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Hi everyone.

Looking for some advice.
We have an 18 month old GSD, intact male, living with us since he was 8 weeks old. He has always been very docile with everyone in the family and spends most of his days with my wife and 9 yr old son, and loves playing and going on walks with them. They have been involved with training since the beginning and both feed him frequently to strengthen the bond.
However, recently we had two episodes in which he started growling at my son for no apparent reason. Both of these happened while the dog was laying down but awake and perfectly aware someone was approaching (not a case he has been startled). The most recent one happened just now while I was petting the dog and my son approached at walking speed and the dog was aware of his presence since he got in the room. When my son got closer the dog locked his stare on him and started growling. No food or toys in immediate vicinity. Not very loud and no barking, but a clear growl.
I can’t imagine what has changed and I’m getting apprehensive with this situation.
Any ideas on what I can do to stop this behaviour, or what might be triggering the dog?

Any help very much appreciated.

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Your son urgently needs to approach, put the leash on him, and walk him on a regular basis. If/when he growls, he must smile and ask why. Unless you intend to breed, he must be spade.
 

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Your son urgently needs to approach, put the leash on him, and walk him on a regular basis. If/when he growls, he must smile and ask why. Unless you intend to breed, he must be spade.
Do you think the dog understands the question?

Is this some philosophical way of saying that the son is the problem and he should know why or should learn so by smiling?

Male dogs are neutered. Females are spayed.
 

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One needs to know their dog. When mine was coming into maturity he would challenge me and I had to assert my authority and dominance as his alpha. Hence, when necessary I would put him on the ground and say no immediately if he showed his teeth to me or play turned into a test. He Never fought back. It was like clearing the air of any confusion of what was unacceptable. This was not training and I used training techniques for other purposes. My writing was out of concern for the little boy's safety which is a priority if you read the whole thing.
 

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One needs to know their dog. When mine was coming into maturity he would challenge me and I had to assert my authority and dominance as his alpha. Hence, when necessary I would put him on the ground and say no immediately if he showed his teeth to me or play turned into a test. He Never fought back. It was like clearing the air of any confusion of what was unacceptable. This was not training and I used training techniques for other purposes. My writing was out of concern for the little boy's safety which is a priority if you read the whole thing.
Shades of Cesar Milan...
Showing a dog what to do needs to happen after a correction.Dogs require that information also.
 

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One needs to know their dog. When mine was coming into maturity he would challenge me and I had to assert my authority and dominance as his alpha. Hence, when necessary I would put him on the ground and say no immediately if he showed his teeth to me or play turned into a test. He Never fought back. It was like clearing the air of any confusion of what was unacceptable. This was not training and I used training techniques for other purposes. My writing was out of concern for the little boy's safety which is a priority if you read the whole thing.
Might I add the dog needs more exercise than neighborhood walks. Not enough sustained strenuous exercise daily or twice can lead to aggressive behavior. And asserting an alpha leadership role is not a game, but rather a hierarchy that a dog understands and responds to.
 

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Shades of Cesar Milan...
Showing a dog what to do needs to happen after a correction.Dogs require that information also.
Yes, always. I turned the situation into a positive by refocusing him on playing fetch or a similar activity where he got lots of positive praise, which he loves. It worked for me, maybe not for everyone. Thank you.
 

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Just read your post. I have a 3.5y intact male who can get growly too. Most important while figuring this out is to keep son's face away from dog and not allow son in a submissive position to the dog like squatting down face to face. Always be there to hold collar. When my GSD crosses the line, I either hold his mouth shut and say no, or I hold his face fur and force him on the ground saying no and hold him there for 30 seconds or so because I need to dominate as the alpha. When I release him I redirect his focus to something else. Want to go out, or let's go outside and play etc. and dog snaps out of his growlies. Refocusing is a huge help. This behavior happens occasionally and he needs an immediate reminder of what's not acceptable. Hope this helps.
That is not how we assert ourselves as "alpha." You are very fortunate that you do not own a "Rank" dog or a really strong, aggressive dog. If you had a tougher dog you would have been bitten several times by using these silly techniques. We do not "alpha roll" dogs anymore, we do not pin a dog to the ground to assert our dominance and we certainly do not grab a dog's mouth and hold it shut. Just like we do not pinch a puppies lip into it's canine to teach it stop biting. This things do not assert your dominance over the dog. The proof is in the fact that you have done it more than once. If you were truly dominant and had your dog's trust and respect he would never challenge you.

One needs to know their dog. When mine was coming into maturity he would challenge me and I had to assert my authority and dominance as his alpha. Hence, when necessary I would put him on the ground and say no immediately if he showed his teeth to me or play turned into a test. He Never fought back. It was like clearing the air of any confusion of what was unacceptable. This was not training and I used training techniques for other purposes. My writing was out of concern for the little boy's safety which is a priority if you read the whole thing.
You've done anything but clear the air, you have created a lot of confusion with your dog. What you did was training, not good or effective training but training none the less. Everything we do with our dogs is training. Our dogs are constantly watching us and learning, what to do and sometimes what they do not have to do. If your dog is showing his teeth to you, your issues and problems started a long time before the snarling started.

"He Never fought back" This tells me the dog did not need this type of treatment and if it occurred a second time it was completely ineffective. It seems you missed a lot of earlier cues and your dog is unclear of his position and your position in your household. You need to realize that you and your dog are not a 'Pack." Your are a person and your dog is dog. You dog knows you are not a dog. Since, you are not viewed as a dog then why do these silly dominate things. I wish people would stop acting like the "mother dog" with their puppies or struggle to establish dominance with a dog that doesn't really challenge you. Al that happens is that you wind up being viewed as a "whelping littermate to your dog."

For the people reading this thread because they may have issues with their dog and your relationship, do not alpha roll your dog, do not pin your dog to the ground. It will only accomplish two things, 1 you will get bit and / or you will damage your relationship with your dog.

I've owned and worked some very strong and very aggressive dogs and I have never rolled one of them. The last thing I would have ever done with the Dutch Shepherd I had was try to roll him. I got him because he had bitten 7 of his previous handlers. A strong, highly reactive dog that tried to solve problems with aggression and it was violent. The last thing I ever wanted to do was wrestle with this dog and get on the ground with my face next to his. That dog learned that I was in charge, I built a friendship and strong bond. I got him to trust me and then I earned his respect. I got bit a few times, but we worked it out. He turned out to be a fantastic, loving and loyal partner. One of my all time favorite dogs. I have a 2 1/2 year old 53 lb Malinios here, a little dog but a very tough little dog. He had to wash out of our training because of a CCL injury. I kept him because he is loving and adorable, he is also very stubborn. He can turn aggressive quickly. If you tried to roll this little dog to establish your dominance, he might neuter you or bite you in the face or arms. The least would be a trip to the hospital for you. I have no issues controlling him and actually rarely if ever even give him corrections. He is easy for me to handle and I enjoy being around him. He's challenged me once or twice in the initial training, which is completely normal and to be expected. He was never rolled and that would have been a huge mistake.

Everything we do is training and we are either enforcing or un training behaviors. When you are fair, patient and consistent the dog easily learns who is charge. It really is that easy.
 

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My dog comes from a line of fierce police dogs. I worked with him as he was maturing around 1-3 yrs. and never hit or hurt him. I don't think there's any question in his mind that I lead. He looks to me for commands. He's developed into a socially friendly dog and listens very well and is rewarded. He loves to play and horse around, but takes work seriously. I am very proud of him. He is very bonded to me as I am to him. I am not his mother, however I am a stern leader when necessary and it works for us. You cannot judge other people's style unless the dog is being neglected, harmed or abused. The dogs you speak of may be maladjusted, poor breeding or other problems and need to be attended to very differently if they are older with existing difficulties. I don't know what rolling is, but you may be misinterpreting my words. My dog is not the same as your situation. It seems you are being reactive.
 

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My dog comes from a line of fierce police dogs. I worked with him as he was maturing around 1-3 yrs. and never hit or hurt him. I don't think there's any question in his mind that I lead. He looks to me for commands. He's developed into a socially friendly dog and listens very well and is rewarded. He loves to play and horse around, but takes work seriously. I am very proud of him. He is very bonded to me as I am to him. I am not his mother, however I am a stern leader when necessary and it works for us. You cannot judge other people's style unless the dog is being neglected, harmed or abused. The dogs you speak of may be maladjusted, poor breeding or other problems and need to be attended to very differently if they are older with existing difficulties. I don't know what rolling is, but you may be misinterpreting my words. My dog is not the same as your situation. It seems you are being reactive.
And this explains everything.
 

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Putting on the ground (your words) = rolling
Slamdunc and some others are chiming in mostly to share information for others to read and learn from,not just you.
FYI Slamdunc is a police officer/dog handler that trains other handlers and their "fierce police dogs".You might be interested in checking out some of his old threads and videos of his many years of experience.
 

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My dog comes from a line of fierce police dogs. I worked with him as he was maturing around 1-3 yrs. and never hit or hurt him. I don't think there's any question in his mind that I lead. He looks to me for commands. He's developed into a socially friendly dog and listens very well and is rewarded. He loves to play and horse around, but takes work seriously. I am very proud of him. He is very bonded to me as I am to him. I am not his mother, however I am a stern leader when necessary and it works for us. You cannot judge other people's style unless the dog is being neglected, harmed or abused. The dogs you speak of may be maladjusted, poor breeding or other problems and need to be attended to very differently if they are older with existing difficulties. I don't know what rolling is, but you may be misinterpreting my words. My dog is not the same as your situation. It seems you are being reactive.
My boy is submissive to me. He enjoys a chase and comes when called, but is not a killer and I wouldn't allow it. We sat and watched a young squirrel in my yard trying to climb a trellis. He doesn't like other dogs, but then he was attacked and injured at 7months by another dog. Very social with people visiting. Gets more protective when on a leash and I wouldn't let strangers touch him. Super protective in the car and have to work on it. Haven't had a problem with feeding.

which he started growling at my son for no apparent reason. Both of these happened while the dog was laying down but awake and perfectly aware someone was approaching (not a case he has been startled). The most recent one happened just now while I was petting the dog and my son approached at walking speed and the dog was aware of his presence since he got in the room. When my son got closer the dog locked his stare on him and started growling. No food or toys in immediate vicinity. Not very loud and no barking, but a clear growl.
I can’t imagine what has changed and I’m getting apprehensive with this situation.
Any ideas on what I can do to stop this behaviour, or what might be triggering the dog?


I'd love to see the pedigree of your dog. I'm glad your dog is bonded to you and I never said you physically harmed your dog.

I've been working and training dogs for a little while now. I only post on topics that I have some experience in and some knowledge from years of working with a leash in my hand. I think I can get an idea on other people's training and abilities by their posts. I'm not judging you, I just want good information to be put out to the thousands of people that might read this thread. I don't judge people, it is really not my style or how I operate. I certainly understand if you feel that I am disagreeing with how you have tried to correct this issue. There was a time when I was in your situation, and I needed help with my first hard, handler aggressive GSD. I was fortunate to get get into a SchH or IGP club and learn form several knowledgeable people. That started my working dog journey and that was a long time ago. I've also been on dog forums for a little while now. I've helped people with training issues and I've seen well intentioned people give some very bad advice. Some times the advice was even potentially dangerous. My delivery is direct, I am rather blount. Please don't take the delivery of my message personally. You did ask for advice, how you choose to take or apply the advice is totally up to you. I quoted you above.

As far as my dogs, they are actual working K-9's. I handle and train Dual Purpose Patrol and Narcotics K9's. The Dutch Shepherd I had was very well bred and imported from Holland. No doubt he had issues, I knew that when I got him at 3 1/2 years old. His name was Boru and his story when I got him is posted in the Police K9 forum. I'm convinced if I didn't stick it out with him he would have been put down by his next handler or Police Department. He became an outstanding Patrol Dog, I love and miss that dog. He passed way too soon. Being a Police K9 is a dangerous job, for both the handler and the dog. Boru and Boomer, my two past K9's have both been punched and kicked in fights with bad guys. Punching or kicking either one of those dogs was a bad idea. When I select dogs to be Police dogs they need to have high drive, be fairly social, willing to bite for real and be sufficiently hard. These are not problem dogs, but tough high drive dogs that will not back down from a fight. Not maladjusted, just driven and tough. Many members here will understand. These dogs are not the best pets, but can be for me. These dogs are not for the average pet owner.

I don't know what rolling is, but you may be misinterpreting my words. My dog is not the same as your situation. It seems you are being reactive.

The alpha roll is picking a dog up, slamming it on it's side and pinning it to the ground. Rolling is what you described as "pinning the dog to the ground" and holding him there. This is a poor way to achieve dominance, plus it doesn't work. Ask yourself what is the dog learning? What is the dog thinking? As he is pinned to the ground for 30 seconds for a minor infraction. I'm sory, but there is no other way to say it. It is very important to me that folks that might be "lurking" and not posting may have the same issue and may try your style of achieving dominance and get hurt or the dog get hurt in the process. There are many experienced dog handlers here and they offer excellent advice. When it comes to dealing with aggressive dogs people have to be very careful. While most dogs will not react aggressively, it only takes one dog to react and a forum member get bit. I've been bitten many times over the years and will undoubtedly get bit again. If I thought rolling or pinning a dog was a good idea I would do it. 30 years ago people did this to dogs. Today few good trainers do this, very few.

To be clear, IMHO alpha rolling or pinning a dog has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Because you are not in the same situation as me and I wouldn't pin a dog, I hope you will rethink this training ideology. There are so many easier, safer and much more effective ways to handle aggression and gain control and get the respect of your dog.

Please do not be offended, my intention was not to offend or insult. I just prefer to be direct, nothing personal.
 
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