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Hi All,

So our 8 mo. old puppy "Kida" is starting to be aggressive against other people and certain dogs. For dogs, if they're bigger than her, she'll get extremely defensive. Then after some time she'll either be fine with them or continue to be defensive. I'm guessing this isn't too big of an issue. However her behavior towards people is concerning. We tried to bring her to a town near us that a lot of people go to as a tourist trap. It's a nice little town on the river and plenty of people bring their dogs and walk around. Well, as soon as we got out of the car, two little girls wanted to pet Kida, and of course we said yes. So they approached and reached out and Kida started to growl. It was a low growl; she didn't bite or bare her teeth, she didn't bark either. Just a low group and backed closer to me. I scolded her and told her No, and she continued to growl. Throughout the day, Kida would walk up behind people and sniff them, but if they tried to pet her she'd run away and if they followed she'd growl. However, towards the end of the day random people would come up and Kida would let them pet her without her growling or being defensive.

So, We've taken her to dog parks where she hasn't had the best of experiences. We've made she she's been in constant contact with plenty of people (difference sexes, races, ages, etc.) since we got her at 8 weeks. We've been stern with her behavior and she doesn't bite us anymore unless she's playing. She listens pretty well (though she can get distracted, go figure). I should also note that she was 1 of 12 and the people had 2 litters. So 24 pups outside of their garage in a medium sized cage in late October, Minnesota (so cold). When we picked Kida up she was 1/3 the size of her siblings and would desperately eat any leaf or twig she could find and consume water as fast as she could. We don't know for sure, but because she was 8 pounds and skin and bones we're guessing she was extremely malnourished. Since then, she's healthy and after some Vet appts. she been on the rebound. We've made sure she's not aggressive about food and humans (water too). I can reach into her bowl while she's eating and take some food out and feed her and she's perfectly fine with it.

o my questions are these: Is this something I should be worried about, or is it just her being young and taking a while to get used to people before warming up and being social? If it is something I should be worried about, what's the best course of action? Lastly, What's the best method to stop her from growling at people when they want to pet her, without making her behavior get worse?

Thanks!
 

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Yes, be concerned.

Her growling - stop correcting her for growling. You want that communication from her. You want to know when she is uncomfortable/scared.

What to do - find a trainer ASAP. Not Petsmart, not purely positive. Look for an extremely experienced balanced trainer/behaviroist that knows GSD and working dogs.

Stop the dog parks. She doesn't need to play with other dogs and with bad experiences that will only increase the dog aggression.

People do not need to pet her. If someone asks to pet her, answer no she is in training, ask them to ignore her. Be firm if needed and don't be afraid to walk the other way if someone wants to ignore you saying 'aww dogs love me'.

Condition her to a muzzle. Her growls are warnings - the next step is a bite. Prevent the bite. Dog Muzzles 101: Tips for Muzzling Your Dog - plus tons of videos on muzzle conditioning.


Priority is finding the trainer. Take your time, be patient before selecting a trainer. Not all trainers are cut out for behavior modification.
 

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Sounds like she has some nerves issues. I don't agree that you shouldn't correct her when she is growling at people who are not threatening her. You determine when she displays aggression, not her. The exception is if you are attacked. But this dog doesn't sound like she has the temperament for PP.
 

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GSDs generally are not social with strangers or most people outside of their immediate'pack'.Observing the world from a distance she's comfortable with and not allowing people to touch her or crowd her is the best thing for her.Take away the reason for her anxiety and she won't feel she has to defend herself.
Flooding her with attention and petting will make her more anxious and uncomfortable.
 

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Showing that behavior at 8 months is nerves. It is in her and it won't change, however you can learn to manage it. It is imperative that you stop unwanted interaction (her growls indicate unwanted) and get a breed savvy trainer asap. I would recommend contacting your most local IPO club and ask for their guidance.

My dog was suspicious and forward defensive at 8 months old. Heck, at 7 months old. He did not cower or try to get away, he went forward and let out huge booming barks and would chase had he been allowed. What can appear as early confidence and bravery at that age is the EXACT opposite, it is a common misconception by novices that "his protection instincts are kicking in early". I was one of those people. Nope. It means he feels inappropriately threatened and is subsequently inappropriately reactive, It is actually based in a lack of confidence and bravery. It is hard to hear "it's nerves" but owning and getting educated on how to make your dog the best he can be is the only course of action that will get you a positive outcome here.

As for my dog, for example, doing IPO training and having sessions with a trainer that knows his lines has absolutely turned us around. The confidence he has gained from structured OB and especially bite work has upped his confidence. At 11 months old he is aloof but not on the offense anymore. As he ages I have to keep on the path. He is going to be a wonderful casual IPO and family protector. Had I not jumped on it, he would be a dog that would not be leaving the house too often I suspect.

Relationship games are key too. Bonding and building trust. Tug, doing A frames ...if she trusts you, and succeeds at training, her confidence will improve. Getting her focus, being the most fun thing in her life, the most trusted thing in her life, will enable you to navigate her through situations she is uncomfortable with. Learn the focused heel, watch me command, make it fun. Make it a priority, it can save you from a sticky situation.

Also work on YOUR defense. She clearly does not want attention and pets from strangers. So do not allow it. She does not exist in this world to entertain people you encounter on walks. Be prepared to tell people in a calm but firm voice please ignore her, we are training. Be prepared to walk away when they do not listen.

First step though...contact that club or trainer. Breed knowledgeable. In the meantime do not push her out of her comfort zone. Good luck and keep us posted!
 

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Hi All,

So our 8 mo. old puppy "Kida" is starting to be aggressive against other people and certain dogs. For dogs, if they're bigger than her, she'll get extremely defensive. Then after some time she'll either be fine with them or continue to be defensive. I'm guessing this isn't too big of an issue. However her behavior towards people is concerning. We tried to bring her to a town near us that a lot of people go to as a tourist trap. It's a nice little town on the river and plenty of people bring their dogs and walk around. Well, as soon as we got out of the car, two little girls wanted to pet Kida, and of course we said yes. So they approached and reached out and Kida started to growl. It was a low growl; she didn't bite or bare her teeth, she didn't bark either. Just a low group and backed closer to me. I scolded her and told her No, and she continued to growl. Throughout the day, Kida would walk up behind people and sniff them, but if they tried to pet her she'd run away and if they followed she'd growl. However, towards the end of the day random people would come up and Kida would let them pet her without her growling or being defensive.

So, We've taken her to dog parks where she hasn't had the best of experiences. We've made she she's been in constant contact with plenty of people (difference sexes, races, ages, etc.) since we got her at 8 weeks. We've been stern with her behavior and she doesn't bite us anymore unless she's playing. She listens pretty well (though she can get distracted, go figure). I should also note that she was 1 of 12 and the people had 2 litters. So 24 pups outside of their garage in a medium sized cage in late October, Minnesota (so cold). When we picked Kida up she was 1/3 the size of her siblings and would desperately eat any leaf or twig she could find and consume water as fast as she could. We don't know for sure, but because she was 8 pounds and skin and bones we're guessing she was extremely malnourished. Since then, she's healthy and after some Vet appts. she been on the rebound. We've made sure she's not aggressive about food and humans (water too). I can reach into her bowl while she's eating and take some food out and feed her and she's perfectly fine with it.

o my questions are these: Is this something I should be worried about, or is it just her being young and taking a while to get used to people before warming up and being social? If it is something I should be worried about, what's the best course of action? Lastly, What's the best method to stop her from growling at people when they want to pet her, without making her behavior get worse?

Thanks!
For me I wouldn't hang an "aggressive" tag on this dog...she's young.. still developing behaviors and learning everyday....in this case she's fresh out of the car.. in a new and foreign place to her and two strangers approach her....likely talking goofy and arms out stretched....it doesn't matter to her they're kids--to her they're strangers walking towards her and her people.....she's a GSD not a Golden. For you as her owner.....don't...don't allow strangers to approach and pet her.....get her out of the car on a leash and start walking around.....don't allow people to touch/pet her until she's more relaxed/comfortable and "ready"... no one can "read" when that time is in your dog.... better than you.


The more often you can put her in situations like this and she has a good experience ....the better she'll be as an adult around groups/crowds of strangers....letting people put hands on her when she's not ready is not good for her developing into a stable adult...when it comes to strangers....contact should come on your dogs terms....NOT a strangers terms.......The proof of what she really is AND can be ....is in her good behavior by the end of the day.


I'd like to say... you did a great job telling the story with out a lot of "blank" spots which lead to members having questions:thumbup: and a great job raising this youngster so far.....with a little bit of "tweaking"....IMO in the future you've got a great adult dog :thumbup:---one that many newbies and members here would be lucky to have....based on your post I know I sure would !
 

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... Is this something I should be worried about, or is it just her being young and taking a while to get used to people before warming up and being social?
German Shepherds are supposed to be aloof, not social. I would expect this behavior to increase as she matures. I would not try to change who she is but change your expectations of this breed.

I would correct the growling but I also would stop people from approaching her. She does not like it or want it. She is not, by nature, a social butterfly despite your nurture. Teach her to ignore people. I would work on putting strong obedience on this dog.
 

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people need to stop supporting these puppy farmers .

years ago when you had pet shops that would sell puppies and kittens as they would canaries and budgies , litters like this may have been in better (saleable) condition and sold as job lots to these stores.

the pet shops would have cleaned them up and put them in display pens -- AKC ! CKC ! registered - bah ias if that means something .
Then they would slap on some exorbitant price , double that of breeders that were diligent in choosing best possible breeding pairs , socialized the pups, screened buyers carefully, gave honest guarantees, and made themselves available to be an interested extended support as much or as little as the new owner wanted.

People would be entertained, and in the energy of the moment being with friends would whip out their credit card and buy "a dog" . Impulse.

I am so glad that legislation was passed which prohibits sale of pups in this manner.

Two litters with 12 pups each ??? I bet you anyting that this was more than 1 litters . May have been a collection
of similar aged pups thrown together - maybe 3 or even 4 litters.
DNA would have been nice .

Go back and visit these people -- see what they have available now . Might be deja vu , nothing changed .

Your dog at 8 months is not a pup --- think of her as a Dog - a young dog.

You took a sketchy ill dog and brought some semblance of health to her . That is a good thing.

You had a pup that had no positive social experience - barely enough care and feed to keep body and soul together .
You wanted to to the best that you could , and that is good.
But you took a dog with next to nothing to a flood of experinece , marinating her in commonly held thoughts on how to socialize
" We've taken her to dog parks where she hasn't had the best of experiences. We've made she she's been in constant contact with plenty of people (difference sexes, races, ages, etc.) since we got her at 8 weeks."

When the dog was showing that she was at her tolearnce level , she gets a stern correction.

go to this thread http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/general-puppy-stuff/400690-rethinking-popular-early-socialization.html

the dog should not be biting you . Period . Not even in play.

quote " as soon as we got out of the car, two little girls wanted to pet Kida, and of course we said yes."

of course? more like why in the world would you set up for a failed social experience.

The dog had not adapted to the new surroundings. You were boxed in , backed up by the car - no place
to go to in avoidance.
Dhildren do not have to go see the "nice doggy" - . The parents are exposing them to a potential problem.
They don't know the dog .
Dogs are not community property . You don't owe anyone the chance to get familiar with your dog .

" So they approached and reached out and Kida started to growl."

Liability . I assume some guardian of the children asked if they could "see the puppy"
The assumption is because you said okay.

But your dog is not okay . By you giving permission you are responsible for anything that follows.
So the girls approach -- eye contact -- arms out . and your dog clearly shows that it is not comfortble.

"It was a low growl;" right here and before , if you had been watching your dog's physical cues , stffening,
yawning , looking around , -- but a growl - right there you and the parents should have taken themselves out of this situation .
You could have said something like - I guess not "puppy" must be upset from the car ride , or puppy is in a bit of a mood --- the parents should have said - "puppy doesn't want to see you today - let's go , maybe another time"

continue quote " she didn't bite or bare her teeth, she didn't bark either. Just a low group and backed closer to me.'

the dog was trying to avoid the contact . Best possible break for you as the dog could have easily gone forward with a pre emptive strike out at the kids. Fear - fight or flight options. Luckily for you , the dog chooses flight .
But you had the car behind you so the flight was restricted.

" I scolded her and told her No, and she continued to growl"

and at this point for a scold - which would add to her anxiety . This could have ended with an accidental
defensive bite to you out of panic.

No dog parks - especially since the experiences have not been positive for her.

She does not need to meet outher dogs. She does not need to be up close and familiar with people.

Her breeding probably has no rhyme nor reason . Not tested for clarity and stability. Not given important
first social contacts which begin at just over the 4 week mark and reach important milestones at 7 to 8 weeks of age .The nerves are not good . This is a shy dog who wants to avoid .

So what to do?

Pack your dog into your vehicle . Use a crate so that you don't have passers by stimulate her.

Go by yourself . Give 100% plus attention and focus to the dog. No cell phone , no friend to chat with,
no ear buds to distract you .
You bring dog out on a good , properly fitting collar and a good 6 foot leash . And , you walk , with confidence,
brisk pace . And you negotiate a route where there may be people which you will give wide berth to and continue
to walk and praise each time the dog has focus on YOU and you pass a person . Good dog.
If dog shows hesitation , you tell the dog let's go and keep walking . No social pressure.

Short bursts . Do this for 5 minutes -- remove yourself from that environment - find a place to sit -- no pedestrian traffic -- or make a loop so that your entire first walk is only 5 minutes and put the dog back into the car , in the crate , and you go away . Just out of sight. Give the dog 10 minutes to settle , think about what just happened .

Then you go and collect the dog -- without a big emotional reunion - try to keep the emotion out as theis dog is already emotionally sensitive.
Repeat a brisk confident walk - not stopping for people -- just keep on going . If "good" go a little longer.

Repeat.

Now you may want to drive a short distance , and start all over .
You do this -- short excursions which the dog can handle with an assurance of safety - the home base .
Home base will be phased out .
 

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Your dog has to know you have her back. She doesn't. You need to find a good balance trainer and stop forcing her into situations where she feels like she needs to defend herself.
Not a fan of correcting growling. She needs to learn that if she tells you she is uncomfortable you will understand.
I taught Shadow touch. So when she is scared or uncomfortable she nudges my hand. If she has to resort to growling I screwed up!
 

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Hi,
We went through the same thing with our 5 year old rescue shepsky.
We had a few incidents where he growled at strangers that tried to pet him on the head .. that low warning growl.
( At first I was letting them approach, because my childhood dog LOVED attention and adored all people, and I thought all dogs were like that. )
But I realize the shepherd breed just tends to be more suspicious of strangers...

For peace of mind, I've adopted a "No Pet" policy with strangers.
(yes, it breaks my heart with animal-loving kids...one girl told me solemnly that she wants a dog just like him when she grows up!)

When people ask to pet, I usually say, "Sorry, but he's not good with strangers."

Rumo does like to sniff people, but since this usually leads to them reaching out to pet him on the head, I also keep him from sniffing them.
 

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German Shepherds are supposed to be aloof, not social. I would expect this behavior to increase as she matures. I would not try to change who she is but change your expectations of this breed.

I think it is a misconception that a social German Shepherd is a temperament fault or that social GSDs won't fight a person in a real situation. I would rather have an open, social puppy than an aloof, reactive one. You can teach some aloofness with a social puppy after they have been confident and social by teaching them to focus more on you and stopping let strangers pet the dog. The puppy we are talking about is not social and clearly has nerve issues. With maturity and bite work, a social dog will learn that everyone is not their friend and will have bonded with his handler if raised correctly.
 

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I think it is a misconception that a social German Shepherd is a temperament fault or that social GSDs won't fight a person in a real situation. I would rather have an open, social puppy than an aloof, reactive one. You can teach some aloofness with a social puppy after they have been confident and social by teaching them to focus more on you and stopping let strangers pet the dog. The puppy we are talking about is not social and clearly has nerve issues. With maturity and bite work, a social dog will learn that everyone is not their friend and will have bonded with his handler if raised correctly.
There is no misconception that the breed standard calls for aloof. That would make a GSD that is overtly friendly to a stranger a fault. Aloof is supposed to be a genetic trait, that is why it is mentioned in the breed standard. It should not be a trained trait as trained traits do not pass on to a dog's progeny

"Aloof" is a trait why many people choose to own this breed, not caring for the social traits of Golden Retrievers, and should not be diminished or ignored in breeding programs. After all, the standard also calls for the natural ability to protect and guard, also genetic traits, not something that should have to be taught in this breed.
 

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I think it is a misconception that a social German Shepherd is a temperament fault or that social GSDs won't fight a person in a real situation. I would rather have an open, social puppy than an aloof, reactive one. You can teach some aloofness with a social puppy after they have been confident and social by teaching them to focus more on you and stopping let strangers pet the dog. The puppy we are talking about is not social and clearly has nerve issues. With maturity and bite work, a social dog will learn that everyone is not their friend and will have bonded with his handler if raised correctly.
No, it’s not a misconception, it is breed standard. A social puppy is not unusual, but they usually become more aloof as they mature. Mine was very social as a puppy and would go with anyone. Now, if I let someone else work with him or walk him, he clearly prefers to be with me. Once he was the demo dog for an offleash exercise in class. He has known the trainer since he was a puppy. The trainer called him to a heel from a distance, my dog hesitated, and then ran over and heeled next to me instead of the trainer. Someone commented that my dog made a mistake, but to me, it was not a mistake. He prefers to work with me.

Aloof means just that, distant. It does not mean reactive. The two terms and behaviors are different.
 

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Your dog has to know you have her back. She doesn't. You need to find a good balance trainer and stop forcing her into situations where she feels like she needs to defend herself.
Not a fan of correcting growling. She needs to learn that if she tells you she is uncomfortable you will understand.
I taught Shadow touch. So when she is scared or uncomfortable she nudges my hand. If she has to resort to growling I screwed up!
Can you explain how you get your dog to know you have it's back?
 

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Can you explain how you get your dog to know you have it's back?
Time.

It's about the relationship, the bonding, and the trust that comes with it. Sounds like maybe you dropped the ball somewhere along the way. Giving the dog a job--training, games, usefulness, utility. Becoming a team. That's how you bond. A lot of people see their dogs as a fun buddy to take for walks, but this not that kind of dog. It's about learning body language, yours and the dog's. Your body language communicates more than your mouth. Trust building means putting yourself confidently between the things the dog fears and the things you shouldn't. Have fun together...but calm, confident, pack leader behaviors are also a must. If your dog doesn't want to socialize, accept that and give it time. The relationship you're after is not a trick you can learn, or simple, it's a whole package.

And yes, get a good trainer to help you with this. You specifically. The dog will follow.
 

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There is no misconception that the breed standard calls for aloof. That would make a GSD that is overtly friendly to a stranger a fault. Aloof is supposed to be a genetic trait, that is why it is mentioned in the breed standard. It should not be a trained trait as trained traits do not pass on to a dog's progeny

"Aloof" is a trait why many people choose to own this breed, not caring for the social traits of Golden Retrievers, and should not be diminished or ignored in breeding programs. After all, the standard also calls for the natural ability to protect and guard, also genetic traits, not something that should have to be taught in this breed.
I said the misconception is that an open, social dog is considered by some a temperament fault, not that the breed standard doesn't say the GSD should be aloof. Just because a GSD is social doesn't mean he is going to be a Golden Retriever when it comes to protective instincts. I see way too many nerve issues in the breed. If aloofness is genetic, is it a trait that develops with maturity, or should puppies be aloof? Are most aloof puppies confident? Should GSDs be aloof with children? Mistrust/natural suspicion is a genetic trait that some value and it has its place depending on the use of the dog. I have come to value confidence and openness in GSDs, but also the genetics for a GSD to fight a person for real. If those genetics are there, do they have to be trained, and if so, will they be passed on to the dog's progeny if he is bred? There are many possible combinations of traits that make up an individual GSD's temperament. I prefer to see pups that are not aloof or reactive. For me, it is more complicated than to say the standard calls for the breed to be aloof. Some of the best dogs out there are not aloof at all, and they will bite for real and are super confident.
 

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No, it’s not a misconception, it is breed standard. A social puppy is not unusual, but they usually become more aloof as they mature. Mine was very social as a puppy and would go with anyone. Now, if I let someone else work with him or walk him, he clearly prefers to be with me. Once he was the demo dog for an offleash exercise in class. He has known the trainer since he was a puppy. The trainer called him to a heel from a distance, my dog hesitated, and then ran over and heeled next to me instead of the trainer. Someone commented that my dog made a mistake, but to me, it was not a mistake. He prefers to work with me.

Aloof means just that, distant. It does not mean reactive. The two terms and behaviors are different.

I agree the two terms/traits are different. My point is that often, when you see young pups that people call aloof, you are seeing insecurity and it is often paired with reactivity. It is not black and white though.
 

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I think it is a misconception that a social German Shepherd is a temperament fault or that social GSDs won't fight a person in a real situation. I would rather have an open, social puppy than an aloof, reactive one. You can teach some aloofness with a social puppy after they have been confident and social by teaching them to focus more on you and stopping let strangers pet the dog. The puppy we are talking about is not social and clearly has nerve issues. With maturity and bite work, a social dog will learn that everyone is not their friend and will have bonded with his handler if raised correctly.
I think it is a misconception that an aloof puppy has nerve issues....lol, I have seen aloof GS that have nerve issues, just as I have seen social GS with golden retriever temperament that is absolutely faulty, imo,.......but more times than not an 8 month puppy is going to do a lot of maturing in many different areas including interactions with folks outside their pack and animals. Most owners really don’t know what they are looking at at 8 months, in terms of genetic vs nurture.
Look, if I described my current 12 months pup’s behavior at 4,6,8 months anonymously, there are many here who would have said he had nerve issues. The dog is rock solid in nerves, but was very aloof as pup, especially on LEASH; when most people assess their pups’s interactions with other dogs and people.
This pup could have nerve issues, but I haven’t been given enough information to make that assessment, and I don’t allow my likes( in terms of what I look at) cloud my assessments. Hey but that’s my shortcoming......
 

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Time.

It's about the relationship, the bonding, and the trust that comes with it. Sounds like maybe you dropped the ball somewhere along the way. Giving the dog a job--training, games, usefulness, utility. Becoming a team. That's how you bond. A lot of people see their dogs as a fun buddy to take for walks, but this not that kind of dog. It's about learning body language, yours and the dog's. Your body language communicates more than your mouth. Trust building means putting yourself confidently between the things the dog fears and the things you shouldn't. Have fun together...but calm, confident, pack leader behaviors are also a must. If your dog doesn't want to socialize, accept that and give it time. The relationship you're after is not a trick you can learn, or simple, it's a whole package.

And yes, get a good trainer to help you with this. You specifically. The dog will follow.
That's fine and dandy, but would a civil dog know you have it's back? Would working a dog in defense be having it's back? Would a pp dog feel the same?
 
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