Play or aggression? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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Play or aggression?

My one year old female scares my grandson (age 5) by taking his arm in her teeth and pulling him. She has never broken the skin but once left a mark.

Is this normal play? Aggression? Will she outgrow it? Should I get a professional trainer?

She frequently wants to play and will bring a toy or play-bow to me or wife or grandkids. Yes, she needs more exercise. I’m 71 and hurt my back so she isn’t getting much vigorous exercise: just a couple of one mile walks a day.

Thanks for sharing your expertise with this first-time poster.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 11:16 AM
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Sounds like play to me.She needs to learn teeth on humans is never acceptable.If your grandson was a few years older you could show him how to correct her with a No! and offer her a toy instead.If you're not able to supervise closely to correct and redirect immediately then keep them separated.It doesn't take much to seriously hurt a child even accidentally from your dog's mouth or paws.
Of my three dogs only one can be trusted around young children because she is super careful and gentle.The other two are simply too energetic and no way will I temp fate.They are gated off or kenneled when we have young visitors.The kids can pet them and feed them treats safely then.

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Last edited by dogma13; 04-11-2019 at 11:18 AM. Reason: spelling
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 11:45 AM
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I agree with Dogma. A 5 year old could get accidentally hurt by a rowdy young dog and I would hate for him to become afraid of dogs because of it. This might be a time to teach the youngster how to use a flirt pole or play fetch. Watch them like a hawk since both the kiddo and the dog are immature and impulsive and learning co-ordination. As much as I say, "never chase your dog" when it comes to young children it is safer for the kids to chase the dog than the other way around. The kids won't ever be able to catch her, at least not for a long time. Make sure to call it Game Over if either get too rowdy.

She will out grow it a little, with maturity, but she may always want something in her mouth, to herd, etc. Work with a trainer who can watch you work with your gal. They might be able to come up with activities that will keep your dog engaged without hurting your back or frightening your grands.

If you are interested in e-collars that might be an option for you. Just make sure you find an excellent trainer like Larry Krohn to show you how to use it. It is supposed to be a way to communicate with the dog, not zap them for misbehavior. It will give you a longer reach than a long line and no tripping over the leash.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 12:32 PM
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My advice would be don't allow it. A one year old GSD should know that humans aren't toys by now. I would work on teaching her that ASAP.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 01:13 PM
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I think what you're seeing is related to the "herding" part of being a "shepherd".....We had a couple dogs that acted like yours years ago around some children....to put your mind at ease I'd put it in the "play" category"....at a year old if she wanted to do harm--she would..... The children around our home years ago and my own son were taught to not fear our dogs....most of the kids hadn't been around big dogs much-but they did fine with a little coaching....I let some of the kids work with the dogs that were trained and knew the basics....just verbal--no leash-I didn't want some one face down in the dirt...over time the kids became more confident....and dogs always respond to confidence in a trainer be it "little" people or "big" people....as the other members said your dog needs to learn now that her mouth on humans is not acceptable and over time with the help of you with your grandson---your female will learn what "No !" and/or "Release !" means...as long as your grandson is comfortable with your dog I think he'll be fine....


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 01:24 PM
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This behavior is a no-no among their own peers. So they shouldn't do it with their humans either. None of my dogs ever took a leg from the leader dog in his/her mouth or there would have been serious consequences.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies.

Those of you who said “don’t allow it”, how would you stop it? It’s easy for me to divert her with a toy or game, but if I’m not present the child probably can’t do that (though I have suggested that they immediately get a toy in between them and the dog).

Any suggestions?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogma13 View Post
Sounds like play to me.She needs to learn teeth on humans is never acceptable.If your grandson was a few years older you could show him how to correct her with a No! and offer her a toy instead.If you're not able to supervise closely to correct and redirect immediately then keep them separated.It doesn't take much to seriously hurt a child even accidentally from your dog's mouth or paws.
Of my three dogs only one can be trusted around young children because she is super careful and gentle.The other two are simply too energetic and no way will I temp fate.They are gated off or kenneled when we have young visitors.The kids can pet them and feed them treats safely then.
This. If you can't be there to supervise, don't allow the interaction until the dog is solidly trained not to use the mouth during play or interactions.

There really isn't any way around this imho and with a young child, an accidental playful mouthing that causes a cut needing medical attention will cause the dog to own a bite history for the rest of its life. This isn't fear mongering, just fact.

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Last edited by Heartandsoul; 04-18-2019 at 08:28 AM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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Got it. Thanks.
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