Aggression from 6 month old pup - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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Aggression from 6 month old pup

Hi there! I’m really hoping to get advice regarding our almost 6 month old GSD puppy called Jenson.

We brought him home when he was 8 weeks old and already had a 13 (now 14) yo bearded collie. Our GSD loved him from the start and has always been excited to greet him in the mornings and at any other times that they have been apart during the day.

A few weeks ago, Jenson started growling and snapping at the beardie. We cannot pin point the reason behind it but a lot of the time there is food or treats around, whereas they quite often share crumbs from treats left on the ground and there has never been an issue when we are giving treats to them. They can even swap food bowls and eat one another’s food and Jenson doesn’t care when the other dog eats his food. Sometimes the snapping starts with what seems to be no reason what so ever.

Our bearded collie is a very chilled character, he freezes whenever Jenson has snapped at him. It has now gotten to a point where it is actually quite frightening. Luckily, from the start they have never been left alone together so we have always been there to pull him away before it has got too bad.

We are thinking it’d be best to have him neutered sooner rather than later (we were hoping to wait until he was 18 months old) and if the aggression continues we would bring in a behaviourist. We don’t want to pay for a behaviourist to tell us it may be best to have him neutered first. A few days after the snapping had started, Jenson was at the vets for a check up and we mentioned this behaviour. The vet seemed to think that despite puberty, it was very uncommon for Jenson to start attacking a dog with whom he has lived with since being brought home.

When out and about Jenson has never had any issues with other dogs and is actually very playful.

Any ideas on things that we could try in the meantime would be great. We do end up having to keep them apart even when we are around as Jenson sometimes gives no warning that he’s about to go for the other dog and so we have no time to grab hold of him. We worry that keeping them separate may build up more frustration in Jenson.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 08:44 AM
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Neutering will not fix this behavior. Training will. It sounds like he is resource guarding. Pick up the food, treats, and bowls. Stop letting them eat from each others food dishes. Feed him in a crate.

Vets are not trainers. Some of the worst advice I see comes from vets. Find a trainer that uses balanced methods. Not one that just pushes cookies and is all positive.




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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 08:55 AM
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Contrary to what you may be hearing neutering a male is not a "fix all" and in some cases can make existing aggression worse...don't feed the dogs together and/or let them share treats or crumbs....you may have "thought" Jenson was fine with sharing food--bowls etc but as he becomes a teenager he's not going to allow the collie to do that anymore--the same goes for sharing toys.....


My instinct is to suggest a trainer come to your house--let them see how you and Jenson interact.. and teach you--how to train your dog...it doesn't sound like Jenson has been taught any boundaries and doesn't respect you....what most folks view as "cute" from a tiny puppy and is allowed to go on with no daily training ends up back firing as the pup becomes a young adult because they haven't spent time daily-training their dog....the key to whatever a trainer would suggest is daily training and exercise by you..it will NOT happen over night...but it will happen if you are consistent daily with Jenson's training....he'll come to respect you...once he respects you.. setting boundaries of what he can and can't do will be easier...but again it's going to take time and a daily commitment to wanting to make Jenson a better dog on your part as his owner in order for this to work.....the next six months you spend with Jenson are very important as far as how happy and adjusted he is as an adult
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 08:55 AM
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What happens during these attacks? Is fur flying? Is he marking your other dog up? A lot of adolescent brattiness could sound loud and scary without actual biting. But, hard to say without seeing it. Video may help others give advice.

How do you correct him when this happens?

Most research at this point does not support that neutering stops this behavior, in fact it often increases. Especially since it is already happening. I had a dog that was neutered young and his dog aggression increased in age despite it. Genetics in these cases often matters more than anatomy. Sadly, a lot of modern behaviorists will just knee jerk tell you to neuter first as if it is some panacea for aggression. It simply isn't. It CAN help sometimes, but more often it does not. There is a wealth of research you can look up for yourself on "pediatric neuter" and aggression.

I have a 6.5 month old and a 2 year old. Both intact GSDs. The 6 month old is very loud and nippy in his attempts to lord it over my 2 year old. My 2 year old just ignores him. But he doesn't have to for long, as I correct the pup right away for the behavior. If one correction doesn't stop it, then he wordlessly gets put in his crate so my older dog can walk the house without a screaming toddler in his ear. It seems to be working. When the pup kicks up he stops the minute I come walking towards them. He knows. And they are never loose together unattended.

I got a 2nd male pup hoping they would be good housemates, and that is still what I am hoping for (it can absolutely be done) ..however I knew when I made the decision to get the 2nd male, that it may not be ok once the pup is mature and I may be crating and rotating 2 dogs for life and I was fine with that arrangement if it needs to be. I work from home enough to where it can be fair. But it was thought out and a known possible outcome.

If I were you I would get a trainer to show you how to correct and train out the behavior, or show you how to manage it with separation. Mentally prepare for the latter. Especially since your other dog is an elderly one. He doesn't deserve to be bothered so much at his age in his own home he has grown old in.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 09:01 AM
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Also, stop feeding them together, treating them together, and put the toys up. Even though the pup wasn't showing that he minded swapping bowls it can still cause an insecurity. Kind of like the whole forcing the auto share of toys with little toddlers. Want to see a possessive teenager/adult? Look to the oldest child of the family who was always forced to give over their stuff to the younger kids while a parent shouts SHARE WITH YOUR BROTHER!!
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vick093 View Post
...A few weeks ago, Jenson started growling and snapping at the beardie. We cannot pin point the reason behind it but a lot of the time there is food or treats around, whereas they quite often share crumbs from treats left on the ground and there has never been an issue when we are giving treats to them. They can even swap food bowls and eat one another’s food and Jenson doesn’t care when the other dog eats his food. Sometimes the snapping starts with what seems to be no reason what so ever.

...Our bearded collie is a very chilled character, he freezes whenever Jenson has snapped at him.

... The vet seemed to think that despite puberty, it was very uncommon for Jenson to start attacking a dog with whom he has lived with since being brought home.

...as Jenson sometimes gives no warning that he’s about to go for the other dog and so we have no time to grab hold of him. We worry that keeping them separate may build up more frustration in Jenson.
For me, the above excerpts of your post contain a LOT of red flags and I think that you are absolutely right to be concerned. Several quick points. First, I agree with the suggestion that you get a balanced, experience trainer on board ASAP. If you post your location, forum members may be able to recommend one or more possibilities.

Second, I think you've missed or misunderstood several signals that things haven't been going as smoothly as you believed (see excerpts above). Understandable, dog behavior is often subtle and very quick; that's where a trainer can be particularly helpful. For example, your bearded collie may have been "chill," but he also may have been increasingly intimidated by a pushy puppy.

Third, I disagree with your vet's assessment. It's not at all uncommon for puppies to start sorting out their position (aka trying to take over) especially when they hit puberty --- though I suspect that the puppy started asserting himself prior to that (e.g., that "sharing" that you thought you saw was him TAKING the collie's treats, etc). That's not something that neutering will "fix" and it may well make the situation worse.

Fourth, I agree with the recommendation that you remove all toys and feed and treat separately NOW. Feed both in their respective crates, so that they both feel safer. As well, crate the puppy when you're not there to supervise them directly and keep the pup on a longline (so you can correct rudeness immediately) when you are. Again, get a trainer to help up your game.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Hi.

Thanks to everyone for the responses! He definitely is ruling the roost at the moment and pushing the boundaries.

I’m glad we’ve been told about how neutering can often make this worse as we’ve only ever heard that it will help.

We don’t crate, the dogs are in separate rooms when kept apart. Usually when Jenson displays this behaviour, he is taken out of the room and left on his own before being back introduced. Usually in the evenings it happens so frequently that he eventually gets left on his own as it isn’t fair on the other dog. People are still in and out of the room where he is kept so he isn’t completely isolated for the whole evening. We do worry about him becoming more frustrated and therefore worse so are looking into a trainer as soon as possible.

Any recommendations for a trainer welcome, we’re in Manchester, UK.

Thanks again.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Another question would be how you advise we correct him? Currently we firmly shout ‘no’ and remove him from the room.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 01:09 PM
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Removing him and punishing him for something when he doesn't know what is wrong is unfair. Instead of preventing and training him, you are setting him up for failure and then punishing him. These dogs weren't bred to be isolated. Remove the items being guarded, give him his food and treats in a crate where he doesn't feel he needs to guard it (Yes. Get a crate.) and get a trainer.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2019, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vick093 View Post
Another question would be how you advise we correct him? Currently we firmly shout ‘no’ and remove him from the room.

TEACH him! It's unfair to correct him when he doesn't know! And corrections do NOT help resource guarding. It makes it worse. You need to counter condition behavior with resource guarding. It's a fear that something will be taken away from them and if you punish him then you make that fear real.




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