Aggressive only at home

Posted by Rebel1
Nov 14, 2007
My 5 yr old female German Shepherd can be taken to Vet's office and Pet supply places and ignore other dogs and cats. At home when someone is walking their animal past our house or a stray cat is is in sniffing area, my 90 lb. girl is very aggressive and wants to go after them. We live on golf course and she is freinds to all golfers and maintenance people. But almost too much of a hand full and won't listen to commands when another animal is near our property. I know she is just being Protective of her terrority, but it takes all I can do to stop her.
She is very smart, has 12 soccer balls and all have names and I can tell her to get a certain ball and she will go to the basket and bring that one ball to me and put others back in basket, most of time.
ANY suggestions ?
Posted by MartyEd
Dec 17, 2007
Hi there Brandy,

Thank you for your email regarding your German Shepherd who seems to be acting aggressively to other pets and people who walk past your property. From the detail you have given in your email, it definitely sounds as though she has a territorial aggression problem, and this needs to be dealt with promptly in order to deal with he acting up around your yard.

Nipping and biting behaviors are always worrying for an owner since, although the dog may not seem overly aggressive, when these behaviors do occur they can be very spontaneous and dangerous for those people who get bitten. As a result they have every right to take legal action, should they wish to, which would in turn likely lead to a fine against you and probably the ending of your german shepherd’s life! For this reason it is much better to be safe than sorry. I would like you to consider either using a muzzle on your german shepherd for the next little while until you have his training sorted, or otherwise just keep a VERY close eye on him when friends, neighbors and delivery people come round. You just need to try and avoid any potential ‘situations’ for the next little while.

For the territorial aggression there are a few things we recommend you under take with your dog:

No.1 Check up
I would suggest that you get your dog a thorough physical check up to make sure that it isn't suffering from any physical problem. If your dog has a problem that is causing it pain then that could well explain the aggressive behavior, especially if the behavior has come on relatively suddenly.
No.2 Diet
Use dog food with as few chemical additives as possible, as these additives can effect your dogs chemical and hormonal balances. Perhaps try natural lamb and rice meals.
No.3 Exercise
Spend 20-25 minutes a day exercising your dog. Ideally this will include a training session with particular emphasis on the heel and stay commands. This will reduce your dog’s physical and emotional tension and get it used to responding to you. It is important that you stay as calm and relaxed as you can so that you don't communicate your tension to your dog.
No.4 One on One
Conduct one on one stress management sessions by spending 20 minutes twice a day with just you and your dog in a quiet room with no distractions. Talk soothingly to your dog and if it doesn't get aggressive then caress and pet it, keeping your voice low and relaxed. It may sound over the top, but it has worked for a number of our customers.
No.5 Alpha dog status
It is quite important that you are considered the alpha dog in the relationship. Having your dog sleep inside your bedroom is not a good idea. Review the techniques outlined in "Secrets to becoming the alpha dog”.

Rushing to the Gate
Here is a specific program to deal with your dog rushing to the door when visitors arrive.

• Get an adult friend to come and visit (make sure that you tell them what is happening!).
• As your friend gets to the gate, make your dog sit and give it a treat then put its collar on and take him towards the gate. If your dog is too much of a handful at even this stage then you will have to put it away before your visitor enters your yard.
• Walk your friend to your front door leaving your dog at the gate with another family member. Give you friend some treats so that they can give them to your dog.
• Get the other family member to bring your dog over and make him sit. Put a muzzle as well as the choke collar or gentle leader on if necessary.
• Get your dog to heel. Make sure that your friend does not give any eye contact. Act as happy as you can while petting your dog.
• If your dog growls or disobeys your commands at ANY TIME then squirt it with water or shake a pebble filled can to startle it. Have the water pistol or can in your dogs view at all times.
• Make your dog sit quite a long way from your guest. When your dog is calm get it to heel and move it closer, then get it to sit again. Praise your dog when it sits and heels properly.
• When your dog is calm and you have moved it and made it sit within 5 feet of the guest then get the guest to give your dog a treat. Make sure that the guest does not look your dog in the eyes.
• Preferably you will repeat this twice a day for several weeks. That may not be entirely practical for you but will give you the best chance of success.

This method requires that your dog knows and responds to the sit and heel commands. Make sure that your dog can do this before you attempt this method. By having someone like the neighbor help out in these situations may help fast forward the whole process.

Because you will be keeping a close eye on your dog for the next little while as well as perhaps using a muzzle as a safeguard, you will be able to watch for any territorial behavior. This includes growling, barking and pacing a fence. If you see any of these things, quickly rush out side and reprimand your german shepherd using the water pistol and/or shaker to stop the behavior and perhaps bring him inside for a while.

Best of luck with your german shepherd. I hope the above information has helped give you an insight into the sorts of things you will need to do in order to curb this sort of behavior.

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
SitStayFetch Team