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pupperdoodle 05-12-2014 08:02 PM

4 month old gsd aggressive towards my husband?
Hi everyone! I am new to this forum, and this is my first post.
Well we brought home a male gsd at 8 weeks of age. I cannot stress how amazing he is! He was completely house trained by 10 weeks old, knows a good variety of commands, and has just been awesome all around. He goes everywhere I go, whether it's to my son's baseball games, my in laws, pet store, ect. He adores all people, all dogs, everyone. I have never seen him display any nervousness or aggression to any strangers of other dogs. He is always very outgoing and happy.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to extend to my husband. My pup stopped nipping my children and I weeks ago. I trained him to do this by giving him a toy every time he tried to nip, or telling him, 'Ahah! ' Every time he tried to nip, per his trainers instructions. But while he will listen to commands from myself, he will not take them from my husband.
He literally bites my husband pretty much nonstop whenever they interact. It doesn't seem playful either, there is some snarling and quite a bit of direct eye contact when this happens.
For example, my husband and i will be driving in the car with puppy in the back seat. Out of nowhere, he will start biting my husbands face, neck, and ears. I have to grab him by the collar to get him to stop, though he does cease immediately if I interfere. If my husband tries to stop him, our pup will just continue biting.
Also, my husband and I will occasionally wrestle around playfully. When we do so, our pup will flat out attack my husbands feet and ankles, snarling and growling. I figured at first he was just trying to join in our playing, but if he is just playing, why not attack both of us?
And lastly, my pup will not take commands from my husband. He tries to walk him, but our pup will not heel for him. No matter what, he will just get in front of my husband and pull him. My husband has been through obedience classes with us, but to no avail. Our pup simply won't take commands from him, many times even offering him a treat doesn't work.
This is my husband's first dog ever. He has never owned one in his entire life. I, on the other hand, have never been withou a German shepherd in my whole life, so I am probably much more comfortable handling him than my husband is. But still, would that cause this biting behavior?
My husband is a soft spoken, very gentle man, and our puppy has never shown any fear of him. Our pup used to adore him like he does everyone else, but this last week has been strange.
He is 16 weeks as of today. Should I be concerned? Is this just a phase they go through at this age? Since I have been an adult I have only ever adopted full grown adults from the shelter, so I haven't gone through the puppy phase since I was pretty young myself. Any help or opinions on what I can do about this behavior would be greatly appreciated! 😊

JakodaCD OA 05-12-2014 08:09 PM

I think you might have answered your own question..your husband is soft spoken and gentle, the pup views him more as a 'playmate', than someone to respect..

I would have your husband up his interactions with him, and go back and take that obedience class with only him..

Since your more experienced, have your husband start doing what YOU do with the puppy.

I'd say this is just really rough play, puppy knowing he can get away with stuff with your husband that he can't with you and the kids....Good luck !

pupperdoodle 05-12-2014 08:22 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thank you very much for your input! I had wondered if it might be something along those lines, so its nice to have someone with more puppy experience verify it! My only worry was whether this was playful behavior or a genuine dislike of my husband. If it were the latter, I think my husband would be pretty hurt; he loves this little guy very much! Heres a couple pics of the pair in question!:wub:

selzer 05-12-2014 08:29 PM

What does your husband do when the dog bites him? If it is a game to the puppy, your husband needs to stop the game when it gets too rough. If he must, scoop the pup up and put it in its safe place. It might be a good time for your husband to read up on Nothing In Life Is Free, NILIF. It sounds like, since he has not owned a dog before, getting a good foundation on how to be a good leader will help him and the puppy get along better.

As for the behavior in the car, that's crazy. Your dog should be crated or seat belted in the back seat. The dog should not be able to attack (even in play) someone who is in the front seat, driving or a passenger. It is much safer for everyone if the dog is crated in the vehicle and if that doesn't work, good harness/seat belts are available.

devinh 05-12-2014 08:36 PM

I wouldn't worry too much. I'm going through this with my puppy and my wife. She seems to nip her more than anyone else. But I know she loves her but I think she also knows she can get away with more. I correct her immediately by "no bite" and she backs off where my wife will just nudge her back an walk away.

pupperdoodle 05-12-2014 08:46 PM

Well I have a Cadillac sts, and there is definitely no room for a crate in there. My husband has seizures so cannot drive. I am the only operator of the vehicle, and our pup has always left me alone when I have driven with him, so I never saw the need to restrain him.
If it's just me in the car, he sits in the passenger seat up front. If it's my whole family (4 people) he sits in the back in between my children.
I am not keen on the idea of crating him in the car. He has a crate at home that he has access to at all times, whenever he wants privacy, but he almost always chooses to be with the family. I feel like I would be sequestering him from the rest of the family if he were crated in the car.
I do however like the idea of a seatbelt though, mainly for his sake rather than me finding him disruptive while I drive. I honestly have never used one on a dog before, I guess the thought never occurred to me.
Do you happen to know if they sell that book in stores, let can you only order online? Thanks for your input!

pupperdoodle 05-12-2014 08:48 PM


Originally Posted by devinh (Post 5510250)
I wouldn't worry too much. I'm going through this with my puppy and my wife. She seems to nip her more than anyone else. But I know she loves her but I think she also knows she can get away with more. I correct her immediately by "no bite" and she backs off where my wife will just nudge her back an walk away.

Pretty much sounds like what my husband does lol.

selzer 05-12-2014 09:26 PM

I suppose someone probably has put out a book on NILIF. But I don't know for sure. Basically, you can just google it and get a lot of great information about the theory. Maybe someone can give you a good link that they found very useful.

I have a Ford Explorer. My dogs ride in crates in the back. I know if there is a crash, my dogs will be in their crates where they are safest, and it will be very unlikely that either of them will end up thrown as missle in the car or thrown out of the car. A seat belt is the next best thing.

Your pup is pretty young to actually be aggressive, but if he feels he should be up front with you, and your husband is taking his normal spot, I don't know. Also when you rough house with your husband, the pup is only biting at him. It sounds like he has chosen you as his person.

I think I would back off and have the husband do the feeding, a good part of the training, and I might even get that seat belt and have the dog stay in the back seat with your kids. I doubt he is confused at this point about where he belongs in the pack, but if we are noticing stuff at this point that possibly could be a problem down the line, maybe it is best to nip it in the bud at this point, when we can probably do it by just steering him in the right direction.

Check out NILIF.

pupperdoodle 05-12-2014 10:52 PM

So this may be actual aggression/dominance rather than rough playing? I forgot to mention one of the things that worries me. When my husband does try to scold him or correct him, our pup will start barking at him, with a little bit of growl mixed in. How can he correct this? If I scold him, he will stop immediately with the barking, but if my husband does so, he will continue to bark and make a lot of eye contact.
I am not sure if the eye contact is a big deal or not. I have heard so many different theories as to whether it's good or bad. I guess perhaps it depends on the situation, but every time I scold him he tends to avoid eye contact with me. He will occasionally look up with sad puppy eyes, which makes me think he knows he is being scolded, but he will generally look away for the most part. It's the exact opposite with my husband.
The best way to describe it: when you have a dog that loves to fetch, and you show them a tennis ball, that intense concentrated look they give the ball. That's the kind of eye contact he makes with my husband.
You have made great suggestions that I am going to be following through on, and I appreciate it.

I have to ask though, if this is indeed aggression, why would he direct it at my husband?
We picked him out when he was five weeks old, and visited the breeder every weekend till he was ready to come home at 8 weeks. Ever since then he's never experienced anything that would trigger aggression, nor has he ever displayed aggression towards anyone or anything else. He is beyond friendly with strange people and dogs. I am not sure if he will ever fit the breed standard that claims they must be aloof; I have never had a shepherd that loves meeting new people more than this guy does! It is just so strange that he can be so friendly with strangers, then turn around and show aggression towards my husband.
Another thing. We do allow him to sit on the furniture. But when he is taking up a spot, my children or I will order him to move, which he does with no issue. My husband tries it, and our pup will literally just stare at him.
So is he challenging my husband, and is this normal at this age? If not normal, is there something my husband or I could have done to make him behave this way?
As I said, since I have been out in the world on my own, I have only ever adopted adult shepherds from shelters, and while some did have aggression issues, they tended to be aggressive out of fear more than anything. This pup does not have any fear of anything. Loud noises, strange animals, baths, vets office, nothing. So I guess I am just wondering what coUlster be causing the aggression, if aggression is what it is.
He's only 37 lbs at the moment, I wwould love to get this figured out before he hits 80+ lbs. Thanks again for the help everyone!

JakodaCD OA 05-13-2014 07:31 AM

Something to ponder, and I'm no expert, you said your husband suffers from seizures.
Dogs are soooooo intuitive. Puppy may be picking up some vibes your husband unconciously throws out and confused by them?? thus is more aggressive with him.

I don't want your husband to feel bad, so maybe don't mention that! Just something to maybe think about.

I'd have your husband , as one posted, feed him, good things come from him, and try to be more assertive in his obedience with him..Talk to your trainer as well,,

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