I have a male GSD, 1,5 years old, called Roi, living in an apartment. He spends most of the time with people, I gave him ton of time (most of my day) attention and love for whole of his life. I trained him all the basic obedience skills, and socialized him properly with people, dogs and children. For most of the part he is incredible with everyone (both people and dogs). He is outside for walks for atleast 2-3 hours a day. I never beat him, try to pet him and make him affectionate as much as I can. But this is the second time he attacks a child.
First time happened while he was young. I used to take him to the elementary school backyard nearby my flat whenever it was empty. I used to throw him sticks so he does fetch & return and get's properly tired. But from the very early on he showed strong possession for things. For example, sometimes he would growl at me if I tried to take the stick from his mouth when he doesn't want to let it fall to the ground on command.
So there I am throwing stick for him, and a kid (about 12 y/o) from the nearby building stands by me and watches amusingly. Roi (the dog) returns the stick, lets it fall on the ground and waits for me to pick it up. Suddenly, before i could say anything, the kid hastily tries picking the stick up (how could he have known it?) and Roi in a blink of an eye bites him by the hand. Hand starts bleeding, nothing serious, but still from then on I decided to never throw sticks or anything for him, to try to minimize his extreme possessiveness.
That was almost 7 months ago. Till then, he is great with kids, whenever he's on a leash and kids want to pet him, I allow it, and it goes great. He licks their hands, puts his head to their chest so they can pet him and scratch him and so on.
Then, today, this happens:
He needed to go outside to pee, so we went down. In front of my building, there is a grass patch where he always pees. I unleash him there just for a minute so he does both his number one and number two (because otherwise he doesn't want to do it, or he wags me in random directions which is frustrating), so I usually unleash him till he finishes it, then leash him again.
But this time I was talking on the phone, and suddenly this kid comes out of nowhere, running like mad and screaming (he was playing - running away from his friends) but still running and screaming towards me. And again, before I could react, Roi jumps in front of me, and starts growling and biting him by his jacket without any warning. Again, nothing serious, it was a thick winter jacket, and he wasn't actually trying to hurt him (it looked more like he tried to stop him in his place, like he was guarding me).
No wound this time, but I really want to know how I can train him not to be like that. I understand that he just used his guarding instinct but still...
I know most of you will probably say "use muzzles", but I really would like to make him okay without it, because I believe muzzles are really a last resort, and really restrict dog (he loves picking up stuff from the ground like branches and carrying them.)
Any ideas, advices, thoughts?
A lot of people are going to come on giving advice like, muzzling and environmental management. A lot will also say this is fear, bad genetics, resource guarding, etc...Bottom line, no one on the internet is going to be able to truly help you. The internet and forums like this can help with basic obedience stuff, trying to potty train, teaching specific commands, looking for breeders, etc....It really isn't the place to get advice on aggression problems, especially with a dog that has bit twice, both times CHILDREN, and one time drawing blood. You do not have the control you think you have. You need to consult a trainer with experience in aggression
The part in bold in your OP, or anytime anyone explains away a situation (specifically one of aggression and attacks on children
) using words/phrases like that is always concerning to me. It tells me the OP doesn't understand the gravity of the situation. You have a large breed dog, that is now shown you it will bite children. You clearly can't read the dog's body language, until you contact a trainer, you must manage the dog. Whether that's muzzles, limiting where you take the dog, NEVER...I repeat NEVER, taking the dog off leash, etc...it's up to you. My advice remains, regardless of how "nice he is most of the time" is to seek a trainer with experience in dog aggression and dog's that have bit. If I was the kids parents I went have went after you in every way possible. You're lucky, that can ruin your life and get the dog destroyed.
Don't mean to be harsh, I am always more blunt and harsh when kids are involved. I hate that behavior not being addressed by a professional immediately. Good Luck.