Male GSD and Military Husband - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Male GSD and Military Husband

We have a male intact 3 year old GSD named Grimm. We "rescued" him when he was around a year old. I don't have a whole lot of information on his background but he does not seem to do well with male (humans) and all dogs. We've been through positive training, and worked with a local schutzhund trainer and have seen a lot of improvement. He is definitely "my" dog and I am definitely his person. My husband is in the military and leaves often. When he is gone its just the two of us and I am very consistent with his obedience and behaviors.

The other night Grimm was in bed with me and he was asleep. My husband was coming to bed and came in the doorway and Grimm immediately started to growl. My husband thinks he needs to "out alpha" him and he took a step in the bedroom. It happened really fast but I jumped up and so did Grimm and my husband started yelling no at Grimm. Grimm started snarling and growling uncontrollably and im not sure how it really happened but it moved quickly out into the hallway and then into the living room where his crate is. I know I was yelling at both of them out of fear. We made it to the outside of his crate and Grimm finally looked at me and stopped growling. He went into his crate when asked to and my husband left the room. We have not let Grimm sleep in the bed since.

My husband does not work with Grimm as much as I do. But he does feed him and they play often. My husband does let Grimm get away with more and isn't consistent. My concern is was this episode out of aggression? Or was he being pushy because he wants to be the alpha? (Thats my husband theory but I disagree). I know I reacted poorly and think I escalated the situation.

We are working on getting on the same page and building back their trust with one another. Really don't want this to happen again as I love both these guys.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 02:24 PM
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From the way you describe Grimm's initial growl it sounds like he was simply startled out of a sound sleep and reacted appropriately as if a stranger had entered the room.
Your husband could have just called him off of the bed matter of factly.Grimm would recognize his voice and know that all was well.The yelling and excitement only served to confuse and overwhelm your dog.
Please forget about the alpha stuff.If Grimm starts feeling bullied and like he needs to defend himself constantly it could create a problem.What you described in your post is not aggressive behavior.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 02:27 PM
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I wouldn't let him sleep in the bed anymore. That can cause a lot of problems. I would start making him sleep in the crate at night. I think you should have your husband work with the dog and bond with him. The alpha thing will not work. It will only make things worse.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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I agree that the alpha stuff is nonsense, but can't seem to get my husband on the same page. I have concerns that my husband is going to ruin his relationship with Grimm by buying into the alpha hype.
He is no longer sleeping in the bed with us but I do not crate him unless we have guests over. Working on training the husband. Haha
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 04:36 PM
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I'm just a pet owner, not an expert or a trainer by any means, but I'd be concerned if one of my GSDs growled uncontrollably at anyone I allowed in my home, let alone a family member. As others have said, I definitely wouldn't allow him up on the bed anymore. You might want to google a training technique called "Nothing in life is Free" (NILF). If your husband won't listen to your advice, perhaps you could hire a professional trainer. Some people might respond more favorably to an outsider. Anyway, sounds like this is the first time this situation has occurred. I hope everything works out okay. Keep us updated!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimm02 View Post
The other night Grimm was in bed with me and he was asleep. My husband was coming to bed and came in the doorway and Grimm immediately started to growl.
Rex (7 year old GSD) has bonded to my wife. I have surprised him by walking into the bedroom while he was asleep. Same reaction as yours but I don't escalate anything. I just talk to him and once he realized who I am everything is good. It does make me feel better knowing how he will react if the wrong person ever walks into the room.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 05:50 PM
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Lol good luck with training the husband, if you find something that works, PLEASE let me know as all my attempts have failed.
For the time being I would not let Grimm on the bed. It's hard to tell if he was being territorial or just confused waking up from a deep sleep without actually seeing it happen. I've noticed with dogs sometimes it seems like elevated positions like beds or sofas makes them territorial. If you really want him to sleep on the bed while your husband is away, teach him "up" or "place" command to invite him on the bed or couch and also teach him a "down" or "off" command for when you want him to get off. He needs to see the bed as off limits unless you invite him on it. I'm not a professional but this is what I'd do with my dog if I had the same issue.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 09:21 PM
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I agree, all the screaming and shouting escalated the issue, a simple "Its me, you silly goose" in a light tone might have calmed everything down.

Having hubby play games with him is also a good way for them to bond.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 12:12 PM
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Maybe you could convince your hubby that being "alpha" (ie leader) is like being a good commanding officer. Dogs like rules and consistency. Dogs hate being confused, led around in circles, and "lied" to. They like people who are fair and follow through. Dogs, especially the smart ones, have an innate understanding of basic justice, fairness, and trustworthiness. Be those things, and your dog will follow you off a cliff if you ask.

He also needs to understand that dogs don't want to be the leader. They are looking FOR a leader. They're happier when they're the follower. He just needs to make it clear that the dog doesn't need to worry about that.

There's no need to out alpha the dog in the bedroom instance. A simple, "It's me" would have probably fixed the situation. If that wasn't enough, then a no-nonsense command to get out of his spot would also work (provided your dog knows something like "off"). No emotion at all. Just a command and the expectation that it will be followed. Dogs pick up on that.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:04 PM
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If he is on the "ALPHA" train of thought your husband prolly felt disrespected... A lot of men can not cope with this and most likely took it as a threat on multiple levels. i cant imagine a staredown of growling walking back to the crate with your husband saying "no" while backing up. did he try and grab the dog and put him in his crate?

Also, you jumping up dindt help the situation but it was prolly startling so I understand. I dont think there is any damage done ( on the dogs side) but a more open mind from your husband is needed.

p.s. I am a guy, with experience in thinking I "have" to be Alpha or he wont listen.

another note... what you described can happen from a poodle to a golden to a anybreed. Dont think its GSD exclusive.
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