3 yr old male suddenly aggressive towards toddler-very worried!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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3 yr old male suddenly aggressive towards toddler-very worried!!

I've been a long time lurker. Harry, my GSD is a 3 year old neutered male that I've had since he was 8 weeks old. He loves all of my kids (I have 5) and he has never ever shown any aggressive behavior towards them. He has been socialized not only with my tribe of kids but the neighborhood kids as well since we had him at 8 weeks. He loves kids.

We recently got a new puppy a month ago, a female. Harry and Lucy get along great. I practice NILIF with Lucy though I've been laxed with Harry letting him on our bed and couches. I still make him wait before he can go outside and that type of thing. Lucy is contained in the house until she can be trusted (potty and chewing). She has an ex pen that she hangs out in and a crate I feed and keep her in at night. Harry gets to roam the house because he's earned our trust that is until last night. Harry got into Lucy's ex pen when I wasn't watching which is hard to to do with 5 kids and took her bully stick. He took it into our living room and our 2 year old toddler walked in and must have grabbed it. He didn't growl but nipped our daughter hard on the hand. It didn't draw blood but there were teeth marks. I scolded him and put him in his 4x6 kennel we have in the basement for a time out for me and for him. I know our daughter should not have taken away his high value treat and I should have been watching them closely but again he has never done this before. I chalk it up to next time I will give him bully sticks in his kennel so this doesn't happen again and up my training a bit but it made me extremely upset and nervous that he did that in the first place. I've also closed Lucy's ex pen so he doesn't go in there and steal them.

The other incident which really upset me was today he's on our bed which I allow for him to sit with me up there while I was talking to my husband. My toddler wants up so she can pet Harry. I get her up and she lays over Harry to pet him as she does a million times before this and he growls and barks at her. I immediately take her away and make him get off the bed. I'm very worried about this sudden behavior.

I will call our vet to make sure there is nothing medical going on and get him checked out. I don't know if it is the puppy coming into the family and shook things up? He's in kennel for right now until I can watch my toddler with him. I can try tethering him to me but I also do that with our puppy. I've included Harry when I do training sessions with our puppy who's 12 weeks. He also gets plenty of excercise, chuck it ball, walks, and he still loves the flirt pole. We also play "find it" which he loves. How can I fix it this if it isn't medically related? We love Harry and see him as a family member but my kids come first.

Thanks for any advice.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 06:21 PM
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Don't take this the wrong way, it's not meant to be a criticism. But I would work on teaching the kids (and I know it's hard with a two year old), to not lay on top of Harry for one.

It could very well be the 'new addition',,I know when I had two males who never ever ever once got into a tiff, DID, when I brought in a new puppy..Granted these weren't kids they were directing to, but dynamics change ..

The bully stick, well that's a really HIGH value treat, I see you have a good plan for the next time, (crate him if he has one)..

I'd kick his butt off the bed, (not literally you know what Imean , he may be getting a little to 'possessive' of things like the bed/couch..

Certainly no expert here, but yes I'd rule out medical, maybe he's sore from something, but I wouldn't say that was the case with the bullystick..

Hoping others will chime in, good luck to you and welcome to the forum

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 06:23 PM
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Hmm well I got chewed on for going overboard? On a GSD growling and cornering a child!!?? So this time I'll suggest you Google "rank drive in GSD's" and see what you think?
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 06:46 PM
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I'm happy that everything ended not so...But it could. And the matter was - YOU! He took Lucy's stick not because he wants sticks, probably he even doesn't like them, but because she receives them from you, he took it out of jealosy, food and toys received from the leader of the pack ( that is you) represent your attention. Then came another baby to claim the same, so, the competition became tougher. He tried to reassure himself that he is still your right hand by taking his old place, but the toddler threatened him again. Your dog has bit your baby in order to protect himself, but the person whom he loves punished him.
First of all, you made a mistake. Your dog was upset, when he had to bite your baby, he, probably didn't mean to, he was waiting for Lucy to come and grab it. But, this confrontation repeated the very next day. I suggest you not to allow him inside for the next month or so, he wouldn't forget it so easily. But, please, don't forget, that your dog would feel absolutely miserable, if you don't grant him your attention. The accident you described is a typical indoor accident, and it shouldn't stop your children playing with your dog outside, take them for walks.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 10:25 PM
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I'm going to bump this thread. I would respond to David Taggart's post but don't even know where to begin.
Maybe someone else wants to take a crack at it.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 10:44 PM
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Kids need to show/learn respect, no matter how long the dog has put up with it without intervention from the owner/adult/pack leader
they are not stuffed animals, kid toys ... & no child under 10 should be left unsupervised with a dog, meaning small children without the capicity of knowledge, than there should be an adult with the knowlege that keeps rules in place.

Dogs need to be treated like dogs, (off furniture) with a leader of the pack
his actions are showing that their is not a concistant leader, so he he is naturally, steping into the role!!
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 11:14 PM
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OP, I agree with Diane about getting him off the couch and bed. That aspect sounds like resource guarding. He just lost that privilege. It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right and that you are thinking ahead to put safe-guards in place. A vet check is always a good idea, when there is a sudden change in personality. I would also have him evaluated by a behaviorist.

It is odd to me that he has always been great with the children, until now. I know, blame the bully stick and don't let the child lay over Harry. That still strikes me wrong. I'm guessing that Harry was a dog who didn't growl over treats or being manhandled by a child before. And I seriously doubt he ever put his teeth on them. My old GSD always loved kids too. I always taught my kids to be respectful, as I'm sure you do too, but she was extremely tolerant - if she was accidentally stepped on, or tightly hugged or kissed, or a treat or toy was taken from her. She never growled at the kids. She absolutely never bit them. It is such a huge concern, when you have young kids.

Keep doing what you are doing to ensure that you keep your toddler safe. Harry goes, in the crate, when you can't watch him. Get a professional to help you. Kids ALWAYS come first.

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 12:12 AM
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I am not going to try to respond to David, but in response to Chip, this is a different set of dynamics, than the other thread.

I too would kick the dog's butt off the bed. If you don't have any issues, there is no problem with the dog on the bed. If you do have issues, time to go back to your NILIF with this dog, and start from scratch. Nothing, he gets nothing he does not work for.

Yes, definitely rule out medical, and I would cut out those bully stick. They are expensive and gross. I wouldn't want them around children, sorry, but these kind of treats often have issues with salmonella, etc. And these are the parts we humans don't eat for a reason. It also is a VERY high value treat, and your dog has given a strong indication that he cannot be trusted with a VERY high value treat with children around.

I would also get a trainer/behaviorist, and start working with this dog. The new puppy takes a lot of training/socialization, but your adult boy has given you the heads up that he is still a work in progress.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by selzer View Post
but in response to Chip, this is a different set of dynamics, than the other thread.
Well since I got singled out also....I'll say simple say ...I see the same “issue” dog threatening a pack member, so I would recommend the same tools,I error on the safe of keeping everyone safe, while “I” figure out what's going on??

I'm not big on ”issues” magically resolving themselves. Having said that,I'm out, I'm here to learn also and I don't want to derail this thread.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 12:48 PM
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Find a good trainer and go from there. A case like this i wouldn't even bother posting about bc its important to see the dog. If you continue on your present course youre well on your way to conditioning further problems regarding what sounds like resource guarding behavior.

In the meantime crate the dog when you aren't watching him especially when your young kids are around. The issue you are facing isn't uncommon and is usually a fairly easy fix so dont panic. Until you get that professional help take steps to prevent further incidents.
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