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I recently rescued a male gsd, he is two years old and unuttered. I have only had him for about two weeks. He seems to be a really good dog and he is partially trained. however, I have noticed some behavior that I need to correct. Yesterday I was going to bathe him in my bathroom but he was terrified of my tub, so I had to bathe him outside. when I was giving him a bath he seemed fine until I washed near his back legs. He gave a deep growl. He didn't lunge, snap, or even turn toward me when he growled, but it did shock me. He didn't show teeth or seem fearful while I was washing him outside, so I am unsure of why he growled at me. should I consider that aggression? what should I do the next time he does this? how do I get him used to the bathtub? I have also noticed he isn't comfortable with the dog brush and he bites at the air when he gets excited or I am playing fetch and have his toy. I don't like it even though he doesn't physically bite me I don't want him biting that close to me. any advice is appreciated thanks in advance.
 

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I think you need to slow down. You just got this boy. You don't really know each other yet and need time to bond. Don't worry about grooming right now. He's had a bath, so let it go. GSDs do not need to get bathed frequently anyway. I bathe my GSD once a year, in the summer, when it is hot. I do it outside with the hose. The rest of the year a good brushing takes care of grooming.

How long is 'recently'? Often, people use a technique called the two week shut down. It is a process, whereby, you crate the dog, or keep him in a quiet confined place. Keep the crate where he can observe the household, from the security of his own space. It gives the dog a chance to decompress. You can do a search to find specifics on how it works. Once your dog is more settled, start working on obedience. Enroll in classes. Training is an excellent way to bond with your dog.

I can't answer why your dog growled, or even if it was a growl. German Shepherds are extremely vocal dogs. Sometimes what sounds like a growl isn't really a growl. I have a real talker at my house. She would probably scare people who didn't know her, but it doesn't mean anything. I can't say that is what you heard with your dog, but since he didn't lunge, turn, snap or anything else, it might just be talk. He may have some pain or discomfort associated with his hind legs, or he may just have been finished with the bath. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this is aggression.

It sounds like he isn't used to getting groomed. Let him see the brush. Don't let him bite it. Tell him, "No!" Brush gently, in one area, to get him used to it. Keep it short. Same with the ball. Correct the snapping behavior. He doesn't know any better. He is a young boy. Do not be afraid of him. He needs to learn and you need to teach him.
 

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I'll preface this by saying I'm a novice, but I did something similar back in December. It took a good two months for my dog to feel totally comfortable and show her full personality. Bonding time was more important than a million small corrections back then--the exception would have been dangerous or destructive behaviors, though this wasn't really an issue for me aside from some separation anxiety chewing. There was some pacing, whining, what sounded like low growling without any snapping or biting (I took the latter to be a confidence/trust issue on her part because we were new to her, more than aggression).

I'm on board with the two week chill, also, and longer if needed. It's stressful enough to be in a new house, with a new person, sounds, and smells. We did a lot of easy treat training and short walks on the leash in an area that was 95% predictably dog free. A few car rides, too, just for some variety so she didn't go too bonkers. I steered clear of PetSmart/Petco and other pet friendly places until we were a unit.

I made the mistake of trying the dog park thinking, "Oh, fun with the doggo!" It was a compleeeete disaster, and actually how I found this board. I read about the two week shut down and corrected my course again. Easing into the relationship, and reading extensively about potential issues and proper training via the search function has been a dog/person life saver for both of us. All of that to say, good on you for inquiring, and best of luck.
 

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Welcome and congratulations on your new addition. I agree you should take it slow. Get to know each other in calm passive ways. Gentle petting, hand feeding, walking around your yard together if you have one.

About the air snapping. It's hard to say what is going on there since we can't see the dog, see the dog and your body language and know what is going on when it happens.
I have an air snapper. She has done it since she was a pup and we have never been able to break her of the habit. In our case it has nothing to do with aggression. It is purely her excitement, anxiety and inability to cap it when she is having to wait for what she is so very excited about. IE: going for an overdue walk, going out to play ball or frisbee and having to wait for me to get everything together to get out the door.
Try not to jump to the conclusion it has anything to do with aggression out of the gate.
 

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I adopted a 3 y/o male GSD years ago. He STUNK so bad it was outrageous. We did bathe him right off the bat, and then I thought I'll clip his toenails too because they were way over long. Well, it was too much and he snapped at me. It was a warning, if he had wanted to bite me he would have, but it was quite a warning nonetheless, wolfy fang face and air snap.

I started over going slower and getting him comfortable being handled and having his nails trimmed and he totally took to it and I never had a problem grooming, bathing, or toenails for the rest of the life of the dog. He was a resource guarder so I can't say he never growled again because he did but he was on board with fixing that, too.

I can say with my dog if I can tried to punish him for that and show him who was boss it would have ended badly. He just needed a little respect, a little time, and a little conditioning to handling like that being a good thing.

My current young dog went through a phase where he would be over excited and air snap as I reached down to pick up or prepared to throw his ball. It was not aggression but I didn't like it and wanted it to stop. So the instant he would snap I would drop his ball like a hot potato and go totally boring, stare into the distance and not move or respond to him---essentially I made his snap de-activate me and he caught on pretty quickly that the snapping was stopping the play and delaying the ball toss and my becoming boring also helped him calm down a bit which was also part of the problem. I did mark it with a word a few times to be sure he had it that it was the snapping that was the problem. It was short lived and he has never done it as an adult. The dropping the ball thing would only work if the dog didn't want to grab the ball and just play by themselves though. Mine didn't, he wanted me to throw it, so it worked. Also if I was still reaching for the ball and he snapped, I would immediately stop reaching for the ball so he would connect that snapping deactivated everything he wanted me to do.
 

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Congratulations on your new dog! It will take a while to get to know the knew addition to your family. There may be pain in that area as mentioned. A vet would rule out any physical issues. It could be air snapping from excitement. I do agree to take it slow. I do though like washing my dogs outside and save it for the warmer weather. clean up is much easier. I use a baby pool and hook up a garden hose to the sink in the house using a connector - one that fits- so they can have nice warm baths.
 

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One of our former dogs would give a growl when we bathed him and got too close to his dangly bits while washing. Someone (my brother's friend) brushed him too vigorously once and he wanted everyone to stay away from that area afterward. But with a rescue you can't know, he might just need time or it might be he wants his space.

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