Despite their formidable appearance, German Shepherds are often softer at heart than people realize. However, you have recently welcomed a new baby into the family and you already have a couple of young ones. So, you want to make sure there is nothing to worry about with your German Shepherd, as they are sometimes known to be extremely protective.
Training him to be friendly will also come with a number of other benefits. You won’t need to worry when guests or new people come over to the house. Nor will you have to panic inside when other dogs and people walk past on the street. In addition, you won’t have to always be on alert if your kids and German Shepherd are in the same room. This type of training will also assert your position as pack leader.
Training any dog to be friendly if they have already started displaying signs of aggressive behavior can be challenging. However, with German Shepherds, you can really have your work cut out. Because they are big, strong and resilient, it can be difficult to get them to follow your instructions. Also, tackling their naturally protective nature isn’t always easy. So, you will have to take steps to socialize him as early as possible. On top of that, you will have to incentivize gentle, calm play, while deterring and stamping out any aggression.
If he’s a puppy he should be extremely receptive. This means molding him into a relaxed, friendly German Shepherd may take just a matter of weeks. If he’s older, stubborn and far less patient than he was in his youth, then you may need several months. Get this training right and you will be able to count on him to be at ease with kids, strangers, and any other pets.
Before training can begin, you will need to get your hands on a few items. Stock up on tasty treats or break his favorite food into small pieces. You will also need toys, food puzzles, plus other people and pets. A clicker will also be needed for one of the methods.
Try to set aside 15 minutes each day for training. The more regularly you can train, the sooner you will see results.
Once you have the above, just bring patience and a proactive attitude and get to work!
We got Raj as a rescue from our shelter, but we have gotten in touch with his old owner, as she did not want to give him up. He has a bite history, because two teenagers were harassing him. One pushed him away from his food bowl and the other sprayed him in the face with a watering hose, and he bit one of them. Raj is a very sweet dog, however I am afraid he has a dominance aggression issue. We allowed him on the bed at first, but when I laid down on my back to relax, Raj put his paws on either side of me and began a closed-mouth growl. I sat up calmly and pushed him away while saying "no." He is not allowed on the bed anymore, but he has also growled at numerous people and dogs in the vet's office and at my mother. He seems to be ok with our cat. The previous owner says she had dogs and cats, and that Raj has never met a stranger. Do you think obedience classes and a neutering could help with this behavior? As well as distracting Raj before he gets worked up?
Hello Ash, The article "How to Teach Your German Shepherd to Be Friendly" was written mostly for dogs that lack confidence or are still puppies and you are trying to prevent issues, so most of those methods will not help him. For Raj I would highly recommend a Private trainer who has extensive experience dealing with dominance type aggression. You are right to suspect that he has issues with it, and in his case I would not wait to address it. Obedience will be a very important part of his treatment but he needs more consistency, firmness, and leadership than a typical positive reinforcement or clicker training class will provide. He needs someone who can show you how to lead him intellectually and through consistency, boundaries, and structure. Look for a trainer who utilizes both positive reinforcement and fair corrections, who has extensive experience dealing with dominance related aggression, high drive breeds like German Shepherds, and who emphasizes gaining the dog's respect in an intellectual way and through the use of body language and consistency and boundaries and not just by doing physical things like pinning the dog down. Neutering is certainly not a bad idea in his case because it will help decrease some of the potential hormonal contributors, but it will not be enough by itself. He needs behavioral modification. He likely has some defensive drive, fear related aggression toward strangers after his incident with the teenagers, but his aggressive display toward you is even more concerning. That is not fear related and needs to be addressed immediately. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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