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My first question is whether anyone would recommend or warn against using the drug acepromazine in order to make it possible for my dog to get his shots. And second, what do you make of his behavior as described below?

I'm the proud owner of Aston, who'll be a 13 months old tomorrow. His temperament is, generally, very good: he's very playful, protective and easily trainable.

However, a problem has cropped up recently. First, we've been trying to get him the last set of his shots for some time but each time we've gone to the vet's, he has become aggressive. Particularly, he barks quite a bit. Then when we try to hold him down, he begins to growl and he has nipped me a couple of times. As a side note, I'd like to add that if he wanted to get a bite on me, he easily could have. Instead, he simply touched his teeth to my hand in a way that didn't hurt me. We have even tried to put a muzzle on him but that, too, was not happening.

Second, when we're at the dog park, he is generally very playful with all of the dogs. Except recently, he has been trying to beat up on small dogs and puppies, something he never used to do before. A couple of times, he has wrestled the puppies to the ground, barked and growled at them and stood over them.

I appreciate all of your insight!
 

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Years ago when I worked at the vet we had a GSD that we couldn't touch. The lady would come in after she had him muzzled...I guess it would have helped if she put it on right. She did have to tranquilize him and the vet ended up giving him his shots while he was in the car facing the other way through the window. This dog was put to sleep shortly afterward because of aggression. Please work with your dog, talk to a behaviorist.
 

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I don't have any experience with the drug you've mentioned, but maybe this is something you should consider:

Acepromazine | Fearful Dogs

I would stop going to the dog park. It's not the place for a dog who behaves like this, although if it's the only place he can run, then maybe you can go at a different time when there's not likely to be anyone else there. And be very careful to leave as soon as someone shows up with a smaller dog or puppy. Don't feel bad, lots of GSD owners won't use a dog park because of their maturing dogs' behavior. It's important for us to make sure our breed doesn't get a bad reputation by forcing them into situations like this.
 

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Is he neutered yet? He could be going through hormonal changes that could be not causing these issues all together but at least complicating them
 

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Is he neutered yet? He could be going through hormonal changes that could be not causing these issues all together but at least complicating them
Nope. Not neutered yet.

I feel like I should clarify that he's very good with people in general. For example, we had some construction people come into the backyard the other day to check the water pipes. As soon as they entered, he ran up to them, tail wagging and all, and played with them. Similarly, he'll always play with the mailman and other strangers. He never shows aggression towards them.

That begs the question, is it possible he just gets nervous when vets are trying to hold him down? Is that normal?
 

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He may be more afraid of the vets thus aggresses. My female is the only dog I've ever had that is absolutely terrified of my vet:( The techs, no problem, the office/waiting room no problem, as soon as the vet walks in, all bets are off..

I DO muzzle her 'before" I take her in, seems to chill her out some, like any behavior is taken out of her hands (or paws:) ..She's still pretty testy, but I can handle her and we get done whatever needs to get done.

My suggestion, get him used to a muzzle at home, and put one one him before you walk into the vets office..Save for him, save for the people working on him.

Now keep in mind, with mine, my vet can come to my house, and Masi is all over her like a wet noodle:)

Sooo, who knows why she is petrified of her at her office?

Actually surprises me, because Masi is not afraid of anything, but seeing my vet in her office:(
 

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I think you need to get a handle on this youngster because at 2 years old you may be down right afraid of him. The idea that you could not muzzle the dog is simply not acceptable. If your dog gets hit by a car or has something serious happen, you are going to need to muzzle this dog. I do not accustome my dogs to muzzles, but a lot of people do. Every time I have tried to put one on any of them, it was no problem. This can be a life skill.

I would not take him to a dog park, I would take him to classes -- even if he is quite obedient. Good, you will be working on him around distractions, rather than getting the obedience skills down. This too is life skills. The more he understands that you have it covered in all situations, he will be easier to manage in all situations.

Is there some reason you are not neutering your boy?
 

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I noticed one word in describing his temperament, his attitude around people and his attitude at the dog park: "generally". Sorry, but this tells me he is not the all around dog you are think him to be" he is generally good around people , BUT,, he is generally good temperament BUT, he is generally good at the dog park, BUT.
He needs work all around, you need help with training him to understand the dog you have, be honest about how he really is and work with what you have.
 

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I have to agree with wyoming on this one. From all I have read and remember, GSD are very intuitive to their owner's emotions. So is it possible he is "feeding" off your emotions along with his fears of the vet which only makes things worse. I think a good obedience class will give you confidence of his experiences and will allow you to handle him better. He needs to have "No" and "Leave it" added to the list of commands he knows along with "Settle". Just some thoughts. :)
 

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Less drugs - healthier will be your dog. You have to teach him muzzle, but, please, post a different question on the site if you want to know how to teach him wear muzzle with ease. The situation described at the vet was exceptional. Many dogs react like this because of the smells in the surgery. It smells of fear and pain other animals had left there, these smells have accumulated over many years. Some dogs shrink, some dogs appear overexited, and some turn agressive.
Seems, your puppy has reached that age when the males become self-sufficient. Or, they want to be. They may run away from you just for the sake of having time on their own, they start fighting other dogs, and it may end badly. There are two things you need to do. First, let him exhaust his young energy DAILY: let him chase the ball until he drops, take him for hikes, swims, etc. Secondly, you need to attend classes. Being surrounded by other dogs and supervised, his behaviour will change.
By growling at you, threatening that he can bite he tells you that he is the leader and you are the inferior. Like some teen-ager threatens his parents. This sort of behaviour is temporary, you shouldn't go into conflict. Some people try putting their dog down, some even abuse their dogs. But they are wrong. You should teach your dog to be gentle with you. Dog wouldn't bite the hand which provides him pleasure. Stroke him more often, praise him with sweet voice, spend more time together on the bed or on the grass. And, when it would be necessary to be strict with him - surely, obedience courses will help.
 
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