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Hello,

New to the forums and am in need of some experienced advice from fellow GSD owners. Recently, my wife and I adopted a GSD named Rocky from a family that could no longer provide for him (they had to downsize their home). He is currently under 11 months, male and exactly as the family described... gentle, playful and has a great temperament towards children. After meeting the dog we felt that he would be the right fit for our family of three young children and adopted him.

We have had him for over a week now and as he grows with us, we feel he is a fantastic dog, hes house trained, obedient, listen to commands when their are no distractions and is a fantastic companion. However, a problem has recently occurred that has scared my wife and I and made us questions things.

Recently we had our mother-in-law come to the home for the first time since Rocky's adoption and spend the afternoon with us, providing him with treats that he was delighted to have. A family friend came over as well to hangout and overall the afternoon became jam packed with the dog being very worked up and excited. He was given a new toy and became very protective of it, and when my daughter went to go reach for it...we saw a very aggressive side to the dog and he began to bark and growl and make aggressive advances towards her. She was frightened, and almost immediately the dog did the same to our other daughter who was on another couch and had nothing to do with the toy. Apparently according to my friend who was in the room, he had to hold the dog back from lunging towards my daughter (my wife and I were in another room).Both children were frightened and my wife and I our blown away. We are concerned with the fact that this behavior has arisen because he has never shown any aggressiveness towards the family at all until this point. We are currently giving the dog the benefit of the doubt, a new home, new toys and family everything is new and him being worked up for a few hours probably did not help the situation.

My friend is under the impression that we should simply give the dog up and that any sort of aggression, not matter at what level should not be tolerated. However my wife and I want to work with the dog as we have developed feelings for him and believe in his temperament that we have seen all week which is one that is not aggressive, just very playful and at times quite energetic.

Are we of the right mindset? Have we done something wrong? Anyone with experience in this situation or with some words of wisdom, please feel free to share. If I have left out pertinent information, please ask. Needless to say, we are in a bind and are not sure what to do beyond staying the course and working with the dog to train him with the children as best as we can.

Thanks,

Max
 

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It is possible that this is the real reason why the dog was given up and downsizing was used as an excuse. The dog appears to be resource guarding his toys. I suggest you contact a trainer in your area (if available) and have a home visit and consulation.
 

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I think you should PM carmspack, she should be able to recommend a very good local trainer. It's hard to say what's going on, since you've had the dog for such a short time, and had him in such a chaotic environment. I'm glad you're not giving up on him yet, but I completely understand your concern. The '2 week shutdown' might be something to implement, to help him settle in.
 

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The honey moon of the new home is over and now you see the real dog. This behavior is a huge red flag to me, no matter the excuses of being in a chaotic environment. A stable dog should be able to handle this.
If you didn't have children it would be completely different. I would never run the risk again. He has shown his true colors and I am sure the previous owners hid it from you.
I would adopt him out to someone who can provide the training he needs and not have the risks of small children getting bitten. It only takes one second of inattentiveness for a huge disaster to happen.
 

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It was definitely too much stimulation for a new dog (only there a week, right?). I think the situation was loaded against him and he got a little overwhelmed. With children in the house, definitely an evaluation/working with a trainer would be beneficial. However, he probably could have used some separation time before it escalated.
 

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Apparently according to my friend who was in the room, he had to hold the dog back from lunging towards my daughter (my wife and I were in another room).
Thanks,

Max
Whereas your new dogs reaction could be a whole number of things, the statement above made me wonder....

If your new dog was truly resource guarding the toys, I don't think it would have allowed your friend to 'hold it back' while it lunged at the children. Your dog would have guarded it's toys from your friend as well. Snatched the 'prize' and ran off.

It could be that the dog was totally amped up from all the new people, new toys, new home and became overly excited. With the kids running around offering the dog's prey (as in play, not eat your kids) drive to kick in and the dog wanted to step up the game to a level that is not allowed in most house holds. At least not with young children.

And amped up GSD is a lot more scarey then an amped up poodle - although they are exhibiting the same behavior.

Resource guarding or poor behavior the answer is the same: Training. Training. Training. Take your new dog to professional training classes.

Until then don't allow the dog's environment to have such a direct effect on your dog's behavior. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the advice everyone, everything seems plausible at this point. I have begun contacting trainers in my area to hopefully correct this issue.
 

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What does your dog do if you put your hand in his food bowl. I would test the dog one on one first to see how he responds to you first. Try to recreate the situation and when you do you can not back down. He needs to know what he is doing is not acceptable. Don't freak out just yet. He needs time to understand who is in charge. Just my opinion. Good luck
 

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I would be very careful in having a dog who ever guarded a resource in a home with young children. It is almost impossible to manage the dog and the children 100% of the time, and it only takes one mistake for something to really go wrong. I would definitely consult with the private trainer before making any permanent decisions. But, unless the trainer sees something really promising, I wouldn't risk it. This is not a behavior that can be "cured", it is a behavior that can be modified and managed in the right home. Unfortunately, a home with 3 young children is probably not the right home for this type of behavior issue.
 

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I'd be contacting Mike Clay (thanks Carmen!) because for one thing, you've had the dog for such a short time, you don't know his true personality. For another, nobody really knows exactly what was going through the dog's mind at the time of the lunge and snap, and if it was resource guarding you want to nip this behavior in the bud, by using a very good trainer, with experience with this breed. Many trainers aren't able to deal with any kind of aggression, and some can't even work with GSDs properly.

FWIW, my DH's dog had serious guarding issues when I met her - space, food, and bones. Snappity snap, lol. It's all about management. If you think the dog will snap at your children while he's eating, please consider feeding him in a crate in the meantime.
 

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I would be very careful in having a dog who ever guarded a resource in a home with young children. It is almost impossible to manage the dog and the children 100% of the time, and it only takes one mistake for something to really go wrong. I would definitely consult with the private trainer before making any permanent decisions. But, unless the trainer sees something really promising, I wouldn't risk it. This is not a behavior that can be "cured", it is a behavior that can be modified and managed in the right home. Unfortunately, a home with 3 young children is probably not the right home for this type of behavior issue.
As in my response before, I 100% agree and you need to read this one over and over again. You will hear also different opinions from different trainers but is it worth the risk? Do you know and even realize what risks we are warning you for?
An unpredictable Shepherd is like a loaded gun and your family life will never be as relaxed as if you had a sound dog. Sorry always comes too late. Is your spouse on the same page with you? I am saying this as a mother who puts the children's safety first. Again I would re-home him to a family without small kids like over 14 years old. That might also save his life before he has done damage.
 

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Resource guarding is a common issue with dogs. While it is serious and scary, I believe that in most cases it can be managed, with help from a professional. I agree with the others, he was probably stressed and overstimulated. You've only had him a short while, and he is young, so there's a good chance that the problem is fixable or at least managable. Definitely contact a professional to help you.
 

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Resource guarding is a common issue with dogs. While it is serious and scary, I believe that in most cases it can be managed, with help from a professional. I agree with the others, he was probably stressed and overstimulated. You've only had him a short while, and he is young, so there's a good chance that the problem is fixable or at least managable. Definitely contact a professional to help you.
True, but not safe with small children. I have worked with dogs like this and have always put the family's safety first. Having a known resource guarder in a family with young kids might as well be child endangerment. I am speaking from experience. Over and out for me, hoping Maxc will think twice before keeping him.
 

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I for one am not comfortable making an assessment on a puppy when it's third hand information, on an internet forum, no less. Resource guarding? Overstimulation? Only the trainer knows for sure.
 
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