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Discussion Starter #1
I am seventeen and currently own a beautiful, wonderful two year old neutered male Shepherd by the name of Phoenix.
I have always had dogs my whole life and raise and train sled dogs, so I am no novice when it come to dog handling.
I have always admired shepherds and wanted one as long as I can remember. I am blessed with great parents who allowed me to go and pick out a puppy from a breeder they had heard about.
The breeding "Facility" was awful, the puppies were in an atrocious area, and they had a child who was manhandling the pups horribly.
Anyway, just some background on him.
I have socialized him all his life, and neutered him at a young age. he is very obedient, and one of the smartest dogs I know, basically everything that I could ever want in a dog.
Except for the territorial aggression.
He is horribly aggressive when people come to the house if they are not in the immediate "pack", barking and snarling. My parents say that it is worse when i am home, because he is very much MY dog, but if he is under my control, he is fine.
He doesn't have a problem with people if they abide by his rules and DO NOT touch him until he has given them "Permission", but as soon as someone tried to touch him, he jumps closer, snarling. He has never bitten anyone, but I am TERRIFIED that the day is coming. I love this dog more than I could ever say, and couldn't BEAR to lose him.
Earlier today a woman who works for my mom was in our driveway where he couldn't see her, and she was driving a different truck than normal He intimidates her, but they have been getting along fine for a while. My back was turned, and he started running, but I didn't think much of it until I heard his aggressive bark begin. I thought he was going to bite her.
She yelled at him, which surprised him I think, and i got hold of him.
We have worked on all basic obedience, and he is very very good at it, but sometimes just refuses to listen, but only when he really thinks that there is threat to his yard.
I am still very shaken about the whole thing and have done everything I can think of.
I am terrified, TERRIFIED that he will bite someone.
Please someone help me.
:help:
 

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I am waiting for your responses because I have one that is the same way....
 

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What is your dog's experience with socialization? Does he primarily stay in your yard or property or do you walk him daily around a town or park with people?

Sled dogs, I'm assuming Husky type have a very different personality than GSD's. My first dog as an adult was 1/2 GSD, and when I got a 100% GSD, wow what a difference. It sounds like you were not prepared for a GSD, or a GSD from a questionable breeder?

I not sure how to guide you but will give you a few good resources:

Books from Patricia McConnell, The Cautious Canine and The Other End of the Leash
a book from Denine Phillips, Don't Give Up On That Dog
and from the author Turid Rugaas, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals.
 

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Well, hon, you aren't going to like what my first point is, which is basically moot at this point, since you already have him. But please, do not ever buy a puppy from a place that is "atrocious". They are not bettering the breed through health and temperament. Aggression is from two reasons: genetic temperament and environment. So, you've got a challenging case. That being said, all is not lost and there are many folks on this site who have successfully socialized and trained a dog to the better side. However, if they are honest, most will tell you that they always, always have to carefully watch their dog and be on top of things.

I fostered a dog that sounds like yours. He was loved, loved, loved. He didn't get out much in his prior home and basically started to be in charge of the house, so he decided to form his own job of territorial aggression. No one was allowed in our house, either, after he acclimated to us. He was three years old.

Others will have specific advice for you on what steps to take. But I do know this: it will take time, patience, a lot of caution and consistency, a lot of practice (from friends who are "strangers" to help).

My beloved guy did actually bite someone. Twice. It wasn't pretty.

The good news is that he's young and just entered his "macho" stage. Make sure he's neutered, if you haven't already done so. It will help and he is not the temperament to breed, IMHO. Take a look at the Schutzhund pup requirements: complete confidence and no aggression prior to bite training.

Good luck and blessings. There is hope, but you've got to be committed to it, and the rest of your family too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have taken him lots and lots of new places, around towns and frequently to the animal shelter to socialize, but he for the most part is in our yard. We have an eight acre yard for him to run in, along with many other dogs and goats, horses, chickens, and other animals. A friend of mine who has had shepherds all her life said that he isn't busy enough, that he HAS to have a job, which i completely agree with; he's definitely a working dog. But I am just terrified of that one time that he might just take it too far.
I love this dog, more than I could ever say.
I know that this behavior is both genetic and learned from the place that we acquired him.
He is neutered, and was neutered at a young age.
I am just at the end of my rope; I feel as though I've got him for borrowed time, and the feeling makes me sick to my stomach.
 

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Managment...You need to manage his environment 24/7 if you can't get a handle on his aggression because if you don't then yes, he's going to nail someone someday.

Find an experienced GSD trainer in your area because this is something that you are not going to be able to control on your own

Good luck
 

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It sounds like you need two things right off the bat, management and training

Management means limiting his freedom, keeping him away from dangerous situations where he may bite someone. Gates and or barricades will help with this. If people are around I would purchase a basket muzzle for him to wear and have him leashed at all times if in the same area, that will help you calm down as he won't be able to bite and therefore will hopefully decrease his stress level as well. Dogs pick up on our emotions very well, so if you're in constant state of panic or fear they will react to that.

It's great you have a large property, is it not fenced in? If he has free roam of all the land I would immediately put a stop to that. Either securely fencing in an area or building a large outdoor kennel for him while outside unsupervised so people can come and go safely.


Training means looking for a trainer that specifically deals with aggression, getting a second opinion on what's causing the behaviour will be key to finding triggers and finding solutions. Shop around and ask for references from previous clients to ensure you're paying for a quality instructor


I would also take him to a vet for a full checkup including blood work to rule out any physical reasons or imbalances which may be causing the aggression.
 

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I have a fearful dog who is HA, much better now with training, but will always have to be managed. He hasn't gotten a bite in but given the opportunity I'm pretty sure he would.

Absolute management and obedience is what is going to save your dog's life.

Today - begin conditioning him to a basket muzzle. Great video demonstrating this: Conditioning Your Dog to a Muzzle - YouTube . Muzzles can actually settle a dog down. It will help you relax because the bite is eliminated if the muzzle is fitted properly. Keep in mind he can still do some damage if he hits with the muzzle or jumps on someone and catches with claws.

Crate train him if he isn't.

It sounds like your yard isn't fenced? Either fence the backyard with a minimum 5 ft much preferable 6 ft fence. I hesitate saying 5 ft because that can easily be jumped. If fencing the backyard isn't feasible, a large roomy kennel with shelter and a good water setup. Padlocks on the fence gates. If a kennel, anytime he is out of the kennel, he is on a lead. There was a period of time that even in a fenced yard, I kept Woolf on a long lead.

When you have visitors, instruct they completely ignore your dog. Even a hint of them not following your direction, remove your dog to his kennel or crate.

Locate a behaviorist/trainer in your area. Talk and evaluate with several. Verify they have experience with GSD and large working breeds. Check references, past and current clients. Seriously, talk with several.

As hard as it is, you will need to find a way to remain calm handling him. Your anxiety level will only increase his aggression.
 

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I had some problems when I first got my GSD/Malinois mix. Not as severe, but more then I could handle. I lucked out and found a trainer that had been involved with schutzhund for decades which really helped. A lot of trainers cannot handle the personality of high drive dogs. You might want to try contacting a local schutzhund club and asking if they know of any good trainers with GSD experience.
 

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Limit his freedom, and train. Do not allow a free run on 8 acres of land, because you are asking for troubles. Maybe a smaller fenced pen will be better for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone for your advice!!
I've been working on a new system, which seems to be working well so far.
Thank you all!
If you guys have more advice, I would love to hear!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It seems as though he is the most aggressive to the one worker of my moms, the one he charged the other day. everyone else he is still pretty aggressive, but he won't start it normally.
I have tried the no Talk, no Touch and no Eye contact rule, but she never remembers it, any more ideas?
 

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If your directions aren't followed, your dog should be put away.

How is the search for a behaviorist going?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry it has taken me so long to reply, been very busy.
One of my Mom's best friends has had German Shepherds her whole life, and has been helping me with him.
One of the main problems that I am having, is that my house has no air conditioning (hang on, that isn't the problem) and so we leave our back door open all the time. We have a "screen door" that the screen popped out of. He's the only one of our dogs who figured out how to jump out of this door, and, because he is extremely paranoid, he runs to the door and races out, barking if he thinks he hears something. Which often he does.
After the initial barking and announcing that someone is here, if I have him, and the person doesn't talk, touch or look at him, he is completely fine with everything. He loves my little sister's friend (who is... eleven I believe) and generally likes children/teens better than adults. With exceptions. I am afraid to introduce him to a small child, but that isn't a big worry of mine yet, i don't know anyone who has small children really.
ANYWAY, that was roundabout. He is VERY good on a leash, but will growl and snap (he hasn't, because i intercept people, but i have no doubt he would) if people bend down to touch him.
Do you think that by, keeping him carefully socialized, he will grow out of this? He is two years old and was neutered at a young age (as I said already i believe)
Also, we have invisible Fence. I know this is not at all ideal for aggressive dogs, but he does very well with it.
Okay, going into more detail, thank you by the way if you guys read this whole thing, I know its long. But my mom bakes and sells bread at the end of our driveway in a wagon. People pull up all the time to buy her bread, and he is out often when they come and has no problem with them until they enter "his turf" People walk dogs past our house, and again, he is fine unless they enter his territory. So he won't challenge the Invisible fence. But it doesn't really help with anything.
So, roundabout, thank you for reading...
I am utterly in love with this dog, but very worried.
 
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