How to Train a German Shepherd to Not be Aggressive

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

There is no doubt that he has a fierce exterior. However, for the most part, your German Shepherd is calm, gentle and loving inside. Unfortunately, though, he does have moments where he lives up to his German Shepherd characteristics when he’s overly protective. You’ve caught him barking and even trying to bite other pets and strangers. You’re fed up with worrying when new people come over to the house. 

Training your Shepherd not to be aggressive will alleviate that concern. It will also reduce the chances of him causing harm to someone else. The result of which is that he may need to be put down. His aggression could also get him into a fight with another pet, which could lead to pricey vet bills. Training him not to be aggressive will also mean you can stop fitting him in a muzzle whenever you leave the house.

Defining Tasks

Training a German Shepherd not to be aggressive can be challenging. The first thing to do is identify what is causing the aggression in the first place. You can then go about tackling the underlying problem. Training will need to consist of socialization with other pets and people. You will also need to use obedience commands to increase your control. Some deterrence measures may also be required to prevent his aggression developing further.

If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner and receptive to training. This means you could see results in just a couple of weeks. However, if he’s older and this habit has developed over many years, then you may need a number of months and the help of your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

Getting Started

Before you get to work, you will need to get a few bits together. A water spray bottle and deterrence collar will be needed for one method. You will also need treats and toys for incentives and rewards.

Set aside 15 minutes each day for training over the next few weeks, and be ready with a confident and positive attitude. The more consistently you train, the sooner you will see results.

The Introductions Method

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Step
1
Obedience classes
Sign him up to group obedience classes from an early age as possible. This will help socialize him with other pets and people. Here will learn what sort of behavior is and isn’t acceptable.
Step
2
Basic commands
Teach him ‘down’, ‘stay’ and other useful obedience commands. This will increase your control and reinforce your position as pack leader. All of which should limit his aggression and make him more submissive.
Step
3
Stand ahead
If your German Shepherd is in front of you when you meet other people and pets, he will think it is his job to protect you. However, if you are in front, he will relax and believe it is your job. This will prevent initial aggression when strangers approach and reinforces you as his leader.
Step
4
Keep it short
When he does meet new people and pets, stay close to him and watch his behavior. If you see his tail drop or he starts to get tense, ask them to step back. You need to respect his boundaries.
Step
5
Reward
Give him verbal praise and the odd treat for as long as he remains calm when he meets strangers. This positive reinforcement will help him associate being calm with positive consequences.
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The Routine Method

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Step
1
Increase his exercise
He’s a big dog, he will need lots of exercise. His biting may be a result of pent up energy. So take him out for an extra or longer walk. Playing games as you go will also tire him out. A tired dog is a calm and gentle dog.
Step
2
Tug of war
If he does start getting aggressive, it can help to pull out a toy and play tug of war. Directing his aggression down a safe avenue will help show him where aggressive behavior can be released.
Step
3
Cold shoulder
If tug of war doesn’t seem to catch his attention when he turns aggressive, you may want to give him the cold shoulder. If his aggression is attention seeking behavior, simply turning away and ignoring him could show him this will not get him what he wants.
Step
4
Encouragement
You also need to constantly reward him for calm play. Relax and stroke him, while giving him the odd treat and verbal praise. He needs to start associating calm behavior with positive consequences.
Step
5
Never punish him
German Shepherds are big, strong and capable of doing serious harm. So do not anger him by punishing him when he is aggressive. This may only worsen the problem. German Shepherds respond best to positive reinforcement.
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The Deterrence Method

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Step
1
Privacy
This is particularly important if your German Shepherd is a puppy. He must have a safe space he can escape to. Just like humans, dogs can get frustrated and want some time alone. So make sure his crate or bed is his safe space.
Step
2
Water spray bottle
Whenever he gets aggressive, barks or growls, go over and give a spray of water near his face. This will quickly get him associating being aggressive with negative consequences.
Step
3
Deterrence collar
They are available both online and in local stores. A remote control allows you to give your dog spray of citronella if he needs to be deterred from biting. Use this consistently and he will soon think better of being aggressive.
Step
4
Don’t wind him up
It’s important you don’t get him too worked up when you’re playing games, such as tug of war. It’s also crucial that young children don’t tease him too much. You need him to remain relatively calm.
Step
5
Don’t laugh it off
It’s vital everyone in the house reacts in the same way. If one of you laughs or shakes it off, he will be confused by the rest of training. So sit everyone down and ensure all are on board.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Hank
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Hank
German Shepherd
1 Year

Would a beep vibrate and shock collar help me with hank? He’s a great dog. I just don’t know what my other options are. I’ve tried everything.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alyssa, I would need more information about Hank, his temperament, his aggression, and exactly what you have tried so far to say for sure, but I can say that I have seen those types of collars work very well for treating certain dogs with certain forms of aggression when combined with the proper training techniques and used by someone who knows how to properly train with it. When used wrongly or if a poor quality collar is used, then they can also make the problem significantly worse. For that reason I recommend that anyone looking to use one find a local professional in their area, with extensive experience in dealing with aggression and with the use of remote training collars. These collars are typically best used as interrupters and as low level stimulus' to improve a dog's obedience and self-control enough to create windows where positive reinforcement can also be used to deal with the dog's emotional state at the root of the problem. For some dogs aggression is fear based and a collar could cause more damage when used wrongly or it could provide enough interruption in the poor behavior for the dog to receive communication about what he should be doing instead, and that would give him enough opportunities doing the correct behavior to change his views about whatever he is aggressive toward. Aggression can also be due to a respect issue or be a learned behavior, meaning that the dog acts aggressive simply because he has learned that it gets him what he wants. Aggression can also be a genetic trait. To assess everything involved you will either need the help of a trainer or will need to learn the information that trainers spend time learning about: canine behavior, body language, training methods, and the proper use of training tools such as electric collars. That can take a lot of time and work, but I do know of committed owners who have successfully done it and have been able to help their dogs due to their own hard work and knowledge. If you do choose to use such collars, then do not simply punish your dog when he acts aggressively, he needs to be told not to do something, corrected, shown what to do instead, and then rewarded for correct behavior. There are a lot of other things that go into that, such as fitting the collar properly, finding which level your dog responds to without going too high, knowing your dog's body language, avoid dangerous situations, communicating clearly, and being able to tell what is working and not working and adapting, rather than simply increasing the collar level. A collar alone without proper training and positive reinforcement for the right behavior can make aggression worse. As confusing as all of that is, I actually recommend such collars over the use of Citronella collars though because citronella collars can punish a dog for an extended period of time when the dog continues to smell it, but other types of vibration, stimulation, and tone collars are instant and do not continue the punishment for long. Collars that use only air do not punish a dog for an extended period of time though, so those are less unpleasant for a dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Brady
German Shepherd
8 Months
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Brady
German Shepherd
8 Months

Brady is a great dog at home and does well with our three boys but when I took him to the park the other day he barked at every person that walked toward us. While at the park he also snapped at my niece and bit her (he did not leave a mark or break skin - he didn't hur her just scared us all). He was fine with my niece when she was at my house but not at the park. How can I get him socialized without fearing that he is going to hurt someone?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kristina, I would recommend getting Brady used to wearing a basket muzzle. A basket muzzle will allow Brady to open his mouth while he is wearing the muzzle and it will allow you to pass small treats to him through the muzzle's holes. You can also use a straw dipped in Peanut Butter or soft cheese to reward him, by poking the dipped straw through the muzzle's holes to let him lick the food off of it. While he is wearing the muzzle you can take him to places safely and reward him with treats for behaving calmly, for looking at people without reacting, and for focusing on you. You can also work on his obedience exercises while he is there to keep his focus on you, to increase his respect and trust toward you, and to keep him from becoming overly aroused and reactive. If the idea of putting a muzzle on him in public is daunting, then I would recommend trying to find a group that regularly goes on walks or trains their dogs together, that would be more supportive of him wearing a muzzle. Some of these groups can be located through websites like Meetup.com or local dog clubs or rescue organizations. Getting together with these groups with Brady while he is wearing the muzzle regularly and working on his reactions and fear while there, should help his overall socialization. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Johann
German Shepherd
5 Months
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Johann
German Shepherd
5 Months

I got Johann Neutered 2 weeks ago and thier policy was to leave him over night for observation. Since I have picked him up he has been barking aggressively at others on a walk, and in his obedience class. The first 3 sessions in his obedience class he was very timid, so when others went up to him they did not make eye contact but laid food near him so they would not scare him. Then this last class he barked aggressively and tried to lunge towards them. Is this caused by aniety or me not socializing him enough. Also, how do i socialize him now to not make him scared/anxious towards others. When on our walks he will see a person and his hair will stick straight up.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amanda, Without a medical evaluation I cannot say for sure. A couple of things could be going on. He could be in pain from something that happened during the surgery or simply from a lengthy recovery. He might have some sort of chemical imbalance going on that needs to be addressed. He might be acting aggressive out of fear due to the emotional trauma of the stay and surgery recovery, or it might be simple coincidence that his aggression appeared around the same time as the surgery. Puppies go through several fear stages throughout their first eighteen months of life, and it's possible that he just happened to hit one and is responding aggressively out of fear. If it is a fear period, then he needs TONS of positive socialization, where he is given treats for calm behavior, for looking at things he is afraid of and not reacting aggressively, for looking at you when he is near something that he is afraid of, and for generally being in the same area as a source of fear and not reacting negatively. He also needs to have a lot of people feed him treats while he is calm like you did in that class. If he is likely to bite someone, then desensitize him to wearing a basket muzzle, and then feed him treats and peanut butter on a straw through the muzzle holes. I would definitely suggest hiring either an Animal Behaviorist or a Veterinary Behaviorist in your case. Johann needs to be evaluated both medically and temperamentally by a trained professional. Someone with both medical training and training in animal behavior, such as a Veterinary Behaviorist should be able to help with both, and to suggest whether or not medical testing might be needed and what type of training protocol should be followed. An important thing to also consider, is whether or not he was showing smaller signs of aggression before the neutering. If he was acting aggressive or fearful before the surgery, but it was simply not as bad as it is now, then the issue is probably trauma and a lack of socialization. He may have been suspicious of people before the surgery, and his stay simply convinced him that his suspicions were correct, and so now he acts defensively toward people because he believes that he has to keep them away from himself to be safe. A qualified Behaviorist should be able to help you with that also though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dax
German Shepherd
8 Months
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Dax
German Shepherd
8 Months

My new wife and I have recently bought a purebred German Shepard pup from what we believed to be a reliable breeder. She had elbow and hip certification and DM testing done. Also said her main focus when breeding was on temperament. So we chose to bring home an 8 week old male which we love dearly. I own my own construction business so I took him everywhere with me. The breeder had puppy socials to help get the young dogs used to being around other dogs so once to twice a month we took him to those. He was well behaved as a puppy for the most part not chewing on things, growling at people, etc. One issue we did have was peeing, when my wife got home and greeted him he would pee or when new people would come over he would pee. Since then we have altered how we greet him and have guests greet him - we ignore him until he is calm which has helped nearly overcome the urination issue; it happens much less. Around six mounts he started to show signs of aggression such as barking at people and at times being protective of his toys. This all started right before we took him to his breeder for a 2 week board and train. They then asked to keep him for an extra week to help build his confidence up ( my fear being that they didn't have time to work with him the first 2 weeks but do not know for sure). When we got him back, the first night one of my friends came over to the house and when he walked in Dax barked aggressively lunged and bit him (not breaking the skin). We had already had him signed up for basic obedience lessons so we believed that this would be good for the socialization. When we went to the class he lunged and barked aggressively at the other dogs on occasion but as the class went on he got significantly better. After the class we had another act of aggression (lunging, barking, and biting not breaking the skin) towards a person - this time a worker that walked past him. Long story short, we called the breeder he had spent 3 weeks with and she wanted anther week with him; we took her up on the offer of helping, but this time I honestly believe they just boarded him with no extra attention. He was worse when we brought him home having more out bursts. For example, he was sitting next to me on the beach and a young kid came up probable 15' away, Dax charged the kid pushing him to the ground barking and growling (he did not hurt the kid) but looked very scary. He is not fixed, we were told to wait till he was at least 12 mounts. Please help, I am dedicated and will do what it takes to solve this problem.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brandon, First, I would recommend no longer boarding him with his breeder. Either intentionally or simply because of the environment there, staying there seems to be increasing his defensiveness and possibly fear aggression. I would recommend looking into Jeff Gelhman from SolidK9Training's free educational resources. He has a YouTube channel and a couple of other places where he speaks regularly online such as on Periscope. The help you need is beyond what I can tell you here but his resources provide in depth information about high drive working breeds and aggression issues. It is important for you to hear as well as see what to do, which makes videos easier resources. I would also recommend desensitizing him to wearing a muzzle so that you can safely modify his behavior and socialize him around people without risking any type of injury. The fact that he has not drawn blood during several attacks is actually a good sign. That means that your work socializing him around other puppies while he was a young puppy hopefully helped him develop good bite inhibition, which makes his case easier to work on. The behavior behind the aggression is just as much of an issue however, and does need to be addressed, but it will be less dangerous to address it than if he had drawn blood. To desensitize him to the muzzle spend a couple of weeks, or longer if needed, showing him the muzzle while you feed him lots of treats. Let him sniff it and feed him a treat. Let him touch it and feed him a treat. As he begins to like the muzzle because of the treats, then gradually move it onto his face more and more and feed him a treat every time that you do so, until you can finally place it on him completely and feed him treats through the hole while he wears it for gradually longer and longer periods of time. You can also dip a straw in peanut butter and poke that through the muzzle for him to lick off as a reward. Use a basket muzzle for this or another muzzle that also allows him to still open up his mouth inside the muzzle while wearing it. If you feel at all uncertain about how to work with him on the aggression after looking into training, then I would highly recommend hiring an experienced trainer in your area to work one on one with you either at their facility, at your home, or ideally some of each. Look for someone who has several co-trainers that can socialize him and work hands on with him to get him use to people up close, as well as someone who has extensive experience dealing with aggression, high drive breeds, and protective and defensive instincts. Also look for someone who utilizes both positive reinforcement as well as fair corrections, rather than just one of those things. Also work on teaching very reliable obedience so that you can more easily manage the aggression when situations do arise. That will also have the added benefit of increasing his respect toward you, which is very important during tense situations when he feels the need to control situations. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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LEO
German Shepherd
4 Years
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LEO
German Shepherd
4 Years

Hi there. Ive recently recsued Leo from a very poor environment, neglect and hoarding of multiple shepherds. He was in poor condition health wise with fleas and undernourished. He apparently spent his time on a small run outside and slept inside in a crate. He has bonded with me almoaat immediatly. After proper introductions to my resident female shepherd whos is 4 years old, leo is becoming very guarding of me. Dixie, the resident girl is verynwell trained and is off leash on hikes and our adventures. I have had her since shewas 10 weeks old from an excellent breeder. Excellent bloodlines, both sable working parents. Leo has some limited basic obedience skills but its apparent that he was never ssocialized properly or worked with for any amount of time. He spentbthe majoritynof his time outside on a run and slept in a crate indoors. He will be going to my trainer in 2 weeks for evaluation and board and training. Until that time i have worked with reinforcing his recall and basic skills and have found that he works nicely for a tennis ball as he doeant have much of a food drive. Inknow his potential is there and he will become a fantastic dog. Would it be a detrement to him to use an ecollar for correction at this point? I dont want to cause any more issues for this boy but i also wont tolerate any agression to my girl. Any suggestions and help would be grratly appreciated.
Please note that my trainer is highly qualified but currently out of the country and unavailable for consult.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, An e-collar would probably be a good tool for Leo but he needs to have a foundation set before you jump into e-collar training or it can cause problems. If your trainer plans to use one with him, then go ahead and purchase the one that he or she recommends and put it on Leo but do not turn it on, to make training with that trainer faster when you do start. Do this to prevent Leo from becoming collar wise and only responding when the collar is on. He needs to wear the collar for a couple of weeks while it is off to get used to wearing it, so that he will not realize that it is the collar correcting him when you start training. In two weeks you will be seeing your trainer so you can prepare ahead of time but you will not be able to use the collar stimulation yourself before then. You also need to find Leo's working level of stimulation before you can properly use the collar. If you do not know how to do this yourself, you will need your trainer's help with that. Each dog responds to his own level and a level that is too high or too low can cause major issues. Last, I recommend teaching a dog a couple of obedience, instructional commands, so that you can clearly communicate with the dog what to do instead of act aggressively. This creates less potential frustration. If you put your dog in a situation where he is being corrected but he does not understand what to do instead, or he does not realize that he can avoid the correction, then that is when stress and frustration can build and create worse behavior issues. For now, get him used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. Teach him an "Out" command, which means leave the area. Once he understands the "Out" command, when he starts to act aggressively tell him "Ah Ah!" in a firm tone of voice, then tell him "Out" and herd him out of the area with your body. When he gets several feet away, then back up again to where you were. If he tries to follow you tell him "Ah Ah!" and walk toward him again until he is where you want him to be. Repeat this until he stops trying to come back into that space. He does not have to stay in that particular area. He can walk away, sit down, lay down, or remain there, but he cannot come back into the imaginary circle of space around you, your other dog, or whatever you told him to get away from, until he is invited back. Your attitude should mean business when you do this. Do not be afraid to bump into him a bit if he will not move. You are using your attitude and presence to command respect rather than a tool. This is extremely important. Have him wear the silicone muzzle every day while you are establishing this unless you are in a situation that is not likely to trigger a reaction from him, like outside without your other dog around, playing ball. You might want to look into getting a flirt pole for him to use as a reward since he is play motivated. That will give you something to reward him with other than treats and a ball. Although the ball is a good reward too when you can use that. Since he is fearful, showing aggressive tendencies, and lacks socialization, being firm with him could cause him to try to bite you or your dog, so the muzzle needs to be part of the equation right now while you are establishing the rules. The muzzle with also prevent him from learning that he can get what he wants by using his mouth. If he bites and who he bites backs down, he may quickly learn that that is an effective way to control things. When you cannot be present to supervise both dogs, keep them separate until Leo is behaving better. There will be other things that Leo needs addressed such as his lack of socialization, insecurities, dominance, and aggression. Your trainer will help you with the big picture but for the next two weeks work on the "Out" command using the silicone basket muzzle. Also work on rewarding Leo for being tolerant and calm. He needs to learn what is acceptable even more than be corrected for poor behavior. You also may need to keep a prong collar on him if he gets really feisty while you are enforcing "Out". Ideally, wait until your trainer can help you, but if you find that you need a tool, a prong collar is simpler to use than an e-collar and is easier to use right away. Make sure that it has rounded prong ends and that the collar is fitted properly high on his neck, with the prongs lightly touching his neck all around and not pinching him or hanging loose. You can check out Jeff Gelhman from SolidK9Training's YouTube channel for videos on how to properly fit a prong collar. Only keep the prong collar on him when you are directly supervising him. You can attach a one foot leash to the prong collar to make corrections or maneuvering him easy without having a leash dragging behind him. Keep the same principles in mind with the prong collar. Make sure that you are clearly showing him what he should be doing instead of the bad behavior, and showing him that he can avoid the correction by being obedient. Essentially, focus on teaching him things rather than simply punishing him. The definition of discipline is to train someone to obey rules or a code of behavior using punishment to correct disobedience. Make sure that he is learning instead of simply getting frustrated. I wish you the best training him. It sounds like you have done a wonderful job with Dixie and will no doubt do a good job with him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Gunny
German Shepherd
4 Years
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Gunny
German Shepherd
4 Years

Hello,

My name is Erin. Gunny was a rescue dog we bought when he was 10 months old. He has become very aggressive towards guest that come over to the point that we can not invite anyone over at this point. He has taken to me of all the members of my family, I have two sons and a husband but he doesn’t act aggressive towards them. I am afraid that he may hurt someone, is it to late to train him and if not what advice would you give me?

Thank you for your time
Erin

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erin, Whether or not it's too late depends on several things. It depends on why he is acting aggressively and whether he has bitten someone before. Aggression can be due to a number of things. It can be fear based, from a lack of proper early socialization, a traumatic event, a genetic disposition, or something the dog is taught unintentionally by an owner, guest, or environment. Aggression can also be protective in nature. Which is often a combination of genetics and a lack of early socialization to provide the dog with enough experiences for him to be able to tell when someone is untrustworthy or normal. Some dogs that are properly socialized are simply genetically overly suspicious anyway though. Aggression can be due to a lack of respect for the owner or others, a dog attempting to control others as a temperament trait, or something else in the environment. Aggression can also be due to less common things like a mental/hormonal imbalance, an injury that causes pain, or manic type temperament that is genetic. Some forms of aggression can be remedied by addressing the underlying cause, like fear. Others can only be managed through teaching respect in the proper way, teaching obedience, changing a dog's emotional response toward something so that he likes the thing he was aggressive toward, or playing catch up on socialization to help the dog tell the difference between dangerous people and safe people. The short answer to a long explanation is that I cannot tell you whether the dog's aggression can be resolved without seeing the dog, hearing more details, and seeing his response to training. I would suggest hiring a trainer who is highly experienced with aggression and getting that person to evaluate your dog. Some aggression can be resolved by addressing underlying issues, some aggression cannot. Some aggression that cannot be resolved can be safely managed and some cannot. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Chewy
German Shepherd
5 Years
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Chewy
German Shepherd
5 Years

Hello, I adopted Chewy from a shelter about 3 months ago, He has been amazing and has gotten along with our foster cat and her litter quite well. He has always barked and gotten anxious as other dogs passed us on walks etc. We treated this by leading him away and when he was done barking to give him a treat and continue the walk. This has not helped. He now barks at dogs when they are just outside using the bathroom and he is inside and has been pulling me and running at dogs lately. (since he is a 78 pound German shepherd I have a hard time controlling him when he acts like this). I bought him a gentle leader harness a few months ago and it was working well until the past few days when he has been aggressively lunging when even seeing a dog. He also tried to attack a dog that got too close to me at a store today, when we have never had these problems with him before. My friend (who has dealt with this same exact problem with his dog) has stated to me its because he feels he is the leader of the pack and needs to protect me. How do I go about breaking him of this as we do not have a detailed history of him from the shelter and the shelter told us he was great with the dogs there when he was there. I bought a training collar today but have yet to use it, it just seems like positive reinforcement doesn't work but I don't want to be too aggressive with him for training.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cheyenne, I am sorry you are struggling with his aggression. This is honestly something you need to hire a professional trainer who uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrections to help you. Look for someone who has a lot of experience with aggression and high drive, protective breeds like German Shepherds. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on YouTube. He is an aggression expert who has a lot of free videos, with Q&A talks, how to's, and demonstrations. Look for a qualified trainer or behaviorist in your area though. You will need someone to watch your dog's reaction and teach you how to respond in the minute, and someone to give you a preventative plan to deal with the root cause of his aggression. Building Chewy's respect toward you is always a good idea when dealing with aggression. You want to do this in a more mental way rather than a physically confrontational way though. A great way to do this is through obedience training and making him work for what he gets daily. Being very consistent and patiently ensuring that he follows though when you tell him to do something, even if that means waiting for him to do it for a long time, also helps. Check out the article that I have linked below. If at any point he shows any aggression toward you, consult professional help right away. You can combine all three methods from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Jeff Gellman is also proficient in the use of e-collars for training, look into his videos on how to properly fit, introduce, and use e-collars. James Penrith from TakeTheLeadDogTraining on YouTube is also a great e-collar use resource. He works with aggression less though, and more with livestock chasing behavior and off-leash training. Spend time really learning about e-collar use and how to train with one before you try it yourself. They are wonderful, effective tools when used correctly at the right level for that particular dog, but they can be incredibly damaging, ineffective, or abusive if used wrong. The idea is to train your dog to do an acceptable behavior or to condition an acceptable emotional response to something primarily with different types of rewards and to simply use the e-collar as a way of being extremely consistent and insistent, and as a way to interrupt a dog's behavior or state of mind so that you can have the opportunity to teach the dog, who was previously not able to learn. Do not simply put the collar on your dog and punish him without other training combined with it. That type of use alone can actually make aggression worse. A qualified trainer should be able to show you how to use the collar to teach rather than just punish, and Jeff Gellman's videos will demonstrate training also. Whenever you are training simply keep in mind whether or not you are educating your dog. The education may involve discipline but is your dog learning what he is supposed to be doing in addition to what he is not supposed to be doing. Behavior problems often need both types of training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

I guess the biggest question I have is where do I find a trainer willingly to train a German Shepherd? Every place Ive checked says I can't enroll him in group classes and they won't work with him one on one

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Tex
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Tex
German Shepherd
1 Year

We got Tex from a breeder. Immediately after getting him we noticed he was scared of men. He would duck down or start growling. We started taking him to dog classses and he was never aggressive towards other dogs or people there. He is now a year old and he barks at strangers, other dogs and if someone tries entering our home, he may attack. What would you suggest we do since he is not aggressive toward people or dogs in the dog class but is outside of it?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andrea, Look for a professional trainer who also does private in-home training. Be sure that the person is very experienced with aggression and is a part of a larger training group. Many trainers are not experienced enough to handle aggression, so be picky and ask questions about his experience. You need a trainer to come to your home, to work with you at your home, neighborhood, and other locations where Tex is showing aggression. You will want someone who works somewhere with multiple trainers so that other trainers can accompany your trainer or come in place of him once Tex has gotten used to the first trainer. This will allow Tex to practice strangers entering into your home with the "Stranger" trainers. Start by getting Tex used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. A basket muzzle will allow him to open his mouth while wearing it. You will need for him to be able to wear a muzzle to work with a private trainer and to work around any other people safely. You can go ahead and start this before you find a trainer, as long as Tex has not shown aggression toward you. To get Tex used to wearing the muzzle, when you feed him his meal, feed him one piece at a time. Show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Let him touch the muzzle and give him a treat. When he is comfortable with that, then touch the muzzle to his face and then give him a treat. Gradually work up to more and more muzzle touch and being able to hold the muzzle against his face, and giving a treat each time you do it. When you can hold the muzzle against his face, as if he was wearing it, then feed him treats through the muzzle while he wears it, and practice briefly clipping or buckling it on him and then taking it off again. Gradually work up to him wearing it for longer and longer while you feed treats. Do this until he can go longer and longer between treat rewards and will stay relaxed about the muzzle and you no longer need the treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Juno
German Shepherd
6 Weeks
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Juno
German Shepherd
6 Weeks

I’m a highschool student that has the responsibility of teaching my new puppy. I’ve been researching a lot about German Shepard’s and there’s a lot I’m worried about, he’s teething so he bites a lot (me, my other dogs, etc) and I want to make sure he doesn’t grow up biting people. I’m also busy and the only one capable of teaching him, I’m afraid leaving him alone for a long time will make him aggressive and angry. Obedience classes are kind of expensive right now and I can’t afford it. I just want tips on how to stop him from biting and how to fix aggression. I just want to train him right

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, At six week of age the biting that it sounds like you are experiencing is actually normal for all puppies and can even be good; although it does not feel nice! Call around to local Pet Stores, like Petco, to see if any of them offer any free puppy play times. When he has had his first set or two of shots, go ahead and take him to a puppy play group and go to them often if you can. Doing that will help him to learn how to control the pressure of his mouth, so that his biting gets more gentle. Also, while he is at home and around people check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Bite Inhibition" method until he is four months of age. At the same time, work on teaching him "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method in that same article, and at four months of age start telling him to "Leave It" whenever he tries to bite you, even while playing. If he disobeys your command at that age, then use the "Pressure" method from that article to gently discipline him for his disobedient biting. Doing all of this will not only help him stop biting as he grows older, it will also teach him how to be gentler and be able to control his mouth while he is still a puppy. How much damage a dog does when he bites depends a lot on how well he learns to control the pressure of his mouth as a young puppy. Playful biting before four months of age can actually help a puppy learn this important skill and make him safer as an adult. The important thing is to work on stopping the biting by four to five months of age entirely, because puppies jaws get stronger then. The most important thing you can do for a German shepherd to prevent aggression is to introduce him to as many people and other puppies as possible and give him treats whenever he meets a new person. You want to introduce him to at least one-hundred different people before six months of age. The more the better and make each introduction fun with treats without scaring him. Include elderly people, kids, men, and people who look different than you do. This will help him learn to like people and be less suspicious of strangers as an adult, which is preventing a common cause for many German Shepherd's aggressive attacks. Because he is not fully vaccinated, when you take him places to meet people, carry him so that he does not touch the ground. The ground is where he can pick up common puppy diseases, like Parvo. If you have to put him down for him to go potty find a place where no other dogs have likely been and put him down just long enough for him to pee or poop, then pick him up again unless you are at home. This goes for your neighborhood too, unless it is your backyard. Once he has had his third round of shots and your vet has given his approval, then he can walk places. When you go to the puppy play groups, ask if all the puppies are required to be up-to-date on shots and if the floor is cleaned beforehand with a cleaner that kills Parvo. Most good puppy groups require both of those things, to keep your young puppy safe. When you bring him into the building, carry him and do not put him down until you are in the training area with just the other puppies and the cleaned floor. This will help him stay safe from disease while still letting him get the socialization and gentle biting practice he needs. Check out Ian Dunbar and DogstarDaily online for free puppy socialization E-books you can download and other useful information. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Duke
German Shepherd
10 Weeks
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Duke
German Shepherd
10 Weeks

Duke is 10 weeks old. Initially he was biting but in a playful way. My partner and I just put it down to teething and puppy excitement. However the behaviour has changed in that he now keeps on biting and growls at the same time. We have tried ignoring this behaviour, saying ouch, telling him off or giving him a short time out. Nothing seems to be working to stop him from doing it he is a good dog in many ways but we are worried that if we do not fix this problem now it will develop into something more serious later on.
Would appreciate any help possible.
Toni

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Toni, When puppies play with each other they often growl and get rough. He is likely treating you like an another puppy - which is normal if that's the case but still not something you want since puppy teeth are sharp! Check out the article that I have linked below. Work on teaching him the "Leave It" method. Once he understands what "Leave It" means, you can use the "Pressure" method from that article to gently discipline the biting, but he needs to understand what "Leave It" means first, so that he will not simply respond defensively and get rougher thinking you are playing. Focus on "Leave It" the most because as an intelligent breed, challenging his brain is more likely to be effective, and "Leave It" will help him learn self-control - which is a skill that puppies have to practice. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, puppy mouthing takes a long time to change. Don't expect it to end overnight. It should gradually get better as you are consistent and he grows out of the teething and jaw development phases though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Skye
German Shepherd
2 Years
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Skye
German Shepherd
2 Years

she has attacked and hurt my 6 year old small terrier twice. The first fight was over food the second happend after she was arroused by another dog walking by outside. normally they sleep next to each other and sometimes even eat out of same bowl! I dont get it but im expecting a newborn in march and im afraid of what may happen we have physically had to separate the two dogs twice. I told my husband it is either shock collar or dog goes. can you recommend or give advice on beneficial collar training ? i dont want to hurt her but i dont want her to keep hurting my little dog now she is even scared to be by skye and i keep her next to me all day but with baby coming that wont be so easy and what if i cant stop it? thank you sincerely mom taylor

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Krischelle, First, it sounds like Skye has major resource guarding issues, issues with impulse control, and tends to redirect aggression onto others. My main concern is that dogs tend to treat babies and toddlers more like other dogs than like people. Many dogs view small children more like they would another dog, and issues that they would not normally due toward a person, but would do toward a dog, might come up with kids. You need to be very aware that Skye could redirect her aggression toward a young child if she became aggressive because of another dog and the child was next to her. She also seems to lack impulse control and may not give a lot of warnings before an attack. I don't want to scare you anymore than you already are, but I want to let you know so that you can be aware. With that said, I suggest hiring a trainer to help you in person. Check out Saun O'Shea from The Good Dog Training. He has a YouTube Channel where he has instructional videos on working through things like resource guarding and dog-aggression. I recommend learning what you can by watching those videos but also hiring a trainer who is very experienced, to help you implement things safely. I also highly suggest getting Skye used to wearing a soft silicon basket muzzle. Done correctly, many dogs do not mind wearing them. The silicone ones are more comfortable and the basket shape will let her open her mouth inside the muzzle still. To get her used to wearing the muzzle, feed her a treat or piece of dog food every time that she touches the muzzle or sniffs it (feed her from a bag of food you have and not a dish on the floor). When she is comfortable with that, feed her treats for touching the muzzle more, then for putting her face into the muzzle partially, then for putting her face into the muzzle all the way. Work on each step until she is comfortable touching the muzzle to that extent before you move onto the next part. Practice all of this until she will keep her face in the muzzle while you feed her treats through the muzzle's holes. When you can do that and she is relaxed, then you can buckle the muzzle and feed her treats through the holes occasionally, before taking it off again. Gradually increase how long you keep the muzzle on her and decrease how often you give her a treat through the muzzle as she improves. Practice this until she can wear the muzzle for longer periods of time and seems relaxed about it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Brady
German Shepherd
2 Years
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Brady
German Shepherd
2 Years

We got brady at 8 months old and are his third and final home. He had little training then and we’ve gone through extensive training with obedience and even CGC with him. Recently hes started to randomly growl at a few people. At first we thought it was a noise sensitivity but that proved indifferent due to a random even he tried to bite a friend. And this morning he randomly froze and growled at me and I told him no and was verbally correcting him and he then went to lung and I put him on the ground on his side until he calmed down. We also have another shepherd that’s younger. They wrestle and occasionally brady will mount him and lay on him and such. Brady refuses to sleep in bed with us especially if I’m in the bed anymore. (He used to when we first got him). He goes and sleeps on the couch in the same spot on thesame couch. We do however only let him in and out of doors after us. And make him get down off the couch when we say not when he feels like. Also we are able to take food or bones from him if we choose so we don’t think resources are the issue.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tyler, You need to hire a professional trainer who can work directly with you immediately. Look for a trainer who specializes in aggression or has extensive experience dealing with aggression. This issue is probably not just fear-aggression too, and many trainers only know how to address that, so look for someone who has dealt with other types of aggression too. Brady probably needs a lot more structure, boundaries, and rules in his life to keep his attitude in check. If he was re-homed in the past because of these types of issues and does not have a history of abuse, then he simply might be a dog that needs strong leadership, a lot of obedience management, and a lot of structure. Look up Saun O'Shea from the Good Dog or Jeff Gellman. Saun is a bit more personable so I recommend looking into his style of training first. You might need a trainer who approaches things similar to that, combining a lot of structure, boundaries, fair corrections, and positive reinforcement into their training, to teach new commands, manage aggression, interrupt existing behaviors, and get to root causes also. https://thegooddog.net/ Saun and Jeff also have YouTube channels https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ElhSrziUvg4FOY4xKou5w I suggest getting Brady used to wearing a soft silicon basket muzzle for right now. If introduced correctly the muzzle shouldn't cause him any distress but will keep you safe while you learn how to work with him, and will prevent him from successfully using aggression to get his way - which makes aggression worse the more he gets his way by resorting to it. Use a soft silicone basket muzzle - they are more comfortable and your dog will be able to open his mouth while wearing it. Pair the muzzle with treats. Every time that he touches the muzzle give him a piece of dog food. When he is used to that give him a piece of food whenever he lets you hold it briefly against his face. Practice gradually putting it on him more and more until he will keep his face in it while you feed him treats through the muzzle's holes. When he is completely comfortable, then you can buckle it and occasionally feed him treats through the muzzle's holes, until he can wear it for longer periods of time and stay relaxed about it. You can do this with his entire meal kibble. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Luka
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Luka
German Shepherd
1 Year

I need help teaching my dog how to be less aggressive. He has been socialized with several dogs and people from the first day I got him, he has always been friendly with strange people and dogs. I have 3 other dogs at home and 3 cats, he has always gotten along with all of them. Here recently in the past few months he has been randomly aggressive towards one of the other dogs, some times he is best friends with him and then other times he will attack him and pin him down. He also has started chasing the cats, he has never hurt any of them but it is very scary to see sometimes. I wanted to know how I can stop this behavior.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Heather, The aggression might be because of his age. Between one and two years old many dogs start displaying more dominant, fearful, possessive, or other temperamental behavior issues. It sounds like the dogs are probably competing. Luka used to be alright with being less dominant when he was younger but may be challenging your other dog now, especially if your other dog is a dominant personality or another male. There could be something else going on as well, like food aggression or possessiveness, but I would need more information to assess that. The dogs all need a lot of structure at home. Make all the dogs, but especially the two that fight, work for everything they get for a while. That means that Luka needs to do a command before he is petted, fed, walked, given a toy, or given a treat. Also, create rules for all of the dogs and be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs won't have to for each other. Some good rules to have include: No dog is allowed to beg for food. No dog is allowed to be pushy for attention. No dog is allowed to bother another dog's food or stare at them while they eat. No dog is allowed to pester another dog when they want to be left alone. No dog is allowed to guard anything or keep another dog from getting to an area. No dog is allowed to display aggression or dominating behaviors, including staring, lip lifting, posturing, humping, climbing on top of, or anything else. No dog is allowed to steal another dog's toy. No dog is allowed to decide what another dog is or is not allowed to do or go - that is your job. If a dog breaks a rule, you enforce the consequence not the other dog. For example, if another dog steals a toy, take the toy from the thief, give it back to the dog who had it first, and make the thief leave the room. If a dog is being pushy, that dog leaves the room. If a dog is staring at another dog while they eat, the dog staring leaves the room. If a dog is guarding a piece of furniture, they have to get off and are not allowed on that piece of furniture anymore right now. You can also work on building the dog's respect for you in other ways too. If the dogs view you as in charge and as the moderator between them, there is less to compete for. Check out the article that I have linked below for other suggestions for how to build respect. Check out the obedience method specifically. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you It wouldn't hurt to hire a trainer also, to assess if there is something else going on that is starting the fights that also needs to be dealt with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Clover
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Clover
German Shepherd
1 Year

Hello! my dog is a Working line black GSD 14 months old. He is trained by a professional trainer for obedience and Personal protection. The training was to attack a stranger coming inside our house. Recently, he bit a delivery guy that we had to bring him to the bite center. My dog was in his cage then when my wife went just outside the gate, she did not notice that Clover open the cage and run fast towards them and bite him right away. Also the other day, he charged at someone on a motorcycle and a kid that would like to come near my daughter. He is being over protective. Can we still correct this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ralph, Unfortunately, I cannot tell you without being your trainer, who knows your dog, knows the level of damage done during the bites, his body language around others, ect...You need a trainer who specializes in aggression to help you in person and the training needs to be done very carefully, probably with a muzzle the first time the trainer comes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella
German Shepherd
11 Months
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Bella
German Shepherd
11 Months

Bella is a great dog and so loving and friendly with my brother (her dad), my sister and myself but she absolutely cannot stand my mom coming into my room. She’ll bark aggressively towards her if she’s even close to the door. However, she’s fine with my mom when she’s in her own room. She’ll go snuggle up with her and all. Bella also barks at strangers when I take her for walks. She’s so stubborn when it comes to following orders, I have to “scream” at her and then she’ll do what I ask. Also, since my sister moved away, Bella spends one week with her and one week with me. When my sister leaves, she gets extremely sad, and I don’t know how to cheer her up. I guess my question is, how do I stop her aggressive barking and get her to stop being so stubborn.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maria, It sounds like Bella lacks respect for your mom and is being possessive of you or the space. She also probably lacks respect and trust for you or simply had not been taught enough commands to understand what you expect of her. I suggest hiring a trainer who can work on boundaries, structure, and building her respect and trust for you and your mom through training and obedience practice. This is not something I suggest doing on your own since the aggression is also happening with family members. Check out Jeff Gellmand from SolidK9Training's videos for more information about implementing boundaries and structure into the routine. Again, hire a trainer to help you implement it and work with her because this is a potentially serious issue and the training should be done carefully. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Deuce
German Shepherd
5 Years
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Deuce
German Shepherd
5 Years

My dog Deuce is now all of a sudden getting extremely aggressive towards my husband and has bit him twice already. This just started about a month ago. I don't know what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brandi, You need professional help right away. Contact a dog trainer that is very experienced with aggression to help you. Without more information and being there in person I am not much help in your situation. You need to be working with a trainer to evaluate your dog. Until you get help Deuce needs to be wearing a basket muzzle when around your husband for his safety. You can introduce the muzzle by pairing it with treats to make it pleasant. Be careful and slow about introducing it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Duke
German Shepherd
8 Months
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Duke
German Shepherd
8 Months

We have a hard time with duke being aggressive when someone is in the yard with him he also jump on u bite hands arms and feet very hard , we also have a very hard time introducing him to the kids in the house because he is very hyper and still bites alot what should we do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Skyla, At this age how to handle this depends partially on why is he biting. Is the biting due to excitement around new people and a rough-housing type scenario, where he is just too rough and excited, or is he acting protective, dominant, suspicious, or territorial toward people? If the biting is simply rude, overly rambunctious biting meant to be playful (even though it is not fun for you), then check out the video below on building respect and correcting rudeness toward people. Only utilize this protocol if his motive is not truly aggressive but simply too excited and rough. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg If the aggression is true aggression and he is displaying dominant, territorial, possessive, or protective tendencies, then I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer who works with a number of other trainers, specializes in aggression or is at least very experienced in it, and uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrections combined with a lot of structure and boundaries to build respect by challenging a dog's thought processes, opposed to just over-powering them physically (no alpha rolls - training and firm consistency instead, with tools used correctly). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Joker
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Joker
German Shepherd
1 Year

I’m questioning how to break our shepherd from showing aggression towards us. The last 2 months have been terrible. He doesn’t bite but he definitely shows his teeth and gets very close then after we say NO, he tries to get us to play with him... If he’s laying down and you even brush up against him, he growls and shows teeth... Again, he’s a big baby but at times he just downs want to be touched... Even rubbing his belly gets his teeth showing and the growl going. I’m at wits end with it and have even contemplated giving him to someone else because we have a 10 year old.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jessica, I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer who is very experienced with aggression to come to your home and work with you on this. In the meantime, get him used to wearing a basket muzzle and have him wear that during the day. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Check out Jeff Gellman from solidk9training. He is an aggression expert located in Rhode Island who has numerous free resources, like Youtube videos. He also offers paid Skype consultations. He is a good place to learn more, but I highly suggest not working on this on your own, but hiring someone to help you implement the training because you need someone to be able to respond in real time to your dog to demonstrate the training and tailor it to you, based on how your dog is responding. Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog is also a good YouTube resource to learn more about aggression and structure. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Molly
shepherd/ lab mix
3 Years
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Molly
shepherd/ lab mix
3 Years

It seems that Molly is protective to the point that she will bark, lunge, be scary, and overall aggressive. This happens on occasion.

Also, she was apparently assaulted by a group of young kids, when she about a year old. Now, she growls when little kids want to approach her.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samuel, First, I suggest working on building her respect and trust in you, her impulse control, and her calmness. Work on the commands below to help with those things and lay a good foundation. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Second, check out his article: https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 Third, look for a good trainer in your area who is very experienced with aggression, high drive breeds, fear aggression, and protectiveness, who can help you with some of the protocols linked below. Kid aggression - notice the safety measures like the crate or back tie leash and tape line they stand behind to keep kids safe: https://youtu.be/9n0_27XY3z4 Aggression protocol: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Resource guarding people q&a: https://youtu.be/tm-bdjDdZqc Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Smokey
German Shepherd
10 Months
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Smokey
German Shepherd
10 Months

Hello,
My name is Karla and I had my German Shepherd since he was 2 month old. He has been a great dog since a puppy, pretty smart. However, lately he has being more protective and agresiva toward dog. Two days ago he bit a dog so I decide to bought a shock collar to help improve his behavior. Today he also bit a person and I decide to buy a muzzle to used on his walks. I wonder if I am using to much equipment? Should I just use one so I don’t stress my dog out ? Also I wonder what could be the reason of this problem and what else can I do to fix the problem? I feel that he is getting worse every time, first with the dog and now with the person.
Thanks !

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karla, A muzzle and a shock collar can be effective tools for dealing with aggression but they can also make it worse if you do not know how to introduce them and use the properly (specifically the shock collar). A shock collar is a powerful tool and it is likely not the collar that is the issue but the need for a lot of training and behavior modification that simply uses the collar as a way to increase consistency from a distance - not simply punish the dog for displaying aggression without also giving rewards for good behavior, making things they don't like pleasant when they are calm, teaching structure and boundaries to build respect. I highly suggest hiring a trainer who can teach you how to use these tools and other tools, like rewards, properly and at the right time. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression, remote collar training (if they deem necessary), implementing structure and boundaries to build his respect for you and give you ways to manage his behavior better, and who uses positive reinforcement to help him associate his calm behavior and being around other people and dogs and responding well to them - with good things. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training for some examples of how to combine these things. I suggest not just watching one of his videos but watching several on the topic of aggression and seeing how he combines obedience, rewards, corrections, calmness, and calm exercises around people and other dogs to help dogs with aggression or fear issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8juiJ-Hq8dI Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Theo
German Australian Shepherd
3 Years
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Theo
German Australian Shepherd
3 Years

Hi there! My dog Theo has become more and more aggressive over the past year. During his first two years we used to take him to the dog park with no issues, but over the course of the past year his behavior has gotten worse and aggressive towards other animals. He has also become more ball oriented and protective over it, but when another dog is around we take it away so that it doesn't start a fight. However, Theo has begun to start chasing after other dogs in the dog park and intentionally nipping them in the hind area or knocking them over by running into their side. We have trained him very well and he is very obedient on our walks and runs, but suddenly becomes dis-obedient at the park. We stopped taking him because he was becoming too aggressive and causing too many issues at the park and just increased his length in walks and runs. Recently we started taking him back when there aren't so many dogs around but his behavior has only gotten worse... any advice on how to train him to be less aggressive towards other animals at the park? Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shelby, Theo is likely a dog who simply shouldn't be at the dog park. You can do things to improve his behavior around other dogs in general, but the atmosphere of a dog park gives you little control to work on his behavior, encourages over-arousal, and gives him a chance to practice bullying, controlling, and generally being aggressive toward other dogs, which makes his aggression worse and can start fear-aggression for other dogs who were previously fine. I recommend no longer going to the dog park with him period due to his struggles and personality. To help his attitude around other dogs, in addition to removing unstructured time around other dogs, where he has the chance to get worse, add in structured, calming activities around other dogs. A structured heeling walk, such as a dog walking or hiking group, where he is expected to stay focused on you and heel the entire time right now. A structured obedience class or group of owners who practice obedience together - especially heeling, long Down-Stays, Place command, and other things that encourage focus, self-control, calmness, and respect. You want to encourage a calm and respectful attitude around other dogs, not over-arousal and competitiveness. You want to work him mentally so that he really has to focus and stay tuned into you, instead of worrying about what the other dogs are doing. A hike heeling during it, with other dogs doing the same thing and added appropriate weights in a dog pack would probably be a great activity for him as long as he didn't over do it physically in the heat. If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area that would also be a good activity for him. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a structured socialization class for dogs with dog reactivity or aggression. All of the dogs wear comfortable basket muzzles during the class to keep everyone safe and allow the training to go faster. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mac
German Shepherd
17 Months
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Question
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Mac
German Shepherd
17 Months

My son works out of state and is only home 6 out of 21 days, Mac is his dog. His wife is staying with us as they are transiting to our area and building a home. Mac is a good, sweet boy but is aggressive toward our 3 year old twin grand kids who recently visited from out of town. He bit our grandson without being provoked-he was only walking from car to house. Six months ago when they last visited Mac barked, growled and nipped at both kids while they played and screamed so this time we kept him on a run in another area of the yard when the kids were outside. Mac tends to be more aggressive toward my grandson for some reason. My son and D-I-L are expecting a new baby boy this week and are moving to their new home soon. My concern is that Mac will try to bite their new baby when he cries. My son, who was not here during the twins visit is in denial that Mac has a problem that should be handled now. Is this something I should be concerned about? Mac is an outside dog at our house but will again be an inside dog when they move. I would hate to see something happen to their new baby or his cousins, who will visit at Mac's new home, before they try to get this under control. I have suggested obedience school without success. Am i worrying too much?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cindi, This is something that definitely needs to be addressed. Because the baby will be a member of their family there is a decent chance that Mac will be more tolerant of the baby than other kids if the aggression is due to protectiveness - the chance may be 50% so no guarantee. When the baby becomes a toddler the risk increases because toddlers often lack proper spacial awareness and respect towards dogs and are more likely to do something that aggravates the dog - I would be most concerned when the baby becomes mobile. Because the dog is not your own you ultimately cannot be the one to do what's needed - they will need to recognize the problem and seek help, hopefully your daughter-in-law can voice her concerns to her husband and he will listen to her if she sees a problem - she may not admit the problem to you in trying to support her husband but that doesn't necessarily mean that she doesn't see it and won't say something to him. I would strongly push for the dog to be put away whenever cousins or other kids visit, which will be up to those children's parents to insist on that and not let kids go over if the dog is not put away - if the dog does fine with the new baby his aggression toward other kids is actually likely to get worse because he may bite trying to keep other kids away from your son's child also. Many German Shepherds who are fine with family still struggle with neighbor and visiting kids when they have their own kids because they believe that the other kids are a danger to their family's child when the kids do normal kid things like run and scream, play games and wrestle. Any time a dog bites something needs to be addressed and there is an issue. The severity of the bite (drawing blood, puncture marks) effects how dangerous the dog is. A dog with a gentle mouth who doesn't leave marks still has a behavior issue that needs to be addressed but is less dangerous than a dog with the same behavior issue who bites repeatedly or draws blood. If the dog had bitten someone besides family who wanted something done about it the dog could have been taken away and put down and the owner sued - that is serious and your son should know this. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Nikita
German Shepherd
6 Years
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Nikita
German Shepherd
6 Years

This is our 6 year old German Shepherd. She has lived with my husbands family all her life and we recently moved into a house where we could take her. She was not socialized at all as a puppy and was rarely introduced to anything new for the last 6 years of her life. I have been told she was a very anxious and shy puppy. She is very loving towards me and my husband but is extremely aggressive towards anyone else inside our house, on walks or anywhere else. The problem is that she is very unpredictable and sometimes she is fine and will look fine until she bites someone. She has bit 1 person since we have had her. We can’t take her anywhere at this point because she is so aggressive. Is there a way to help her? She has been trained and is very obedient she just is so scared, anxious and aggressive that it’s hard to have her anywhere near any other people. My husband loves the dog but I don’t feel comfortable taking her out anywhere at risk of her biting someone. Is it too late to help her? We have tried everything it feels like and it’s just unfortunate that she was raised the way she was.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
306 Dog owners recommended

Hello Payton, With the right training help she could likely make enough improvement to be more manageable around people. It sounds like her issue is partially genetic, which cannot be changed - she will likely always be a bit timid and need extra help there, but by giving a lot of structure, helping her get used to being around people, and a whole lot of management, things probably could improve. It will honestly take a lot of work though and you will always probably be managing it on-going, but that management would probably look like walks being a structured heel, practicing Place while inside to build impulse control and calmness, keeping your energy when interacting with her calmer, and giving her a lot of direction in uncertain situations...Basically she may be a dog who really needs to be told how to feel and behave in a lot of situations, but if given that type of leadership long-term she could probably improve a lot. Check out trainers like: The Canine Educator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0I6q2SHXFk https://www.americascanineeducator.com/ Sean O Shea from the Good Dog: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training: https://www.youtube.com/solidk9training All of these trainers are slightly different than each other but what they have in common is that: they all specialize in behavior problems, are very calm while training, use a lot of structure and boundaries to deal with behavior problems, use both positive reinforcement and fair corrections, and have a ton of experience dealing with aggression, fear, and reactivity. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Training Success Stories

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Archie
German Shepherd
10 Months

My German Shepherd is a male and has always been a sweetie yo everyone. But for the past month or two he has been growling at my older Yorkie every once in a while and sometimes when we try to take away something he gets possessive and growls but we do end up getting it. But for the past 3 days he has growled at my Yorkie and the neighbors dog. He gets over them and just growls and i pull him away by his collar. Tonight he has kinda scared me because i went to go let my dogs in and he was chewing on something by the door and my little one went close to him and he started growling. I did what i did the other times and grabbed his collar but then he started to jump at him and bite him. I know your not suppose to get in the middle of fights but it was and instinct to grab him. I did hat let my other dog inside and left him outside. I don't know what to do and i ove him to much to send him away.

7 months, 2 weeks ago
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