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Atika 08-17-2014 11:56 AM

My GSD turned on my son?
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I am a little freaked out and will try to keep this short.

Last night my male GSD, Dutch, growled and put an evil eye on my son. My son is 13yrs old. Dutch has never growled before (he is almost 7 months) and has never exhibited this kind of behavior. Of my 2 GSD pups, he is the lover. Well behaved in the house and very sweet. We have had him since 10wks old.

I was in bed watching tv with Dutch. My son was in my bathroom taking a shower. When he finished he came into my room with a towel wrapped around him and his hair standing up from the shower.

Dutch immediately stood up in the bed with head stretched forward and started growling at my son. I grabbed him, said "hey!", and thought he did not recognize my son. He never broke the stare on my son to acknowledge me. He finally stopped growling, but if I was not there, I am not sure if he would have lunged at my son. He maintained a very nervous (?) stance and when Jacob tried to sit down on the bed to pet him, Dutch just kept turning to look at him like he wanted to bite him. So I put him in his kennel. I could not snap him back to a relaxed state.

I am quite sure I did nothing right. I was pretty shocked as this pup is always VERY sweet with both of us, however, he is the guardian if a stranger comes in the house (he barks with intimidation). It scared the crap out of my son and I have to say it scared me too, as it came out of nowhere. My son did nothing to provoke and I can't figure out what the trigger was. Dutch is always in the room with us at night and has been sleeping in my room/bed or he sleeps with my Lab in the dog beds, right next to my bed. He often stays in my son's room as well when he is "free" in the house.

My son comes home every day to the pups while I am at work. I cannot have a situation where he might turn on my son with me not here. This morning, he seems back to normal. Out in the yard wrestling with Sophie. My son is still sleeping.

Any advice? Dutch is the male in the back. My female, Sophie, is in the foreground. I am sure I should have given a hard correction of some kind and immediately put him in his kennel? How can I know it won't happen again when I am not here? The pups are kenneled in my living room when I am at work and my son lets them out when he gets home from school.

MichaelE 08-17-2014 12:21 PM

Sounds as though he was challenging your son for pack position, or he thought your son was a threat to you, for whatever reason.

Maybe he doesn't like the smell of the soap or shampoo you or he uses or it masked your son's natual odor and your GSD couldn't smell him fresh out of the shower.

my boy diesel 08-17-2014 12:23 PM


, he is the guardian if a stranger comes in the house (he barks with intimidation).
it sounds like he is fearful and your son smelled and looked different and that set him off
just because he 'barks with intimidation' does not mean he is a guardian
at 10 mos old he should take your cues who to 'allow' and whom not to allow!
i would never let a 10 mo old decide for himself that he has to bark at people coming to my house

we will see what others have to say but it sounds like your pup is fearful and this is an extention of that fear

lol michael e no he is not challenging the kid for position

that said i would not allow this dog on the bed at all

he needs to be reminded he is a dog and that you, not him, are a pack leader

Blanketback 08-17-2014 12:33 PM

I don't blame you for being freaked out, since your son's safety is a priority. Has Dutch ever done anything like that before? I know my pup went through a phase when he was younger where he'd bark at my DH in similar situations, but it was over in a second with lots of tail wagging and happy whining. If it had been a hard stare and ignoring me, then I'd be worried about it too.

Are there any OB classes you can get your son and dog together to participate in? That's my first suggestion, without knowing anything about their relationship. I guess my next suggestion would be to try to watch for signs that Dutch may be looking to climb the social ladder, and then knock those rungs right out from under him. If he's claiming the bed as his territory, then he absolutely cannot be allowed on the bed. If he's claiming your bedroom, then unfortunately that area is off limits too. Good luck with getting to the bottom of this. Dutch is still a puppy, so now's the time to nip it in the bud.

Atika 08-17-2014 12:42 PM

Maybe I should not have said "with intimidation", I just meant that when people come over, they are intimidated by his bark. I am trying to break the barking, we do not have visitors very often.
The strange thing about this is, last night was like any other night. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. No new smells or actions from any other time.
I will mention "Jaws" was on the television and there was a lot of screaming going on (on t.v.). It crossed my mind that maybe that made him nervous.
How would you have corrected for the growling at my son? As I said, in 7 months, he has never growled. Not even at strangers coming in.

SuperG 08-17-2014 12:49 PM

"....and his hair standing up from the shower."

Just like many a dog does when they are displaying themselves to look a bit more prominent or formidable....wonder if a dog thinks a human with their hair standing up is posturing with the same intent???

Show Dutch some pictures of Don King and see how he reacts ;)


Atika 08-17-2014 12:52 PM

Blanketback - Yes I think you are right, all 4 of us need to get into some training classes. I had a hard time getting Dutch off the bed after this happened, so you could be right, that he was claiming the space. I am just not sure why last night, as all three of us have watched t.v from my bed many times.
Sounds like I have made a mistake in not enforcing they stay on the floor.
I wish Dutch had gone to the tail wagging after he realized it was just Jacob and everything was fine, but he didn't. He stayed zero'd in on my son, watching his every move, with no wagging whatsoever. And no particular interest in anything I was doing to try to calm him.

Atika 08-17-2014 12:55 PM


Originally Posted by SuperG (Post 5914105)
"....and his hair standing up from the shower."

Just like many a dog does when they are displaying themselves to look a bit more prominent or formidable....wonder if a dog thinks a human with their hair standing up is posturing with the same intent???

Show Dutch some pictures of Don King and see how he reacts ;)


Ha! It's all I could think of that was different, you could be right! :wild:

Blanketback 08-17-2014 12:56 PM

I didn't correct my pup for barking at my DH. I said, "Silly boy, it's Daddy. You're being a dum dum" lol. But like I said, he was surprised and barked, and then got over it. I could never assume exactly what transpired at your home with your son, so I can't say whether you're overreacting and shouldn't make a big deal about it, or if this is the beginning of a bad situation and you should have had an immediate, "WHOA! Bad dog!" moment where he was hustled right into his crate for the night. You'd really have to have been there to make that call.

ETA: just saw your last post - if you had a hard time getting him off the bed, then that's definitely a 'whoa!' moment, lol. That can't continue. I know it's nice to snuggle with a dog on the bed, but not when it's leading to claiming the territory. I wouldn't let him back on the bed for a very long time, if he was my puppy. This is a real pain in the butt to fix, when it's left for too long a time. DH's dog comes to mind, lol...

Steve Strom 08-17-2014 01:02 PM

For me Atika, I don't care why, its the fact that he will. It would be all about management and obedience, not giving him the chance to decide on his own how to react to your son. Behaving the way I say he's going to.

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