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Old 01-22-2014, 10:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy My GSD attacked a child

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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. I 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, plus it's the single most favorite thing for him, his eyes almost glow when you throw him stuff. 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 (having no idea how dogs could react, considering him inferior being) 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 for things, just in case something like that doesn't happen again. (since that was the only time he showed aggression)

That was almost 7 months ago. Since 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?

Last edited by dex33; 01-22-2014 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The stick...sounds like he was going for the stick and not the kid.

The screaming kid...not sure that he did act inappropriately given the situation.

However, YOU need to take charge and not let him. Up your obedience. Up your recall and leave it. Up your guard in public.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You know your dog resource guards. You should have worked on this behavior a long time ago. Work on it now. Trade him a higher value treat. Praise him for giving the stick, toy, whatever to you. There is a lot of information here on correcting resource guarding.

Step up your management of this dog. Do not allow your dog off leash. Teach him to potty on leash. And yes - muzzle him. IMO what happened was your fault. You allowed your dog to be off leash. You weren't paying attention to him. You were on the phone. Up your obedience. You need to have a rock solid recall on your dog. Children need to be protected and so does your dog. That is your job.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dex33 View Post
Details:
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.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I just read DaniFani's post and honestly that is the best advice you will get.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I just adopted a GSD that I've found out the hard way WILL bite - he bit my boss (lucky me). I IMMEDIATELY bought a basket muzzle and he will wear it in public until he proves me to me that he is over that behavior completely, which may never happen. You are so lucky that nobody has called on you yet... biting a child is a big deal in the states eyes, provoked or not. It is a bummer to have to use a muzzle and I don't enjoy doing it with my own dog, but I understand that I made the decision to keep a dog that has the potential to be a huge liability. Get in training classes with someone who specializes in resource guarding/aggression and start working on the issue. It really helps to have structured training and a nonbiased party involved in it (the trainer).
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax08 View Post
The stick...sounds like he was going for the stick and not the kid.

The screaming kid...not sure that he did act inappropriately given the situation.

However, YOU need to take charge and not let him. Up your obedience. Up your recall and leave it. Up your guard in public.
If my dog lunged out and bit a child just because it ran up or by screaming, we'd have huge issues. I can't believe that would be suggested as being "appropriate," regardless of the situation. A child isn't a threat. Period. If the child hadn't had a winter coat on, blood could have been drawn. Again.

Also this>>"Sounds like he was going for the stick." Why in the world would you jump to that conclusion, at best it's correct, but at worst the dog was, in fact, guarding the stick from the child, bit the child, and now OP may not do anything about it because someone on an internet said he was "probably going for this stick." Who cares...blood was drawn....behavior needs to be witnessed and assessed by someone in person, with experience in training and "fixing" mis-placed aggression.

That's my problem with internet advice in this situation. Worse case scenario, the dog was truly being aggressive, and because of some things said on the internet, the owner/handler isn't going to go the great lengths to ensure it doesn't happen again. Is going to continue to let the guard down, and allow a bit to happen for the third time. I mean, how many times does it take. Jeesh. I'm sorry...but we're talking about kids here.

I agree with your last statement. Along with getting help.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I should add, I of course believe obedience needs to be upped big time. However, no offense OP, I question one's ability to get reliable obedience on a dog like this (given the history of two bites and lack of control/management), all on his own with no guidance from a successful professional. That's why my first and only advice is to consult a trainer with experience in this. Reliable obedience would be an outcome of seeking a professional for the problem.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Agree with DaniFani. You need someone who knows what they are doing to evaluate this dog in person and work with you. We can't do this over the internet. It sounds like your dog does not have enough limits and knows it.
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Old 01-22-2014, 11:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Go with Dani's advice.

With high prey drive dogs I've found I usually have to inoculate against stuff like that. Zebu had a habit of tracking running kids with his eyes. Was clear he was going into prey drive and had he not been leashed at the time he'd have probably gone into pursuit. Was to be expected. Dogs with high prey drive go after stuff that looks like prey unless made to realize it is a bad idea. We worked on it specifically.

Might be prey drive might be resource guarding but without seeing it first hand it is all conjecture. Go see a trainer that has experience with this kind of thing. In the meantime manage the dog better when kids are around. Even a highly trained dog off leash is a calculated risk. No trained dog behavior is 100% reliable.
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