Help - don't know what to do
Hi everyone, as the title of the thread states, I need help.
My 19 month old non-neutered, male, GSD has developed aggressive tendencies to other, random, dogs. His agressiveness appears out of nowhere - sometimes he's fine with the other dog, his tail is wagging and he's sniffing happily, then all of a sudden he starts to growl and goes off (barking and lunging); other times, he see's another dog, and this could be across the street, and he starts to growl, bark and lunge for no apparent reason; and there are other times he's perfectly behaved, not caring about a dog that runs up to him barking.
When he does bark and lunge, my wife and/or I restrain him either by his leash or his collar, get in front of him and tell him to sit. We do this because his aggressiveness disappears when the dog of his focus is removed from his sight or the immediate area. Although it may take a little bit to get him to relax and sit, he eventually does. But, we need to keep telling him to "watch me" to take his focus off the other dog until it is gone.
His aggressiveness is beginning to worry my wife and I as we're concerned he might attack/injure another dog. We're so worried, we've started to walk him later at night or earlier in the mornings to avoid bumping into other dogs. If we do see another dog, we try to avoid them as we're not sure how he's going to react.
He's extremely friendly to humans and an angel at home. He's perfectly healthy per the vet and we socialize him as much as we can either at the off leash park or at what I call Doggie Day Care (for when the wife and I are at work). He doesn't have any issues at either the park or at Day Care, just when we walk him alone.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
It sounds a bit like he's feeling insecure on the lead. When dogs are in a group and off lead they often behave better because they can get away from any tension and they're not restricted. You'll probably notice off lead dogs rarely greet with a head on sniff, they usually stand to the side and sniff bums. Dogs very often find walking towards another dog and the head on contact when their on the lead intimidating and with an un-neutered young male he'll want to show he can stand his ground. Unfortunately it's not in the nature of GSDs to back away so when he's uncomfortable or in his mind being confronted he'll lunging and barking. You could try some lead work using the BAT techniques or clicker work while at the same time keep up with the doggy day care and dog park. Dog classes are good because he would have to learn to focus and respond to you while at the same time be on the lead around other dogs.
I'm sure there are plenty who will disagree with this but if your not breeding from him I would also get him neutered. It might not fix this particular problem but neutering can reduce the likelihood of him challenging another male.
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