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Our black german shepherd 'Mason' has been acting differently lately. My Husband and I came home late one night after going out and he cornered my husband against the wall, growling and showing his teeth. Then 2 days later our 11 month old daughter was crawling around in the floor and went to take his rawhide he was working on. He growled at her and then we took the rawhide away and put him in his cage. (thats where he goes when he is bad) He has always been a great dog though. We got him when he was a puppy so he has grown up with us. We even put him through a month of 'doggie boot camp' for obedience training. Our daughter could do just about anything to him and he wouldn't care, even take away his rawhide while he was chewing it! We talked to our dog trainer and he said since we corrected him immediately he probably won't ever do it again. But I really don't want to take the chance of him biting our daughter. He's 110 lbs! He could seriously hurt her!
 

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How old is Mason?

After sending him away for "doggie boot camp", what training have you kept up with? Do you practice the learned behaviors every day while you're out walking Mason, as well as around the house before he gets things, like his food bowl or a treat? Do you practice NILIF?

Personally, I think that when dogs and children are in the same household, especially if the children are young, then their interactions need to be supervised 100% of the time. Just as the dog needs to learn that it's not okay to growl at family members, kids need to learn that it's not okay to go take the dog's rawhide from him.
 

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He's 14 months old and he is great with his obedience. We take him on walks every day thats its not raining. Personally, I think anyone whether its a child or an adult should be able to take away a rawhide from a dog at any time. It shows the dog that we are in control and dominant.
 

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Start NILF. Toddlers should never be near an eating, sleeping dog unattended. Cages are never for punishment. They are and need to be a happy place, a place a dog likes to go, a place he can take a rawhide to on his own without fear of encroachment by a cute little cookie cruncher.

Probably the first thing would be a vet check up to make sure there are no medical issues or vision problems. Husband and you need to take turns feeding him and for everything he gets he needs to do something first.
My dogs are 99.999% trustworthy and even Therapy Dog certified and I still wouldn`t allow my toddler grandchildren unattended with then. Nor would I let them take a bone from them.

http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
http://www.k9force.net/index.html?row2col2=nilif.html
 

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I could not agree with Kutzro more. These are dogs and while typically tolerant of us humans and other animals, they are still animals.

Little children do not inspire dogs to believe that they are the dominant force in their relationship. Please reconsider allowing your toddler that much freedom in how she deals with the dog. He needs to respect her food and she needs to respect his. The consequences of not doing so could be awful. Different story for adult owners - then yes, you should be able to pick up his food, etc.

I am equally troubled re his pinning of your husband. I don't understand what that was about....hopefully someone here can make sense of it.
 

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What exactly happened at "doggie boot camp?" What kind of training did they use? What kind of training do you use with him?
 

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Originally Posted By: LindsayBelkeHe's 14 months old and he is great with his obedience. We take him on walks every day thats its not raining. Personally, I think anyone whether its a child or an adult should be able to take away a rawhide from a dog at any time. It shows the dog that we are in control and dominant.
OMG, the only reason I train to it is for safety. Never let a child or non owner/ non handler do that. I trained my dogs with a "leave it" or "OUT" command before I take food or toy from them. My older child can tell them to "leave it" and when they drop it then she can take it away. But unless its part of tug play or something it theirs until they let go of it. I'm not sure what line of GSDs you got but your not dealing with a sloppy Basset hound or fat and happy beagle.

I've trained outs by choking them off the item but I found a better gentler way to get them off the item and its faster. Again I would not tempt the Fates with taking any food/prey item from a GSD without agreed to terms.
 

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Originally Posted By: LindsayBelke Personally, I think anyone whether its a child or an adult should be able to take away a rawhide from a dog at any time. It shows the dog that we are in control and dominant.
Please think again. There are people with a lot of experience with GSDs commenting on this thread. You may be dominant over the dog but you can not expect the dog to think the child is always dominant over him, because they have their own interaction. That's just expecting too much of any dog's intelligence. Even a GSD. Kids s/d be taught not to take anything away from any dog, whether it's a strange dog or the family dog. And responsible people do not just get rid of their dogs - THEY SUPERVISE.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I see where you are coming from, but I don't think you have to be so rude about it. I guess for now on I'll only give him rawhides when she is not in the room. This still doesn't explain why he cornered my husband though. Its just so hard to trust him now.
 

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Quote:I see where you are coming from, but I don't think you have to be so rude about it.
Lindsay, I'm sorry you feel that Ocean or the other posters were being rude to you. I don't think they mean it that way, they're probably just trying to put things as plainly and simply as possible. It's also often really hard to tell how something is meant on the web since you cannot hear the inflection.

I am wondering whether your dog cornered your husband because you guys came back very late at night. Was it really dark where he cornered him? Is there a chance that he may not have recognized your husband until after he cornered him?
 

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he was aggressive before his training but only to strangers. Once he was able to sniff and meet the person he wasn't aggressive anymore. Our dog trainer was really interested in attack training him, but I didn't really feel like that was safe, especially with a baby around. He is just basic obedience trained, and walks very well on the leash. I hope this is just a one time thing because I would hate to have to give him away. He's like a member of our family.
 

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Have you had him evaluated by a second trainer? The things you're describing sound like they would be made much worse by "attack training" and I think you were definitely right to decide against that under the circumstances. The fact that your trainer wanted to pursue that with a dog who was aggressive to strangers concerns me.

The thing about trainers is that they vary a lot and can have very different perspectives and philosophies. Perhaps someone else might have a different take on how to help your dog?
 

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If you have time, with a baby I know it is hard, but please read as much as possible on this forum about training and anything else you have the time for. Your dog is doing what he thinks is his "job" and you are the boss to give him direction, correction. There are many books out- Jan Fennell, Patricia O'Connell and even Cesar Milan will be worth reading. Every author does agree to not let a child and a dog unsupervised together. Practice NILIF, and give Mason as much exercise and training that you can. Training is a lifelong thing, not just one class or session. If you truly cannot give him that then by all means give him a chance at a better life, because these dogs just want to please their family and protect them.
I remember when my son was a year old and I had a golden/border mix pup, she really needed a "job"to do, and I was too busy to give her what she deserved. We did work through it and Clover will be 14 on St. Patricks day, and her days are now numbered, she is slowing down, but she has been a really great dog. Remember Mason is still a pup and give him the direction and attention he needs....
 

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The question regarding training I have is what type of methods the trainer used in "boot camp." We debate compulsion vs. positive training here a lot.

The first order of business is, as mentioned above, to take him to the vet to see if there is something medical going on.

Right next to it is no bones or rawhides when others are present. Babies, friends, family. Bone or rawhide, the dog gets in his crate and time alone. Yes, I can take anything from my dogs at any time. I would not have a child try it. I would hope a baby wouldn't be given the oportunity to be around them with these highly valued chews.
 

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Good for you for working to find solutions to help your family and Mason! I am sure you are open to perspectives in dominance and in looking into behaving differently with Mason so he can live happily in your family with you, hubby, and baby.


You're probably actually however NOT dominant over your dog. If you were, he wouldn't feel he needs to be making decisions about which strangers to be aggressive to and when-- you would be making those choices as leader. (honest-- dogs may be people-aggressive due to weak nerves, all dogs DO bark at new folks, but, he IS making a choice that HE is the one who takes leadership position to screen strangers HIS way) Secondly, Mason, as the packleader, was putting your husband in his place, it sounds like. Mason could easily smell who he was cornering and growling at, even in the dark. Mason very likely felt he needed to remind hubby of his lower-ranking place.

It's hard to eval over a web forum, but it may be that like many GSDs, Mason needs you to ùse a comprehensive, all-inclusive, consistant daily program using key points such as dinnertimes, reunions with the pack, etc-- to show him in HIS language, where he ranks. No yelling, no hitting, no choke chains, no bullying... this is about using HIS language. It works, too! This involves eating before he eats. Going through doorways before he goes through them.(that is HUGELY important to dominant dogs-- they really notice this, even if we don't) Having him work for anything he wants-- food, waterbowl, toys, treats etc-- even affection-- have him sit, give eye contact, then WAIT.. until YOU release him. Look up NILIF on the web-- it means Nothing In Life Is Free. Mason may need such a program implemented by you. MANY of our dogs here in the forum did, too-- mine included!

This is not as hard/overwhelming as it sounds. Once you start, it becomes a habit. Mason will not only calm down (hey, there's much less stress when you are no longer at the top), he will no longer challenge hubby anymore. He may begin to look to YOU when strangers call, even if he barks a bit.

Or.. Mason may not need any of this, it is hard to eval over a forum. The cost for a good canine behaviorist (not trainer) would be worth it, if you have doubts or need guidance. They can be really very helpful in determining cause for behaviors!

The baby incident is actaully easy to correct-- the baby cannot be dominant over the dog, so the baby cannot be allowed near the dog when he eats, sleeps, or enjoys a rawhide. And it's a positive that Mason growled to tell the baby off, rather than biting. We all know canine lumps-o-pudding who would allow a child to reach for their rawhide, but many GSDs wouldn't.
 

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Its funny that you said that! I always let him go through the door before me and I let our dogs eat before we do! I had no idea everything I was doing was making him the dominant dog. I'll definitely take your advise and we'll see where it goes from there. Thanks!
 

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Sounds like NILIF may do a lot for your family and Mason.

I had never heard of it before coming to this forum. It has become habit in our household, and it really does make a HUGE difference! At first it seemed like a lot of work, but now I don't even notice that we do it.

Our dogs wait to go through the door, and then do so nicely (rather than a mad dash in or out), wait to eat until told they can, etc.

Another problem that this solved for us was that my dogs will now "quiet" whenever I tell them to. Doesn't matter what they are barking at, or if other dogs are going nuts, mine will stop and come quietly. Yes, they are still interested, but no more noisy pups! We have the quietest yard in the neighborhood! Now, after that being effective for nearly half a year, my dogs seldom go beyond an alert bark even on their own. None of this yapping for minutes on end...it's pretty nice!

NILIF may be a "lifesaver" for your pup - it seems so simple, yet it means a lot to the dog!
 

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Lindsay, some great books to read are The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell (be sure to get the original book, not her book of a similar title that has stories of how to be your dogs best friend)... another good one is by Patricia McConnel about being the packleader. http://www.dogwise.com will have the exact title if you put in her name.
 
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