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I have a 2.5 yr old GSD. Let me start out by saying that we love him so much. He is a loyal, and wonderful family dog to my husband, 2 kids and I. However, he is wonderful to our family only! We have had him since he was 7 weeks old. He has always been a growler, and aggressive to strangers. He was socialized as a pup, and corrected (so i thought) but I'm guessing maybe it wasn't enough?

I have to keep him muzzled, and leashed at all times if we are outside of the home. I have to keep him in a room, with a muzzle on if company comes over. He is in protection mode 24/7. I'm getting to the point that I'm worrying that one day I or someone in the family will slip up and he will hurt someone severely. He has attacked someone before, I was able to stop it before it got bad, but since then I have been scared.

He views EVERYTHING and EVERYONE (kids included) outside of our immediate family a threat. Is there hope? Is it too late? Can I change this behavior? I would never forgive myself if he hurt someone seriously. As much as it hurts me I have thought about getting rid of him in the past, but I cant even give him to anyone else or he would hurt them! I will do what is necessary to work with him and rehabilitate him in some way, but tbh I have no idea how too. All I have managed to do is perfect avoiding any scenarios that something could go wrong. As long as he is just with the family, he is the loving, loyal dog we have grown to think of as one of the family. What can I do?
 

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I had a very similar situation. Except my girl was like that because I didn't socialize her at all. At the time I knew nothing about German Shepherds. However it was just my husband and I. 9 yrs ago we had to move out of state to a not so nice area due to my husbands job. We had no family or friends there and never had any company. My husband wanted a shepherd for me for companionship and protection. We got her at 8 week old and for 7 years, it was just my husband, me and her.
She was my life and so loyal to me and my husband. If it moved and was near me or my husband or our home she would go crazy. I always complained to my husband that she was so aggressive towards other animals and people. I would have to cross the street if we were walking because she would lunge out at whoever or whatever came within 5 ft of me. Until one day, she saved my life. Literally. So this is my advice if I may... as far as I was concerned I put my head down on my pillow every evening knowing that she could do the job if she had to and she loved me and my husband and that's what counted. Just keep being careful like you are that's just what I did for 8 years. We moved back to our home state last winter and shortly after she passed away. It's a nice area that we live in now, but I tell you there is nothing like the safe feeling a loyal German Shepherd could give you and your family. Hope I helped a little.
 

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You need to find the root of the aggression, and try to find a local trainer who has dealt with aggressive dogs/German shepherd dogs in the past. Despite what we like to believe, most of the time it is NOT the dog trying to protect us, but is actually fear-based.

If you give some info on what happened when he DID attack someone, his body language, etc we may be able to help more. More knowledgeable members may be able to help you more than myself.
 

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You need to find the root of the aggression, and try to find a local trainer who has dealt with aggressive dogs/German shepherd dogs in the past. Despite what we like to believe, most of the time it is NOT the dog trying to protect us, but is actually fear-based.

If you give some info on what happened when he DID attack someone, his body language, etc we may be able to help more. More knowledgeable members may be able to help you more than myself.

The one time that he attacked, we were staying in a hotel. My husband,the kids and I travel. We had requested that no housekeeping or any staff come in our room to clean unless the dog was taken outside, or properly muzzled first. Well, a new, unsuspecting house keeper let herself into our room, and before I could do anything my Shepherd lunged at her and pinned her down by the throat... Luckily no injuries happened. I'd say he just eliminated the "threat" but didn't try to maul her. But he goes on the defense anytime anyone gets in our vicinity. When I have him out, as long as no one approaches us he isn't bothered. Like he doesnt bark and growl at anyone in the distance. But if they head our way and come within a few feet of us he gets immediately aggressive. He does however love other dogs, and doesnt seem to bother people near us that are walking another dog. He does not like (or is scared) of any stranger, it doesnt matter if theyre 2 yrs old or 20, male or female.
 

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He views EVERYTHING and EVERYONE (kids included) outside of our immediate family a threat. Is there hope? Is it too late? Can I change this behavior? I would never forgive myself if he hurt someone seriously. As much as it hurts me I have thought about getting rid of him in the past, but I cant even give him to anyone else or he would hurt them! I will do what is necessary to work with him and rehabilitate him in some way, but tbh I have no idea how too. All I have managed to do is perfect avoiding any scenarios that something could go wrong. As long as he is just with the family, he is the loving, loyal dog we have grown to think of as one of the family. What can I do?
First, if you choose to get rid of him, please don't consider rehoming him or surrendering him to a shelter. With his history, the safest option would unfortunately be pts. With that being said, I have a dog like this and know that is my only option as well.

Next, if you will add your location, someone may be able to give your ideas of an experienced behaviorist in your area. You will need help working with a dog like this and modifying his behavior.
 

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I personally know him this is my dog nephew and the best around but like she said everyone is a threat me included until he gets to know you. Please if you have advise share it. Thanks
I don't like assuming but... I am assuming OP lives near you in AL?

For behaviorist in your area - Find Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Behavior Consultants | IAABC

This really is going to need a professional involved, to get eyes on the dog and actually see what is happening. Suggestions can be made, but could easily back fire in a bad way for a dog like this.

I can suggest some further protective measures - fenced yard (min 5 ft, better 6 ft or more) with padlocked gates or a large kennel with shade and water source, definitely crate train for home and travel use, entrance door barriers to prevent an attack if someone walks in the door before you are in control of the dog.
 

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I don't like assuming but... I am assuming OP lives near you in AL?

For behaviorist in your area - Find Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Behavior Consultants | IAABC

This really is going to need a professional involved, to get eyes on the dog and actually see what is happening. Suggestions can be made, but could easily back fire in a bad way for a dog like this.

I can suggest some further protective measures - fenced yard (min 5 ft, better 6 ft or more) with padlocked gates or a large kennel with shade and water source, definitely crate train for home and travel use, entrance door barriers to prevent an attack if someone walks in the door before you are in control of the dog.
Well they are currently in tx but also Alabama
 

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The link brings up a page to search by state.

I did a search for AL after I posted the prev msge, surprised me but it listed the behaviorist I go to for my troublemaker as available via phone/video. I would try to locate someone local first and if there isn't go to phone/video.
 

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is a disaster waiting to happen. The reality is that for this dog to behave this way, many many mistakes were made when he was a puppy and there may well be some serious genetic flaws, including weak nerves. The bottom line IMO is you need to really think about whether you are equipped to handle this dog, and if you're not, think about turning him over to someone with more experience. If you choose to keep him you need a professional who has experience dealing with this. Dogs who understand their rank in the pack and who respect their handlers do not behave this way. The entire way you live with the dog may have to change. Good luck.
 
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