I'm new here and I'm hoping that I can get some advice from veteran GSD owners or at the very least some input on what happened to me this morning. My apologies in advance for the long winded post, but I'd rather give more info than less so that you can make the most informed call.
I own a year old GSD/hound dog mix named Jack. He's an adoption so unfortunately I can't tell you his exact age. The vet estimates him at a year to a year and two months, no more. He's incredibly sweet and well behaved. He has been socialized properly during his puppy stage - I took him to meet new people, new dogs, new places (pet stores, different parks, etc.). As I was a graduate student and money was tight, I couldn't afford puppy kindergarten but I made sure to work on all the commands like sit, stay, come, down, leave it, etc. He did really well with most of them although he does still get distracted when there are other dogs around.
Over the past year, I moved twice. The first time was in-state to a more rural setting and more recently (two months ago) clear across the country to a big city. He's gone from living near a dog park where he would enjoy hanging out with his "friends" to being rather isolated in this new city. To add to that - I got him neutered upon our arrival here which meant 3 weeks of rest while the stitches healed. A further (unfortunate) development arose when they did his blood work for the neuter. Jack was Heartworm positive. He's undergone treatment and the subsequent month's rest (finished October 24th).
That whole time he's been rather isolated with only our other dog, Lola, for company. I decided to take him back to the dog park down here to see if we could get him back into the swing of having friends and enjoying himself.
I took him yesterday morning and he seemed to enjoy himself. I noticed some foaming at the mouth which I chalked up to a potential side effect with his meds. The vet seemed to concur when I talked to him. After this morning and some further research, I'm wondering if it was dog related stress rather than long term effects of the 10 mg of prednisone he was on.
So here is where it gets nitty-gritty. My boy has never
shown any kind of aggression before. He's incredibly gentle with my young nephews (3 & 5) and incredibly attentive to my terminally ill father, even going so far as to walk beside him when my father starts to tremble and lose his balance.
We arrived at the dog park today and he was immediately charged by what I thought was a "welcoming committee" - 4 dogs, mixed breeds, his size or a little bigger. Two of them tried to mount him. Jack had his hackles raised and showed his teeth to indicate that he didn't appreciate the gestures. I thought that it settled the matter because both Jack and I walked away from the situation to diffuse a potentially nasty meet and greet. We continued walking down the park and it seemed like every dog who came to sniff him was walking stiff-legged and standing with pushy body language. Jack continued to have his hackles raised and would occasionally growl.
I started getting nervous with the entire situation and tried getting him to a clear area where I could leash him and leave because the air was definitely too charged with dog tension. Two other dogs came over and began trying to mount Jack as I was attempting to leash him to leave. Jack snapped at them and actively growl/barked showing marked aggression with the whole fiasco. He ran after a particularly pushy boxer while snapping and barking in what was a DEFINITELY aggressive manner. Meanwhile, I'm yelling "NO!" and trying to grab him while the rest of the owners in the park just looked on. (IMHO, they were completely useless and should have controlled their dogs as I was the only fool scrambling around trying to be a responsible owner.
So - advice? thoughts? I don't want any aggression/aggressive behaviors getting a foothold as he's such a sweet dog. Am I just being an alarmist and nervous Mama? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm also hoping that you don't mind offering advice for a GSD mix. I'm not certain if this is a forum for just pure-breeds. If so, pardon my error. Thanks again!