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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My boyfriends mum is a wonderful dog owner she has hand lots of German Shepard’s in the past a couple being rescues but mainly females with very laid back personalities not ever aggressive or overly energetic. She has recently lost her last German shepherd she had and wanted a new one and has always been very willing to train and be patient with rescue dogs. Her new one is a male around about 3 years they think and he was very chill at first (in the first month or so) he was shy but we just let him come to us and he started to get more affectionate. He still needed a lot of lead training though however but no real issues.

Me and my boyfriend don’t live in the same city as his mum we visit probablly every two to three months and stay for atleast a few days. We usually visit though when his mum is going away on holiday and needs someone who he knows to come look after her dogs because she lives with her mum who is a lovley woman but very old and can’t walk a big dog because of his strength. She has a little dog too (female) who lives with them who’s is the most laid back and friendly dog you could ever find. She’s also the sort of woman who wouldn’t have the first clue on how to train a big dog and would actually be scared too so this makes the situation more difficult.

Now im wondering if the new GSD’s behaviour is due to my bfs mum being on holiday at the moment and him being attached to her as I know this breed of dog become loyal to certain people. Or so I’ve heard I’m no expert of them myself hence why I’m on here! He has started to whine almost constantly when he’s awake during the day but it’s very quiet and more like he just wants attention maybe? He his now ripping his bed up and when my boyfriend tried to just to lightly tap him on the back to notion him to stop (we can’t grab his collar or his neck cause of his past bad experiences when he was with another family he doesn’t like it) he started growling but didn’t snap just growled and barked. He also growled at us when we told him no and told him to go lie down when he was ‘begging’ for food near the table.

We were there the day after my boyfriends mum brought him home and he was fine with us shy but eventually settled in. He is very energetic but gets a long walk a day but we have been told to just walk him on the lead because he is a difficulty to get back on the lead as she is concerned with him being a new rescue dog he might go off and not come back or attack another dog .. everything is quite unknown with him at the minute. We didn’t get given a lot of information about his past either just that he has previously went to bite a trainer he was sent to who tried to grab his collar.

Like I said previously though I think all of this is not helping and just encouraging his behaviour cause when he growls we just sort of back off and leave him cause we are quite honestly scared of being bitten or him becoming continuously aggressive towards us.. that is the last thing we would want because we love him and he is so friendly too! He has become very comfortable with us and comes up to us all the time for strokes.

I’m worried that this is gonna put my boyfriends mum off going on holiday again and taking him to a trainer might become very nerve wracking for her out of fear of him biting one again. I’m not sure if his behaviour is just due to her being away cause he has grown so attached to her or an actual sign of aggressive behaviour to come and he needs to be trained in a certain way?

Any advice would help because me and my boyfriend are very concerned with it not being our dog and this all happening whilst she has been on holiday. It’s all quite confusing to us and I’m worried that we are all tiptoeing around him and he is taking full advantage of it cause I know how smart dogs can be.
 

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You don't say how long mum has had the dog....

My first guess is that the dog was in the process of settling into his new home with his new leader and new rules. In his mind, the leader he was beginning to trust disappeared and another new set of people showed up with a brand new set of rules. His world was turned upside down. Now he is anxious, confused and frustrated. Those emotions can be expressed growls and barks to leave me alone.

The solution will probably involve setting up very consistent house rules, with you as the leaders, so that he can return to figuring out his place in the world.

I am looking forward to learning what the more experienced trainers have to say.
 

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You don't say how long mum has had the dog....

My first guess is that the dog was in the process of settling into his new home with his new leader and new rules. In his mind, the leader he was beginning to trust disappeared and another new set of people showed up with a brand new set of rules. His world was turned upside down. Now he is anxious, confused and frustrated. Those emotions can be expressed growls and barks to leave me alone.

The solution will probably involve setting up very consistent house rules, with you as the leaders, so that he can return to figuring out his place in the world.

I am looking forward to learning what the more experienced trainers have to say.
I understand this and do agree it was bad timing but shouldn’t a dog be able to fit around your life too? He has been in this new home for about 2 months now so I feel this is long enough to Be settled especially since he was so comfortable at the start? She has also been doing some behaviour training with him I’ve just been told.. Your reply is quite patronising to me too saying at the end ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what the other more experienced trainers say’ like
I’m gonna get a rant or something off someone? I came on here for advice thanks..
 

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I don't think davewis was being patronizing. There are more experienced people on here, in his opinion. He gave you some good advice anyway, so I'm not sure what your issue is.

I actually agree that the dog is unsettled and doesn't fully trust you or your partner yet, and was probably only beginning to get settled / trust his Mom. Two months isn't a huge amount of time for some dogs, despite how you might "feel".
 

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I found it patronising but doesn’t matter I just call it how I see it..
anyways I understand that two months isn’t a long amount of time. I do think myself it was bad timing too but the thing is he has been fine whilst we have been here for the past few days and just today he has growled and been a bit unsettled it’s just came out of the blue if that makes sense? I know dogs can be unpredictable no matter how comfortable they might be with you.. to reply to the first comment too we have been following every set rule and bits of training that my boyfriends mum has had set in place too so it’s not like we are complete strangers to him. I just wanted to know if this type
Of behaviour is worrying or it
Means he just needs more time to get settled cause I don’t want to tip toe around him if he needs us to approach him a different way or something?
 

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. Your reply is quite patronising to me too saying at the end ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what the other more experienced trainers say’ like
I’m gonna get a rant or something off someone? I came on here for advice thanks..
Ummmmmm......he was being HUMBLE......leaving the door open at his own expense.......

You now know some of the dog's tendencies......so I'd stay away from any interaction which might incite the dog......dog growls at you and you move away, the dog wins and will continue forward doing as such.

I'd start at square one with the dog.....mostly indifference.

If the dog needs to be moved from particular areas in the house....I'd leave a drag line on the dog in the house in your presence and use it appropriately.


SuperG
 

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I apologize if I came across as patronizing that was not at all my intent. I am a long time dog owner of 40 + years.

I just recently became rather involved in German Shepherds and some of their behaviors when I brought home a four-month-old puppy a few months ago. Prior to that my dogs had been laid back. I have learned a ton in this forum. There are many professional trainers, long term pet owners, sports dog owners, and people active in German Shepard Rescues in the forum.

My little guy has been a handful, but with the help of a local trainer, this forum, and a rapidly growing library of behavior and obedience books we are making progress. The biggest things I misunderstood when I started with Ole was the importance of consistency, structure, and leadership for some German Shepards.

There are a few people who run board and train programs for challenging dogs on here. I am particularly interested in systems and techniques they use to bond with their dogs in short periods of time.
 

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I understand this and do agree it was bad timing but shouldn’t a dog be able to fit around your life too? He has been in this new home for about 2 months now so I feel this is long enough to Be settled especially since he was so comfortable at the start? She has also been doing some behaviour training with him I’ve just been told.. Your reply is quite patronising to me too saying at the end ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what the other more experienced trainers say’ like
I’m gonna get a rant or something off someone? I came on here for advice thanks..
This is a rescue dog and its past is unknown. It isn't unreasonable to me that the dog is going to act a bit unpredictable. It would be different if this was a dog that your bf's mum raised from a pup.
 

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anyways I understand that two months isn’t a long amount of time. I do think myself it was bad timing too but the thing is he has been fine whilst we have been here for the past few days and just today he has growled and been a bit unsettled it’s just came out of the blue if that makes sense?
So here's the thing. It takes 1-2 months for a dog to settle into a home. The higher end of that if the dog is coming out of a shelter, maybe even longer. In that time, the dog is more subdued. So you are just now seeing the real dog. And you are strangers in his house.

Growls rarely come out of the blue. most often people miss the signs leading up the warning. And it was a warning. he didn't bite. He warned you. Now, it's time to get a trainer and work thru the issues he has and teach him what is acceptable. None of us were there. We can guess based on your description of events but we don't really know what happened without being able to read the dog. My opinion based on the description of behavior is he is having separation anxiety along with a general mistrust of you.

davewis wasn't being patronizing. He's a fairly happy soul. He was just giving his opinion and telling you that there are more experienced people on here that may or may not have different input that he wanted to hear so he could learn. Just a bit of advise - you might want to relax and not jump on the first person that answers you. It won't entice to many others to answer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I apologize if I came across as patronizing that was not at all my intent. I am a long time dog owner of 40 + years.

I just recently became rather involved in German Shepherds and some of their behaviors when I brought home a four-month-old puppy a few months ago. Prior to that my dogs had been laid back. I have learned a ton in this forum. There are many professional trainers, long term pet owners, sports dog owners, and people active in German Shepard Rescues in the forum.

My little guy has been a handful, but with the help of a local trainer, this forum, and a rapidly growing library of behavior and obedience books we are making progress. The biggest things I misunderstood when I started with Ole was the importance of consistency, structure, and leadership for some German Shepards.

There are a few people who run board and train programs for challenging dogs on here. I am particularly interested in systems and techniques they use to bond with their dogs in short periods of time.

Thankyou for your reply and apology I’m sorry too for my quick assumptions im just not very experienced in posting on forums or online so I took it the wrong way. It seems you are a very caring and experienced person for German Shepard’s and your advice has been really appreciated still so Thankyou! We will keep with the set rules and try and work out a structure that helps with all of us. It’s not very often we come to visit my boyfriends mum so it may not become a consistent issue it’s just hard to not worry so much when it’s a new dog especially with him being a rescue dog too and we have grown so attached to him already we would hate to distress him.
 

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So here's the thing. It takes 1-2 months for a dog to settle into a home. The higher end of that if the dog is coming out of a shelter, maybe even longer. In that time, the dog is more subdued. So you are just now seeing the real dog. And you are strangers in his house.

Growls rarely come out of the blue. most often people miss the signs leading up the warning. And it was a warning. he didn't bite. He warned you. Now, it's time to get a trainer and work thru the issues he has and teach him what is acceptable. None of us were there. We can guess based on your description of events but we don't really know what happened without being able to read the dog. My opinion based on the description of behavior is he is having separation anxiety along with a general mistrust of you.

davewis wasn't being patronizing. He's a fairly happy soul. He was just giving his opinion and telling you that there are more experienced people on here that may or may not have different input that he wanted to hear so he could learn. Just a bit of advise - you might want to relax and not jump on the first person that answers you. It won't entice to many others to answer.
Thankyou for your advice I realise it seemed like I assumed he wasn’t patronising I just don’t have a lot of experience on forums at all and I tend to have a negative opinion about them so I was nervous to post on here in the first place knowing because of my lack of experience with german Shepards I would probablly sound like a fool. I guess im also defensive of my boyfriends mum because she is such an amazing dog owner I’m worried that she might think she’s doing something wrong with her new rescue even though I feel like we are obviously the ones who’s have unsettled him.
 

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As SuperG said, because this isn't your dog and you're just watching him for a short time, just avoid situations where conflict might arise.

How?

Don't walk up to him while he's laying down, don't grab or swat him when he's doing something bad. Lots of dogs feel pressured by that, and especially since he's on edge because his person is gone.

Instead use alternate commands. Lead the dog to do what you want. Put him outside or in another room before you eat. Call him away when he's doing something like tearing up his bed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
As SuperG said, because this isn't your dog and you're just watching him for a short time, just avoid situations where conflict might arise.

How?

Don't walk up to him while he's laying down, don't grab or swat him when he's doing something bad. Lots of dogs feel pressured by that, and especially since he's on edge because his person is gone.

Instead use alternate commands. Lead the dog to do what you want. Put him outside or in another room before you eat. Call him away when he's doing something like tearing up his bed.
We have found that telling him to go on his other bed which he has chosen as the fluffy rug in the hallway gets him to stop chewing his actual bed for the time being.. we have never attempted to grab him anyways due to him being very uncomfortable with people grabbing his neck. Thankyou for your advice we will try and do some training with him like that. He’s also quite possessive of any sticks he finds and wants you to throw for him and play tug of war but then will growl when you go to pick it up. But this situation can’t be avoided I feel because he needs to be entertained during the day other than his walk because he has a lot of energy. I was wondering if you or any other experienced GSD owners have any advice for that?
 

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Use 2 sticks. Use the second stick or ball to get him to drop the first. Pick up the one he dropped while he's off chasing the other one.
 

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He sounds like he may possibly be resource guarding. As others have said if he is doing something he shouldn't that involves an object (his bed, toys, sticks) direct him away from it with something better or a command to do something different. Use two balls, two sticks, two toys. Also, if he is resource guarding I would be absolutely sure not to bother him in anyway around his food. Not saying you have, it's just likely he will get defensive if he is a resource guarder.
I totally understand your apprehension (no one wants to get bitten) but do try not to show fear of him. He will likely take advantage of that. No need to invite confrontation but do try to remain confident and show him the humans are the leaders of the house and make the rules.
Be confident and calm yet firm with rules and structure.
 

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Give the dog some time, it is DEFINITELY unsettled. Just love the heck out of it and it will adjust.
 
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