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Hi everyone,

I've come here to seek some advice on how to tackle the aggressive behaviour that my GSD has been showing recently and greatly appreciate any possible solutions to try.
Firstly about my dog; he is just over 18 months old now, he was diagnosed with EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) when he was just under a year old. Due to this because of weight issues he has only just been neutered which was about 3 weeks ago and of course his hormones will take time to settle.

Growing up we never really had any issues with him, he was well behaved for a puppy. Although he has always been cautious by the signs of his hackles and tail curling up. For some reason things have changed with how the way he now is from back then which is quite upsetting to me as I know deep down he is a lovely dog speaking of which there are absolutely no issues with anyone in the house and he is very loyal, playful and loving.

Recently after he recovered from his operation he did chase a young puppy. My dog was off lead and the puppy came to greet him offlead. They were sniffing at each other face to face for a few seconds everything was fine but then my dog showed very bad aggression, chasing the puppy looking as if he was going to bite it! Of course I was very embarrassed and let down, the owners of the puppy were very shocked as well. :crying: Only thing I could think of that he has shown with other dogs is if the dog is jumpy/giddy and moving around a lot which the puppy was doing.

I am going to list some points where he has shown aggression regularly but not all times.
- He will not like us trying to pet other dogs or other dogs coming close to us trying to get close attention.

- On some occasions he will bark/growl at people trying to pet him but sometimes he is completely fine with it.

- Does not like dogs at all near his sticks/toys/treats, this is a big one.

- Was completely fine with my grandma but now starts growling and snapping?! This is one I am very confused about. Since a puppy we would visit my Grandma and she would come to our house but he has been very naughty recently :frown2:

We have bought him a muzzle now as we are afraid of what he could potentially do to another dog. I dedicated a lot of time bringing him up to be a great dog which he is but this is letting us down a lot recently any advice would be appreciated thanks.
 

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He's transitioning from puppyhood into adulthood.It's very common for adult gsds to not want much to do with people or dogs outside of their immediate family(pack).I would encourage him to be calm and aloof.He doesn't need to meet other dogs or allow anyone outside of your household to touch him.If he's kept out of situations that make him uncomfortable he'll have no reason to display aggression to keep them away and at a comfortable distance.
 

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Have you had his B12 levels checked? Are you supplementing with B12 at all?
 
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Yes, I agree to check the levels of his B-vitamins because of the EPI and because that can increase aggression in some dogs.

Sometimes neutering a dog can make them more aggressive toward other dogs. We hear time and again that it is a neutered dog at a dog park that is starting all the fights. Why should this be? I don't know. You think, less testosterone, less aggression. But it seems that for some dogs, the decreased testosterone may translate to decreased confidence and they are doing a lot more posturing because they are fearful and YES, a fearful dog WILL bite. Growling and snapping is communication from the dog that says, quite clearly, "if you do not knock back off, I will be forced to bite you." And if you punish this communication, you can extinguish the communication, but the dog may still bite -- you just don't get the warning.

It is possible that this is the last hurrah of the testosterone that remained present in the dog's body until it wears off.

Many dogs are neutered at this age because of similar problems that your dog is exhibiting. And years later they will tell you that the neuter did the job. I think that neutering a dog for aggression is only half of the equation and most likely, less than half. I think that with the neuter, you up your obedience game (classes with other people AND their dogs) and then your dog works through his adolescent stupidity.

I am not a fan of staying at a distance and feeding the dog treats. Maybe that works, but it allows a dog to be in a negative place when it comes to other dogs for far too long, and behaviors, once set, are much harder to extinguish. You need to get ahead of your dog and notice what he is about to do, and at that moment, give him a little snap of the leash and walk on, not toward the other dog, not in the opposite direction, you can veer a little off to continue to have a safe distance, but you dog needs to stop before he gets started. If the dog's eyes lock onto another dog, get his focus onto you BEFORE he reacts.

It IS easier said than done. It takes practice. It takes trial and error. It takes commitment. If you persevere, you will be in the minority when it comes to actually knowing how to handle dogs. He will teach you so much more than the easy dogs will. You will become one of those people in PetSmart that can't believe how others don't know how to read their dogs. Because you will become an expert at reading your dog. It will become second nature.

And the final answer becomes your mastery of dog-body-language, second nature at acting before any reaction, your confidence in handling the dog, reducing the stress of being out and about around other people and dogs, and builds trust in your dog both ways -- he trusts you to keep him out of bad situations and you trust him appropriate to his make-up. It all becomes a dance where no one knows they are dancing, but they are all in step and doing every step perfectly.

Good luck.
 

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Human nutitionists will tell you that after any surgery or illness or drugs being given for illnesses, your body could be

depleted of certain reserves needed for good mental and physical health. B Complex vitamins are generally recommended

after such trauma (surgery, illness, drugs) to replenish these vitamins. The B vitamins are the ones necessary for calm

nerves. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning excesses will naturally flush out of the body.

In the animal (horses) world, it's known that B1 and Magnesium often has a positive effect on the nervous system and

thus behavior. Many feeds are deficient in these vitamins and minerals.

Beef liver is a great source of B Complex vitamins if you want to supplement naturally. A daily dog multivitamin can

also provide missing ingredients that your dog's diet is not providing.

"Composure" sold by VetriScience is a daily source of B1 in a chew.

These things might be worth trying since your dog has had additional stresses due to his surgery, illness and drugs for

his illness. Many drugs as well as antibiotics can upset or deplete the balance of vitamins/minerals in the body.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for your replies, I will definitely try with the B vitamins as they are water-soluble and see if that aids with any of the problems that he has had recently. From looking at some symptoms for the deficiency they do relate.

When I am walking him I will take your tips on board and monitor his body language and try to react accordingly.
Will possibly update on how he his in a week or two thanks everyone means so much!
 

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I'm new to GSDs but not to dog ownership. I do not agree with the idea that your dog should be kept apart and does not need to meet other dogs or be touched by other people. It would be more dangerous to isolate a reactive dog--which is what people tend to do, not knowing how to deal with it. I'm glad you do not intend to do that. Sure, your dog does not need to be everyone's best friend--but he already has that degree of aloofness bred into him, from what I have read. He should be able to greet other dogs safely and be touched by other people. For one thing, there are no guarantees in life and who is to say you and your family will always be with him or him with you? Second, unless you choose to take on the burden of always avoiding other people and dogs, you will find your life with him very isolating. That's not a lot of fun--if you cannot walk local streets or trails b/c he is too unfriendly, or maybe join a camping group or some other fun activity where he would be welcome IF he had been socialized to be calm and reliable.

Of course, no dog is truly 100% reliable, but most of us have dogs that give us no concern around others as a matter of course; we don't leave our good dogs alone with others, but can bring him to outdoor gatherings and let the dog be petted by others and enjoy our company while we are also socializing. It's not fun having to leave your dog behind most of the time.

I'm just starting the path of working with my dog- and human-reactive pup, so I'll check in to see how you are doing, too. Best of luck and hang in there. I've made some mistakes already but learn with each one and, fortunately, the pup hasn't been directly involved in most of them! I want to get good at this so I can help others.
 
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What I see in the OP is normal behavior. Puppy runs or jumps or something, older dog pursues. Normal.

How are the people approaching your dog when he reacts poorly? (or in the way you do not like). People have an inclination to think patting a dog on the top of the head is a good approach. It isn't. Not everyone needs to pet your dog. They don't. How do you react when your dog barks or growls? That's something to consider, too.


If your dog is "reactive" you will want to work under threshold to build up his tolerance. (check it out on line. I'm lazy)
 

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I'm new to GSDs but not to dog ownership. I do not agree with the idea that your dog should be kept apart and does not need to meet other dogs or be touched by other people. It would be more dangerous to isolate a reactive dog--which is what people tend to do, not knowing how to deal with it. I'm glad you do not intend to do that. Sure, your dog does not need to be everyone's best friend--but he already has that degree of aloofness bred into him, from what I have read. He should be able to greet other dogs safely and be touched by other people. For one thing, there are no guarantees in life and who is to say you and your family will always be with him or him with you? Second, unless you choose to take on the burden of always avoiding other people and dogs, you will find your life with him very isolating. That's not a lot of fun--if you cannot walk local streets or trails b/c he is too unfriendly, or maybe join a camping group or some other fun activity where he would be welcome IF he had been socialized to be calm and reliable.

Of course, no dog is truly 100% reliable, but most of us have dogs that give us no concern around others as a matter of course; we don't leave our good dogs alone with others, but can bring him to outdoor gatherings and let the dog be petted by others and enjoy our company while we are also socializing. It's not fun having to leave your dog behind most of the time.

I'm just starting the path of working with my dog- and human-reactive pup, so I'll check in to see how you are doing, too. Best of luck and hang in there. I've made some mistakes already but learn with each one and, fortunately, the pup hasn't been directly involved in most of them! I want to get good at this so I can help others.
I don't allow just any random person to touch my dogs, nor do I allow random dogs to get within touching distance. Partly because: plenty of dogs have bad manners and actually plenty of people do, too. However, I totally disagree that it is isolating. My dogs go everywhere with me. My male dog competes in a bunch of different dog sports.

I am quite sure that my male dog is more reliable because I don't let any old person do any old thing to him. He is kind of a picky dog and doesn't love being petted by everyone and if people had made him feel uncomfortable repeatedly he could have gone a different way. But I made sure that he just had scarce and safe touching interactions with people and he has become more and more tolerant as he becomes totally mature and understands the world better.

My dogs go camping with us and they walk in towns and parks. And almost all the time when people ask to pet I say no. When people try to let their dogs come up I say no. There is a lot in between isolating your dog and letting every person pet them
 

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I don't allow just any random person to touch my dogs, nor do I allow random dogs to get within touching distance. Partly because: plenty of dogs have bad manners and actually plenty of people do, too. However, I totally disagree that it is isolating. My dogs go everywhere with me. My male dog competes in a bunch of different dog sports.

I am quite sure that my male dog is more reliable because I don't let any old person do any old thing to him. He is kind of a picky dog and doesn't love being petted by everyone and if people had made him feel uncomfortable repeatedly he could have gone a different way. But I made sure that he just had scarce and safe touching interactions with people and he has become more and more tolerant as he becomes totally mature and understands the world better.

My dogs go camping with us and they walk in towns and parks. And almost all the time when people ask to pet I say no. When people try to let their dogs come up I say no. There is a lot in between isolating your dog and letting every person pet them
I take a very similar approach with my dogs. Exposure is enough... they don’t need to be made to greet strangers or strange dogs. My dogs, even the reactive one, still go many places, see crowds, go to training and competitions, and see other dogs. It’s definitely not an isolated life just because they’re not being manhandled by everyone they meet. My reactive/fearful dog would easily be worse off if I forced him to accept pets from strangers. But since that’s not a thing we do, he’s able to walk through crowds and ignore people. He stays focused on me. He’s still getting exposure to the things he’s uncomfortable with, but we’re working below his threshold. With him, I politely tell people no. No, you may not pet my dog, we’re working. I don’t actually remember the last time someone asked if their dog could meet him, but the answer to that would be no as well. He socializes with a select few dogs that are stable and owned by friends of mine. That’s enough. My stable dogs greet people at competitions and training, but I still rarely let them meet random strangers because I see no point in allowing strangers to be more than scenery for them.
 

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Hi everyone,

I've come here to seek some advice on how to tackle the aggressive behaviour that my GSD has been showing recently and greatly appreciate any possible solutions to try.
Firstly about my dog; he is just over 18 months old now, he was diagnosed with EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) when he was just under a year old. Due to this because of weight issues he has only just been neutered which was about 3 weeks ago and of course his hormones will take time to settle. This is a good age if you are going to neuter. Most research shows that neutering younger impacts growth and development. Given your dogs history I may have been tempted to wait even longer

Growing up we never really had any issues with him, he was well behaved for a puppy. Although he has always been cautious by the signs of his hackles and tail curling up. For some reason things have changed with how the way he now is from back then which is quite upsetting to me as I know deep down he is a lovely dog speaking of which there are absolutely no issues with anyone in the house and he is very loyal, playful and loving.

Recently after he recovered from his operation he did chase a young puppy. My dog was off lead and the puppy came to greet him offlead. They were sniffing at each other face to face for a few seconds everything was fine but then my dog showed very bad aggression, chasing the puppy looking as if he was going to bite it! Of course I was very embarrassed and let down, the owners of the puppy were very shocked as well. :crying: Only thing I could think of that he has shown with other dogs is if the dog is jumpy/giddy and moving around a lot which the puppy was doing.
This seems normal, but since we cannot see it who knows. Many adult dogs appear intolerant of puppies when in fact they are simply showing them what is and is not appropriate

I am going to list some points where he has shown aggression regularly but not all times.
- He will not like us trying to pet other dogs or other dogs coming close to us trying to get close attention.
This is resource guarding. Read up on that. You are the resource

- On some occasions he will bark/growl at people trying to pet him but sometimes he is completely fine with it.
I don't like everyone and it's sort of unreasonable to expect our dogs to be ok with multiple random people touching them

- Does not like dogs at all near his sticks/toys/treats, this is a big one.
Again resource guarding. But really, other dogs should not be near his toys and treats

- Was completely fine with my grandma but now starts growling and snapping?! This is one I am very confused about. Since a puppy we would visit my Grandma and she would come to our house but he has been very naughty recently :frown2:

We have bought him a muzzle now as we are afraid of what he could potentially do to another dog. I dedicated a lot of time bringing him up to be a great dog which he is but this is letting us down a lot recently any advice would be appreciated thanks.
He doesn't sound bad. Rule out medical needs first but most of what you are describing sounds like a normal dog.
To deal with public places you simply need to teach your dog to ignore what he doesn't like and focus on you. He sounds neither reactive nor aggressive.
As far as Grandma goes, that seems a bit odd but potentially something about her health, demeanor or movement may have changed. Either way it's unacceptable so if he cannot be taught to mind his manners he does not get to visit Grandma anymore.
 

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I'm new to GSDs but not to dog ownership. I do not agree with the idea that your dog should be kept apart and does not need to meet other dogs or be touched by other people. It would be more dangerous to isolate a reactive dog--which is what people tend to do, not knowing how to deal with it. I'm glad you do not intend to do that. Sure, your dog does not need to be everyone's best friend--but he already has that degree of aloofness bred into him, from what I have read. He should be able to greet other dogs safely and be touched by other people. For one thing, there are no guarantees in life and who is to say you and your family will always be with him or him with you? Second, unless you choose to take on the burden of always avoiding other people and dogs, you will find your life with him very isolating. That's not a lot of fun--if you cannot walk local streets or trails b/c he is too unfriendly, or maybe join a camping group or some other fun activity where he would be welcome IF he had been socialized to be calm and reliable.

Of course, no dog is truly 100% reliable, but most of us have dogs that give us no concern around others as a matter of course; we don't leave our good dogs alone with others, but can bring him to outdoor gatherings and let the dog be petted by others and enjoy our company while we are also socializing. It's not fun having to leave your dog behind most of the time.

I'm just starting the path of working with my dog- and human-reactive pup, so I'll check in to see how you are doing, too. Best of luck and hang in there. I've made some mistakes already but learn with each one and, fortunately, the pup hasn't been directly involved in most of them! I want to get good at this so I can help others.
Shadow went everywhere with me as a pup and lived with several other dogs. She had her own bed in our accountants desk drawer, she rode around in the patrol car, she had full run of the office and greeted employees coming in to get equipment, check schedules, hand in reports or bring me coffee. She met the arson investigator, several police officers, firemen aplenty and boatloads of contractors. She went to Walmart, Home Depot and Canadian Tire. She was often in the bodyshop or the supply shop with my husband. She is not fond of dogs or strangers. She is in fact highly reactive.
I am baffled by the idea that my dog is public property and should be accepting of strangers touching her. My rule is any part of you that touches me you don't get back. That applies to my dog as well. If some random person walked by and petted me they would be short a hand, not even kidding. I do not understand the thought process. Really. If it ain't yours don't touch it.
Shadow has done more travelling then many dogs, had some grand adventures and seen a vast chunk of the country. She did not need to be mauled to do so.
Aside from disease and filth, dogparks most often contain too much stupidity for my liking. She need not go there.
The bad press recently has solidified my general opinion of dog care facilities. She need not go there.
I don't often leave her behind and if I do it's because I am going somewhere she should not be.
As a breed they are not supposed to be social butterflies and it baffles me that people think they should be.
 

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I take a very similar approach with my dogs. Exposure is enough... they don’t need to be made to greet strangers or strange dogs. My dogs, even the reactive one, still go many places, see crowds, go to training and competitions, and see other dogs. It’s definitely not an isolated life just because they’re not being manhandled by everyone they meet. My reactive/fearful dog would easily be worse off if I forced him to accept pets from strangers. But since that’s not a thing we do, he’s able to walk through crowds and ignore people. He stays focused on me. He’s still getting exposure to the things he’s uncomfortable with, but we’re working below his threshold. With him, I politely tell people no. No, you may not pet my dog, we’re working. I don’t actually remember the last time someone asked if their dog could meet him, but the answer to that would be no as well. He socializes with a select few dogs that are stable and owned by friends of mine. That’s enough. My stable dogs greet people at competitions and training, but I still rarely let them meet random strangers because I see no point in allowing strangers to be more than scenery for them.
One of mine likes to meet people and be petted so sometimes when people ask and they seem nice I do let them pet her. I had a kid in line for ice cream grab her face and kiss her between the eyes. Which she was fine with. But I really really should have had a chat with that kid. My male dog would not have been fine with that at all. Most likely he would have ducked out but I'm not totally positive.

Most importantly for him is, he just doesn't want it. He loves pets and snuggles from "his" people but not strangers. So why should I force him to be petted if he does not want to be?

He competes in AKC obedience and has learned judges exams and this he has no problem with because it's super predictable and polite. He knows, I stand here and then they touch my head and my back and then we're done. He's totally fine with that. If the judge grabbed his head and tried to kiss him between the eyes? Not fine. And that's why I don't let people pet him

If learning the judge's exam was stressful or difficult for him I wouldn't have bothered. But he really doesn't mind this, and I wanted to compete at it, so I did teach it to him. I think for him it's the difference between a hug and a handshake. The AKC exams are like a handshake and that's fine. But hugs would be too personal for him. I can relate
 
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