Aggresive behavior from my GSD - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Aggresive behavior from my GSD

Hank is almost two years old. He has completed two training sessions for obedience and does everything we ask him to do most of the time if treats are involved. In a group of people he is wonderful, excellent around kids, has no problem with people getting right in his face. But, at times at home he plays rough (he wants to do this a lot). He wants to jump and bite (not a hard bite, but it still hurts) at us when we are just walking through the house. Going to leave the house he will bite at our shoes and keep ahold of them until we shake him off. My wife doesn't want to be alone in the house with him when he acts like this. Hanks around 100 lbs and can easily knock her down while thinking he's playing. We have seen and heard several bits of info on how to deal with this but it doesn't seem to help when the theory is applied to reality (Pinning, ignoring, re-directing attention). Need some advice on what may work or help to resolve this issue.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 01:39 PM
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Does he spend a lot of time alone? How much exercise is he getting? Regardless of which methods you use, amping up his exercise is going to help. GSDs are high maintenance as far as time and attention and EXERCISE. Persistence and consistency are also necessary in redirecting/correcting unwanted behavior, and this means from all members of the household. This does not sound like a BAD dog, but one who needs LOTS of exercise and work to take the edge off his playfulness. Part of that exercise can be playing--with a soft frisbee, ball, tug... You also must exercise his brain as well as his body. These are the responsibilities of sharing your home with a smart, thinking canine. If she is willing, your wife should be a part of these things.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 01:45 PM
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He is two years old and has only been to two classes? Or did you mean he completed the entire course twice? He needs a job and lots of exercise. The biting the shoes when you leave is not as cute when he is two as it was when he was 12 weeks old is it? I would institute NILIF right away and continue the obedience classes. Maybe look into Rally if you want a fun obedience sport, or agility (which takes a bit more equipment to practice). Anything active where the dog looks to you for direction in order to keep doing the fun stuff is good. Some dogs, like mine, would rather work than play with a ball. She will work for a good half hour with her tail wagging but will only chase the ball a few times before losing interest. On walks she is always happy to be out. Any exercise that includes you and/or your wife with your dog is good.


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 03:26 PM
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So nobody's going to tell him to quit "pinning' the dog?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 04:07 PM
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I would most definitely take him and yourself to obedience training. This sort of behaviour where they are jumping up on you and biting may be fine as a puppy where they are learning right and wrong and playtime, but you should have stopped this behaviour then. As an adult male, I would imagine it is not much fun having him jump up and lunge at you.

Try obedience training, make sure he is well exercised and reprimand him from now on. Be consistent, don't allow him even once to do this. You may even have to keep a lead on him in the house so that you can easily take control and train him to heel and not to jump up on you.

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

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your comments. When I said he completed two training sessions, it was two complete obedience courses. A basic class and an intermediate class. He was the model student. He will still do everything he learned when we take him by the training location for a visit. My wife does share an active part in spending time with Hank, however when he gets worked up he can be overpowering. I do have a 2 acres fenced for him to play and we do go through lots of toys and we do take him to the local stores that allow dogs inside (although mostly on the weekend. I looked into Rally, wasnt quite sure what that was. This does look promising and there may be stuff I can do indoors. At times it's hard to get him out doors everyday in the winter for exercise since everyone in the house either works or has school. Sounds like he may just be getting bored in the house and wants something different to do. Again, I do appreciate the comments.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 05:10 PM
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Something to think about too is herding instinct.. not a clue if that is this situation.. but the not wanting you leave the house was definitely a light to me on herding. I had a boarder collie/lab mix that was like this. Anyone we talked to instantly said herding.

And yes, ramp up his exercise.. will help with calming him in the house.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick4714 View Post
He will still do everything he learned when we take him by the training location for a visit.
It sounds like you need to generalize his obedience behaviors. I suggest doing fun play sessions with random OB commands in different locations until he is responding well.

If he isn't engaged with you while out and about, I would start there, working on "watch," or whatever you use for focus. You can be random and unpredictable when on walks to teach him to pay attention. Once you have good engagement, the distractions mean less to the dog, and you can retain control through OB commands if necessary.

Getting the dog in the habit of paying attention to you and looking to you for guidance is the goal of these exercises. You need to be interesting and unpredictable without jabbering constantly at the dog. Use movement and random reinforcement to accomplish this.

As far as the bad behavior at home, it is something you shouldn't have allowed in the first place. I only say that so you understand, and so others reading this will understand, not to demean you in any way. I know you are doing your best.

First, I would manage the behavior in the house with a leash or drag line in the house at all times. If he begins jumping, you can step on the leash to control the dog instead of engaging him physically, which he might see as play.

I would also show him what behavior is rewarding, and which behavior is not. Work him inside with some treats or a toy held at chest level, so he knows they are there. When he jumps up, you say "nope" and break the engagement with the dog, putting the reward behind your back. The dog needs to see that when he jumps, the game stops and the rewards go away. If he is too big or excited to do this, have another person restrain him with the leash while you leave the room. If he sits instead of jumping, BAM, he gets a reward and the game continues.

You don't say if you are using corrections in training. If you are, you can pair a correction with the jump or mouthing. I think this training will probably work best with 2 people; one holding the leash behind the dog and one engaging the dog.

As Chip kind of alluded to earlier, pinning the dog isn't going to get you anywhere except amping the dog up further, or driving him into defense. Neither of these things is going to be productive in your training. I think your communication needs to be clear and concise, timed so the dog understands exactly what works to get the reward, and what causes failure.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 06:39 PM
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-02-2014, 07:03 PM
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I don't think that here you have a behavioral problem as such, you have a problem with young energy bursting out of him. He would rest on the settee and digest his dinner if he was tired. As far as I understand he is OK off leash. Think exercising him harder. "An obedient GSD is a tired GSD" - it was written in our club.
It would be wrong to define his behaviour as agressive. He simply demands yours and your wife's attention by biting you both, she can easily train him herself in your absence just knowing NILIF principles:
The Dog Trainer : Should You Use ?Nothing in Life Is Free? with Your Dog? :: Quick and Dirty Tips ?
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