Some fear aggression? Any advice/feedback welcomed - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2014, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Some fear aggression? Any advice/feedback welcomed

Apologies for the novel—but looking for some feedback/advice on what I think is some fear aggression with our GSD Ranger and I think the details may paint a better picture.

He’s about 16 months old and overall is just a great dog. But he definitely leans toward the timid side and doesn’t like to be reached out to by people he doesn’t know--he's not a rescue dog, we got him from a private party when he was a pup. And maybe this is just a ‘duh . . . yeah, he’s a young dog thing’ but want to make sure I am smart about it.

Once Ranger “gets to know” someone (and it doesn’t take long) it’s a love fest. Family members come over and Ranger just can’t get enough of them. He plays with the kids great—some are as young as 4. He just loves them and they love him and he’s never made an aggressive move. The neighbors and friends who have spent time around him are fine, too. If they come over to our house/yard or if we’re at their house/yard with Ranger all is great. They pet him and he has a ball.

“Getting to know” Ranger doesn’t involve a ton of time. If the kids have a new friend over, Ranger keeps his distance a bit, sniffs around and then that’s largely all it takes. Within 30 minutes (sometimes less) or an hour it’s game-on for who can pay the most attention to him.

Here’s where Ranger has his moments. If it’s a stranger or someone pretty new to him outside the house (say on a walk) he prefers those people to keep their distance. He doesn’t make aggressive moves while walking . . . in fact, he’s pretty good on his walks and will generally ignore people as they walk by. But if we are stopped and someone wants to chat (usually because they think he’s a cool looking dog or they have a dog and there is some sniffing going on) Ranger is apprehensive toward the human. He wants to sniff and see who it is and figure things out. But invariably the person would reach out to pet his head and Ranger snapped at a few folks. What I’ve done after seeing that is basically tell people not to reach for him and I keep a short leash and don’t let him get too close so they aren’t tempted to reach.

So I guess I am wondering that my approach should be here? Is this something that I should have a behavioralist/trainer review and/or are there things I can do to try and get him over this? Or is this just something common that he might grow out of with some time and more training? We have done training with him (Sit Means Sit) and he did pretty well with it. I need to spend more time with his training as a general rule but he’s done very good.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2014, 01:43 PM
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Post 8: "Who pets my puppy or dog" same approach recommended on the "fearful dog blog" for dogs with "fear/uncertainty issues, not his call, I made the decisions not him . My guy had "People Issues" I kept people out of his face, he learned his place was behind me with people/dogs, he turned out great.

New Dog, Very Challenging
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2014, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Chip . . . will give it a read!

My post sounds a little funny to me reading it back to myself . . . and I'm sure some reactions will be "well, sure--you bought a GSD and what did you expect/want him to do?" Part of the reason we got the shepherd was because I have always liked the breed and I did want to have a dog that I'd feel gave the family some protection. So maybe the simple answer is: well, nobody gets in a position to pet the dog if they don't know him. My previous dog was a golden retriever--and she probably would have given a burglar an escorted tour of the house she was so friendly.

I guess the nipping thing is what I am most concerned with. That it's not a "back away" bark or that he moves away--and that there might be some aggression there that I need to understand and get ahead of. But maybe it's just natural and expected to some degree? That he'll need to be on a leash and just have people keep their distance and position him better or muzzle him if we go to a dog park or something--which he likes to do.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2014, 03:11 PM
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a gsd should not be making these decisions as to whom to warn nip or bite
there is no threat to you and that is the only thing it should act on is a potential threat
he is perceiving the wrong things as threats
go back to basics and teach stellar obedience
put a muzzle on him before you are involved in a lawsuit
step in front of him if people reach for him
do what it takes so he is not trying to bite people

snapping is a warning of a potential bite to come
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-01-2014, 06:12 PM
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Does't sound like fear aggression, he is still very young and has quite a bit more maturing to do. My opinion is that he doesn't have to meet strangers and if you find yourself in a situation where a stranger wants to stand and chat then I would ask the person to ignore him (don't look at him or touch him) as you are training him to focus on you. I wouldn't stand around too long especially if the person has a dog as dogs that stand looking at each other with nothing to do can lead them into trouble - suggest the person walk with you. Walking together entails moving forward and this helps dogs focus on a job and does build bonds with both canine and human.

if your GSD is eating and eating and eating and losing weight - please consider testing for EPI.

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