Trying to re-home my GSD but he is aggressive - what to do - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 05-20-2014, 06:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trying to re-home my GSD but he is aggressive - what to do

Hello,

I'm new to this Forum. I have a large (115 lb) male GSD who turns 5 y/o next month. He was neutered last summer in hopes that it would calm him. It hasn't.

Ritty is a playful dog. He is wonderful with other dogs and he is good with people in public, especially when he's off the leash.

Inside our home, Ritty displays either fear aggression or territorial aggression, or a combination of things. No one is truly safe in our home because Ritty is always "on edge" even with my son's friends who have been to our house hundreds of times over the years.

I got Ritty from Shewana Shepherds in Harvard, IL. The owner breeds working class dogs. They tend to be large.

The breeder took my deposit for Ritty when he was 8-10 weeks old. At one point she was going to sell him to nuns living in a convent out west. That fell through and though my wife did not want Ritty I finally got him from the breeder at 16+ weeks.

I immediately took him for walks and let him play with other dogs (in safe situations). As he grew, at 6 months he began playing with an adult chocolate lab. They were great together.

I took Ritty to obedience training with a well known trainer, Frank Brader. Ritty learned commands quickly.

We found that Ritty was never an affectionate dog. He could not be held and cuddled. Giving him medicine was a major struggle. He always pulled on the leash not matter what type of correction I administered.

Ritty also only saw me as the alpha leader. He did not respect my wife and he always growled at our son, who was 10 when we got Ritty.

I would bring him to soccer practice so my son's teammates could run around with him. Kids had so much fun with him.

But any child who entered our house was unwelcome. As was any adult.

My mother-in-law has not been to our house in over four years.

We tried to introduce Ritty to my daughter's boyfriend. It was going very well. Then when I was not home Ritty lunged at and bit the young man. Ritty did not draw blood but left a bruise on the man's bicep.

Ritty did the same with my other daughter's boyfriend. Things were going great and then Ritty lunged at the man's shoulder when he turned his back on Ritty.

There have been several "close calls" involving kids.

There is a great deal of tension in our home anytime someone visits. If I am not home Ritty has to be put behind a closed door. His hair stands on end and he will not stop barking. If I'm home he will listen to me when I place him in a down/stay position. But he will whimper and whine and inch forward. When a guest leaves Ritty will dash to the front and rear doors anxiously to make sure the unwelcome guest is gone.

Because he has bitten 5 people - never latching on, never breaking skin - all the GSD rescues and other avenues I've reached out to will not accept him. He is considered a risk.

Dog trainers and experts I've talked to the past month have told me to euthanize him.

For many reasons, my wife and I can no longer keep him. Having a large dog in our small home has taken an emotional toll.

I cannot afford a behavioralist or to have a pro trainer come into our home for a number of sessions.

I've asked one trainer who owns a GSD from the same breeder to take Ritty but like everyone else, he will not.

A local no kill shelter told me they would put him down because they would consider him unable to rehabilitate.

He is a good dog in so many ways. He is just a different animal once he is inside the house. It is immediate family only and no one else.

Did I socialize him wrong? I got him between 16-17 weeks - that is still a very young puppy, isn't it?

Any suggestions on what to do that might save his life?

Thank you,
Michael
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you talked to his breeder?


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Old 05-20-2014, 06:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Talk to the breeder and/or a German shepherd rescue. Do not re-home on your own!!!
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Five bites...only one answer here...unpleasant as it is. No use asking if you did anything wrong, that's water under the bridge (but likely not, in a major way, anything you did). I suppose you could talk to the breeder, but they would likely do what you don't want to have to do, and then he would leave for the bridge with strangers...if you love him and want what's best for HIM, you're going to have to be very strong and do the right thing for him. DO NOT, under any circumstances re-home him via craigslist or over the internet, believe me when I tell you there are much worse things than a humane euth out there...sales for experimentation and bait for dog fighters...and this is exactly the kind of dog they're looking for. I'm so sorry, but I don't see any other safe solution.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah hate to agree with katieliz on this but that might be the responsible thing to do if you absolutely cant keep the dog.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rehoming a dog like this is, in most scenarios, irresponsible. Most rescues won't take a dog with a bite history, let alone one with multiple bites. I agree sadly that euthenasia is probably the only option if the breeder won't step in.... and, as counter-intuitive as it is, it's really the kindest thing for the dog. Dogs with these kinds of issues are NOT happy dogs.

No use asking yourself if it's something you did wrong- most likely not. Some dogs just have crappy genetics, and even some well-bred dogs can simply be wired wrong. Short of something crazy out of the ordinary, it's really unlikely you caused this.

Also, PLEASE don't let him off leash in public...he's proven to be unpredictable and you never know- if he were to surprise you and bite someone, and it comes out that he has a bite history........
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I see it a little different. A 5 year old GSD who isn't breaking the skin, is showing a LOT of bite inhibition, actually. I think that with training, this dog could be a good pet for someone, and possibly a working dog, though at 5 years, I don't know if anyone would want to bother training a dog, for a couple of years of service he might have left.

Maybe David Winners can chime in on whether or not he thinks the dog is a lost cause or not, since he deals with some pretty tough dogs.

If I had this dog and a family, I would build a kennel outside, and when there were visitors expected, the dog would be in the kennel. When it is just the family, he would be inside. I would address anything inappropriate to family members, and work with a trainer for that. I would take up biking and that dog would be running a good 5-6 miles a day.

A 5 year old dog could easily send anyone to a hospital. This dog is communicating. Not attacking. It is not a good way to communicate, and what is driving this, I don't know, but I do not see him as nearly as dangerous as he should be put down because of it.

Unfortunately, there are not hundreds of homes with people experienced with tough GSDs, looking for another dog. Finding the right spot for your dog will be hard.

If you find that euthanasia is all you can do, understand that there are worse scenarios out there for your dog than going with you one last trip to the vet. I hope it doesn't come to that, but it does seem that a change in leadership style and management is a must for this dog.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Also agree with katieliz.

I have an FA dog who doesn't have a bite history, only because I didn't allow the opportunity for bites. If I am ever in a position I can't keep Woolf, he will be pts, not rehomed. I am not taking the chance of the next owner/family not effectively managing him and bites happen, nor am I going to take the chance on Woolf being abused by anyone.
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Agree with Seltzer. My girl left bruises from her mouthing.
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Definitely talk to the breeder before you put the dog down.
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