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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We adopted Lilly back in mid-March from our local shelter. Our whole family visited her there (as required), and while my teen son was not too excited about getting a dog, he agreed. At first he gave Lilly some attention, but over the summer, and especially recently, he has made it clear that he doesn't like "the dog" and he doesn't always like me, his mom (he's a teen, right?). Lilly (our dog) has seen me argue w/ my son in raised voices.

He's refused to come to training classes with Lilly, and when I try to correct what he does with her, he just says "forget it." Lilly had been jumping up on him in the mornings recently, mainly because she was happy to see him. It didn't seem like agression. Clearly this is not OK, and I've now leashed her in the morning, and only let her greet my son when she is calm and has four paws on the floor. I use treats too. My son doesn't like to feed Lilly treats because then his hand is "slimy." (Sigh...remember, he is a teen).

I believe part of why he doesn't like the dog is that I love her (gotta rebel against mom, right), and also he may have a latent fear of dogs from when he was young (and knocked over/run over by a big dog off leash).

The past few days Lilly has taken to barking at him. Sharp short barks while she backs up. Tonight my son lept up on our hearth right near Lilly (certainly could be threatening) and she snapped at him. I've asked him not to do this type of movement around her.

I don't think Lilly understand my son and her place in the family relative to him. My son is very inconsistent in his interactions with Lilly, but his interactions tend to be minimal. Once in awhile he'll play with her, but not very often. He never walks her.

We have a total of four of us in the house, myself, my husband, 15 yr old son and 11 yr old daughter. Daughter loves dog and husband is good with Lilly, but not around much. I'm the one who walks Lilly 2 hours/day, feeds her, plays w/ her, etc. 90% of the time.

I've finally insisted that our son have a session w/ a private trainer with whom I've been working. No choice I told him. We have one hour tomorrow and one hour Sunday.

What I'm wondering is Lilly getting aggressive towards my son? Is he in danger of being bitten. In general, she is a very submissive dog, and until the past month or so, rarely barked at anything.

She is our first dog so I'm still learning. I'm open to ideas and suggestions. Please don't bash me for getting a German shepherd for our first dog...I've read tons, have done multiple training classes, exercise her a lot....and in general, think I've done an OK job.
 

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My guess would be that there are times when he scares the dog. The barking and backing up is not confidence, it's defense and unsureness. Somewhere along the way she decided he was a threat.

I know teenagers can be just plain stupid and I wouldn't be surprised if he had done something to the dog- even if it wasn't anything major. Even my DH who loves dogs can remember (with some strong regrets) being a kid and kicking a soccer ball at the face of his Mom's dog who he knew at the time was afraid in a moment of just stupidity and meanspiritedness. Dogs can be very sensitive and even forward posture and yelling could've bothered her. It's also possible that with your arguing she could view him as a threat to you and be responding to that.

So with a consistent pattern of very few positive interactions, and possibly more negative ones (Dog do read body language and really do know when people don't like them) it's not particularly surprising that they're not getting along. Is he in danger? Well I suppose it really depends on him.
 

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I agree with the above. My dogs don't like to hear my kids arguing(with each other or me) and it causes stress and conflict.
I would have your son& the whole family start practicing NILIF with Lilly and him going to mandatory training is a good idea, too.
Also practicing NILIF with teenagers has its benefits:)
 

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She sounds reactive not aggressive though a reactive dog is surely a dog that may bite in the future. The thing is 2 training sessions won't change this and talking to a teen is like talking to yourself. Lillie may have had bad experiences with men or kids in her past that have made her reactive to quick movements, or it could just be her temperament. So now getting a behaviorist or trainer is a good idea to find out what makes her reactive, and how to work on it. In a perfect world your son would and should want to be involved, but in a teen world thats not likely to happen:)
 

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Sounds like she's reacting to his inconsistent behavior and interaction. I imagine the session with the trainer will help, maybe the trainer will get him to see what a great smart dog she is, why not have him teach a trick that no one else knows. If all else fails, use the clicker on him!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If all else fails, use the clicker on him!
Thank you everyone for all of your ideas. I will thoughtfully consider them all (and any more folks have.)

I so wish a clicker would work on my son!!!

Lilly is the most awesome dog. I do hope my son can develop a positive relationship with her (and return to a postive relationship with me :)
 

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Maybe if he sees what a great dog she is, gets her to do some tricks that no one else can, he'll be able to relate to her better- or at all. Is there any activity or hobby he's interested in that could include her? Even if it's laying on the sofa watching tv? I bet if he took her to PetsMart and all the girls wanted to pet her he'd love it!
 

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tough love.

I would not respond to the kid AT ALL his voice is raised. It would be automatic silent treatment and instant loss of privledges and grounding. Ah, but I am old fashioned in that sort of stuff. And my guess is the advice is what to do about the dog, not the kid.

It is hard though when you have a soft dog that is actually more likely to bite due to fearfulness, and having a kid who is arguing loudly at you. I have had dogs that did not like me yelling at the other dog. I had to change my approach with the other dog to accomadate this one.

What does this mean, it means to reduce the amount of stress for everyone, I think you need to adjust how you manage your rebel son.

If your son had reconstructive surgery to rebuild his face due to a dog bite, I can understand his being afraid of them. Simply being bolled over by a dog, well, I dunno, that is a bit extreme.

I wonder, if Mom wanted a dog, and she has now decided that everyone in the family has to help mom own a dog, well that might not be all that fun. I would definitely try to get the boy on board instead of saying YOU WILL go to this class.

I mean, you bought the dog, now you want me to take it to training classes, how is that ok?

But if you could discuss it with him and tell him that you would like for him to try to go through a six week training course with the dog, just so that the dog and he get better at understanding what the other wants, to try it for a while. That and three nights a week you would like for him to practice with the dog for 15 minutes. If he will do that, you will do the dishes for him on those nights -- sounds like a deal.

In reality, the fact that he is mostly ignoring the dog, probably is the best think he can do to win her confidence. It seems much harder for a shy dog to warm up to someone who is constantly trying to fuss with them, pet them, play with them, etc. Giving the dog her space should really release some of her concerns about him.

The snapping thing due to quick movements, startling her can be a problem. Kids do not always think that far in advance, especially when they have freinds over. I think you need to be more proactive, maybe put the dog in the crate when the crazies hit. But you will not always be on the other end of the lead. If she does bite him, he will learn. But I would really rather avoid that whole scene. What does your trainer say about this.
 

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everyone has some good suggestions and opinions. There really isnt much left that i can say except i still think your son is missing the cute dog +walking her and being NICE to her= hot chicks for him! lol i know we've talked about it before. Considering your sons inconsistance behavior with her, i dont blame her for how she is acting towards him. Its not necessarility safe but i would be snappy too if i were here. My mom would have smacked me, grounded me, and serious loss of priveleges had i EVER acted that way. Yes, he is a teen. Usually its the girls that have issue with parents. I think forcing him to participate in the classes with only make things worse. He obviously wants nothing to do with her and forcing him to be involved will only succeed in increasing the resentment. Honest question here and please dont be offended but have you considered putting your son in therapy? It may help to figure out exactly what his issue is and if thats figured out for sure besides horomones, he may be more open to Lilly being around. I would say Lilly is definitely picking up on the issues with the "pack" between you and your son and she's viewing him as a threat. Stress in the family usually causes 10 times that in the pets. Have you tried sitting him down and asking him exactly why he's basically being a butthead? Tough love. Sounds like he almost has a respect issue going. If thats the case, its usually because the parents are too soft or too hard. I know i resented my parents for being too hard, and my mom resents my grandparents for being too soft. I hope things get better in your house. Lilly deserves less stress as do you. Best wishes and keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
everyone has some good suggestions and opinions. There really isnt much left that i can say except i still think your son is missing the cute dog +walking her and being NICE to her= hot chicks for him! lol i know we've talked about it before. .... have you considered putting your son in therapy? It may help to figure out exactly what his issue is
I'm hoping he gets the cute dog + walking = hot chicks ;-) We live in Southern CA by the ocean and our town has a beach walk of about 5 miles round trip. I'm going to see if he'll do it with Lilly on a weekend day and see the results :)

We've tried to encourage therapy as he is having a tough time, but no luck. Can't force that one.

Overall he is a great kid: no drugs, alcohol, at a top high school, gets good grades in honors classes (tho could be even better given his native intelligence, but what mom wouldn't say that), liked by teachers (respectful & polite to other adults ;-), sensitive, handsome, JV swimmer as a Freshman (probably will make Varsity as a sophomore). I just need to figure out how to parent him and lay down a few rules of engagement. Overall, I've probably been too tough, not too soft. I remember someone said about parenting teens "In a tug of war someone has to drop the rope." Guess that is me right now.

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and ideas...they all give me something to ponder. I'm going to disappear for my son's training session with Lilly today (just pop back in to see how it goes towards the end).

Just a few corrections to some things I didn't make clear: we got our dog from the shelter (not bought), 11 yr old daughter has asked for a dog since she was 5, so we really got the dog for my daughter. I just ended up loving Lilly even tho I didn't think I was a "dog person." Part of the reason we agreed to get Lilly was that I need to leave daughter home alone at times, so thought having a GSD around would be a good idea. Not that Lilly is being trained for protection, but I know she would bark at a complete stranger and if nothing else, her size and breed might scare off someone.

Love this forum...wish I could find a great one for parenting teens!
 

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I just have to add my 2 cents. I too have a teenage son (he is a good kid too...only he plays football) and he could care less aboout the dogs. His usual response to them is "go away"...very teen-like. Since he is the youngest (and the only non-dog person in the family) I do w/ him as I did all the others, "Make him responsible for the success." A family pet is like everything else, everyone has to do their share as part of a household. Everyone has duties to keep the house running such as cooking, cleaning, yard work, and driving kids to school and other activities. Moms typically do a great deal of this, and therfore (IMP) we can delegate. Walking the dog will endear the dog to him. Give him the goal: in one month the dog will love you and there will be no more issues with her snapping.
 

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... I do w/ him as I did all the others, "Make him responsible for the success." A family pet is like everything else, everyone has to do their share as part of a household. Everyone has duties to keep the house running such as cooking, cleaning, yard work, and driving kids to school and other activities. ...Give him the goal: in one month the dog will love you and there will be no more issues with her snapping.
Judy, Love your advice. Love the "Make him responsible for the success" which is what we've done for school...I no longer monitor his grades, bug him about homework, or check to see if he is on facebook or studying.

I will definitely delegate at least one beach walk / week to him as he complains about being bored on the weekends.

Thanks so much...
Signed...mom who does too much ;-)
 

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I personally wouldn't force the dog on him. Do require that he treat the dog with respect. But unless this was a dog he wanted, IMHO this is not a "family dog" so much as "your" dog.

Forcing him to spend time with the dog will likely backfire if he's treating the dog like crap when away from you.

If our son (just a wee baby still!) grows up to be anti-dog, I will certainly be disappointed and he'll be unhappy living with multiple dogs, but he won't be forced to train and walk them. They are here as our pets, not his. I took our morning walk with our Mal pup this morning, and talked to a wonderful elderly woman in the neighborhood who thought for sure we got the puppy for our son (who is only 6 weeks old) to "grow up with."

Chances are he won't have much interaction with this dog for quite some time (years) and the pup is for us, not him! :) I certainly would not require him to care for the pup when he grows up, as he did not take part in the decision to get him, or any of the others.

JMHO
 

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I'm hoping he gets the cute dog + walking = hot chicks ;-) We live in Southern CA by the ocean and our town has a beach walk of about 5 miles round trip. I'm going to see if he'll do it with Lilly on a weekend day and see the results :)

We've tried to encourage therapy as he is having a tough time, but no luck. Can't force that one.

Overall he is a great kid: no drugs, alcohol, at a top high school, gets good grades in honors classes (tho could be even better given his native intelligence, but what mom wouldn't say that), liked by teachers (respectful & polite to other adults ;-), sensitive, handsome, JV swimmer as a Freshman (probably will make Varsity as a sophomore). I just need to figure out how to parent him and lay down a few rules of engagement. Overall, I've probably been too tough, not too soft. I remember someone said about parenting teens "In a tug of war someone has to drop the rope." Guess that is me right now.

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and ideas...they all give me something to ponder. I'm going to disappear for my son's training session with Lilly today (just pop back in to see how it goes towards the end).

Just a few corrections to some things I didn't make clear: we got our dog from the shelter (not bought), 11 yr old daughter has asked for a dog since she was 5, so we really got the dog for my daughter. I just ended up loving Lilly even tho I didn't think I was a "dog person." Part of the reason we agreed to get Lilly was that I need to leave daughter home alone at times, so thought having a GSD around would be a good idea. Not that Lilly is being trained for protection, but I know she would bark at a complete stranger and if nothing else, her size and breed might scare off someone.

Love this forum...wish I could find a great one for parenting teens!
Since I am probably the one that said "bought", I just want to clarify. I refuse to buy into the new terminology thrust upon us by animal rights/HSUS, where pounds are now shelters, bought is now adopted. This is not personal attack on your wording. It is just if you exchanged money for the dog you bought it. Whether that was $25 or $200 or $1500. I do not regard one type of puppy buyer as lower than another. It seems to me, people like the idea of adopting a pet, because it sounds sweet and good. But this also suggests that people who purchase a pet are sinister, and selfish. There are good reasons to purchase from a pound, a rescue, and a breeder, and none of these purchasers are better or worse than others.

You can say it is only semantics, and that is right and wrong.

Not too long ago, a person had her two dogs found and held at the local "shelter." While the dogs were missing, the got a puppy. Now if they picked up both dogs, they would be over the allowable limit in their area. They picked up one and left the other in the shelter to be found a nice home by the kind shelter workers there. The dog was euthanized that day as an owner turn in. I think that if the facility was referred to as the pound, they may not have left that dog there.

Words matter.

Again, this is not a personal attack, just why I NEVER refer to canines being adopted. They are purchased or given away or found, sold, and bought. when money changes hands, it is a purchase whether it is a taxable sale or not.
 

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I personally wouldn't force the dog on him. Do require that he treat the dog with respect. But unless this was a dog he wanted, IMHO this is not a "family dog" so much as "your" dog.

Forcing him to spend time with the dog will likely backfire if he's treating the dog like crap when away from you.

If our son (just a wee baby still!) grows up to be anti-dog, I will certainly be disappointed and he'll be unhappy living with multiple dogs, but he won't be forced to train and walk them. They are here as our pets, not his.
This is how I feel too.. How can you make someone like something..

Maybe in time he might change his mind/thinking and want to interact with the dog.. but I would never force an animal on someone who just isn't feeling it or wanting it..
 

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I've nothing to add to the excellent advice you've received, however I want to relay problems I had with my last GSD and teenage daughter. My GSD had a live and let live attitude and never initiated anything, ever. However, if someone/thing/dog did initiate something she was ALL over it. She was a very serious dog. Daughter was a typical teenager, minor problem attitude, nothing serious. Didn't care for animals and had no interaction with them.

The decision to purchase the dog was mine and she never participated in walking, feeding, or playing with the dog. That was okay. However, I did give her a talk on respecting the dog and the power of this particular breed. This was not the first GSD in our house. She had played with our previous GSD's when she was younger and we never had a problem.

The dog generally ignored her and she did the same.
The following two instances occurred where I was in a position to see both.

1. Dog was outside on the front porch. For some inexplicable reason, daughter was standing close to a window watching the dog. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, the dog spun around and jumped up and ON the window. Daughter screamed. I have no idea what precipitated the "attack" on the window. Afterwards, the dog came inside and there were no problems.

2. I was downstairs doing laundry and fortunately there was a break in the noise as both washer and dryer had stopped. I heard growling and ran upstairs to find stupid daughter KICKING in the air at the dog. Dog's head was low, hackles raised, and was growling, teeth showing, and advancing on daughter. As soon as the dog saw me she raised up, looked sheepish and lay down. I smacked daughter on the head then had an immediate and harsh discussion with her about what would have happened had I not come upstairs. Why the **** she was kicking at the dog I don't know as she would not give me an answer.

My point here is to say I strongly believe my daughter behaved inappropriately around the dog previously when neither of us was there and the dog wasn't going to tolerate it anymore. I let my daughter know in no uncertain terms that SHE would be at fault if the dog bit her, even if she ended up in the hospital.

Also, I would report HER for animal cruelty. Being a teenager and not knowing if what I said was true, she believed me.

We NEVER, EVER left the dog alone with her after that time. We had an outside dog run, 96' x 16' with a huge, insulated dog house, and left the dog out until we came home from work. She was not allowed to approach the pen. There were no more incidents. Each ignored the other.

Teenagers are stupid in many ways. We never knew what she did to the dog to precipitate the dog's behavior and she wouldn't talk.

After the episodes with the GSD I caught her on the couch one day, leaning over and DROOLING on our little lap dog who was an absolute mouse. Daughter's punishment was swift and harsh.

She grew up, married, kids, and has a cat adopted from a shelter. The cat is well fed, treated well and given some attention. It went from being an extremely shy cat who hid at the sound and sight of other people to being a pest so I'm sure it's not mistreated.

I'll never know what was going through her mind as a teenager, but it could have ended VERY BADLY.

Nip this in the bud every way you can. Tell him about the harm that could come to HIM if the dog attacks or bites. It's him that has to change. The dog is only reacting to HIS behavior.

Good luck.
 

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I've nothing to add to the excellent advice you've received, however I want to relay problems I had with my last GSD and teenage daughter. My GSD had a live and let live attitude and never initiated anything, ever. However, if someone/thing/dog did initiate something she was ALL over it. She was a very serious dog. Daughter was a typical teenager, minor problem attitude, nothing serious. Didn't care for animals and had no interaction with them.

The decision to purchase the dog was mine and she never participated in walking, feeding, or playing with the dog. That was okay. However, I did give her a talk on respecting the dog and the power of this particular breed. This was not the first GSD in our house. She had played with our previous GSD's when she was younger and we never had a problem.

The dog generally ignored her and she did the same.
The following two instances occurred where I was in a position to see both.

1. Dog was outside on the front porch. For some inexplicable reason, daughter was standing close to a window watching the dog. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, the dog spun around and jumped up and ON the window. Daughter screamed. I have no idea what precipitated the "attack" on the window. Afterwards, the dog came inside and there were no problems.

2. I was downstairs doing laundry and fortunately there was a break in the noise as both washer and dryer had stopped. I heard growling and ran upstairs to find stupid daughter KICKING in the air at the dog. Dog's head was low, hackles raised, and was growling, teeth showing, and advancing on daughter. As soon as the dog saw me she raised up, looked sheepish and lay down. I smacked daughter on the head then had an immediate and harsh discussion with her about what would have happened had I not come upstairs. Why the **** she was kicking at the dog I don't know as she would not give me an answer.

My point here is to say I strongly believe my daughter behaved inappropriately around the dog previously when neither of us was there and the dog wasn't going to tolerate it anymore. I let my daughter know in no uncertain terms that SHE would be at fault if the dog bit her, even if she ended up in the hospital.

Also, I would report HER for animal cruelty. Being a teenager and not knowing if what I said was true, she believed me.

We NEVER, EVER left the dog alone with her after that time. We had an outside dog run, 96' x 16' with a huge, insulated dog house, and left the dog out until we came home from work. She was not allowed to approach the pen. There were no more incidents. Each ignored the other.

Teenagers are stupid in many ways. We never knew what she did to the dog to precipitate the dog's behavior and she wouldn't talk.

After the episodes with the GSD I caught her on the couch one day, leaning over and DROOLING on our little lap dog who was an absolute mouse. Daughter's punishment was swift and harsh.

She grew up, married, kids, and has a cat adopted from a shelter. The cat is well fed, treated well and given some attention. It went from being an extremely shy cat who hid at the sound and sight of other people to being a pest so I'm sure it's not mistreated.

I'll never know what was going through her mind as a teenager, but it could have ended VERY BADLY.

Nip this in the bud every way you can. Tell him about the harm that could come to HIM if the dog attacks or bites. It's him that has to change. The dog is only reacting to HIS behavior.

Good luck.
Wow! That had to be scary for you, I would bet! Guess we were lucky - our teenage son was the primary caregiver for a lot of our female GSD live since i was on the road a lot and my wife worked long hours. Fortunately he was very good with Abby and vice versa! I really don't know what we would have done if they had acted like you describe!
 

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Wow! That had to be scary for you, I would bet! Guess we were lucky - our teenage son was the primary caregiver for a lot of our female GSD live since i was on the road a lot and my wife worked long hours. Fortunately he was very good with Abby and vice versa! I really don't know what we would have done if they had acted like you describe!
My heart almost stopped and I was short of breath for quite a while. My daughter was indifferent, completely unaware of how close she came to being attacked.

The incident weighed heavily on our minds for months, trying to figure out what had transpired to cause it. Daughter would just shrug when asked anything. Honestly, I wanted to slap her so I quit asking.

A couple of things came up as possibilities. One, the dogs always went to her room to scavenge food. She had a bad habit of leaving candy wrappers out, plates with half eaten food, opened cracker or chip bags, etc. out on the floor or bed. She would always holler, "Get the dogs out," so I would call them, but that was when we were home. I don't know what she did when we weren't, so her behavior towards them might have been threatening, aggressive, teasing or mean. Who knows.

While I didn't condone us feeding them scraps of people food, I did let her give them small pieces, figuring anything positive from her would be good. However, I noticed she always teased them with the food rather than just give it as a treat. I had to intervene most of the time and tell her to just give it to them. So the teasing might have aggravated the shepherd too. It did me.

that's all we were ever able to guess. I don't think she was overtly aggressive to the dog or there would have been serious trouble earlier, but she no doubt created bad feelings between her and the dog and the dog only tolerated her.

It was a HUGE alarm for me. I realized my wonderful, loving, well behaved , and actually submissive pet had the potential to be truly dangerous, although I didn't blame her really, controlling her behavior and access to my daughter was paramount.

She was never aggressive towards another person, excepting the two salesmen who came up the drive and wouldn't leave. Well, they did when she started snapping in the air and the spit was flying, but I didn't discourage her that time. I was somewhat scared myself so she probably picked up on that too, besides pushy strangers on her turf.

You're fortunate your son developed a good relationship with your dog and was obviously quite responsible. Sounds like a good kid!
 

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Yea he is even today. And our current dog absolutely adores him even though he only sees him every few months as he lives a couple of hours away. He can't wait to see him and goes bonkers when he comes in the house.
 
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