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My GSD male is turning 6 months old soon. I take him to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays in my office. He has never bitten anyone, but his aggressive barking and threatening of primarily older grey haired men or African American men is getting more extreme. today it looked like he was getting ready to bite. Whenever he does this I tell him no and go to him and try to calm him down. I have NEVER hit my dog or used corporal punishment of any kind. Trying to kill him with kindness. Today I snapped because I felt he was getting close to something that was going to change our lives. When he started barking, not growling like earlier in the day, I told him no forcefully. When he did not listen I smacked him hard over his back with his leash and chased him into another office and grabbed him by his check and angrily told him "no barking". He got the message like I have never seen him get the message before. He has not barked at anyone since. I am certain that this is temporary, but maybe not.

My question: Is it ever acceptable to physically punish my dog for extreme behavior?

Last night my wife had to put him in his kennel because he was getting too rough with her. She is far too passive with him and has been unwilling to assert her dominance with him (Feel this is important for him to know where he stands in the pack).

Would appreciate any advice I could get before this spirals downhill to a level that could mean the end of the road for us. I love this dog and it really upsets me to be in this position. I have never had a dog that was this aggressive.
 

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I wouldn't punish, I would correct. A prong collar, while mostly used to correct a dogs movement while walking, could potentially be used to correct his behavior by pulling him back whenever he exhibits this aggressive behavior. I personally don't have experience with my dog being aggressive in this manner, but I think others here may have some good insight on correcting the behavior as it happens, rather than punishing for the behavior after the fact.
 

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I have never had to deal with a "teenage" male dog before...
but could training him in commands like "Place" and "Quiet!" help a lot for handling situations at work?
There is plenty of info available on how to train those commands.

I realize it is SO much more time and effort than a whack with the leash - I totally understand this!
But I think it will also build a good relationship with your dog, and be more reliably effective for all kinds of situations.
For me personally, I tend to default to Training & teaching the dog what is the right behavior, and use punishment as last resort...

( Again, not sure how it is with adolescent GSDs - never had one of those, so maybe I am too idealistic)

PS And you mentioned the "pack structure" thing - training will help with that too, establishing you more as the Boss.
 

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I have never had to deal with a "teenage" male dog before...
but could training him in commands like "Place" and "Quiet!" help a lot for handling situations at work?
There is plenty of info available on how to train those commands.

I realize it is SO much more time and effort than a whack with the leash - I totally understand this!
But I think it will also build a good relationship with your dog, and be more reliably effective for all kinds of situations.
For me personally, I tend to default to Training & teaching the dog what is the right behavior, and use punishment as last resort...

( Again, not sure how it is with adolescent GSDs - never had one of those, so maybe I am too idealistic)

PS And you mentioned the "pack structure" thing - training will help with that too, establishing you more as the Boss.
I second this. I've done some minor protection training with my boys, and them knowing they're not suppose to do said actions without my command, has deterred some previous negative behaviors. I'd start with something as simple as making him wait at the door, and let you go out first before he moves, then move on to some recalls, place, etc. They bark on command, and rarely bark unless considerably threatened or I tell them otherwise. I'm no professional though, and barking and biting on command is as far as I've done with my own dogs, but you could always take him to a club to get more hands on, professional help!
 

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I would stop taking the pup to the office for now. Yes, you have a teen and they will be good one day and naughty the next. They need their naps and can't handle over stimulation very well. It takes about 2 years for our dogs to mature mentally. Your pup will need room, mentally and physically, to work this out. When he sees someone he thinks is iffy you need to reset him before he gets barking, otherwise you will need to do something to snap him out of it so that you can help him change his behavior. Once he's started barking you've waited too long. Have people ignore your pup. When you are out walking, no petting or reaching for the dog, they talk to you! That gives your guy time to consider this new person without pressure. If the pup goes to the person for attention, light petting only. We wouldn't want to be fondled by strangers, neither do most of our dogs.

As far as dominance, you don't really need to be a "pack leader" but you do have to be clear and firm about rules. If the dog gets away with a behavior once or twice, they will keep attempting it. And if it pays off that behavior becomes even stronger, like winning a jackpot! If you pup is wanting to play rough with your wife, use that to your advantage. Find a toy they both like to play tug with. Then ask your pup for a behavior and reward it with a quick game of tug. Just giving the toy to them isn't much of a reward, you need to do a little bit of roughhousing together. It won't take too much of that kind of work to take the edge off. Five or ten minutes your pup will start to look tired and satisfied. Even if he wants to go more you put the toy away and substitute it with a little treat followed by some down time. That is so much better than everyone loosing their temper or getting on their last nerve.

Do this a few times throughout the day. It is a good break for you and your sweetheart and the dog. Put on some good kicky music and it is even better.
 

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Thank you to all who have offered advice. He is acting much improved since I went to the nuclear option earlier today. I went this direction because the consequences of his actions "might" have been quite serious. I have been bringing him to work because I was worried that if I did not I would miss out on socializing him at an age that was critical. Sounds like maybe his age dictates that I not force socialization on him. I will back off for a while, except this Friday, I have to bring him Friday. He is a very good dog and I am a not so great owner. I need to up my game as he is well ahead of me. Today was the first time I showed him how ugly I can get and I think it had an impression on him as he has been much better since then in regards to aggressive behavior and following commands. I think he knows he was misbehaving and is worried about another outburst from me. He responds MUCH better to praise than scolding, and treats versus a beat down. I guess I need to give him some space, some patience, and some praise and treats. I just weighed him out in the plant-5 1/2 months old and 71.5 pounds. It is like a 3 year old who is 6'3" 225. He looks menacing, but you just can't see the pacifier in his mouth.:) Hard to reconcile the fear and consequences with the toddler dog. Thank you again for your support.
 

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My GSD male is turning 6 months old soon. I take him to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays in my office. He has never bitten anyone, but his aggressive barking and threatening of primarily older grey haired men or African American men is getting more extreme. today it looked like he was getting ready to bite. Whenever he does this I tell him no and go to him and try to calm him down. I have NEVER hit my dog or used corporal punishment of any kind. Trying to kill him with kindness. Today I snapped because I felt he was getting close to something that was going to change our lives. When he started barking, not growling like earlier in the day, I told him no forcefully. When he did not listen I smacked him hard over his back with his leash and chased him into another office and grabbed him by his check and angrily told him "no barking". He got the message like I have never seen him get the message before. He has not barked at anyone since. I am certain that this is temporary, but maybe not.

My question: Is it ever acceptable to physically punish my dog for extreme behavior?

Last night my wife had to put him in his kennel because he was getting too rough with her. She is far too passive with him and has been unwilling to assert her dominance with him (Feel this is important for him to know where he stands in the pack).

Would appreciate any advice I could get before this spirals downhill to a level that could mean the end of the road for us. I love this dog and it really upsets me to be in this position. I have never had a dog that was this aggressive.
Correcting a dog for inappropriate aggression is not wrong. The way you went about the correction may not have been the best way to do it. First, "you do not kill" an aggressive dog with kindness. You need to be firm and fair. A leash correction with a collar is the way to correct this dog. The dog should be on lead and you give him a firm correction for growling or barking. Tell him NO and correct. If your first correction is not adequate deliver a harder one until he gets the message. Anger on your part is not effective, you need to stay calm and in control. Grabbing the dog by the cheek is also very wrong. You have spent months pampering and spoiling this dog, letting him be in charge. Your hands are for petting and praising, not hitting. Getting angry will only make this situation worse as you dog will view you as being out of control.

Odds are that your dog is really not that aggressive, he is just taking advantage of you. Remember, this is a dog, it is not a child or a fur baby. It is a German Shepherd that is hitting adolescence. Be firm, fair and consistent. Take a leadership position and handle him like a dog. You need to be a benevolent dictator. Reward the dog when he is correct and stop treating this dog like a baby.

Best of luck to you.
 

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There's a whole different line of thinking about reactive dogs (and that's what your dog is). You can stop the behavior (barking and growling), but that may well be stopping the warning system--the barking and growling that lets folks know the dog feels threatened. These are the dogs that bite without warning. Please google "reactive dogs" and see what you think. I have started muzzle training my own reactive dog and I no longer expose him to triggers if I can possibly help it. We are starting a process of desensitizing and re-conditioning so that his fear will subside and he will be more relaxed in more situations. It will take a long time and the muzzle is for when we don't have time--like going to the emergency vet, if that happens; or if he breaks free on a walk (unlikely, but always possible), or if some "But dogs love me!" idiot ignores the very obvious warnings both me and my dog will give and insists on racing up to us.

You might also want to explore why the pack theory has been discredited (TL;DR--the wolves it was based on were artificially forced together in captivity and their behavior is nothing like real, wild wolves who live in family groups). Being confident and in charge is one thing; thinking your dog sees you as an "Alpha" is another.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Reactive dogs are a real, but not uncommon, challenge.
 

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I think teaching a dog yes / no makes life so much easier to navigate through training a dog in less formal situations like this. When he is barking, "no", if he quiets, "yes". It allows for clear communication. I would not correct a dog for disobeying "no" if you have not actually trained the dog the meaning of "no". It is not fair to expect him to comprehend a command, and to correct for failure to perform, when you have not taught the meaning of the command.

I would not work on a "place" command when you can simply use a down / stay, something that you probably have already started training and have worked on. I personally don't believe in muddying the water for the average dog by teaching too many commands. Less, but well trained and proofed, is usually better IME.

Do expect aggression from your dog as he matures. German Shepherds are genetically bred to possess a modicum of aggression, it is the written breed standard.
 
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