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Hi all,

I'm at a crossroads and really need some advice from those more experienced with GSD's.

For those of you who don't know, my daughter and I brought Max home 4 months ago. He's a good dog, but I'm dealing with two issue right now.

First, Max has become very aggressive the past 2 weeks. He was eating some scraps out of his bowl over the weekend and my daughter walked about 3 feed behind him and he turned, growled and snapped at her. Two days ago, I put him in the kennel before I left for work and gave him a bone as a treat. I went to say goodbye to him before I walked out and he turned around and went crazy... growling, barking, biting the kennel walls. I'm 6'2, 220lbs and he scared me...

I have another post up, but I'll try to summarize here... I'm a single father, with a 4 year old daughter and our pup. I did a lot of research before bringing Max home as you can see by my previous posts :) But unfortunately, I haven't had the time do the training the way I would have liked. Max had free roam of the back yard and house (while I was with him) and he seems to think he leads the pack now. I've buckled down and gotten back on track with his training, which I'm sure caused some of the issue.

Max was socialized quite a bit, plays with the neighbors dogs, etc... but the past few weeks, when someone walks by the yard or a car goes by, he puts his hackles, starts barking and runs up to the fence and scares the person. Whenever someone walked by, he used to run up and want to play, especially little kids. The other day a couple were walking by with two little ones, maybe 2 and 4 and he went berserk... I've also noticed that if I gave him a bone out in the yard and walked by, he would start growling and eat quickly. He only eats raw and has always been left alone to eat. I typically feed him out in the back so he doesn't drag the raw meat around the kitchen.

Now since I started keeping him on lead, training him, etc... over the past 3 days, he seems to have improved. I hand feed him his meat and give him his bone outside on lead. This morning, after I hand fed him, I let him eat the tripe and some small meat so he would eat his vitamin and salmon oil. While he was eating, he had a 6' lead on... I picked up the 20' so I could take him out after he ate and defecate. I changed the leads on him while he was eating and he didn't mind at all... He was eating, tail wagging like a good pup. I didn't think about it until after I changed leads... That's the first time he hasn't growled when someone went near him eating in a month.

What bothers me, is that he seems to "snap"... he can go from a playful puppy to Cujo in 1 second. Again, I know a lot of it has to do with his training or lack of up to this point and I'm willing to do what I can to correct this. But I'm worried it may be something I can't correct... I took Max to the vet this morning for the 2nd issue I'll discuss shortly and he became aggressive, went after each of the other animals there and the vet had to muzzle him.

Now, on to the second issue. Max has been fighting a rash for 3 months now. I've been to two vets, 3 visits and I'm almost at a thousand dollars in vet bills at this point. 2 months ago, he had a bad rash all over his body and a hot spot on his face. Went to vet #1. They gave him anti-biotics, etc... which didn't make a difference at all. A month later, after no improvement and Max getting an ear infection from scratching the rash in his ear, we went to vet #2. They did a scrape, checked for fleas, put Max on an anti-biotic and antihistamine? In 3 days, the rash was gone! Well, 2 days ago, I notice that the rash is coming back and his ear was bleeding from him scratching it. So this morning I take him back to vet #2, they did another scrape at no charge, took blood for a thyroid level check and put him back on the anti-biotics and antihistamine. I really want to get rid of this problem and get Max healthy... The vet said it could be one of two things... 1. she said it looks like a reaction to flea bites. Max is on Springtime Garlic for ticks and not taking any flea medication. She keeps telling me he needs to and at this point, I'm willing to try anything... I saw one flea a couple of months ago on me, but never anything on Max. She said Max needs to be on flea preventative for 3 straight months to see if makes any difference. She said if the condition reappears/doesn't go away, the next step is to take him in for allergy testing. She stated that she's seen a lot of dogs with gene issues and it could be the issue. But she said that the would not test max for allergies until he was on flea and tick preventative...

So now I have two concerns... 1. can I correct the behavioral issues with Max... and 2, could he possibly have a gene/allergy issues which honestly, I can't afford right now. My financial situation took a turn for the worse and I don't have extra money... especially for special diets, medications, treatments, etc...

My daughter and I are both very attached to Max, he's part of the family. I spoke with the breeder about Max's aggression issues and she offered to take Max back and refund the money. That's the last thing I want to do... but I'm really concerned about these two issues, especially the safety of my daughter. I don't know if Max's aggression will get worse without proper training which I just can't afford now. Again, I'll do what I can myself, but I don't have the funds for a trainer. I was going to sign up and take him to the Shutzhund club, but with the vet bills, the extra money I had is gone.

And now, I still don't know what's wrong with Max and what's causing his rashes... the scrapes showed nothing, the anti-biotics will make it go away I'm assuming like last time, but until the problem is found and treated properly, I'm assuming it will be back in a month or so...

This is so frustrating all the way around... any and all advice will be greatly appreciated! I'm sorry for the novel, but I really do need advice and help here and wanted to mention as much as I could think of. I'm sure there are things I left out and I'll be happy to answer any questions you guys/gals have.

Thank you so much!

Alex
 

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Sounds like you'd be more comfortable giving the dog back to the breeder and, given the personality and apparent allergy issues (in combination with your financial circumstance), that may be best for the dog. Resource guarding is a leadership issue that will require stronger and more informed correction over time to fix, and your child is too young to participate (except as victim). Flea allergy is sometimes diagnosed when food or environmental allergies are to blame, and your vet's already got his/her fail-safe in place with "gene issues." There may be thousands of dollars out the door down this road, with no fix.

Best of luck to you and the dog.
 

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I was a single custodial dad of three and it's not easy.

It sounds to me like this is not the right time for you to have a dog like this.
You have a full plate now and I don't see where you will get the time to work with a dog like this.

If you want a dog I would suggest a more mellow breed until your daughter is older.

Lots of GSDs are great with kids but not all. I wouldn't chance injury to my daughter with this one.

This dog could thrive in another situation.

Best wishes for all concerned.
 

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In think this dog would do well in a working home once the health issues were fixed. Don't feel guilty. He sounds like a handful. And a dog you will constantly have to be one step ahead, with.


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I agree with Trotter & Jack's Dad. Especially with a 4 year old and Max's mood changes. Your little girl only has one face! We had a 4 year old that was bit it the face from an UN-provoked situation......devastating!
Puppies need your hands and other family members hands in and on their food with every feeding from the day you bring them home....no matter the breed. You also need to play a give and take game with a fresh meaty bone.
It is wonderful that this breeder is responsible and willing to take the dog back.
This is heartbreaking for you and your little girl. I am so sorry.
 

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Between the behavioral issues, vet issues, and money issues, it sounds like this situation is turning into a big bucket of stress you don't need and are not in a position to deal with easily.

Count me in as a vote for "return the dog." And don't feel guilty about it. The breeder is probably in a better position to address the dog's needs. It may well be the best thing for everyone here.
 

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Kudos to you, Alex, for considering this option and kudos to your breeder for offering to take him back. Disregarding the skin issues, it sounds like Max is a little too much dog for you at this point in your lives? It sounds like you chose him because of his strong, working lines and as such, he needs a clear, confident and involved leader. From what you've said, it seems like he's sort of gone to seed (or to genes, as the case may be) and is now making decisions for himself, including assuming the leadership role in your home and yard.

Perhaps Max would be happier in a working home and you and your daughter might consider an adult, kid-proven rescue when you're ready to welcome another dog into your lives?
 

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Not the right dog for your situation - too much given what is on your plate. Give the dog back and get your refund.

Not every GSD is right for every home. As much as you much like a certain type of dog, it is sometimes more prudent to ask for what you can handle and a happy medium rather than one you cannot manage given your situation.
 

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i also vote to give him back. having an unpredictable dog in the house isnt worth it. he doesnt sound like a good fit as he is unsure and reactive. definitely a dog better suited for someone with experience and a lot of time to fix his issues. did you get him from a reputable breeder? his temperment doesnt sound all that great.

im not very tough on my dog. he has free run of the house and when i feed him (raw) i just give it to him and he gets to eat it anywhere he wants. he isnt aggressive or reactive. he is fearless and confident. training is important but so is getting a dog with a good temperment to begin with.
 

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I vote send him back. I always regret being talked out of sending back one of my puppies. Of course that is the dog that will probably outlive them all.

For future reference, I wonder if he's allergic to the garlic?
 

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I wonder if feeling uncomfortable with the skin rash is related to his behavior, maybe I'd be grouchy if my skin was itchy or inflamed all the time. Is he on meds like prednisone? That can make him aggressive. Antihistamine changes my mood, so meds can affect behavior.

Our cat is allergic to fleas. The topicals do not work for her. She only responds to Comfortis. I'd ask the vet for Trifexis or Comfortis. Trifexis has meds for heartworm in it, Comfortis is just for fleas. From you previous post it sounds like your dog was responding to you better. Your vet is right about keeping your dog on flea meds for three months straight.

So no, I vote not to give him back until you try some effective flea medications and see if this helps.
 

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I agree with Trotter & Jack's Dad. Especially with a 4 year old and Max's mood changes. Your little girl only has one face! We had a 4 year old that was bit it the face from an UN-provoked situation......devastating!
Puppies need your hands and other family members hands in and on their food with every feeding from the day you bring them home....no matter the breed. You also need to play a give and take game with a fresh meaty bone.
It is wonderful that this breeder is responsible and willing to take the dog back.
This is heartbreaking for you and your little girl. I am so sorry.
Great advice all around to OP. Except for this...this is not how you should go about "training" a dog to not resource guard. The best way to do that is to, everytime you walk to the dog while eating, trade with a higher value treat....so when you approach any time, it think's it's going to get an even better treat than what it has. If you train a resource-guarding dog like stated by Momto2, you can create even worse guarding because the dog assumes every time you come you are going to mess with, or take away his food. Just an fyi :)
 

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I wonder if feeling uncomfortable with the skin rash is related to his behavior, maybe I'd be grouchy if my skin was itchy or inflamed all the time. Is he on meds like prednisone? That can make him aggressive. Antihistamine changes my mood, so meds can affect behavior.

Our cat is allergic to fleas. The topicals do not work for her. She only responds to Comfortis. I'd ask the vet for Trifexis or Comfortis. Trifexis has meds for heartworm in it, Comfortis is just for fleas. From you previous post it sounds like your dog was responding to you better. Your vet is right about keeping your dog on flea meds for three months straight.

So no, I vote not to give him back until you try some effective flea medications and see if this helps.
I would also want to try this if I was OP.
 

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Alex, I'm heartbroken with what you are going through. I know how much time and research you put in before getting Max, so I know you don't do things lightly.
You have to do what's right for you and your daughter. I wish you luck with whatever you decide!
 

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i use to place my hand in my dog's bowl all of the time. my
GF did it, my children did it, my neighbors did it. anybody
can place their hand in my dog's food or water bowl. i included
trading up for food when i placed my hand in his bowl.


I agree with Trotter & Jack's Dad. Especially with a 4 year old and Max's mood changes. Your little girl only has one face! We had a 4 year old that was bit it the face from an UN-provoked situation......devastating!

>>>>> Puppies need your hands and other family members hands in and on their food with every feeding from the day you bring them home....no matter the breed. You also need to play a give and take game with a fresh meaty bone.<<<<<

It is wonderful that this breeder is responsible and willing to take the dog back.
This is heartbreaking for you and your little girl. I am so sorry.
Great advice all around to OP. Except for this...

>>>>> this is not how you should go about "training" a dog to not resource guard. The best way to do that is to, everytime you walk to the dog while eating, trade with a higher value treat....<<<<<

so when you approach any time, it think's it's going to get an even better treat than what it has. If you train a resource-guarding dog like stated by Momto2, you can create even worse guarding because the dog assumes every time you come you are going to mess with, or take away his food. Just an fyi :)
 

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give the dog back to the breeder. except the refund. save the refund plus
save some more money. wait untill you're in a good position to have a dog
so you can spend the necessary time to train and socialize and have the money
for a trainer. while you're waiting for the right time to get a dog research the breed,
learn how to train and socialize, stay on the forum. good luck.
 

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I agree with everyone else that it is in the best interest of your family to return the dog.

Puppies need your hands and other family members hands in and on their food with every feeding from the day you bring them home....no matter the breed. You also need to play a give and take game with a fresh meaty bone.
For others, the above is not true. Dogs that this approach works on likely would have been fine without. In some dogs, doing things like constantly messing with their food and toys will actually cause them to guard.

Teaching the dog that you always provide good things, to drop on command and that you reward for giving up high value items willingly is the better approach. I would not recommend having everyone and their neighbor stick their hands in your dog's face when they are eating or enjoying high value items.
 

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I agree with Andy. Health issue aside he may not be a bad dog at all, just a bad fit. Glad the breeder is willing to work with you.
 

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If max has an allergy to fleas (my 9y/o shepherd x does) he'll be itchy and grouchy. Especially if the infection/rash is in his ears. It itched right down in the canal and is very sore, could you imagine having that pain/itch untreated all day?

The allergy is expensive to treat, with oral medications, topical creams, and frontline to keep the fleas away!

The decision you are making is a hard one, but at the end of the day, your daughters health should be paramount! She's small, and has no control over Max, if his training has gone downhill, then you may be able to reassert yourself, but your daughter can't.

The breeder is willing to take Max back, that should put your mind at ease! :) at least then you know she will place him somewhere great for him!

I vote to give him back. For your families sake, and Max's! You don't want him labeled as a dangerous dog if he ends up biting someone either!


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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks everyone for your replies. Honestly, I don't know what to do at this point. Max is a part of the family and it's hard to just "give up" on him.

I've been reading the replies and it's heart breaking... I really need to sleep on it and I'll update tomorrow. Right now, I'm trying to get a couple of people to look at him and give an opinion... I really don't think he's a bad dog at all. But the chance of him snapping is what bothers me.

I'm hoping to hear back from the local Shutzhund club and if possible, take him down in the morning.

Thanks all, I really appreciate it. I guess I was hoping the replies would have favored keeping Max and working with him.

Alex
 
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