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Aion 01-18-2014 03:01 PM

My GSD bit my Neighbor.
My GSD is a male and is 2 yrs old. He just recently bit our neighbor, it came as a shock to most of us as we just thought he was all bark, which was our mistake in the first place. He's always had the tendency of sitting by the front door(Screen door) and tends to growl/bark at people passing close to the driveway and barks at every dog in his line of sight, no matter how far.

He's a great family dog though, he's great with kids and he's extremely lovable and he gets along with my friends and family. It's fairly easy for him to get to know people, as long as the people meeting him for the first time don't look at him directly in the eyes. When I take him out for walks, he doesn't bark at people and he's relatively friendly but he's still on guard. With dogs, it's a whole different story, he goes mad when he sees a dog on our walks and I have to make sure to hold him hard. He just doesn't like other dogs, I'm not sure why. The dog is extremely protective over our property which includes the driveway, garage, backyard, and the whole inside of our home. He use to be able to roam around the garage w/ the driveway garage door open and he'd behave, and would never bark at people only at dogs but he would stay in place and wouldn't run off. After a while, we noticed he became more hesitant about staying in place and wanted to run off to chase after dogs so we decided to not allow him in the garage area while the garage door was open.

Going back on him biting my neighbor, he's always disliked our neighbor for some odd reason. Our neighbor doesn't go in our house but he's constantly w/ my father outside in the garage working on a car and whatnot. A week ago or so, my dad was working on a car and our neighbor was helping him out. Apparently my aunt that was visiting left the door open from the garage, and Mike(our dog) hadn't launch'd at our neighbor just yet until our neighbor reached for the wrench and handed it to my dad, right then our dog launched and bit him in the arm puncturing through his skin. The dog let go right away and ran back inside after my brother yelled @ him. This is the story I got from my younger brother as he was the one that was present and my dad was under the car at the time and didn't see anything until it was too late. I'm guessing he thought our neighbor had an intention of hurting my father w/ the wrench but idk and it doesn't help that he already dislikes our neighbor. Our neighbor did require stitches, which we did pay for and we are actually taking him next week to get him removed. We are covering all of his medical bills for the injury which is obviously the least we can do. The neighbor didn't make a big deal out of it but it obviously is. We first tried to find someone who would take him, but he's currently sick and he's on antibiotics, he scratches a lot to the point of bleeding at times. That's all expensive, and people don't want that burden on them as it costs a lot of money. We love our dog and he's a great dog at that, but after this incident we don't know what to do. We don't know of any dog trainers in the area and we are set on making a change but I'd like to get some input from some GSD owners. (I don't need people telling me that my dog is "vicious" or that he should be "put down". I want solutions, as our family realizes that we are at fault for the most part for not training our dog the way we should have.)

We Reside in San Diego, CA. The dog weighs around 95-105 and he's around 2 yrs old.
Pictures of Mike:

JakodaCD OA 01-18-2014 04:02 PM

If you want to keep him, management is key.

Sometimes dogs just don't like other dogs, and that is an easy fix, again management.

When it's a 'people' issue, you've got to be much more on top of things, know what he's capable of, and again management is key.

Maybe someone in your area can suggest a behaviorist to help you one on one, ideas and suggestions.

Your lucky your neighbor was so forgiving, (and I'm not being sarcastic so I apologize if it sounds like I am)...if this were a stranger, they could sue the pants off you:( and unfortunately the dog may pay with his life:(

I wouldn't try to rehome a dog like this, because you may be liable for any future incidents:(

So manage him, fence your yard, don't let accidents like this happen..

And I think, he may have thought something was going on with the wrench incident, because he really could have done more damage to the guy than he did if he really wanted to..(not an excuse, just an observation)

Nigel 01-18-2014 05:18 PM

Sorry this happened and glad the injury was not too severe. You'll need management, training, and consistent rules/boundaries from here on out. Sounds like you had some containment going on already until a door was left open, use a gate on doors like this for an added layer of prevention. Make sure everyone in the home is on board about keeping him secure. If he's not crate trained, I'd start that as well, its nice to have a secure place for him should you have days with lots of unfamiliar visitors. Hopefully someone familiar with your location has recommendations for trainers/behaviorists, lots of crappy ones out there.

ken k 01-18-2014 05:30 PM

something you have to realize, you have a GSD and a large one at that, the dog took your neighbor handing your Dad a wrench as an aggressive act, your dog doesn't know the difference, your dog thought he was protecting your Dad, you really need to get some training for the pup,

Harry and Lola 01-18-2014 06:09 PM

He is 2 years old, not yet fully mature and experimenting with how far he can go with you, your family, strangers and other dogs. Usually at about 4yo, most GSDs settle down and mature so are not so reactive - usually.

He is doing his job, what comes naturally to this breed, he is guarding his property and pack. However, it is very important you and everyone in the family exercise control and teach him that you are in control and you yourself can handle a dog walking by or a stranger coming to the house without his carry on. It will take consistency by everyone in the family and clear rules that it is ok for him to bark and growl to warn you, however he is not to move forward - you will take control.

I think the easiest way to achieve this is to put him on lead always when outside (and inside if a stranger is entering) and enable the stimuli to happen, ie when a dog walks by or your neighbour or a stranger comes over. Being on lead will allow you to calmly and assertively correct him if he goes to lunge. Choose a word, such as 'leave it' and make him sit next to you. I have always had good success with these types of situations using positive reinforcement (treat rewards), for example when the neighbour comes over, make sure you have him on lead, command him to sit and reward him. Command him to 'look' at you and reward him. Keep his focus on you. Having him focusing on you is one of the best training exercises you can do (aside from recall).

You have a strong willed German Shepherd male, and will require a strong, consistent, calm handler. But keep in mind he is at an age where he is experimenting and with the right guidance from you and your family he will learn control. He will always be on guard and you will always have to monitor him, however with training and maturity he will settle.

Chip18 01-18-2014 07:10 PM

A GSD is not a Beagle. I considered my GSD a loaded hand gun and took all precautions to protect him and anyone in the home, It was years before I let anyone touch him and he had no issues I was just that cautious! My dog never bit anyone and now your has!

Clearly you understand the importance of training and proper socialization now. A soft muzzle around people would be order at this point and everyone in the household should be aware of where the dog is at all times.

You guys did not do this but your aunt F'd up! If you have folks coming over just put the soft muzzle on the dog end of story! People screw up.

Sorry if it's a bit harsh but your in the deep end of the pool now!

You need to get help as was already stated with this dog.

Kaimeju 01-18-2014 08:11 PM

I think putting him to sleep would be overkill but you do have to recognize that you've got a dog who will bite and keep him away from people that he does not trust, or has not met. We had a lab mix when I was a kid who would bite. We kept him on our property and he was not allowed to interact with anyone outside the family unless they were briefed on how to act around him and knew what they were getting into.

Unfortunately by letting him act aggressively for so long (even if it's just "noise" to you) he has now got it in his head that it is his job to tell you who is a threat and who isn't. It should be the other way around.

When I had aggression issues with my dog, the best piece of advice a rescue gave me when I tried to rehome her was 1.) get a trainer and 2.) have that trainer show you how to use a prong collar. Prevent bad behavior and reward the heck out of sitting quietly and paying attention to you. I guarantee you there is someone training dogs in your area even if you can't find them on Google.

Rehoming shouldn't be an option because this is too big of a problem to pass onto someone else. Plus he has already bonded with your family.

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Msmaria 01-18-2014 08:20 PM

Have him wear a muzzle. Thats the response I see here alot when having these issues. Find a behaviorist or trainer if you can. It will help alot.

SuperG 01-18-2014 09:06 PM


I applaud you and your families culpability.

I will assume via your investigation/concern/research of the situation at hand, you will go forward properly.


Twyla 01-18-2014 09:24 PM

Locate a trainer/behaviorist in your area at this link : Directory of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists ? Animal Behavior Society: Applied Animal Behavior . Also look under the sub-forum here for any suggestions for your area: Finding a Good Trainer - German Shepherd Dog Forums . What you want to look for is someone who is experienced with GSD and it is verifiable. Talk with several before choosing one.

As said above, management is key here. He isn't left in the house/yard with anyone who doesn't know his triggers. With a dog who has proven he will bite, you don't have the luxury of 'forgetting'. That means if you or an immediate family member isn't with the dog, he is crated.

He can't sit at the door and bark at passerbys; dog or human. That builds up frustration. Direct his focus to you away from the door/window. In the garage, he is leashed. Again redirect his focus to you at his first stress signal.

Has he had ob training? If not, that will need to be part of the training as well.

When out walking and meeting dogs, at his first sign, get his attention on you. That means when he gets the hard stare, or the ears go straight forward, that is the time to get his attention, not once he has started barking. Walk in a curve around the dog, not head on.

Agree with conditioning him to a basket muzzle. This type will allow him to pant, drink water and get treats. This won't be a tool to use all the time, only the times you just can't avoid him being around strangers - vet etc. At home you can avoid him being around strangers - crate him or have him under your control.

These are all temporary suggestions until you can locate a behaviorist and get their eyes on your dog and see what is going on.

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