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!
How make him a friend of a German Shepherd
Hello, both Snowel and the German Shephard will benefit from a meeting on neutral territory. Check out the Set the Scene Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-puppy-1. Walk them together often and make it on neutral territory. Once the two are friends, it shouldn't matter where they hang out together because they will know each other well. There are excellent tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs-1 Good luck!
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We got our German shepherd mix, Bowser, from a shelter about a month ago. The last owner couldn't take care of them anymore because she was moving into a new place that was to small and had no time for him. Recently he has started growling at guest. Even ones that come by all the time. We have a little girl and they are best friends but I'm on edge now that this has started. Is this a good training for him?? If not what would be best?? I love him to death but if I can get this to stop, I'll have to get rid of him. I'll soon be running a business out of our home and I cant have clients scared to get out of there vehicles
Hello Miranda, As a German Shepherd he is likely naturally prone toward protective and territorial behavior. If he is growling at you and your daughter that is a very different type of aggression, but the aggression toward guests is likely related to him getting comfortable enough in your home and with your family that he views it as his own now, and is trying to control the situation. That doesn't make it any less dangerous but lets you know it could be partially genetic, increased by the fact that he has an unknown history and may not have been socialized around strangers - so people are even more suspicious than they should be. If highly suggest hiring a trainer in your case. He may always have a tendency to want to protect but with a lot of training, building his respect for you, and improving his socialization around other people, you can often help a protective dog learn to look to their owner for direction and decision making instead of them trying to handle situations on their own. This can take a lot of training and long term management to accomplish and maintain though, so the outcome will often also depend on whether you have the ability and willingness to provide that. He will likely never be a dog that you can just let him do whatever he wants without worrying. Instead he might be able to become a dog who can stay on a Place bed (because you told him to) and focus on you while you let him know that he shouldn't worry about someone entering your home (when guests are coming and going). Opposed to him being loose and unsupervised while people are coming in and out of your home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We got moose from a dog breeder and I have done a lot of research on how to train him but now matter what he always jumps on people leaving giant scratches also moose isn’t very friendly with other dogs and people he barks he winnes and he’s fur will stick up. I want to let them let him and allow him to play with other dogs but I’m afraid he will get to aggressive or try to bite what do I do to get him to stop jumping up and to be more friendly?
Hello Genevieve, For the jumping, check out the article linked below and the Leash Pressure and Step Toward method. With yourself, you can do either, but I you can do the leash pressure method for guests without them having to step toward. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Know that he doesn't have to play with other dogs to be happy at this age. Some dogs don't do well with that amount of arousal; however, socialization is important. For now I would pursue types of socialization that will build his confidence and calmness around other dogs. If he is aggressive toward other dogs, I suggest joining a G.R.O.W.L. class, which is a small dog dog reactive/aggressive dogs who wear basket muzzles during class and are intensively socialized together in a structured environment under the guidance of a trainer - this route should be a lot cheaper than one-on-one aggression help. Once pup is doing better, or if he is just unsure of other dogs but not truly aggression, you can do the following also when pup is safe around other dogs. Recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs When pup can handle that, structured activities around other dogs are good ways to further his socialization, give some fun and exercise, and improve even more. See if you have friends with well-mannered dogs, or find a local rescue, dog club, or safe meetup group that does group dog walks or dog hikes that are structured heeling. Join in on that activity. Classes like Canine Good Citizen or Intermediate Obedience, and some types of dog sports are also good ways to socialize. You can also create your own mini dog club by simply inviting friends with dog-social dogs over and hosting your own obedience class practice together at a local park, home, or yard. Use long training leashes for safety if not in a fenced area. While he is unsure of dogs, be picky about which dogs he greets. Avoid nose-to-nose greetings dogs who lack manners. A simple "He's in training" tends to work well. Be picky about who and how he meets other dogs. Avoid dogs that don't respect his space, pull their owners over to her, and generally are not listening well - those dogs are often friendly but they are rude and difficult for some to meet on leash. Also, avoid greeting dogs who look very tense around your dog, who stare him down, who give warning signs like a low growl or lip lift, who look very puffed up and proud - that type greeting with a dog is likely to end in a fight since your dog doesn't know how to diffuse that situation. A stiff wag is also a bad sign. A friendly wag looks relaxed and loose with relaxed body language overall. A tense dog with a very stiff wag, especially with a tail held high is a sign of arousal and not always a good thing. When he does greet another dog nose-to-nose, give slack in the leash, relax yourself, and keep the greeting to a max of 3 seconds, then happily tell him "Let's Go" or "Heel" and start walking away, giving him a treat when he follows so that she will learn to quickly respond to that command in the future. Keeping the greeting relaxed and short can diffuse tension and give the dogs enough time to say hi before competing starts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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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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Liberty is mainly an outside dog, how do I get her to now do her business in the yard and in the woods? I would also like to have some tips on how to help her have more social skills. When we take her on walks and she sees people she goes crazy barks, and runs in a circle. If she is in a vehicle and she sees someone she goes crazy also.
Hello Rayna, It sounds like she has become an inside dog after having been an outside dog in the past, so you are wanting to potty train her? If so, I suggest following the Crate Training method from the article I have linked below. Since she is an adult, you can adjust the times, taking her potty every 3-4 hours while home, giving up to 3 hours of freedom before crating again if she doesn't potty when you take her - until the next potty trip in 1-1.5 hours, repeated that often until she finally goes potty, and teaching the Go Potty command and rewarding her when she does go, like the method mentions. When you are away all day at work, she should be able to hold it in the crate for 6-8 hours, but take her potty more often when home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside For the socialization, check out the article linked below and the section on people: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ If there are any signs of aggression, opposed to friendly over-excitement, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you, taking precautions like a basket muzzle and secure leash/training collar/harness type equipment setup that's secure. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Jaxon is a German Shepherd Collie mix we adopted about a week ago. I noticed that he has not been socialized earlier on in his life. Jaxon will bark and lunge at strangers if they try to approach me or him. I know that some of his behaviors (not listening to commands when excited, jumping/nipping when excited) needs training but i am also nervous about letting him meet a trainer and other people. Letting people feed him treats also doesn’t seem to make him stop barking/growling either. What should I do?
Hello, do not hesitate to let Jaxon meet a trainer. It will be the best thing you can do for him. He needs socialization with people right away or the situation will only get worse. And Jaxon will get bigger and stronger every day. Makes some calls or go to the dog park and ask around there. When you speak to the trainer, explain the problems you are having. The trainer will let you know if they specialize in that type of issue and if not, they can refer you to someone. Practice obedience commands 20 minutes a day in the meantime: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-whippet. As well, work on Heeling while walking Jaxson. This will give him focus when you are out and help him behave better. Take a look at the Turns Method and the Treat Lure Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. But yes, call the trainer right away and all the best!
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How can I train my german shepherd to be friendly around other dogs? He starts his aggressive behavior and it is hard to control him when he sees another dog.
Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce her fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!
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i have a small dog in the house. we adopted tiny as a one year old. and shes really aggressive. im scared that she'll attack my dog.
Hello, has Tiny shown aggression to your small dog? If so, you should contact a trainer used to dealing with aggressive dogs to ensure that your small dog is safe. Training Tiny will give her the chance to be the dog she was meant to be, with your guidance and help. Training also cements a bond between pet and pet parent, and encourages the dog in training to listen better. But first, it is essential that you never leave the two dogs alone. Get Tiny assessed right away, and start working toward a safe and happy relationship. I can give you a guide to read on helping a dog get along with other dogs. Try the Counter Conditioning Method, adapting it to your situation: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-other-dogs. You will have to work on it every day, bit by bit, always putting the safety of both dogs first. If you do not see some form of success after gradual exposure to each other, please call a specialist for advice. Good luck!
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Belly is good when guest first arrive and greet nicely will go to her place and stay for as long as I place her there is is when a guest goes from one room and reemerges into the same room as her when she begins to bark at them in a aggressive tone. I'm not sure how to stop this behavior I tell her no and have her place again to calm down but them am too nervous to release her with guests still in the house.
Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!
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Hi there, I get that you guys will have a lot of messages that ppl send over but I’d just like some advice on my new German Shepherd puppy. She is 12 weeks old (we got her when she was 10 weeks) she’s a lovely natured dog and is relaxed and playful in the home. This changes when we get outside on walks. She sits in the doorway and doesn’t want to come out, when she does she is hyper vigilant but still sniffs around and is literally scared of everything. It is becoming a real chore taking her out as it doesn’t seem to be easing or getting better.
We are sending her to doggy daycare next week and hopefully this will help but do you have any advice on what I can do at home? Thanks 😊
Hello Venessa, It sounds like pup lack socialization. I would start by carrying pup places so that she is getting used to the sights and sounds outside. Stay calm yourself and act confident instead of acting sorry for her. Whenever she acts curious, happy, or relaxed, give a treat. Once pup is doing better being carried, carry pup to various calm spots and set pup down while on a long leash. Bring a couple of pup's toys, treats, and something for you to do, like a book, and simply spend about an hour (weather permitting) outside being calm and doing fun things with pup. Do this often in various calm locations for ideally about an hour each time. When pup is comfortable being outside, make short goals for walking, such as just onto your yard, then one house over, then two houses over, ect...When you reach your goal, give pup the opportunity to return home when they are still following you and not trying to pull to get home. The pressure method may also help if pup is uncomfortable with the leash. Start using this method inside at first. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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