Newly purchased GSD sometimes aggressive to my child - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2012, 09:12 AM
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I would of sent that dog back instantly. Growling at a child is not acceptable especially from a full grown GSD. That could spell some serious trouble. Did the guy have children himself? If not that was your mistake. When I rescued my bullmastiff years ago I knew for sure he was good with kids because he lived with 3 of them and I went to see how he was around them.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2012, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by carmspack View Post
your son is timid of the dog . So he is already stressed , and then the dog gives him good reason to be frightened .

You bought an adult dog , without training , recently, and have not trained him , given him full freedom , while the son, the family are inhibited by the dog. Your son should be able to move around his house , wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without thinking about hazards .
You either crate the dog whenever he is not being trained, under supervision/control , until you know the dog and he knows his place -- or he goes back. I would opt for the GO BACK , no chances with dogs and kids .

Sounds like a distress sale in the first place . Why did the person sell the dog ?

Niko has been trained. He knows basic german commands. He obeys me the first time I tell him to do anything. The lady had teenage children but had a 5 and 8 year old niece and nephew that were frequent visitors. The reason she stated for getting rid of him was she was moving because of divorce and had 6 dogs. She had to get rid of all but two and was keeping the older dogs 9 & 10 yr old rescues.
Niko plays with my son with no problems, and when we are out at the park with him, he tries to keep Matthew nearby and will go towards him and "check on him", lick him and play with him.
Like I said this has happened on three occasions. I have had him for a little while. I do not leave them alone for one minute togather!! I would not. If I am not there he is crated. I also crate him at night. When this has happened I told him Nein! and he immediately layed down and stopped. I put him in his crate and left him for 15 minutes. I then let him out but ignored him for 5 minutes. After that I called him to me while I was holding my son in my lap and helped my son pet him. I kept my son sitting beside me with my arm around him while I talked to Niko and would not let him up on the couch with us.
I think that the growling is one of either three things:

1) He was keeping my son from going outside as he was laying in front of the door...he cries if either of my boys leave and he is left in the house. He will go from the front to back door then he will look out the window like he is listening for them. He is always making rounds through the house and checking on everyone and everything.
2) My son was sidestepping around him very slowly and staring at him. It could be that Niko thought he was challenging him
3) Maybe the niece and nephew was mean to him???

I am not sure and was hoping I could get some ideas on what I could do to build a relationship between the two. Neither one of my boys wants him to leave. My 5 yr old started crying when I mentioned it. He loves Niko and most of the time they are great togather. Just the three times. Since the last time when I did the above mentioned crate/ignore he has not had any futher episode. I just want to be sure that nothing happens again. I don't want to take any chances.
I am calling a trainer after the holidays as I am sure they will not be open before then. I thought I might get some suggestions until then.

Niko is a very smart GSD. It took me two nights to train him to automatically go into his crate and lay down when I tell him "Niko it's bedtime, go to bed". It only took me a day to teach him to keep his toys and bones in his basket. He puts up what he has out before he gets another item out. I feel like as smart as he is there HAS to be something that can be done. We all love him very much and want to keep him if at all possible.
I am sorry that I posted such a long post I just wanted to try to give a more accurate picture of what is going on.
Thank you
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2012, 10:58 PM
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I am the farthest thing from an expert, but a little suggestion is to teach your kids all the different types of body language there is. There will be tons of pictures online somewhere so they can see.

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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-23-2012, 11:25 PM
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Don't be sorry for a long post! It sounds like you are handling it pretty well. Maybe it's not so much "aggression", and more "communicating"? I sense some hope here. I'd say do what you are doing, get the trainer ASAP. I'm not saying things are wonderful... maybe it's just not what it appears.
my dog that I have had from 8 weeks (he will be 2 in a couple months) does growl at my child now and then, when they are playing, and the kid is getting too rough. He's telling him to cut it out... and I know full well he would never be truly "aggressive". They are close, and have a bond... the dog's just "talking" to him. Boys should have dogs, and dogs should have boys
I really hope things work out for you!

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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 09:46 AM
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Alright, so theres a few things this could be.
While he is only 1 1/2 years old.. His eye sight could be damaged for whatever reason, which makes it hard for him to see, especially at night. He probably got startled by your son and reacted a little over the top.

Or.. He is guarding the pathways (door, steps, etc). Not because he wants to keep an eye on you guys and keep you safe.. But because these spots are valuable to him. This doesn't make him bad, just insecure. These spots are like bathing in money, and when someone else jumps in that tub wouldnt you get scared that they'd steal the money?
I have 4 cats and when my dogs try to go up or down the stairs, they wait for the cats to move or let them down. The cats are guarding this place because.. Well.. Look at how much power it gives them!

Teach your son to not step over or go around Niko. Niko is in your way? Get him to move. Have your son clearly say his name while standing a few feet away and when Niko looks up at him, have your son toss the treat away from the doorway or path he wants to travel. If Niko is reluctant to move, then I would have a 6ft leash on him at all times so your son can pick it up and lead him away (i.e. NOT pull or force him away, but kind of pick up the leash and say 'Here Niko! Come here!' and entice him away with a treat.
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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 10:05 AM
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lashon, if you can integrate some of these techniques into your household, things may get off to a better start.

Mind Games (version 1.0) by M. Shirley Chong

You implement them and gradually integrate your kids into the routines, such as handfeeding kibble and "wearing" the dog, by taking him around the house by his leash.
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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 10:44 AM
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I have had a GSD or 2 or 3 in my life and house since 1985 and have raised 2 kids, and have 2 grandkids. This is not behavior I would accept, not towards a young child. To me that is one of the things about Shepherds is they KNOW kids from adults.

When Linus (born 1985) was about a year old he had a severe case of what we guess was pano--we don't know--took him to a vet who said "dysplasia" with no x-ray of course it was 1985 and Linus was with us for 15 years, and was moving just fine until 14.5.

My father could not approach him. MY 3 year old toddler fell on him later that day **and his reaction was to lick her. THAT is how a GSD is supposed to be towards children--JMO--

**yes, we were young and stupid and didn't know better -

I would predict that the only thing predictable about a five year old (and his friends) is that they are unpredictable. I am sure this dog is fine and would be great for someone but it is not a risk I would take.


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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
I would predict that the only thing predictable about a five year old (and his friends) is that they are unpredictable.
There is the crux of the problem.

This dog sounds like he has many good traits, but there is a place where his tolerance can be tested and that with a child.

Since you did not raise this dog from a pup or put in initial training, you really can't know his triggers.

As much as you all like him, I would find another home for him with adults.

It would only take on 'flash,' for you to forever wish you had. I don't want to sound 'scary,' but a large dog can leave scars or worse in a little face in seconds.


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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 11:05 AM
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I'm not about to wonder WHY the dog does this or sugar coat it.

Look, I don't know why you would even be asking this, as a mother. I don't care how much YOU like the dog or how awesome of a dog he is. I don't care how much your kids like him. And honestly I don't care WHY he is showing this behavior to your son! And I don't care to tell you to make your son act differently and HOPE that his 5yo self does it all of the time and avoids doorways if the dog is there in his own home in fear of being hurt but a big, powerful dog.

If your child was older, maybe.
If it was a dog you've have for a long time giving a warning growl for a good reason, maybe.
If it was a strange kid, maybe.
If you kid was PROVOKING the behavior by doing something out of line, maybe.
But the truth is no dog on earth is worth your childs' safety or even life - he's at JUST the right height to get a canine in the jugular, isn't he? NO DOG IS WORTH IT.

And if that's not bad enough, all we need as GSD owners is THAT to hit the news, and next thing you know they'll be banning GSDs with BSL and snatching them from our homes to be put down.

Give him back so he can go to a home without kids. Get a dog you can trust.

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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 12:22 PM
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Such a dilemma and I am not sure what I would do in your position tbh.

My old grump of a GSD, who is now 11 years, really didn't like kids - as she was jumped on by four unruly boys when she was just a pup (my fault for not having eyes in the back of my head). She would sometimes growl at my son (she was six when he was born) and my stepson, who would also stare at her and try to sidestep her at times. However, I knew she had an inherently good temperament, and that she was just a bit afraid of the kids. I knew she would never bite them - and she never has, she has in fact got much better around them and I can totally trust her now.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you had had Niko since he was a pup, then you might be able to put more trust in him, and know the triggers that might cause him to growl. Unfortunately he is an unknown entity and that would concern me.

If you are determined to keep him and work with him (which is entirely your right and decision) then getting an excellent trainer/behaviourist in to help work out WHY he is growling in the first place, and how to work on it, is definitely the best step. Until such time as you can see the trainer, I would keep your son and Niko separate as much as possible and definitely never leave them alone together.

Let us know what happens.
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