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Old 05-03-2014, 10:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Suddenly aggressive 4 year old

Sorry in advance for the long read -

My GSD Jager has been with us since 9 weeks old. He is coming up on 4 years now, and within the past three months has been showing signs of aggression.

For the past year, he has lived with my grandmother while my husband was in the military, as he was not allowed in our housing. We just recently got him back. He was not well socialized or exercised during this period (not the best situation obviously, but the only way we could keep him) but it did not seem to effect his personality. I visited him every other month throughout the year, and the changes just occurred within these past three months.

He was also neutered recently, although I'm not sure that plays a part in aggression. I haven't personally ever heard of a dog being more aggressive after being altered.

I'm very confused as this is a dog that just a year ago was going on off leash hikes and beach trips, dog parks, out in public everywhere, without a hitch.

He would occasionally show slight aggression (low, calm growls) to strange males (I am a female), but never to the extent he does now. Prior to recently, any aggression would be instantly curbed by me shaking hands or hugging the approaching male. It was my way of telling him "this person is not a threat" and he understood and could then be handled by the stranger.

He now will lunge, growl, and bark at strangers and dogs in any environment - whether in his home or out on walks. He is his normal, friendly self to our friends and family that he has known long term. He is also fine with our 7 month old dutch shepherd that we adopted during our absence (he had lived with her for a month during our last visit).

Our latest home visitor was able to win his trust over with some food; he growled and lunged when he initially came in, but after a couple of treats was fine with him being around.

Does it sound like I need a behavioralist? I'm wondering if these issues will settle down, and he is just readjusting to me being around. I am very much "his person" and I'm wondering if he's just being extra protective of me after being gone for so long. We've only had him back for a week.

If so, does anyone have any tips for choosing a great behavioralist? I've never so much as had to take him to an obedience class so I'm at a loss of who I should pick. I don't want to hire the wrong trainer and have him regress even further.

I, eventually, want him to be back to his old self so we can continue bringing him with us as many places as possible.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd get with a trainer and up the firmness of your handling. If I were to choose the trainer, it would be someone that does IPO or sport, one who understands the GSD, and not a behaviorist.

Your dog is mature, showing that he is in control when it should be you instead. Find a club and go see if there is a good handler willing to help you work on this(not train in the sport, but show you how to work w/ your dog)
I'd also up the NILIF and let him know that you have everything under control so he doesn't have to be in charge.
The two week shutdown may help as well.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Right, behaviorists 99 times out of 100 will not be able to do anything in this situation. They're usually crap at having practical solutions to anything that can't be fixed with a cookie. Find a good bite sport trainer.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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IPO isn't just about biting, obedience and control are key in all three phases and teaching the dog control is why I suggested going that route than to a pet dog behaviorist. Also understanding and familiarity with the breed is important
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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"He was not well socialized or exercised during this period"
You need to gain your dog's trust again. He stayed with your grandmother, obviously something happened to him there, plus you have a new Dutch Shepherd. He needs some extra, special attention. Try a group obedience class, like a refresher course. You'll be spending one on one with him plus you can positively reinforce his good characteristics and an objective eye from a trainer may see something you are missing and your dog will get used to being around all types of people in a controlled environment.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Suddenly aggressive 4 year old

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
"He was not well socialized or exercised during this period"

You need to gain your dog's trust again. He stayed with your grandmother, obviously something happened to him there, plus you have a new Dutch Shepherd. He needs some extra, special attention. Try a group obedience class, like a refresher course. You'll be spending one on one with him plus you can positively reinforce his good characteristics and an objective eye from a trainer may see something you are missing and your dog will get used to being around all types of people in a controlled environment.
Nothing had happened to him at my grandmothers. We are *very* close, talk every day, and she has been Jager's "day care" while I'm at work since he was a little pup. The plan when we got back was to enroll both dogs into a group obedience course, but unfortunately Jager is too aggressive to be in that type of environment. I would definitely be putting other handlers and their dogs at risk by bringing an aggressive dog I cannot completely control into a situation like that.


I will definitely check into an IPO trainer, I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks guys. I did some research in my area and found a reputable GSD breeder who sounds wonderful and is a former schutzhund trainer. She no longer trains, but I'm sure she will have some great contacts.
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You have two dogs??
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip18 View Post
You have two dogs??

Yes, we have a 7 month old and him, a 4 year old.
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