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  #1  
Old February 21st, 2005, 10:27 AM
auggie auggie is offline
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aggressive behaviour in german sheperds

Have a 19 month old male german sheperd who is starting to show signs of agressiveness. He is not fixed and have completed 3 classes of obedience and couple of classes of flyball/agility for socializing purposes. When people come to visit, we put him in a sit and wait till our guest get settle, then we relase him, they go to pet him and he'll give a low growl or actually bark and be more agressive towards them. these people are not strangers and he has known them since he was 8 weeks old when we got him. He has the same action when he meets people on our walks when they want ot stop and pet him. He has just stared to act this way towards the trainers and the groomer who, would handle him touch him all the time. We had him checked out by the vet, he doesn't really know why he is acting this way (could possibly be the second stage of maturation) recommends getting him fixed, it might/or might not stop his agressiveness.

Is this a phase in his growing up and would pass (which I was told) or should I proceed to get him fixed??

Note: he was attacked by another dog and injured when he was about 9 months old.

thanks
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Old February 21st, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Where are you located? Tenderfoot is the best one to answer this..
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Old February 21st, 2005, 10:43 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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I've read most bites come from adult intact males, so I would certainly get him neutered to start with.

You really need to get a behaviorist to come to your home and see exactly what is going on and what is motivating the aggression - fear, protectiveness, offensive/defensive or just unstable temperament caused by bad breeding - who knows. You need a professional for this, as aggression handled the wrong way can certainly make it worse.

We really can't advise on this issue over the net, it's too dangerous to do so. In the meantime, keep everyone (including your dog) safe by NOT allowing strangers to pet him outside, and keep him safely away from your guests if there is a chance he may bite.

Good luck and keep us up!
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Old February 21st, 2005, 11:06 AM
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Some dogs do not like being handled by strangers, so I wouldn't let complete strangers just come up and pet him. Some dogs simply don't like this, and shouldn't be forced into it IMHO. However he shouldn't ever bark or growl! It's up to you to protect him from being stressed, and other people from being alarmed or hurt by your dog.

Neutering probably will not make a big difference in how he acts with humans, but he's done with the bulk of his growing, so you should neuter him now anyhow.
How does he do around other dogs in agility & flyball as an intact teenage male? Usually dogs have to be really sociable to do those sports, especially flyball!

IMHO you need to consult with your trainers and probably increase the amount of obedience work you're doing with him. He's making up his own rules and disregarding your status as the head of the family in his interactions with other people. So working more with him in that regard should prove really helpful.
It's been my experience that some large breed dogs do go through a number of these assertive sateges as they mature, right up to 2-3 years of age. Especially if they were neutered late.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 12:33 PM
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agressive behaviour in german sheperd

My dog is really socialable around other dogs, he's been like that since the beginning. I don't let strangers handle him, but if they do ask to pet him, I won't let them. When we do meet strangers, I put him in a sit, but if they approach, he gives a low growl.

Thanks
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Old February 21st, 2005, 12:36 PM
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He needs to be neutered and to have behavioural training to curb his need to be in charge. Basically that's what he's doing when he growls....he's taking charge and letting the others know to heed him, not you.

My princess is also a GSD, but she knows her place. I'm the head of the pack and the most she'll do when she sees a stranger is to want to be petted. If she's in her yard, though, she'll bark with her hackles up, until I allow the person in. That's normal. Seek better training. Nip it in the bud now or it'll be a huge problem later on.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 12:40 PM
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I would definitely consider a behaviourist they could better assess the dog in its own enviroment. I would also neuter him one less chance of testicular cancer quite common among unneutered males.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 04:39 PM
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Have to add my thoughts ,like they said PLEASE GET IT FIXED NOW, i HAD gsd that started with just little signs of aggression which started to lead to him at the top of the ored and i could not get it back to me being top dog,If you have the finances to do so i would ASAP.....................................
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Old February 21st, 2005, 04:39 PM
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OOps spelled that wrong,order..
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  #10  
Old February 22nd, 2005, 11:47 AM
auggie auggie is offline
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I would like to think everyone for their input. this was my first time to this bulletin board.

I have consulted with an animal behaviourist, and from what I told him, sound like it is a generic dominant disorder. Arranging to meet with him this weekend.

thanks again
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  #11  
Old February 22nd, 2005, 11:52 AM
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What is Generic dominant disorder??
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 11:54 AM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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If you do not neuter him, you're dealing with a ticking bomb. Male dogs, unaltered, are highly hormone driven. If he's already showing aggressive tendancies, then neutering him will aid in behavioral training.

Male dogs, unlike females, are more prone to aggression when left in an unaltered state.
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  #13  
Old February 22nd, 2005, 11:57 AM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heidiho
What is Generic dominant disorder??
This means the dog has a genetic disposition to be dominant and has aggressive traits bred into him. It's a result of poor breeding - the breeding of dogs with faulty temperments.

This is another reason to have him neutered. If some puppy mill were get to get their hands on him, there would be an explosion of GSD's with aggressions - resulting in an increase in GSD related attacks - resulting in a possible BSL against GSDs.
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  #14  
Old February 22nd, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinitie
This means the dog has a genetic disposition to be dominant and has aggressive traits bred into him. .
Genetic, or generic? These are two completely diffferent things.

Nothing wrong with dominance. That is not necessarily a "disorder." Some dogs are more dominant than others, is all.
If the dog had underlying aggressive issues, being intact, he would be aggressive towards other dogs. According to the OP, this is not the case, so I don't see any "disorder" here.

My guess is still the dog simply needs to have his training and obedience work intensified a bit. This doesn't sound like a "disorder", it sounds like a normal teenage working breed dog who simply needs remedial training. What you've described doesn't sound that difficult to deal with, and very common.

In case it's not clear, I am not comfortable with this whole disorder thing. It sounds bogus to me. Genetic or generic, whichever.
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 01:05 PM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carina
Genetic, or generic? These are two completely diffferent things.
I agree. I highly doubt, however, that the behaviorist called it a "generic" disorder. I'd bet it's a typo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carina
Nothing wrong with dominance. That is not necessarily a "disorder." Some dogs are more dominant than others, is all.
If the dog had underlying aggressive issues, being intact, he would be aggressive towards other dogs. According to the OP, this is not the case, so I don't see any "disorder" here.
If the dog is growling as people are walking up to the owner, there is indeed a problem. This is not a dominance issue as the owner has no problem with handling the dog. The dog, however, has issues with any other person. If the dog was bred from a faulty gene pool, then it definately is a problem! Just because the dog isn't attacking other dogs, doesn't mean that it doesn't have issues. An intact dog will almost certainly reign supreme over dogs that are altered, as it's the highest ranking member of the pack who is able to reproduce. A dog who is altered doesn't have the urge to try and climb the "social ladder" as a dog who's intact. Most likely, if they encounter another intact dog, there would most certainly be a fight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carina
My guess is still the dog simply needs to have his training and obedience work intensified a bit. This doesn't sound like a "disorder", it sounds like a normal teenage working breed dog who simply needs remedial training. What you've described doesn't sound that difficult to deal with, and very common.
It's not common for a dog to be ok with being handled one day, and to suddenly begin showing aggression. If nothing has changed in the home, and the owner is handling the dog as before, then it's entirely possible that this teenage dog had hit puberty and must be neutered before his mating instinct and high hormone levels cause this dog to attack someone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carina
In case it's not clear, I am not comfortable with this whole disorder thing. It sounds bogus to me. Genetic or generic, whichever.
Genetic faults do occur in dogs, and cats for that matter, and no matter the amount of training, there's just no "helping" the animal. Read post #8 in this thread. GsdDiamond recalls a puppy with a bad temperment from the time she brought the pup home. Is this a result of bad genetics? It's very likely. Has this happened to other people? You bet. Can the dog be saved? Sure, with the proper time and training. There are disorders we know nothing about. It's possible that simply neutering this GSD will calm him down enough for proper training to control his aggressions.

We're all entitled to our opinions, and if you think genetic disorders can't cause the problems this dog is having, that's your opinion.

Phew - I think I got carpel-tunnel! (sp?)
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 01:25 PM
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Yeah i know what genetic is,but it said generic,so i wasnt sure never heard of that,,
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 02:23 PM
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LOL Trinitie, sorry about the carpal tunnel!

I'm not saying I doubt there is a genetic component to various behaviours, of course there is. All behaviour is in part genetic. And yes, there are such disorders as rage syndrome, overly aggressive dogs, etc.

The reason I am saying I do not think it's the case in this case is,
1: The dog is apparently fine with other dogs. If this dog had somne "aggression" syndrome, no way would it - as an intact young male dog - be sociable enough to participate in flyball and agility, for goodness sake! Non-aggressiveness towards other dogs is mandatory for flyball. Neutering is a good idea sure, but I doubt it has much to do with the dog's behaviour towards people.

2: This is a common problem with some breeds and the issue is virtually always a matter of training, rarely some disorder. If that were the case, then over half of the independent working breeds on the planet would have the same disorder. Including a couple I have owned, and who were easily taught to mind thier manners.

The OP can't handle the dog, that is why he is asking this question, and why he's seeing a behaviourist! The dog is taking matters into his own hands because he does not have sufficient respect for his handler. This is why my suggestion was increase training, with the help of someone knowlegable.

Anyhow, I stand firm on my opinion here - I am 99% sure I am correct in my assessment, given the info provided - so we can respectfully agree to disagree. Or, it comes down to semantics - what some are calling a "genetic disorder" I would more likely call a "genetic disposition" - certainly not a disorder, which means an abnormality, loosely speaking. Retrievers are genetically predisposed to chase tennis balls, Terriers dig, sighthounds chase - those are not disorders, they are dispositions, and easily managed.

Note. A more likely somatic cause would be thyroid or adrenal disorder. Dr Jean Dodds is conducting a longitudinal study on this now; my vet has several dogs in his practice who are "test" subjects for the study.

It's also probably not the case that the dog "suddenly" started acting this way. I'm sure there were signs that weren't picked up on for some time.
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 03:16 PM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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There are far more knowledgable people than I in the world. It appears you have more experience with dogs, and I respect that.

I know less about dogs than most people here, I'm sure. I thought you were saying your didn't believe in genetic disorders, not that you didn't think this was one.

I know when to stay out of the discussion, especially when I need to ice my wrists.

I'd like to suggest, however, that the OP should DEFINATELY neuter the dog. It will make training much easier in the long run, whether the dog has temperment problems or not. A male dog, with too many hormones, is an accident waiting to happen, especially if there's a dominance issue.

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Old February 22nd, 2005, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinitie
when I need to ice my wrists.

May I share your ice pack?
oh yeah on the neutering thing....he's old enough now.
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 05:07 PM
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I am just wondering about the behaviourist, seems strange to me that they would give an assessment over the phone/e-mail without seeing the dog, even just guessing it..there could be many different reasons why this dog is acting this way, no way to tell for sure until they see this dog in person with the handler. Unless this is comman practise? I haven't dealt with many trainers..just a few, but none of them would say anything until they saw the dog.
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  #21  
Old February 23rd, 2005, 09:53 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Quote:
sound like it is a generic dominant disorder.
Dominance is NOT a "disorder" - no matter if it's genetic or generic, but merely a personality trait with some dogs, as it is with some people.

Barking, growling or threatening people for no reason is NOT a sign of a dominant personality. In fact, truly dominant dogs are so confident they feel no need to put up an aggressive display. This is fear and/or outright aggression.

I would not consult with this trainer or behaviorist!!
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Old February 24th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Did you not say that the dog reacts to people approacing you, is it not trying to protect you? I had a shepperd cross Bernese and it was ok for kids to come up to us but adults was another thing especially men, so I never let men come and try to stroke him, in his 9+ years he never bit anyone but he would get upset when adults approaced us on walks.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyRescue
Dominance is NOT a "disorder" - no matter if it's genetic or generic, but merely a personality trait with some dogs, as it is with some people.

Barking, growling or threatening people for no reason is NOT a sign of a dominant personality. In fact, truly dominant dogs are so confident they feel no need to put up an aggressive display. This is fear and/or outright aggression.

I would not consult with this trainer or behaviorist!!
I ABSOLUTELY agree. Disorder?!?! Bunk! It's a guard/working dog for heaven's sake!

My pointer enters a trance (points) when it smells a game bird and it's near impossible to get her to snap out of it. And she will fetch/retrieve anything/anywhere for hours on end if allowed.

Sounds like she's got obsessive-compulsive disorder, maybe a mild case of autism. I'd better get her to the therapist to get her past this irrational behaviour.

Much more likely is fear. One thing that caught my attention is the ritual with visitors in the house. It all sounds good until you let the visitors approach the dog. WRONG way 'round. Go about having your tea, see to it your guests have doggy treats close at hand. Let the dog approach them on his terms, when the fear/stress level has naturally lowered.

He may never be thrilled with other people around, let him keep his distance and chances are he'll never be aggressive.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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Oh, and I forgot to reinforce....

Get the dog fixed.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 06:50 PM
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[QUOTE=auggie]Have a 19 month old male german sheperd who is starting to show signs of agressiveness. He is not fixed and have completed 3 classes of obedience and couple of classes of flyball/agility for socializing purposes.

I have a male aussie who is just like that, I refuse to let it go as I need to be able to trust my dogs to a certain extent, what fun is it if you have to keep running away from people. My guy will growl at anyone that appoaches me, but I am very aware of my surroundings and always have complete control of his leash. I have stopped people neighbours, strangers etc........asked them to give my dog a treat, call his name and so on. I don't let a growl go unoticed and I correct him and tell him to be quiet. I don't encourage it by petting him and telling him its o.k.

To date he knows when I stop he is to sit, if I feel that he is going to growl I tell him quiet...happy to report he is doing very well. Now if you came into my home thats a different story.but were working on it. And he is neutured!
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  #26  
Old March 15th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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It is unlikely that neutering him will have any effect on aggression. A stable nerved , well trained dog neutered or not should never exibit this behaviour. It is actually your decision as the ALPHA how this dog should behave. I would not tolerate this behaviour at all. Would I correct this unwarranted aggression? Yes I would. I would also muzzle this dog while I was training him. It seems to me that this is a handler issue that can be solved with consistent obedience training. You can try to neuter him but without training I highly doubt you will see any change. Whether this issue is related to hormones or not it should not be accepted. It will not pass on it's own.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 09:06 AM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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Neutering the dog will help calm him somewhat. We're not saying to "not" train him, but neutering, in conjunction with training, is what this dog needs.
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Old March 17th, 2005, 02:06 PM
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I would say focus on training/spend your $$ on that and THEN decide if you need to neuter. Neuter is not a NEED to do but a NICE to do. That is unless you a concerned about roaming. The "calming" effect of neutering is not present with all breed's of dogs, it calms some but not others. My male is 2 yrs old, intact and has high drives to work. He also is "trained" when to turn it off and settle down.
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  #29  
Old March 17th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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Statistics prove that an intact male is 3 times more likely to bite than a castrated male. Hormones do have a serious effect in this issue. Testosterone causes aggression. It may not be the only cause of the aggression but the only way to rule it out is by castration.

I hate the use of the word "calm" for the effect of castration. I prefer to say that a dog that is not castrated is constantly stressed, searching constantly for territory and marking territory in hopes of attracting a mate and any female that walks through his territory is fair game, and castration removes that stressful, compulsive, physiologically driven aspect of his life. It doesn't affect his stamina, his energy level, or his desire to play, if he had it before. It will make him more sociable if it is done early enough. I feel to castrate is a need. Dogs that are castrated are totally different in all the good ways, and unless you plan to breed, there is no good reason to keep him intact.
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Old March 17th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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By the way, I have been looking at studies about dog aggression and genetics and the most comprehensive study was done in 1962 and it is seriously flawed. It is hard to say whether the aggression is passed through chromosomes or within the first few weeks of life. If you take an aggressive mom and allow her to raise puppies, chances are they will be aggressive regardless of their genetics. Everybody says that aggression can be inherited but the actual mechanism of acquiring aggression is not known.
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