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Hi there

Just come across this forum - wish I had done earlier it has loads of great info and opinions on it!

Our GS is 3 1/2 years old - has always been aggressive with strangers and lunges at tractors and people when being walked - we do have a large area where nobody ever goes where he can be walked no problem. He has never shown any aggression to any of the family so I have had no problem managing it.

We have 4 kids (aged 9-15) - a few weeks ago he snapped at my eldest and caused a mark but no puncturing of the skin.

After discussing with missus we decided to give him another chance but if we are not there he has to stay in crate

On Sunday (missus gone away for weekend) I was in the toilet and he snapped at one of the boys which caused blood to be drawn. It resulted in a trip to hospital but has not needed stitches.

We are all distraught - other than this you could not ask for a more loyal and loveable family pet.

The other half wants him putting to sleep as he could never be rehomed. She does not want to take any chance that one of the kids could be injured properly by him.

I want the chance to get a dog behaviour professional to see if he can help him and there is a recommended one near us who looks good on his website but the missus is not buying into it.

I have established that both times he went for the kids they were touching him and he has always been anxious - I am sure there will be no problem if I am in the room and the kids are told not to touch him at all unless I am there although since Sunday he has not been left for a moment with the kids without me being in the room - no problems with him at all!

We are visiting the vets with him tomorrow to get their opinion - he isn't going to make a good impression as he hates going to the vets with a passion and acts like a loopy dog so he isn't going to make a good impression.

Would you try and argue the case for the behavioural expert to try him or has he had his chance and overstepped the mark and is it time to let him go - I don't want to lose him but can see where she is coming from with regard the kids!
 

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Speaking from experience a number of years ago, perhaps a different perspective that a breeder gave me would help. What is his quality of life if he is so anxious that he cannot allow some of the humans he lives with to touch him? What does he feel 24 hours a day if he is so fearful that a touch from someone within his own household causes him to launch into a defensive attack? There are degrees of genetically weak nerves, and behavior modification can help control behavior in mild to moderate cases, but not the underlying genetic problem. With more severe cases, you are dealing with a dog that would require absolutely error free management. There are very few mortals who could guarantee that approach to living with such a dog--you have discovered that already.
I wish you the best. Both you and your dog arrived here through no fault and life has brought you one of its very difficult decisions.
 

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Oh boy, I'm a Mom and this is scary.
I can see why your other half feels this way.

I would think some of it depends on provocation/situation,
i.e. if your kid was stroking him gently vs grabbing playfully at him...

Thankfully your kids are older - at that age it's possible they can be taught to avoid the dog's Triggers... if they are predictable triggers.

But if his behavior is unpredictable and doesn't seem to have any reason (like, he is just in a cranky mood that day) then I would be scared to live with that dog. The other depressing thing is that your family may have become afraid of the dog and nobody wants to have him around, and that's not a good life for anybody.

But if the choice was between putting my dog to sleep, or giving him a chance to live ...
I'd vote to at least see what the behavioral expert has to say.
 

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I guess my thoughts are how do the kids feel?

If you are going to try and keep him I would definitely get him used to a muzzle. These sound like warning bites. and although a basket muzzle hurts when it hits you, you remove the possibility of anything more serious.

Get a good trainer or behaviorist and go from there if the family is all on board. Have a vet check for any blood abnormalities or pain, and as was mentioned consider the dogs quality of life. Also check his eyes.

On a personal note, kids are my line in the sand. They are supposed to be companion animals. A dog willing to bite a child, particularly a child they have lived with all their lives, has no place. If this were my dog, baring extenuating circumstances, the deed would already be done.

I wish you and your family peace . It sounds like you will do what is best. Please keep us updated and stick around. Lots of info and resources here, no matter what your decision.
 

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OP....nice lengthy description....except for this small detail....Exactly how were your kids touching the dog??---Just petting him?---Did YOU witness this innocent "touching" by your kids ??---Or is this just "touching" your kids version of what happened ?? Has the dog always gotten along great with your kids until recently ?
 

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Pets should not bite children. That is a given. But is there any chance they were teasing or mistreating him? Has he given warnings before that were ignored? Dogs protect themselves. They don’t start out biting, it escalates from something else.
 

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I would have the vet run a full thyroid panel, as well as doing xrays on his hips and spine. Make sure there isn’t a medical reason or pain issue that could be causing this, if only to put your mind at ease. Is he intact? If he is, I would have him neutered and see if that helps. I know that will not be a popular opinion, and neutering is typically not what I would jump to suggesting, either. But I have a fearful, weak nerved dog who became handler aggressive at 3 years old and neutering helped. It’s not magic, and it’s not a suggestion that will help if training and management are also not in place.

Barring something medical or hormonal being a cause, I can see why your wife does not want to risk keeping the dog. And I cannot say I blame her. I would keep the dog completely separated from the kids for now. No access, period. I agree with muzzle training him. Also, if he is allowed on furniture, that would end now if he were my dog. I would try NILIF (nothing in life is free). He works for his resources from now on. He sits and waits before being released to eat. He sits and waits before being released to go outdoors. He does obedience before any affection or rewards are given to him. Is he getting enough exercise and mental stimulation every day? If you are going to keep him, I would get a good trainer in... one who really understands GSDs and aggressive dogs, in general. This dog will always require a lot of management. I’m sorry this happened.
 

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More info is needed:
What (if any) training have you already done with the dog? Who handled the dog during training, and what ongoing proofing do you do? Describe the training method and what you accomplished during it, if you can. What's the dog's daily routine? (E.g, free roaming, do-whatever, or is there there structured routine -- with leash walks in proper form, training/working time, etc.?)

What exactly are this dog's anxiety triggers? Is it always anxious about nearly all stimuli? Or just the kids? Did anything prompt it (e.g., were kids allowed to hurt/torment the dog when they were younger), or has it always been anxious around the family? Have you seen any of these episodes happen, or are the kids describing them? Sometimes there's a lead up of growls, lip curls, or hard stares that were ignored, prior to the first bite -- describing those is sometimes helpful, as they're really part of the bite history, as the dog was sometimes telegraphing something prior to the bite.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Many thanks for all the fantastic feedback.

These incidents have been "one offs" and for the rest of the time he seems happy around the house interacting fine with my other dog and the kids. I honestly don't know what has triggered him. I am hoping that the vet and if I can persuade the other half to go down the route - the behaviour specialist can provide answers to.

The kids all still want to keep him - he is a great family pet normally - but they have been understandably wary of him since Sunday and under instructions not to touch him at all unless I am with them - he has been fine with them.

I did not witness either incident but they say they were just petting him and I have no reason to suggest they were doing anything rougher with him or teasing him - they are normally very good with animals - but I did not see what they were doing first hand. He has always got on fine with them and still seems to although he has only been in contact with them when I have been breathing over him.

He is terrible at the vets and does need muzzling when he goes there otherwise they wont see him - he is the worse patient imaginable and I do dread taking him there! If we decide to keep him I will ask the vet to check for pain and blood abnormalities and to run a full thyroid panel, as well as doing xrays on his hips and spine. I think there is a chance he has been in pain sometimes but he doesn't really show it and normally seems fine but I have avoided taking him to vets unless it necessary as it really is such hard work - I know that something wrong on my part - he has still never shown any aggression to anyone in the family before this though.

I think the deed would have been done if the other half was here - she has been away on a weekend break with friends - first time she has gone away with friends for 10 years and think she wishes she not left me in charge lol! She is back tonight and the dog is visiting vet at 9.15 in the morning.

Dog has not been neutered - would this make a big difference with him?

The trainer I am looking at working with if given the opportunity specialises in aggressive dogs and looks good from that part.

Dog went to training school and is obedient and recalls etc. During day he goes for a walk in morning - is left to his own devices with our other dog (both get on fine) as we all work - goes out for walk when back from work - lounges round house normally goes for third walk later - he I normally only crated when we have someone round as he goes loopy when visitors come but that is something we are fine managing.

Once again thanks for all your input and for not being judgemental!
 

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If you decide to continue managing him, please consider giving him prozac or other types of meds that help with animal anxiety. I hope your family the best of luck!
 

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I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry you are going through this. As a parent, I have to say that kids come first, but I can imagine few decisions that would be harder or more heart breaking to make. I would want to find out exactly what led up to the bites: were the kids doing anything that could have provoked the dog, pulling on ears or tail, sitting on him and he has sore joints, messing with his food or toys, ect? If it were me, I would probably consult with an experienced trainer or behaviorist first just to get an outsider's perspective, and to feel like I did everything possible. Also, I would go to the vet to rule out any medical issues. However, you and your family need to feel safe in your own home. If you do have to let him go, remember him for the good times, and try not to feel guilty. Please let us know what happens.
 

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I'd really be getting tests done at the vet. If is a one off, then maybe something medically is going on. How were the kids touching is important too. Jumping or rough housing doesnt make it ok, but says a lot.
I'd also want to get him with a trainer that understands aggression and the breed.
 

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A 3.5 year old dog can do serious damage to a child or an adult. It sounds like the dog is communicating his displeasure to the kids, using bite inhibition. It could also be that he is escalating. I would do a complete veterinary exam, checking thyroid, vitamin B, and anything else that might account for lower tolerance or aggression. Then, I probably would go with an experienced behaviorist to get their take on the dog. But the kids are not mine. You know the dog and have the children's protection as your first priority. You and your wife's call.
 

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Difficult situation to say the least. Here's my take, for what it's worth to you... it is not at all normal or acceptable for an adult dog to attack, however minimally, it's own. Something is wrong medically, or something is wrong neurologically of genetically. If you don't find something easily identifiable by the blood work, the next step is MRI, which will indicate issues, if present, that will require very expensive surgery or treatment that may or may not allow you to ever know the dog you do now...

It's sad, but sometimes the best thing is not just about the dog...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks everyone once again for their input

We visited the vet who as a mother herself said my beautiful Toby could never be trusted. A second vet gave same opinion and having to take partners views into account he was pts

He died on my partners lap. I am so gutted and upset.
 

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Thanks everyone once again for their input

We visited the vet who as a mother herself said my beautiful Toby could never be trusted. A second vet gave same opinion and having to take partners views into account he was pts

He died on my partners lap. I am so gutted and upset.
Sad as it is,it does sound like you done the right thing for everyone's safety.
It doesn't bare thinking about what could have happened if something went wrong.
 

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I cannot imagine the emotions going through something like this. The nightmare has ended for everyone. I know the sun will come out again.
 

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OP----As long as you know..in your mind....you did every thing you could...then all you can do is move forward one day at a time.....the pain does lessen as days turn into weeks and....weeks into months. I don't know you... but I truly feel for what you're going through right now. By seeing this thread through to the end.....you've done something which is very very rare on this forum.........My eyes are getting blurry as I'm typing....my heart goes out to you and yours.
 

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OP----As long as you know..in your mind....you did every thing you could...then all you can do is move forward one day at a time......

This is the problem - I don't know if I did. Last think (I perhaps naively) felt this morning when Toby came out in the garden picked up his ball and put it in the truck like he does is that when I got home I would open the back door and all that would be there would be his ball.

I thought they would say let look into him and see if he been in pain speak to therapist see if there is anything they can do rather than "your decision but if you want me to be honest with four kids in house if he was mine I would have already put him to sleep" and that if he has already bitten which in his mind has got rid of his problem he will remember that and do it again - after discussing it with my partner the risk of any injury to the kids was too much - but I still think he could have been brought round and the guilt is overwhelming seeing my healthy boy killed. :-(
 
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