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Discussion Starter #1
I know there was a similar thread posted about a year ago where the owner ended up putting his/her puppy to sleep but my situation may be a little different. I have frequented this forum to read on everything from feeding to training and I am very grateful for the wealth of information.

We got Otto at 8 weeks from a BYB. We had not done research on these places before getting him and we are now realizing he dangers of these places. He was a little timid at first, barked at any dog he was near and was always uneasy around dogs (especially smaller dogs). The barking concerned us but he gradually got better around other dogs.

Per the advice of several people on this forum, we got Otto well acquainted with our friend's GSD. They are great together, Otto still loves playing with her and no longer barks at her.

Otto doesn't do great on the leash. He goes crazy anytime we pass a human and/or a dog. Sometimes it is playful (wagging his tail, play stance) but sometimes he seems afraid.

Recently, we were playing in the park with Otto and the other GSD and our neighbor showed up with her Great Dane. Otto went after the Great Dane and bit him pretty hard twice. We had to pull Otto off of the dog. It was very frightening.

We consulted our vet about the issue. He said we could consult a behaviorist but thinks Otto just isn't wired right and should be sedated or PTS. We consulted a dog behaviorist (over the phone as there aren't any nearby) and she seemed to think the same thing. Our friends with the GSD recommended their trainer. He is a retired military/police K9 trainer and spent about 30 minutes working with Otto. He recommended we get him in a class to start working on obedience and socialization. He said Otto does not seem aggressive to him and that with proper training, it will not be an issue.

My wife and I are concerned about Otto's aggression being turned onto humans, and the ensuing liability of a bite. My wife especially is very nervous about it, especially around visitors and our children (someday). The decision has been draining us so much and we keep going back and forth between having him PTS and trying to work on these issues with him.

Any advice is much appreciated.
 

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The nervous feelings WILL transfer to the dog, I know- I am in the same place and working on it, though it's a different fear, I dont fear him biting anyone. Has he EVER tried to bite anyone? What was the dane's behavior through all this? Danes are HUGE (I used to own two) and they CAN and DO scare other dogs just because they loom over them, not to mention a 6mo dog who started out timid and is now entering and smack in the middle of their fear stage! You have to protect him. I second the training. Search here for confidence building. Work through obedience! Have the kids work on obedience with him. Engage his mind. Set things up for him to WIN. I also say no more parks, and play dates with his friend ONLY.

Absolutely no more talk of putting him down IMO. Preemptive.
 

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You would be smart to always have him on a leash when outside or around other dogs and if he were mine I would put a muzzle on him so he can't bite anyone. Then I would work with that trainer and do everything I could to get him trained. He is still very young you would think there is a lot of room to work on training.
 

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The nervous feelings WILL transfer to the dog, I know- I am in the same place and working on it, though it's a different fear, I dont fear him biting anyone. Has he EVER tried to bite anyone? What was the dane's behavior through all this? Danes are HUGE (I used to own two) and they CAN and DO scare other dogs just because they loom over them, not to mention a 6mo dog who started out timid and is now entering and smack in the middle of their fear stage! You have to protect him. I second the training. Search here for confidence building. Work through obedience! Have the kids work on obedience with him. Engage his mind. Set things up for him to WIN. I also say no more parks, and play dates with his friend ONLY.

Absolutely no more talk of putting him down IMO. Preemptive.
Thank you for the advice. We hadn't considered putting him down until our vet recommended it.

The Great Dane was very passive throughout the whole thing. He never threatened Otto or fought back. Otto bit my wife once (but didn't break skin) when she reached for his water bowl next to his food bowl when he was eating. He barks at every stranger that comes in our house and has jumped to nip at hands but I feel like if he was really looking to bite, he would bite. We're crating him when people come over now until he calms down.
 

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I would change vets. Sedated PTS for barking and fearful behavior. Honestly as long as you are commited and willing training will help and I wouldn't worry to much he is still very young.
 

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Otto went after the Great Dane and bit him pretty hard twice. We had to pull Otto off of the dog. It was very frightening.
Otto is no longer to go to a dog park. In fact, Otto is no longer allowed to interact with strange dogs. Any introduction should be done carefully.

Do yourself and Otto a favor that took me years to comprehend....get over the idea that your dogs "needs" to interact with other dogs. What he needs to do is be able to be around them without losing his mind. He'll be just as happy playing with you than with other dogs. Once you fully accept that, it takes sooooo much stress off of you and your dog!

We consulted our vet about the issue. He said we could consult a behaviorist but thinks Otto just isn't wired right and should be sedated or PTS. We consulted a dog behaviorist (over the phone as there aren't any nearby) and she seemed to think the same thing. Our friends with the GSD recommended their trainer. He is a retired military/police K9 trainer and spent about 30 minutes working with Otto. He recommended we get him in a class to start working on obedience and socialization. He said Otto does not seem aggressive to him and that with proper training, it will not be an issue.
Go with the retired military/police K9 trainer. He has experience with this breed AND with dogs that have a higher level of aggression. AND he actually eval'd your dog in person!

I would fire the vet completely and the behaviorist that gave out that advice over the phone needs to be smacked. Giving advice to PTS without eval'ing the dog in person is unethical to say the least.

My wife and I are concerned about Otto's aggression being turned onto humans, and the ensuing liability of a bite.

Any advice is much appreciated.
Dog aggression and human aggression are not the same. I have two dog aggressive that are awesome with people. I have one human aggressive dog that is fine with other dogs.
 

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You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for calming my nerves on this. We're going to keep working on this with Otto. We'll start working with the K9 trainer and see how it goes. I'm going to probably get a muzzle for Otto, too, to put my wife at ease. I'll keep you guys posted as to Otto's progress.
 

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You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for calming my nerves on this. We're going to keep working on this with Otto. We'll start working with the K9 trainer and see how it goes. I'm going to probably get a muzzle for Otto, too, to put my wife at ease. I'll keep you guys posted as to Otto's progress.
Those are good steps. I think the trainer will help calm the situation and give your tools to set boundaries and reinforce commands to help both of you out. A basket muzzle is quite comfortable for a dog and when introduced properly causes little to no stress
 

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Dog parks should be outlawed.

The most unnecessary, dangerous and ridiculous thing ever, invented by clueless humans who do not understand dogs.


PS-- I agree with everything Jax08 said.
 

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Three things stand out to me. First, veterinarians are like primary care physicians and are not experts in dog behavior. Some of the things I've heard vets say about dog behavior are idiotic. Secondly, you consulted a dog behaviorist over the phone and she recommended you kill your dog without even observing the dog's behavior. Doesn't sound like any kind of behaviorist to me. Thirdly, the trainer is correct that you dog needs some consistent, well managed obedience. Waiting for your dog to "calm down" is essentially doing nothing. He has to be trained/taught a variety of behaviors and what is acceptable and unacceptable. Just think of all the GSDs that are trained to bite people either in sport, police work, personal protection, etc. They are also taught when not to bite and have a lot of obedience training. If you use a real muzzle (not the cloth ones the vet uses) introduce it by putting pieces of hot dog in it and letting the dog eat out it several times with his face down in the muzzle.
 

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. Otto bit my wife once (but didn't break skin) when she reached for his water bowl next to his food bowl when he was eating. He barks at every stranger that comes in our house and has jumped to nip at hands but I feel like if he was really looking to bite, he would bite.
Uh-oh.

That's what I get for replying without reading all the posts through.

This concerns me. He is resource guarding. A dog this young should not be biting his owners.

As for visitors, he will bite when he is older. It is only a matter of time.
 

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Did you socialize him a lot when he was young(< 4 months?)
If your dog is not socialize when he was young, maybe it too late and harder to get him to Like other dogs, but you can train him to co exist with other dogs
what kind of training you have? GSD this breed likes to challenge the owner, you have to establish the rank so he knows his place. At 6 months he still a puppy, maybe you should get some obedience training and re establish your role in the house.
 

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Up until now it sounds like you haven't done any formal obedience training. Your best bet is to see what this trainer says. Until then read up on resource guarding, don't let the dog get into a situation where he could bite a person or dog.
 

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People do too much too early with pups. The pup is not comfortable in it's own home and the owners bring the pup out to 'socialize it'. I know i was there lol.

People with more experience will take their time and let the dog get used to them and there house or whatever. Crate train the dog. Teach him to like his leash and walk him in the yard or garden.

It is important for visitors to the home to not talk to the pup, make eye contact or try to touch the pup. If the pup is aggressive still then he must be crated somewhere central in the house and the visitors asked to obey the rules.

I would walk the pup in quiet times and avoid socialization until it is more used to you the owner and your wife. No offense to your wife but if she is fearful of the pup she shouldn't be walking it, or feeding it etc. You should take over all dog duties until the dog is more comfortable and everybody starts to trust the pup. People shouldn't trust something that may bite them so wait until the pup shows you it is trustworthy.

Research crate training and feeding by hand.

Research dog behavior and watch and read some Cesar millan as he does have easy advice on pack structure and how to live with dogs in general. Take you time. Don't get stressed over it and just make sure everyone is safe. The dog will get better if you learn to know what you are doing.
 

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I'm no expert trainer. But puting him to sleep now at 6 months is jumping the gun.

I'd get together with the trainer and start working out a training schedule with him. Need to include everyone in the house in this training also. I'm still trying to get my wife to train Cruz the same way I do. It can confuse the dog if different people are doing different things. So everyone on the same page and doing things the same way.

Start shopping for a new vet now. Then I'd take the dog in for a good once over healthwise to make sure there are no allergies or other health related issues going on. It can make pups act out if they don't feel well. Pain or discomfort can bring out some unwanted behaviors on thier own. I've seen this first hand. Happy pup, happy owner. Well......most the time.:wild:
 

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Sounds like you are trying hard to do everything you can for him.
Please do not just put him down if one vet advice's it.. Ask for opinions of a few vets, a few dog behaviorist and trainers. Before you even consider.
Thats awesome you found a trainer with lots of experience!
In the mean time, manage him. Keep him away from strangers and dogs that you do not know. If it is fear aggression and you have people come over. Have them completely ignore your dog even when hes in his crate, it should help him feel less threatened by the new people if they are ignoring him.
Before you offer water or food, ask him to sit and wait.
If he starts resourcing his food, you could try a way we are training a resource guarder at work (Shelter) is by basically hand feeding him. We have someone holding him on a leash. The other person has a dish of food in their hand and an empty dish on the ground. At first you take the food in your hand and put it in the dish, dropping it from a distance. Reading their body language waiting and knowing when your hand should get closer and closer. (And this does not mean during the first session, we did 2 weeks and he showed improvement, he certainly wasn't perfect by the end of the 2 weeks, but he wasn't lunging at us when we went near his food dish, he was wagging his tail, even when our hands hovered his food dish when putting the food in) Basically, you are associating your hand with their food, it means good things! And this is just one way to approach a resource guarder of food. There are so many out there.
Sorry this post wasn't good quality, i am very exhausted, but feel really bad for your situation and wanted to write my ideas/thoughts for you! Hope all goes well with the trainer!
 

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People do too much too early with pups. The pup is not comfortable in it's own home and the owners bring the pup out to 'socialize it'. I know i was there lol.

People with more experience will take their time and let the dog get used to them and there house or whatever. Crate train the dog. Teach him to like his leash and walk him in the yard or garden.

It is important for visitors to the home to not talk to the pup, make eye contact or try to touch the pup. If the pup is aggressive still then he must be crated somewhere central in the house and the visitors asked to obey the rules.

I would walk the pup in quiet times and avoid socialization until it is more used to you the owner and your wife. No offense to your wife but if she is fearful of the pup she shouldn't be walking it, or feeding it etc. You should take over all dog duties until the dog is more comfortable and everybody starts to trust the pup. People shouldn't trust something that may bite them so wait until the pup shows you it is trustworthy.

Research crate training and feeding by hand.

Research dog behavior and watch and read some Cesar millan as he does have easy advice on pack structure and how to live with dogs in general. Take you time. Don't get stressed over it and just make sure everyone is safe. The dog will get better if you learn to know what you are doing.
Crate training and establishing pack structure will definitely help.
But I have to disagree with the early socialization part.. You have to take the pup out to socialize when they are very young. There's only a small amount of windows you can do it. And there's no conflict between getting him comfortable and bringing him out to socialize when they're young. If you miss the windows of socializing when they're young, you will not able to socialize them when they're older.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you for the replies everyone. We did a puppy socialization class with Otto at 3 months. It was basic obedience stuff. He struggled at first with the other dogs but eventually warmed up to playing with other dogs in the group without barking at them.

We have tried socializing him but he is really intimidating at first for other owners because he barks so much. He did a few days at doggie daycare and did fairly well. We boarded him there once and the trainer there (same one from puppy class) said Otto got uneasy towards the end of his stay.

He is very well crate trained. He has never had an accident in his crate and goes into it willingly. We moved the crate out of our bedroom last night after reading that we shouldn't have it in our room. He barked a lot but I think he'll get used to it. We'll work on implementing all of these suggestions, keep 'em coming!
 
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