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Hi,

I am Teresa. I have 2 GSD's. A male named Zeus who is 3 yr old and a female named Luna who is 5 yr old. Luna was a rescue, and Zeus is from a breeder. I am having a tougher time with Zeus than I ever did with Luna. He is food aggressive and recently nipped a man at the dog park. I have socialized him since he was 11 weeks old. He goes to doggie day care and there has never been an incident. He is very protective of me but never to this extreme. He has shown some aggresstion toward people in the past but rarely. It is usually in public and he feels threatened in some way by someone. Any way now I am very concerned. He loves the dog park and he needs the exercise and now I am afraid to take him after what happened. The man (an adult man, not a teen) did not take it well and continued to scream that my dog bit him. It was a nip in the butt, which Does NOT make it ok but this man was making a huge issue and embarrassing me, telling every person that the dog bit him and screaming that it hurt. Any advice would help. I need my boy to be exercised and I cannot risk him doing this again.
Thanks!!
Teresa
 

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looking at the problem -- you said
"He has shown some aggresstion toward people in the past but rarely. It is usually in public and he feels threatened in some way by someone. "
But you were okay because there had never been an incident .

That was all the clues into what might happen - especially when you add that he feels threatened
by someone .

when HE feels - whether there is cause to feel or not and more than likelly not.
I bet some of that very protective function may be the dogs arousal , fear-excitement
and be a very low level threshold for truly protecting .
Of course a dog does damage and any smart person would want to avoid that damage and leave
you alone.

So you look at the basic temperament . recognize what is going on and take some training to take
control and properly manage the dog in public areas.

Food aggression ? let the dog eat by himself without concerns about competition - either you,
or the other dog .

Dog parks ? I am not a fan of dog parks , especially not for GSD .
I have to ask why in the world does this dog need to go to the dog park to interact with a continually
changing "pack" . Some of those dogs are not social , nor stable, nor under the care of interested
handlers who are themselves in a knot busy socializing with each other.

Zeus has another canine to relate to and to have a socila life with-- LUNA .
He does not need to go to the dog park.

Work with this dog , going for training-walks -- where you are engaged and interactive with the dog .
He gets his menatl and physical needs met in a positive manner.
 

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Maybe you can find a fenced in area,playgrounds,ball fields,etc. to exercise your dogs?Failing that,walking him on a long line so he can at least trot and sprint back and forth.
Working on his recall and giving him something else to do instead of focusing on the scary\sinister people will allow you to manage his reactivity.
I second what Carmen said about letting him eat alone.
 

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If you're dead set on the dog park, can you take him there early in the morning or at 1pm or 2 when there's no one there and just throw the ball. If you take him there at 3pm, or 4, 5, 6, 7 when most people go, the chances of an incident are much higher. I know some in these forums love the dog parks. That's great. If it works for them, go. My experience and others', they're full of unbalanced dogs with owners who don't pay attention or intervene when incidents happen. I don't think you need socialization with other dogs. Like Carmspack said, your dog has a buddy to play with all the time. Also, if you're worried about draining his energy....how about joining a sport dog group, or taking herding classes, or agility groups, or hardcore obedience classes (not the PetSmart kind), or etc? It's not only a good way to drain his energy, it's another opportunity to bond more.
 

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I'm one of the people here that regularly visit the dog park, mostly because I live in an apartment and the dog park is close to mine and it's the only area I can let my dog go off leash.

My dog is now 15 months old and I've been taking my dog since he was 14-15 months. Never had an incident up until he was 9 months when he playfully nipped at a man, who did not take it well. That's when I reached out to this forum and got some advice.

The most important advice that I got was to get a trainer asap. So I did. We worked on controlling his excitement and heel-ing. That trainer was not a very good one so I switched to another trainer which have been nothing short of amazing, this trainer specialises in powerful breeds and works under Nat Geo. He has a Dobie and he goes to the park regularly, unlike other dog trainers. We do our trainings outside of the dog park, but we do speak a lot and analyse together on dog behaviour in the park.

I like going to the dog park and my dog, unlike most GSDs, is a social butterfly who loves playing with other dogs, so I refuse to stop going just because I was less than capable as a dog owner/handler.

I narrowed down 3 behaviour that need to be corrected, and work from there.
I take training sessions seriously and always try to implement what I learn, and correct my dog in a timely fashion.

I also took up E-collar training which has been super helping. There hasn't been an incident in months where my dog misebehaves.
 

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And yes... I try to avoid the weekends where it gets really crowded with people who don't come regularly. I have some good friends whose dogs get along with mine, who come at the same time every other day.
 

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Zeus does not belong in a dog park because he bit somebody. Don't down play it by saying it was a nip. A nip is a euphemism for a bite. You were lucky that the guy just screamed at you. It could have been much worse, for you and/or the dog. No matter if it's rush hour or off hour, he still does not belong in a dog parks. It's the off hours that are the riskiest because it's then that people take their problem dogs.
I like Carmen's advice. I too have two GSDs and they are happy with each other and us. No need for artificial "packs".
 

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I have to second, at least the first part of, Wolfy's comment. Don't downplay the fact that your adult GSD bit someone in the dog park! That's not a minor issue by any stretch of the imagination...it's very serious. Keep your dog on a leash for now, and teach him that biting is only okay when say it's okay. The "how" of doing this can be complicated so obviously nobody can give you great advice without seeing the dog and discerning the motivation behind the nip/bite.

But, if you love your dog and want to keep him safe, keep him out of the dog park or any other public venues until his obedience training is much more solid!

And yes, I do take my dog to our local dog park. But I do not allow her to ever harass people or other dogs there!
 
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