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Hello, I am new at this forum and I would like some advice over my adopted German Shepherd.
I adopted my german shepherd from someone out of Craiglist, he was 8 months old at that time and completely neglected. At first, I was afraid that he would not get along with my other two dogs (a staffy and a Belgian Malinois), however, I decided to give him a chance to be happy and have a family. My GSD got rehomed 3 times by different owners, and I am sure part of his problem is not only the lack of socialization during a young age (puppy) but also being past to so many owners.
At the beginning when we got him we observed he had an incredible fear of water, a sign of food aggression, no basic training, and aggression towards strangers. Our vet said that at that time (8 months old) the dog could not get better, and we would have to euthanize it due to the behavior. While, some other people told me that the GSD would improve with time, which happened.
So months past and I can for sure said that my GSD is a new dog, today he plays with water, no sign of food aggression, knows basic commands (sit, stay and down), but the aggression towards strangers is still there. The scenario I can describe is: recently I took him to the vet to be annually checked, he would not stop to bark and tried to nip everyone around him. Then the new vet came, told me to hand his leash, took the dog away, and the dog was fine. No sign of aggression what so ever.
To confirm this behavior, at home sometimes he puts himself between my husband and me when we are discussing/talking. Also, he obeys my husband just fine but when it comes to me he is stubborn.
I believe 100% that the problem is me, and I read about the NILIF program. Unfornetly, I cannot afford a dog behavior analyst to help me with that, however, I am willing to do anything to help him to get better. I was able to teach him the basic commands when we got him by rewarding(treats). I would like some advice and feedback on people that also had this problem before.
 

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The problem is not you, but that he wasn't properly socialized and so he's afraid of normal things and overreactive to normal stimuli. Probably at this point, the best thing is to use classical conditioning to give him rewards and try to associate the things he's scared of with good things. You should do a lot of research on how to deal with aggression and fear-aggression and might have to accept that he will never be a friendly dog.

As far as why he obeys your husband but not you, that's hard to say with the information you've given. One thing is that men are usually more direct and commanding (generally) and so dogs are less inclined to ignore them. The other thing question is whether the dog experiences any consequences for when it misbehaves. I'm not talking about punishment, but about whether it gets what it wants when it ignores you? If so, it will continue to do that behavior. So maybe try to think of ways that your dog will not get what it wants when it's being a jerk.
 

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If he steps in between your husband and you, he is resource guarding one of you and should be put on a down stay immediately without being harsh. As far as why he obeys your husband better than you, has nothing to do with being a male. It's about who communicates best with the dog. Stick with the NILIF . Manage him in situations that are difficult/stressful for him. Don't take him into the vet's lobby but get him out of the car when it's your turn. Shame on that vet who told you to just put him down. Good for you to trust the dog and work with him. It could be a long process and he might never be the ideal perfect dog (who has one?). You may be his last leash on life. Stick around and please reach out if you have questions or want to mention the progress. Maybe redundant but don't feel sorry for him or baby him, just because he has a lousy history, which ended when you took him in. He lives in the 'now'. On top of all this he is an adolescent GSD male. My breeder calls them 'knuckle heads' so that may also play part in this.
 

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Thanks to a global pandemic I got to test my theory that I was the problem at the vets. I was right. New vet loves my scary aggressive dog and thinks she is a funny little suck.
Protection boils down to resource guarding, and I don't care who agrees. So approach it basically the same way. Most dogs that resource guard people are pretty insecure and don't have great discernment. So it can get dangerous and needs to be either corrected or directed. Since it is seldom a good idea to encourage it in an unstable dog I would go with correcting. It's a pretty common behavior for dogs that have been bounced around, especially if they are less then solid genetics to start with.
Enlist the help of a balanced trainer who is accustomed to large breed rescues and get a handle on this sooner then later.
 

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@giovanna05 I'm curious about your dog putting himself between you and your husband when discussing/talking. Could describe exactly what this behavior looks like? Is he just trying to be part of the group? Vying for attention from one or both of you? Does he growl, hackle up his fur, act aggressive toward either of you? Are either or both of you loud talkers? This behavior could mean many things depending on the dogs body language. Some benign and annoying ( I want attention). Others could be more serious (resource guarding).

Either way one thing you could do is look up how to teach the place command. Once he knows the command and where his "place" is (it can be a doggie bed, mat or location in your home) when his presence is unwanted he can be calmly sent to his "place" thereby redirecting the unwanted behavior to a positive one. Just don't forget to release him from his place at some point in a reasonable amount of time.

Although nothing beats one-on-one training with a reputable, breed experienced trainer many have done just fine without one when the willingness to put in the work to succeed is there. You don't need a professional trainer to implement NILF. There are several well known trainers that offer free how to videos online (or DVD's for a fee). And a number of good books for inexpensive resources.
Michael Ellis, Patricia McConnell are a couple.

Have questions...Ask away! There is a wealth of knowledge, experiences and resources here.
Welcome to the forum!
 

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One thing you could do is work on building a relationship with your dog through play. If his favourite thing is chasing a frisbee, I'd have him touch, sit or down before throwing it. Your dog is having fun, he's practising and getting in the habit of obeying you quickly.

I love this article on leadership by Nicole Silvers. If you feel uncertain, are indecisive, or hoping your dog will obey when you ask your dog to do something, he picks up on that.

 

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Hi OP,

I can relate a little bit. I have a reactive hound. He's superchill in the house, but a terror outside with other dogs. He just has a meltdown and tries to lunge and pull and jump into my arms. I used to get so worked up about that, I know how to you feel. I had to sit on him once to stop him from taking on 5 other dogs coming from the opposite direction on a trail. At that point, I was using a flat collar (this was day 3 when I got him and I had no clue he had these issues).

We see a dog, and he's snarling and barking, wrapping the leash around my legs, I'm trying to pull him away, people are staring. I still get worked up but probably less.

I thought it was my fault, I had nights where I thought he should go to a male handler, a more experienced dogowner, a family with kids (he loves kids), I couldn't handle him, this was never going to get better etc. None of that is true.

Here's what helped me:
1. a prong collar for corrections that he feels/ realizes. He is not motivated by food when he is this worked up, so treats didn't work for me. Sometimes, I have to keep the collar on him in the house and the backyard (where he patrols the fence, so now I have started to patrol the fence to tell him that "I got this"). But I make him work for his dinner and I make him work during the day just because.
2. constant, everyday heeling and "place". We do a lot of place and sometimes for up to an hour or more.
3. this is probably the most important lesson for me. I was not being firm enough. I thought I was but I wasn't. And I was too predictable in my training, so he would stop listening. While I was predictable, I was not consistent. I would also repeat myself a lot. I don't do that anymore.

My hound also listens to some people better than others, some of them are male. But I have seen women take unruly dogs and they settle immediately. So I think it's a leadership thing.

When he acts up, I immediately go into "work" mode, which is heel, sit, down, heel, down, stay etc. very fast with no prolonged stays. My old trainer calls this "work the **** out of him". It's been two years, and we are doing much better. He is far from perfect, but I can now manage him.

You're doing a good job, he's doing better. It's not easy, taking on a dog with a past.
 

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hi guys, when i got my GS i was struggling, all the training was going wrong, he had no respect and was biting and destroying furniture and i was struggling, but i read this blog and took part in the course, and to keep it simple it saved my life, i know have a better relationship and an amazing connection with ,y best friend, hope you find it useful.
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