the leash, and started rolling around on the ground and biting the grass. After my son arrived, we were walking back toward the house when Ben started growling. It was more a frustrated growl than angry snarling. He began to nip me and my son on the legs, and I sent my son on ahead so I could deal with the dog.
He wasn't out of his mind--when I got his collar and told him to sit, he sat. But as soon as I'd release the collar and start to walk, he started growling and nipping again. He actually left some welts on my skin. I had to hold him by the collar with a stiff arm and walk him all the way home like that. Once we were home, he reverted to his usual self immediately.
This same scenario has played out three times now (over the course of two months or so), with the rolling and grass-biting followed by aggressive behavior. I have a lot of questions and worries. Mostly, I wonder how I should react. Is he challenging me? Do I need to respond more forcefully than I have? I try to rely on positive reinforcement as much as possible, and I don't hit him at all, but I'd rather use a little bit of negative reinforcement, if necessary, than end up having to find him a new home. You all know that six months is enough time to get quite attached, I'm sure, and I really don't want that. But if my son isn't safe, I won't have a choice.
What's happening when he does this?
How can I best respond?
Last edited by Tinyboss; 04-30-2014 at 08:49 PM.