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Alice whiteoak 04-22-2014 12:01 PM

Help with boisterous pup
Hi, just wanting a little bit of advice please! The family dog is now an 11 month old male, I'm 17 and the primary dog walker. I've always been cautious - perhaps overly cautious which he may have picked up on? - when walking him, because although I've had a german shepherd before, I never walked her due to my age. Anyway, Rico is usually well behaved, he's encountered many people who he's only ever sniffed, at the most maybe tried to pronk around them playfully. Today, though, we encountered an oldish couple and I told him to sit as they passed, he sat, but the lady had a bag which Rico thought he was entitled to sniff. He nipped at the bag, the lady pulled away and he nipped at her arm. The lady was unharmed but the threading on her jacket had been pulled loose. He immediately sat and continued to do so whilst the couple berated me (understandably) and I insisted he's not a vicious dog - I don't believe he is, I think he just needs training and to understand that strangers aren't people he can nip at, be it playfully or not.

What would you suggest? A muzzle for my dog? Is it worrying behaviour? As I'm adamant it's just playfulness -although that's no justification - perhaps I should muzzle him from this point onwards?


HarleyTheGSD 04-22-2014 02:09 PM

Has he done anything like this before? Has he shown any aggression? How was he acting before and after he nipped this woman's arm? In your opinion, was he being a playful "puppy" or aggressive?

And it is possible for him to feel that you are tense or nervous, and he may act out. Try not to make a big deal out of walking past people, it's just another person, nothing interesting, nothing to get worked up over. If he is aggressive, then you should be cautious.

I'm a little hesitant about muzzling, for it can make an insecure/aggressive dog more so, because they can't defend themselves and they know it. They may act out even more.

Hopefully other members will give you more useful information.
Good luck! :)

SunCzarina 04-22-2014 07:27 PM

When you pass people, put yourself between him and the person until you're comfortable he won't give any more old ladies a love mugging. Lady was probably nervous and yanked the bag away from him. I wouldn't think any more of this than teenage dog shenanigans.

I was you a long time ago, 17 year old girl out walking a big dog who was a bit rambunctious. Older people just assume you don't know what you're doing. I got that assumption pretty much until I was almost 40 and started wearing work boots to walk my dog all the time.

Are you doing any training with him? Taking a class? That'll help with your anxiety while you're walking him. The dog feels that anxiety. Could have been part of why he reacted like this.

sourdough44 04-28-2014 12:42 AM

I would guide him further away from people, use a strong leash & maybe a 'prong collar' if he pulls at all.

Meeting new people can be tricky without a gentile introduction. Just meeting along a sidewalk is more of a speedy introduction, may be O.K. for a Lab.

boomer11 04-28-2014 01:45 AM


Originally Posted by SunCzarina (Post 5415657)
Lady was probably nervous and yanked the bag away from him. I wouldn't think any more of this than teenage dog shenanigans.

I wouldn't listen to this. Making excuses for the dog is how you end up with a dog with a bite history.

I'd also question if it was playful. If the dog could sniff the bag while sitting then they were very close. It was probably more of a "whoa you are way inside my comfort bubble" type of nip. My guess is that it was more nervous than playful. Besides you can't go around convincing people it was a playful nip.

Either way no one is going to be able to read your dog on this forum. Get a trainer to figure out why the dog did what he did. If it was a dog being a brat then I'd correct him but I don't think it is. I don't know many Shepherds that want to play with strangers much less playfully nip them. I also think a muzzle is a great idea.

The person I quoted above has had multiple dogs bite multiple people. That's where excuses get you. I would be proactive and get a trainer and figure out why the dog did what it did before you can fix anything.

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