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Discussion Starter #1
We adopted what we believe is as pure GSD from our animal shelter in February. We have no history on him as he was transferred from a shelter in a neighboring state. He was pretty high strung when we got him, didn't know his name, and very bad behaved. He's gotten better with some stuff, but we have a new and not good issue with him. He appears to have very bad aggression to any Male that comes over to our house that is not a part of our family. He tried to bite a friend of my daughter's a couple of weeks ago, and just today my adult sons are here visiting, and I made sure to try to introduce them and had Klause by his collar. He was being okay, and out of the clear blue he tried to bite my son. I immediately pulled him back and down, and he seemed to get the message, and we tried again after awhile and he tried to bite my other son. I then took him and put him in his kennel. He never growled or barked at either of them, just tried to bite. I feel like I can't trust him now. Is there any way to get him to not bite and be aggressive to men? He does not have this issue with women.
 

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For the immediate future, I would crate the dog or put him away (behind a locked door) when people are over. First order of business, however, would be to find a GSD experienced trainer to work with on this and probably other behaviors --- one who's dealt with aggression issues in GSDs. Sounds like he's a largely untrained adolescent male who may be pushing the boundaries and your family may not have figured out how to set appropriate limits with him yet. I'm not trying to minimize what happened, but if he seriously wanted to bite your sons he probably would have connected --- despite your holding him by the collar. BTW, holding a reactive dog by the collar may have actually ramped up his bad behavior rather than stifling it. Leashing him would be a better alternative --- but that would be further down the road, after you've started working with a trainer. If you post your location, members may be able to suggest a good trainer for you.

Aly
 

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I totally agree with Aly! It's really hard to discern from a brief description, but if your dog had seriously wanted or meant to bite either of your sons he would have been hard to stop!

That being said, the last thing you need is for this dog to actually connect and end up with a bite history! So, keep him contained whenever you have guests for now! And find a good trainer, one who has experience with GSDs and with aggression issues, to help you! The good news is that he's young. I've seen lots of dogs his age change dramatically with training.

I'd also like to hear more about the "stuff" he's gotten better at, and how that was accomplished... Also, when you say this issue is "new", does that mean initially he was fine around men, or that it's new in that you've only recently exposed him to that situation?
 

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Did you get him from a shelter? Or a rescue?
You need to contact a balanced trainer. Like others have said. It could be aggression, reactivity, etc. Is he fearful? Is he nervy?
 

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Shelters and rescues like to shuffle dogs out of state to hide or lose bite histories.

Many GSD owners secure their dogs to ensure the safety of visitors. Human aggression is part of the breed standard.

This dog may very well have been teased and taunted by men when left alone in a yard. Up

Like others said, look for a good trainer that is familiar with the breed and with aggression. Keep your expectations realistic.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Let me see if I can give a little better picture of Klause. When we got him from the shelter - not a rescue, he had no manners. He didn't know his name. We brought him home and he totally ignored us for the most part. Just with time and continued work he knows his name, he knows the commands sit and down, still working on stay - that is hit and miss. He will come when called in the house, or in the backyard. He is better at walking on a leash than he was when we first got him. He also had this annoying little "nipping" thing he would do when we first got him. He would do it to both my daughter and I. He would just nip our arms or hands. We would tell him no, and we just kept saying no sharply and he finally stopped. When we got him he didn't want to have anything to do with being in the backyard, now he loves it. He was also underweight, which he is not as thin now, when we got him you could see his ribs, but now you can't. I would like to see him put on a little more weight, but you can no longer see his ribs, so I think we are good. He is not food motivated at all, and has no food aggression. That was one of the first things I checked as I have a 2 year old grandson. I would imagine he was fed people food and not dog food because he goes nuts over fast food - which we have very rarely. The first time we came home with some and my daughter had chicken nuggets he climbed in the chair she was sitting in on top of her. As far as people are concerned, anyone who has been in or around our home since we got him he is fine with. My oldest daughter and her boyfriend and my grandson he has no issues at all with. My grandson is 2, and he has learned that he has to be gentle with him. We have 2 cats, and that is still a work in progress. He is slowly calming down with the cats. The one cat who is younger will sit on my lap with him around sometimes, but so far every time lately I've let him near her when she's with me he will sniff her, and then try to pull her fur out with his teeth, so I immediately stop him and then she will normally want to get away. My older cat wants nothing to do with him so I don't make her be around him. One time when we had a thunderstorm she was running to hide and he got between her and where she was trying to go. When I got in the kitchen she was on her back and she's gotten him with her claw by the nose and he wasn't stopping so I got him by the collar and she took off. She wasn't hurt, but the fact that he had gotten scratched and was bleeding didn't seem to phase him at all, and that right there bothers me. So he will never be left alone with either cat ever. As far as visitors, he's been fine with any female friends that have come over. My daughter who lives here with me is 20, so she has had a few of her friends over, and other than just making himself a nuisance he's been fine. Any time we've had anyone here doing work he is either outside where they aren't, or in his kennel. We started with a kennel from day one, and he is in there any time we aren't home. I've had him to the vet once, and that didn't go well, he wanted to bark and pull really hard on his leash whenever another dog was around. The vet was a female, so no issue there. The first issue we noticed with him and male people was when a friend of my fiance's came over to do some work outside and he had Klause outside with him and he was not at ease around him at all. When my daughter and her boyfriend came over with this other friend, I didn't know he was even with them or I would have taken the dog downstairs or outside. When Klause saw this guy he started barking and jumped up on him and then sat down and tried to bite him on his back pocket area. Thankfully he was wearing Levis so nothing happened, and by that time I had Klause and had taken him downstairs. Our basement is where his kennel is, and it's got another living area and where I sleep, so it's not like it's a cold dark dank place. So now if you've managed to read all of this, my boys will be here for 2 weeks, and I need to figure out how to keep the peace between everyone. He's outside right now, and I will leave him out there until we head to the store. I live in Cheyenne Wyoming so if anyone knows of a good trainer in this area I would be interested in that information. I've had dogs all my life and this is the first one that after having in my home for this long was still so much of a work in progress. I hope I've answered most all of everyone's questions. I think someone asked about aggression or fear - not sure how to tell the difference as I've never dealt with this sort of behavior in a dog before.
 

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Thanks for the additional detail. Sounds like you've been working very hard with Klause and that he's improved in some areas. Pat yourself on the back for that. Fear reactive or aggressive dogs can be challenging to deal with, especially when you don't know the back story. But, it's difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to determine which you might have (and what you might do about it) as we're not seeing it real time, IRL.

I'd ramp up efforts to find a GSD experienced trainer ASAP. Hopefully, other forum members will chime in for you. Consider reaching out to local LE to find out what trainers they use or could recommend. In the meantime, I would keep him crated whenever new people, especially males, come around. It's better to be safe and you don't want him developing/consolidating bad behavior. I'd also consider keeping him tethered to you when you're both at home. That will make immediate corrections (e.g., leash pops) easier if they're required. Don't make it all corrections though, work on training sessions so that he has a default option in provocative situations (e.g., an immediate 'sit' or 'down' can be useful here). That default also will give you the opportunity to reward him heavily for making the right choice --- which means that when you're at home, treats should be always close at hand.

Finally, my approach with dogs and cats has always been the same: The dog MUST ignore the cat, no matter what the cat does. (This is where tethering the dog to you will help). I may relax that rule when I've seen that the two are buds, but that's where we all start and continue for some time before I do. The 'leave it!' command is really useful here so, if he doesn't know it already, I'd start teaching him that. Youtube has a number of excellent videos on teaching this, so give it a whirl.

Aly
 

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Everyone has covered all your questions. I would just add, to help with his aggression to males, I would try and create positive associations with males.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update on Klause

Just wanted to update and thank everyone again for all the help. After watching some youtube videos, I followed what was there, and after about 5 days I was finally confident in Klause's changed behavior to let him off the leash around my boys and they are all getting along just wonderfully! I'm so happy with how quickly and easily it was to do this! He has even let the boys rub his stomach - which is something my daughter and I had to work on with him when we first got him. My daughter and sons have been taking him for long walks and playing with him in the backyard, so he knows they are good, and good to him. Thank you all again so very much!
 

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Just wanted to update and thank everyone again for all the help. After watching some youtube videos, I followed what was there, and after about 5 days I was finally confident in Klause's changed behavior to let him off the leash around my boys and they are all getting along just wonderfully! I'm so happy with how quickly and easily it was to do this! He has even let the boys rub his stomach - which is something my daughter and I had to work on with him when we first got him. My daughter and sons have been taking him for long walks and playing with him in the backyard, so he knows they are good, and good to him. Thank you all again so very much!
What things have you been doing specifically to remedy the situation?
 

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Just wanted to update and thank everyone again for all the help. After watching some youtube videos, I followed what was there, and after about 5 days I was finally confident in Klause's changed behavior to let him off the leash around my boys and they are all getting along just wonderfully! I'm so happy with how quickly and easily it was to do this! He has even let the boys rub his stomach - which is something my daughter and I had to work on with him when we first got him. My daughter and sons have been taking him for long walks and playing with him in the backyard, so he knows they are good, and good to him. Thank you all again so very much!
That's great progress, thanks for the update! If you would take a few minutes to provide some detail about how you went about getting your boy to calm down around your sons, it would likely help others in similar situations!
 

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Sounds like great progress. But don't trust him fully yet. He needs to prove this in the long run. So always be there to supervise and if you see any form of tension, calmly interfere and leash him or crate him. Prevention and success are key.
 
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