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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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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