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I have a 2 year old GSD (Arko) from working lines. He was doing well in Schutzhund, but my time has been very limited lately. I doo take him out almost daily (depending on weather) and run him, basic obedience. I have a wife and 6 year old son. Yesterday, while I was at work my wife and son decided to let Arko out of his run. She has done this many times. He comes out with tons of energy going after one of his toys. He's just happy to be out running out of the yard. According to my wife, she and Tommy (son) are standing on the opposite side of the yard when Arko runs at my son and body slams him. As he does this he continues to rip around the yard when my wife yells at him, scolding him. It was her perception that he was showin some level of aggression. Cindy (wife) proceeds to call Arko over to her and she grabs him by the scruff (no collar). Well, he doesn't like that and growls. She gets him into the house and into the crate and tries to be stern with him (although she's a bit nervous now) and tells him to lay down. He growls. Every time she says something, he growls. This dog has never shown any aggression toward anyone, least of all the family. Not having been there, I can only try to piece together what happened. I believe it was a dominance issue. I (alpha) was not home and he's trying to establish the pecking order. I am the only one who feeds him and does the training. Having said all that, my wife is nervous with him now and I think my son is but will not admit it. Advice, thoughts?
 

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After reading your post, it reminds me of our dog Cartwright. He can be very dominant towards me. I have had to learn how to deal with him when my husband is not home. I blamed some of his behaviour on his age "the terrible twos." He seems to be calming down, and I have been working with him so he shows respect to me. I walk him every day, and feed him. I think maybe your wife needs to get involved with some training so he knows that he is below her in the pecking order. One thing that has helped me a lot, espcecially when people come to our door and he tries to dominate them, is a spray bottle with water and vinegar. He hates that. ( I dont let him see I have it.) Since I have used that a few times, he now does not jump on people or mouth them. He says hello politely and walks away. It might be a great tool for your wife. Maybe if your wife took some obedience classes with him also, that may help the dog respect him more also. Just a thought.
 

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The family will have to start taking more of a part in his activities. NILIF will be a great start and the whole family can do together. If Arko isn't put in his place beneath your wife and son, then I'm afraid that wife and son will ultimately blow this more out of proportion than it needs to be. It will likely be an ultimatum to rehome Arko. As you have activities with Arko, include your wife/son.
 

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Well, at 2 years old, he is definately into puberty.
So, now that he is fully grown and his hormones are working, he is starting to be a "man" (in the sense of: boisterous behaviours, like 14-15 year old boys).

On the other hand, it could also be just Arko "blowing off some steam" (getting rid off too much energy, and not wanting to be stopped). Personally, I don't believe in a dog body slamming. I think the dog was just careless. But the growling is something to keep a check on. He is definately trying to rise in the pecking order.

Could your wife be somehow involved in the training? To make her loose her nervousness and let her understand him? Make her a beta leader? A good trainer should also be able to help her in this, as well as understanding Arko's behaviour.

1 other thing: maybe it is a good idea that she ends the playing time with something positive. I mean, try it from his view: he has a good time, free in the yard, and then: wham-bam- in his crate he goes.
Of course he growls, then.

I am not saying that it is ok, however.

But, look at it from his side. What if: they all had a nice play in the garden, maybe throw a couple of sticks for him to fetch, and then end this with giving him a treat. Then, back into the house, all is calm, etc. No crating.

How often and for how long is the dog able to walk free? With free, I mean without a leash.
 

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Originally Posted By: razzI have a 2 year old GSD (Arko) from working lines. He was doing well in Schutzhund, but my time has been very limited lately. I doo take him out almost daily (depending on weather) and run him, basic obedience.
He is telling you he needs more exercise/stimulation/etc...thinking of my own working line girls (one of whom is also 2 years old), I must take them out daily. During the week, we walk every morning, followed by a run in the yard and practicing off-leash obedience. In the evenings, we get out and run agility (equipment is in the yard), alternating runs between the two of them. We also go to agility class, once a week...weekends are filled with going to the park, camping, going visiting, etc.

As for what happened out in the yard, I wasn't there, so like you, I have to piece together the story. To me, it sounds like he had a case of the "zoomies" and accidentally ran into your son...he was probably pretty confused (not to mention being in an excited state of mind) as to why your wife was angry with him and grabbed him. With her being nervous, I'm not surprised that he acted the way did.

It truly sounds like this needs to be turned into a family project - all of you need to participate in his care. It will help him to be the best dog he can be and it will help your wife/son to feel confident around him. Otherwise, you are staring down a bumpy road IMHO.

Good Luck,
Melissa
 

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The body slamming is play. If you watch high-energy dogs playing together, they will often "hip-slam" each other. It wasn't dominance or rudeness, just exhuberance and an invitation to play. Of course, we can't let our dogs body-slam us, nor children, they have to learn how to play appropriately with humans, with a bunch of rules and boundries.

At two years old, he is starting to push the limits and testing his limits. Great that he gets daily excersice, but he still needs MENTAL excercise to tire him out. So in addition to daily runs and play sessions, have some daily obedience excercises. Challenge him mentally. I recently taught my dog to heel up and down steps (backwards too!), with sudden stops and starts. This really blew her mind, and you could just see her brain gears going overtime trying to figure that one out. Up till then, stairs were for running up and down! slowing her down made her work and THINK. You can be creative in teaching your dog new obedience excersices, and your wife can work him in obedience too to raise her status with him.

Even if you don't have time for formal training, you can still take him tracking and find him jobs to keep his mind stimulated. Simple agility excersices? I took my dog to a playground when there was no one around and had her all over the jungle gym. Again, it wasn't so much the physical excersice needs that I was trying to meet, but my aim was to challenge her mentally. She was trotting over swinging tire bridges and sliding down slides with me directing her from the ground. This kind of work will tire him out and meet much of his needs for mental stimulation.
 

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I agree he has way too much pent up energy. I think he was confused at why your wife was irratated and rough with him as I am almost certain the body slam was in play. My dogs get really rieled when first let out. I really think you need to amp up the exercise and get your family invoved with the dog.
 

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I also think the body slam was play, the "zoomies" (great term by the way), a bit of carelessness, and excitement. Ozzy will do the same thing and tear all around the yard when he gets in the mood, a few times body checking me! He's 2 and when he gets in that mode, it's hard for him to stop.

I wouldn't necessarily think it was a pecking order issue, just lots of energy in an adolescent dog.
 

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Originally Posted By: mjb03I agree he has way too much pent up energy. I think he was confused at why your wife was irratated and rough with him as I am almost certain the body slam was in play. My dogs get really rieled when first let out. I really think you need to amp up the exercise and get your family invoved with the dog.
I agree!
The dog didn't know what he was scolded for in the first place, then he comes when called, gets physically scolded again (literally out of the blue, since the dog even obejed the come command), is thrown in the crate with more scolding (dog still doesn't know what went over the wife to treat him so unfairly). And then one wonders, why the dog growled?
Gosh, It's tough being a dog!
 

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This situation started with a dog that had way too much pent up energy that was bored out of his mind. He did not show aggression towards the child, he was playing. If a two year old male with some bitework foundation actually showed aggression it would be beyond debate... you'd know. Then someone that obviously had not bonded to him and earned his respect scruffed him and tried to correct him with an emotional response while showing aggression which to him was coming out of the blue (remember, comes out of his run amped up and starts to play and is met with a scruff, screaming and an attempt to dominate him). I kind of take it as a good sign that he did not nip your wife.

I think you need to make some decisions on what you want to do with this dog...

1. I could be wrong, but it sounds as if he has not had much in the way of "manners" training and shaping of behavior that you expect of him around your son and in the house. Does he spend most of his time crated or in his run outside unless you are working with him? If so, you need to decide if you want your wife and son to interact with him regularly or not - especially if you are not there to supervise. If you do, she needs to take an active roll in the dogs life in regards to at least some training and caretaking. You can institute certain parts of NILF with him and not destroy his drive or working ability, and this will be crucial if you want him to be a family dog as well as a working dog. It will be harder now, because shaping that behavior in a positive manner is easier with puppies (they are not large and powerful yet!) but it can be done with a two year old as well. I would suggest YOU be the only one to do this initially, until the dog shows that it respects your wife and your wife shows that she can handle the dog fairly and confidently from an emotionally detached place.

2. Don't set him up to fail again. Letting out an amped up powerful animal that does not know how to behave around your wife and child without a collar or long line is not the thing to do. He needs to be exercised and fed first so he has the edge taken off, and then he needs to be on a long line so you and your wife have control. Then you have set him up for success.

3. If the answer to #1 is that you do not neccessarily need him to interact as a family dog, then you need to keep him well exercised mentally and physically and your wife needs to stay away. It is a recipe for disaster to do this half way.
 

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Originally Posted By: CastlemaidThe body slamming is play. If you watch high-energy dogs playing together, they will often "hip-slam" each other. It wasn't dominance or rudeness, just exhuberance and an invitation to play. Of course, we can't let our dogs body-slam us, nor children, they have to learn how to play appropriately with humans, with a bunch of rules and boundries.
Yep. Kenya does not body slam, but Coke body slams any dog or person so we've worked on that. He is a BIG TALL dog and he cannot be body slamming people. He knocks ME over, so I'd hate to have him do it to a child. There is no dominance or aggression involved, it's just how some dogs play. True, it needs to be kept under control around humans b/c it can hurt.
 

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My wife read my description of what happened and guess what? I got it wrong. I really do need to start listening to her. Anyway, this is what she has to say>>>>


His demeanor changed from play to definite seriousness or agression. He made a bee-line to our son, it was not him tearing around the yard and oh gee, hit into joe on the way around. It was intentional. And son said he heard the growl (he told me, I did not ask him about it, "mom, he growled at me")). I feel it was either a dominance or teritorial issue (dominance over territory perhaps). There was a marked change in behavior....
 

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This does not make sense to me. A dog showing territorial aggression or dominance would go up to the child and either take a dominant stance over the child (head over him, tail high while waiting for any act from the child) or just strike, especially when there is no fear in the equasion. Growling and knocking him down still could have been play even though he ran at him. On top of that, he did not lash out at your wife when she scruffed him immediately after. Either way, the course of action will be the same except now you need to observe him around your child in a controlled setting (long line with you supervising) to determine what is going on.
 

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It doesn't make sense to me either. That would make sense if he were a polar bear but I have never seen a dog knock another dog or person down out of aggression. A weak dog might get taken down by the bite of a stronger dog but that's just not how dogs use their bodies.

Maybe he got stung by a bee or something? None of this sounds right to me.

And please remind your wife that you NEVER call an animal over to be disciplined. I would also never scruff a dog that was showing unprecedented aggression and, as John points out, the scruff came for obeying the recall in his mind. I hope you will figure out what's going on here and work with the dog and your wife and son on whatever issues everyone is having.

How much time does this guy get out of his kennel? Sounds like he's got a lot of energy to burn. I know my guy here would be running up and down the walls and knocking me and everything else in his path over if he were cooped up all of the time.
 

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Echoing the "body slam is play" statement. The other day, Renji and I played a game where we just barrelled into each other. Sure, perhaps not the wisest game when it comes to not jumping on people but we both had fun and he *loves* it. Wrestlemania, right here right now! No dominance issues, though. We can play an all-out game of tug and he'll out on command and down on command throughout the whole game.

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And please remind your wife that you NEVER call an animal over to be disciplined. I would also never scruff a dog that was showing unprecedented aggression and, as John points out, the scruff came for obeying the recall in his mind.
Yes. Overall though, wife and son need to do some training of this dog and make him earn his bowl of food via obedience commands. He who controls the food is quite high up in a dog's eyes. Renji has to bow in his crate without me saying so to get his meal, but once he has it and is released, he's left alone to enjoy. NILIF is a great leadership program, definitely follow it!
 

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Razz,

Even though this does not make sense to us does not mean that is not what happened. Lots can get lost in translation, especially because the person describing this may not know canine behavior and body language well. Maybe contact your TD at your club and ask him to come out to your home for an evaluation on how the dog interacts with your son if you do not feel confident enough to do it yourself? This is obviously a very important situation. Good luck.
 

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I can see it happening- I've had dogs get so excited they get the zoomies and sometimes they growl when doing it. If I did not know the dog very well I would have thought it was aggression or been disturbed by what I would of thought was a change in personality- you know they run around super fast, some growls or vocalizations and get this crazed look on their face. It can be hard to get them to snap out of it until they start to run out of steam. Seeing a GSD do this could be frightening if you have not seen it before. I think every breed gets the zoomies sometimes but whats cute for a little dog can seem scary for a big dog. That doesn't change the fact that it scared the family and bumped the son around. My husband has not been around big dogs his whole life and probably would of thought it was agression too. I'm not saying it wasn't agression I'm just saying I think growling, crazed, zoomies can look really scary to someone that hasn't seen it before and can put children at risk of being body slammed!
 

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Could be territorial related- maybe he didn't recognize your son right away? But a GSD or any dog for that matter, shouldn't have territorial aggression towards their own family like they are strangers.
This dog needs to spend more time with his family and kept indoors so he gets to know and respect his pack. I still wouldn't leave your son unsupervised with the dog, but he should be involved with some basic training and feeding etc.
 

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I have a working dog that has done this with DH. It only happened once, but because I corrected him for it. We were both outside and my dog was running around the yard like crazy (you can call it zoomies probably). He ran up to DH and kind of jumped up and used his paws to push him (sounds like your body-slam). I used an "easy" command. He ran around and did it a second time, but a little harder. I gave a harder verbal command. Then came the third time, when the dog pushed hard enough to knock DH off balance. I know I heard what sounded to be a growl at the same time. I yelled at the dog, grabbed him by the scruff kind of roughly and shoved him into a down at DH's feet. He knew he had messed up. It hasn't happened since.

For my dog, I believe 100% that he was trying to bait DH into playing rough with him. He did growl, but it wasn't all aggression. It was more play. However, he also wouldn't ever do that with me, which puts it a little more in the dominance play area for me. He's shown some dominance/slight aggression issues with DH before, but it's getting better with time.

For me, because mine is a working dog, I can't have DH correct him really....and I am the only one who lets him out of his kennel and feeds him. But if he were a sport/family dog and showed the same issues, I would definitely have DH be sharing in feeding and OB.

Has your wife ever corrected your dog to that level before? If not, I'd second the recommendation of having your wife do some OB with him. I'd make sure that she was able to give him a correction within your sight and out of your sight without any aggression from him. And as for your son, maybe do food reward obedience with the dog, with your son giving the commands and rewards for basic things....just a sit /down type thing.
 
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