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Is this aggression?

Hi everyone I'm new so please be gentle.

I have owed my 2 year old German Shepherd for almost a year now and got him from a rescue centre. He has a very good character and temperament although he will bark when somebody comes to the door but with people and most dogs he’s fine and doesn’t have a problem with me or anybody else taking his food away or even a toy or have a problem with joggers or bikes.

However, he does, at times, have a tendency to be a bit rough with some other dogs by way of running over into the other dogs face then chases them to bring them down and will do this by grabbing, not biting, the other dogs neck or more recently at the body (in all honesty I have yet to witness him biting although some people think he is try to – I think it looks worst than it actually is). I realize this is a shepherd trait but don’t want this too escalate into anything more serious and plus the fact that I could do without the people who are very confrontational with me even when I’m trying to explain and deal with the situation reasonably.

He has received basic training and, of course, is normally very good in the class even with other dogs but he will bark at them and vice versa. It does depend on the reaction of the other dog, ie, if it runs my dog will run after the dog, if the dog stands it’s ground then he won’t normally do very much. I’m just worried that he is starting to become more aggressive with other dogs.

I haven’t had much guidance from the trainers we have been to and they didn’t seem too overly concerned but maybe I didn’t explain the situation well enough. Anyway, I’m confused as to what to do because I have dog walkers saying it’s nothing to worry about when they see it and it’s just play but I also have the other side of the coin when people don’t like what they see and claim my dog is aggressive. I can appreciate you can get the over protective owner but obviously I would prefer him not to do this and want him to play more gently but don’t really know what else to do, because when he’s chasing or eying up the dog even if I see it before he runs over he doesn’t respond to treats or toys or even a firm voice command, so any advice would be gratefully received.

Warm Regards

Maxine
 

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Hi Maxine and welcome to the forums


There are many types of aggression. One of my favorite books is Jean Donaldson's "Fight!" regarding dog-dog aggression. I highly recommend you reading it.

What it sounds like he is doing is what Jean describes as a "Tarzan" dog. He is still young. He never really learned how to correctly play with other dogs. Imagine Tarzan being plucked out of the jungle after having grown up there and being deposited in down-town Manhattan. Culture shock!

He needs to learn proper behavior from other dogs. Check out her book. It will really help I think.
It is way too intensive to go into here, plus I am sure with all the copy rights I shouldn't say much lol
 

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According to Dunbar people implement the word Aggression way to much when it comes to dogs just being dogs.
However your dog should not be allowed to just run up to other dogs and engage in play without the owners (of the other dog) permission. Thats kinda runde and could be dangerous. Not every dog is dog friendly!
It would be safer to meet up with the other owner and their dogs first- see that they get along- and then let them play.
 

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Sounds like normal 'dog play' to me.

Unfortunately there is a lot of 'breed bias' out there so I don't let my dogs off lead with strange dogs.
 

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My dog is shy and I work hard to keep all her dog interaction experiences very positive. I DO NOT appreciate if a strange dog comes without any invitation and starts pinning my dog to the ground while his owner starts telling that this is a normal GSD play. It's normal in some situations, maybe, but it's simply lack of socializing and bulling in another.
 

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And yes, I will be confrontational. It's my job to protect my dog and I will do it by all means. I don't think your dog is agressive yet, I think it's not very well socialized between dogs but you do need to start acting now.

My friend's German shepherd was acting exactly like you describe starting from 14 months. My friend was proud that she had an alpha female and did nothing except 'oh, that's rude, don't do that!' talk. My dog suffered and I stoped meeting with them for doggy playdates. Well, now, after 10 months, she cannot have her dog offleash among other dogs anymore and she's not welcome in any dog park with her dog.

That's great that you try to correct the situation now!
 

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While it may not be 'true' aggression, it is extremely 'rude' behavior even for the dog world and you are right to be concerned. Even though your dog may only mean to play, all he needs is the other dog to be fearful or aggressive and there will be a fight and trips to the vet are not fun!

I personally would only let my dog offleash with other dogs he knows at this point. So others won't panic or get angry at you. And the other dogs should be used to yours and not react. So if these means you may have to find a new place with no dogs to use for exercise, then so be it. Continued dog classes in flyball, agility, other 'sports' would be a help.

You ever read HE JUST WANTS TO SAY "HI! By Suzanne Clothier ?
 
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