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Discussion Starter #1
I was hoping that someone might be able to shed some light on this situation. This may be long so bear with me.

Apollo is 7 months old. We got him when he was just under 3 months old from one of my husband's coworkers who had only had him for a couple of weeks and decided he was too much of a responsibility. I work on training with him daily. He gets lots of exercise most days. We go for hikes, we go for walks every day rain or shine. We play fetch and incorporate training into it. He has a lot of puppy in him still but I really am working on making him a pleasant dog to live with. I dedicate entire evenings multiple times a week to only focus on him and his training. We have had two private trainers come to the house as well as attended a puppy class and an obedience class.

So, I just wanted to establish that I'm not tossing him outside all day long with no proper exercise or training and expecting him to be a perfect dog. I'm REALLY trying hard here and devote a lot of time to him. And also to establish that he was perhaps a BYB dog because there's no paperwork on him, although he is a very beautiful dog, I know sometimes BYB can produce problems. Now that I’ve got that background out of the way…

I’m concerned at Apollo’s behavior with my 3 year old son. I have two kids (7 and 3). The 7 year old isn’t an issue, I don’t think. She’s pretty calm and measured and Apollo will drop toys at her feet and listen when she tells him to sit or lay down. But my 3 year old is another story. He is a typical 3 year old- not bad, just a normal 3 year old. I'm aware of toddlers being stressful towards dogs because of their unpredictably and jerky movements and all that, so I have never left him and Apollo alone together.

So... we were on vacation visiting family in another state about a month ago and brought Apollo with us. Following a long hike with him, he was laying on the back porch close to the back door at my father’s house chewing a bone. So, I’m sitting in a chair fairly close to Apollo and my 3 year old comes up to me and is standing in front of me. Apollo is maybe a foot away and growls and then a split second later he bit my son’s shorts. I realize the growl was a warning, but before my mind even processed that he was growling, he was moving forward to bite my son’s shorts. I have to assume he was trying to actually bite him, not just nip at his shorts because this looked different than the times he "puppy-nipped" at my hand or whatever.

As soon as we got home, I called a trainer who said it was probably resource guarding along with being in an unfamiliar environment but she gave me different techniques to try such as elevating his food, putting treats in his food bowl, trading bones and toys, etc. He has been great with all of that. I can walk over to where he’s eating and without saying or doing anything, he will stop eating and sit and look at me. When he gets bones now, I put him in his crate so that there is no risk of anything happening over the bone. The trainer has said that he is doing very well and she doesn’t notice any resource guarding tendencies.

But then last night… it was raining outside so I tried to entertain Apollo inside the house. I created a little puzzle for him out of a box where I put smaller boxes inside with treats and stuff (it was silly- I just wanted to give him something to do). He was trying to figure out the boxes in the middle of the living room floor and my 3 year old was on the couch watching TV with me. My 3 year old says something to Apollo and then leans forward on the couch and Apollo barks at him. Just one bark but it was not a playful bark or a demanding bark- it seemed like an aggressive bark to me.

A couple of other things: I had posted maybe a month or so ago about Apollo growling and barking somewhat aggressively at my niece (who is older) when she came over after Apollo was settled into his crate for the evening. Someone mentioned that yes it was aggression and to take note that he did "that" in him. I haven't forgotten that. That's why I'm always monitoring his interactions with my kids and why, after the near-miss biting incident, I called a trainer right away.

He barks and lunges at other dogs at our obedience class and has to be put into a corner with a sheet over the partition. several other dogs do this too so I tried to write it off as being not a big deal, but now I'm starting to think it may be part of a bigger problem?

Please be easy on me. I'm trying very hard here, I'm sorry if it doesn't come across that way but I truly am. I love this dog and he is so smart, catches onto things so quickly... but I don't want to have to worry that if my son leans forward on the couch that Apollo could possibly go into aggressive mode. Obviously, now I'm not just going to give bones in the crate but ANY kind of treat or reward in the crate. Perhaps I need another trainer? (Im in the central KY area if anyone knows a good one- please share!) If anyone has ANY advice or words of wisdom, I would really appreciate it.
 

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If I had a young 3 year old son (definitely do not @ 23 years old) and my 7 month old German Shepherd attempted to bite him I can assure you I would not attempt to elevate his food or any of those other techniques...he would get a correction that would ensure he would never make that decision again
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It absolutely devastated me when he bit at my 3 year old. I shouted "NO" at him, took the bone and then put him in his crate for some quiet time after this. I don't know if this was the right technique- the trainer said that taking the bone was what he was afraid of so I escalated the situation. I honestly didn't know what to do. I have never had a dog do anything like that and I was shocked. I was crying afterwards because I was SO upset by it.
 

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I’d just make sure they never even have the chance to interact with each other right now and then go from there
 

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I’d just make sure they never even have the chance to interact with each other right now and then go from there
Do you think that there's "hope" for this situation? I am totally on board with keeping them away from each other. I've gone back to having Apollo on a leash with me all day "just in case" because it makes me feel a little more in control of the situation.
 

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I am so sorry you are having these concerns :( I'm hoping someone knows a good trainer in your area who can assess the situation. In the meantime, manage. Do not let any type of food, reward, toys etc be in the same area as your dog and people, especially kids. Do not leave him unsupervised with kids at all, no exceptions until a trainer can figure out what is what. Again, I am sorry, I am sure it is extremely upsetting :(
 

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Don't let him have anything around the kids and I wouldn't have him loose with them for now either. We all want a dog that loves our kids, the family dog that will do anything for all of us, affectionate and everything, but I think what you have to keep in mind is to think in terms of respect first of all, competition, and how the dog perceives these things. Competition can be over almost anything in his head. You didn't mention him wanting to chase them, but generally prey drive like that is easy to handle.

I'd have a very strict structure to everything with him. Calm but firm obedience on leash around the kids. Teach him a place command, on leash. Look to create more of a calm indifference in him to your kids when they're doing whatever they're doing. Others may tell you to have the kids do this or that, feed him or whatever. My approach is more along the lines of the kids are mine, you're going to behave. Once he's showing you that he can maintain some control and he doesn't startle or get excited with excited kids, I think then you can kinda look at what relationship they'll actually have.

Its not that you're doing anything "wrong". The only thing that prepares us for some things is experience. Owning different temperaments and raising 3 kids, we were lucky to meet and make friends with people that could show us.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Don't let him have anything around the kids and I wouldn't have him loose with them for now either. We all want a dog that loves our kids, the family dog that will do anything for all of us, affectionate and everything, but I think what you have to keep in mind is to think in terms of respect first of all, competition, and how the dog perceives these things. Competition can be over almost anything in his head. You didn't mention him wanting to chase them, but generally prey drive like that is easy to handle.

I'd have a very strict structure to everything with him. Calm but firm obedience on leash around the kids. Teach him a place command, on leash. Look to create more of a calm indifference in him to your kids when they're doing whatever they're doing. Others may tell you to have the kids do this or that, feed him or whatever. My approach is more along the lines of the kids are mine, you're going to behave. Once he's showing you that he can maintain some control and he doesn't startle or get excited with excited kids, I think then you can kinda look at what relationship they'll actually have.

Its not that you're doing anything "wrong". The only thing that prepares us for some things is experience. Owning different temperaments and raising 3 kids, we were lucky to meet and make friends with people that could show us.

Thank you for this. Seriously, I have been fretting all day about Apollo and my 3 year old and barking thing yesterday. My last dog who was around for both of my kids was an old English Springer... and you could have dropped a bomb in front of that dog and he wouldn't have cared. So obviously, comparing that to a GSD (this particular GSD!) doesn't work and I haven't assumed that Apollo would be like my other dog at all, it's just such night and day and I guess that's part of what shocks me so much. Anyways... thank you so much for your suggestions. I know I need to find a really good trainer (since obviously my attempts at trainers are failing!) but in the mean time, it was nice to read this and feel like I had some kind of plan in place. We are working SO hard at the place command and he's starting to get it moreso than before. He has never chased after the kids, but they don't normally run around crazy and if they do, I try to make sure that Apollo isn't nearby because then it would just be potential chaos. But yes, I'm going to separate him from both of the kids just to be on the safe side and go into super strict mode. I have already been practicing NILIF and making him work for each thing that he gets and it was going well. Then yesterday just discouraged me so much. Thank you again for your comment.
 

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Our first Rott was good dog Carl. Our 2nd one wanted to chase and bite everything that moved including our kids. That was when we had to go through a some quick learning. In a lot of ways it really just comes down to not allowing them to be in certain situations at all. The obedience I think comes down to a calm balance. You don't try to bribe them and you don't really want to create a situation where all you're doing is trying to correct them and stop something, because if it doesn't, it may make things worse. Teach them what TO do, and then you'll enforce that. Make sense?
 

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Our first Rott was good dog Carl. Our 2nd one wanted to chase and bite everything that moved including our kids. That was when we had to go through a some quick learning. In a lot of ways it really just comes down to not allowing them to be in certain situations at all. The obedience I think comes down to a calm balance. You don't try to bribe them and you don't really want to create a situation where all you're doing is trying to correct them and stop something, because if it doesn't, it may make things worse. Teach them what TO do, and then you'll enforce that. Make sense?
That does make sense. It's easier to just eliminate the behavior I don't like. I had a revelation a couple of months ago that if I didn't want him barking when he was outside(with me out there with him), then instead of trying to stop the barking, I just took him inside and that was so much easier than the alternative. This is kind of the same (on a different level) but I hadn't even thought of it like that. Thanks for putting it into an easy to understand perspective
 

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So... I feel like this could not have happened at a worse time, but, just now I took Apollo on his nightly walk. We passed people and he was fine. We stopped and they passed and he was totally cool. We passed barking dogs. He looked at them and then carried on.

Then... a child ran into their front lawn about two houses in front of us. Apollo growled, his hackles went up, and he was lunging forward. We crossed the street immediately but oh my gosh. I would have rather him reacted to the dogs or barked at the people we passed than show these aggressive signs towards a CHILD. It's like his progress with reacting to people/dogs has been totally diminished because he really wanted to go after a child.

I was already feeling so worried today and this made it so much worse. Should I cut out the walks? Only do them really late at night or early in the morning? Ugh. I am so saddened by this.

I'll echo my original post- if anyone knows any good trainers in the central KY area, I'm open to suggestions. I have several friends with GSDs and asked them about trainers- I used one (the one in my original post who recommended the elevating food, etc) and the other GSD owners I know had never utilized a trainer.
 

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very sorry you are going through this. Take a deep breath.

Maybe try a new thread looking for trainer recommendations? If that plus your location were the thread title maybe you'd get a better response?
 

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very sorry you are going through this. Take a deep breath.

Maybe try a new thread looking for trainer recommendations? If that plus your location were the thread title maybe you'd get a better response?
Thank you for this suggestion. I posted a new thread in the finding a trainer section. I am just so stressed tonight over all of this ?
 

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I know. Hang in there. Just make sure he doesn't have access to your kids so you can just have a breather where you can regroup and find a trainer who can help you.

I wish trainers weren't so inconsistent in ability.

Where did he come from? Can you call the breeder?
 

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Never mind, I see in your original post he is probably backyard bred so sounds like no breeder to reach out to. You know what though, a reputable GSD breeder in your area might be able to recommend a trainer.
 

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So... I feel like this could not have happened at a worse time, but, just now I took Apollo on his nightly walk. We passed people and he was fine. We stopped and they passed and he was totally cool. We passed barking dogs. He looked at them and then carried on.

Then... a child ran into their front lawn about two houses in front of us. Apollo growled, his hackles went up, and he was lunging forward. We crossed the street immediately but oh my gosh. I would have rather him reacted to the dogs or barked at the people we passed than show these aggressive signs towards a CHILD. It's like his progress with reacting to people/dogs has been totally diminished because he really wanted to go after a child.

I was already feeling so worried today and this made it so much worse. Should I cut out the walks? Only do them really late at night or early in the morning? Ugh. I am so saddened by this.

I'll echo my original post- if anyone knows any good trainers in the central KY area, I'm open to suggestions. I have several friends with GSDs and asked them about trainers- I used one (the one in my original post who recommended the elevating food, etc) and the other GSD owners I know had never utilized a trainer.

I am sorry that this is happening, and I am sorry that you are not going to like my opinion but it is what it is.

Kids are my line in the sand. Dogs in my house have two options. They can put up with the kids and hopefully enjoy it or they can leave the area. Growling, barking, lip curls or any other displays are not permitted and would not be dealt with gently. Snapping or biting would unleash the wrath of **** on them.

Some dogs just need that come to Jesus talk and some simply do not like children. Bud was not a fan of small humans, so he was crated or confined around them. But he never, ever growled or snapped at one.

Dogs are first and foremost companions. When they are incapable of doing that, sorry but we have a surplus of great dogs around and the ones that aren't simply don't need to be here. So find a trainer and do what you need to do. If it's simply a matter of confining him great but if it were me in the situation you describe, snap at my child one more time and you are toast.
 

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Sabis Mom- I totally agree with everything you said. I know it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, but it was a perspective that I needed to hear. I am willing to put up with and through almost anything with a dog that I love(which is every dog I’ve ever had!) but kids are different situation. I know that keeping them separated is what I have to do now and I am fine with that... but I don’t want to have to do that forever, or even for the next few years until my son gets older. I want Apollo to be able to act normally because for me that one near-bite incident was one too many. I really hope that a trainer will be able to offer some solution because after our walk yesterday where he seemed to single out the child to growl at... that made me feel pretty hopeless.
 

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I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm so glad you're looking for a trainer who can help. As a parent of a 1-year-old and an almost three year-old, I can imagine the stress you must be feeling. I'm just a pet-owner, not an expert in anything, so I'm not qualified to give you advice, particularly on the dog on child aggression in your home. But as far as dealing with reactivity while walking your dog, when you met the child, how were you feeling and how did you act? Sometimes if we get nervous and tense up when we see someone or something approaching, tighten the leash, ect, our energy can travel down the leash and affect how the dog behaves--especially with a dog who already has reactive tendencies. I had a dog-reactive GSD once, and I had to learn to walk him with a calm, confident energy around other dogs and give him a strong correction just before he started to react.
 

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I don't think any trainer, no matter how good, is going to be able to make this a dog I would be relaxed about having around your small child in the near future. And if any trainer told you otherwise I would be suspect.

Here is one issue to consider: in order to train the dog you have to have the issues come up. for a dog to change how it acts around kids it must be trained around kids. Training isn't an exact science and things don't always go 100% according to plan. So someone's kid has to be around the dog to proof anything you want to proof. Who is going to volunteer their kid for that?

How strictly can you manage him, because one mistake where he has a food item near a kid may lead to a bite. He is a big puppy still, think when he is mature.

All the stuff you did for resource guarding with the one trainer is great but it doesn't necessarily have any bearing on the toddler because YOU were the one adding rewards to the dog for tolerance. I don't know what elevating the food has to do with anything.

I guess I am just hoping you are realistic about what a trainer can do and what you must still do regardless.

Hope that makes sense.
 

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So sorry you are going through this!

I adopted a dog-aggressive GSD. I found this book, by a trainer who lives in Michigan, a huge help. It's expensive, but the Kindle edition (or the paperback) is cheaper:

https://www.amazon.com/Aggression-Dogs-Management-Prevention-Modification-ebook/dp/B007RFKBNC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1530207006&sr=8-3&keywords=Aggression+in+Dogs+Kindle+edition&dpID=51MK21FYgAL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Brenda also does seminars and training - google to see if there's anything near you.
 
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