Thank you to everyone for your responses, even the ones that make it seem like I am an irresponsible pet owner. I know not everyone knows the story completely, but I will say that this dog was adopted as a puppy from a GSD rescue. He has had training, was raised in a loving home with another dog who was also at the training, with a trainer that breeds Belgian Malinois and GSDs that are protection and police dogs. We worked with him and our other dog together as a couple way before we had children. We do our homework and have extensively trained him at home. Are we experts? Not by a long shot. Did we raise a purebred GSD that never ONCE got aggressive but in fact loved us more than imaginable? Yes. We teach our children boundaries and the dog has set boundaries as well. We protect him out in public with a muzzle. We do NOT let him run the house, nor do we let our son do whatever he wants to the dog. He has never climbed on, pulled, sat on, laid on, or disrespected either one of our dogs. He and our purebred were extremely close and wished the same for Aksel. Aksel is exercised, he gets love, he gets training, he is comfortable, he leads a good life. Please do not for one second think that I am not blaming myself for this, because I am. I feel like a failed owner, so you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know. Yes, for the first few years of his life he was our “child” and once a week he got to go be socialized immensely for hours at a time with his house mate and other dogs. He showed aggression towards other dogs there (not unprovoked and was corrected immediately.) The first incident with the toy... he was PLAYING with our son. Happy, running, allowing our son to throw the toy with him. The one second he lays down and my son thinks it’s ok to throw the toy again, he nips. After about 5-10 minutes of letting him pick the toy up after commanding him to drop it. Our son is a CHILD, but by no means does that mean he doesn’t respect dogs. It also doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes at all either. Yes, that was our first warning sign but we have continued to work with Aksel on boundaries and not being aggressive. Our son knows to steer clear from while he’s laying down, while he’s eating. Aksel does not typically lay down where our children are because I’m proactive in not letting that happen. The second time, yes, I was right there and I did not realize (I was nursing my baby, sorry for tending to my child’s needs first) that Aksel had walked back into the room and that our son picked up his own toy, not the dogs, a couple of feet from the dogs food bowl. He was immediately removed from the situation and put outside while tended to my sons hand and has been muzzled around the children ever since. I want to keep Aksel safe, I want to keep my children safe. I am constantly on edge of where the dog is in relation to the children and I understand that maybe I slacked the last few months after having another child with his training and boundaries. He has never been left alone in a room with my children, muzzled or not. I will not be a statistic of inexperienced or neglectful parents or dog owners that allow their children to do whatever they want to a dog or allow the dog to be alone with the children. But I am human, and yes I make mistakes. But to say the dog is innocent is just not true in this case. He has been seen by professionals except for a behaviorist, hence why I’m even wondering if he would even be able to be “rehabilitated”. I know his triggers, I know his body language. He is my dog and I know him better than he probably knows himself.
At this point, we are not sure what we will do yet, but I thank you all for your input. I am again going to discuss my options with our vet since he knows all of the history and is a professional and GSD owner himself. I appreciate the criticism and the advice