Aggressive/protective 2 yr old GSD

Posted by C-Goakes
Feb 22, 2008
Hi there

My parents (in their 60's) have a 2 year old GSD. He is a marvellous animal in many ways, extremely intelligent and very, very active. Due to the fact that my parents are not that young and the GSD (Rocco) is very, very strong and extremely confident, hard headed and determined, they battle to control him on a leash. The real problem is that Rocco is very protective over all of us (myself included) and behaves very aggressively towards strangers. When strangers come to visit he "tolerates" them but if they come (especially men) near myself or my mother he growls. An even more problematic issue is that he sleeps in the bedroom (or sometimes in the passage) and allows my father to get up during the night and then come back into the bedroom, however when my father gets up in the morning (before my mother) Rocco remains in the bedroom with my mother. As soon as my father comes back to the bedroom Rocco gets extremely aggressive with him to the point that my mother has to take him and put him outside. I do understand that he requires some serious training, but as explained, my parents are not strong enough to control him and I do not live close enough to them to be able to assist on a regular basis. I guess I would just really like some insight into what the problems could be related to. His aggression towards my father may be because (as a result of diabetes) my father has a bit of a temper and may appear to be fairly aggressive as well. We have also decided (as per a suggestion made on the forum) to stop Rocco from sleeping in the bedrooms.

Another behaviour issue (not a real problem but rather an interesting behaviour) is that Rocco tends to suck on blankets, mats or towels as if his life depends on it. I am not sure what this relates to, perhaps anxiety?

We are contemplating neutering him.

Your help will be much appreciated.
Posted by Blue
Feb 26, 2008
Hi there,

First off, Rocco has become alpha in your household, his aggression stems from protecting everything he considers his. Your mother he "protects" from your father, and your entire family he "protects" from strangers.

Rocco is insecure (sucking on the blanket could be a symptom of this) and feels the need to act aggressively to try and stop any aggression towards him before it starts.

This can be resolved, but you and your parents will have to learn to be alpha with him.

[B](Quoted from Todd - Kingdom of Pets Advisor)[/B]
The first advice I would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is, all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making them move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dogs around the house on the leash, making your dogs wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

[B](end Todd's Quote)[/B]

Other things that are vital are making sure that Rocco gets plenty of exercise and obedience training. As your parents don't have the strength to control Rocco, this is where you may need to step in and help out in a larger capacity. Obedience and exercise will give you a quieter more manageable dog who's energy is being used in another manner then territorial aggression.

Rocco needs to learn that he is no longer alpha and that his behaviour is no longer acceptable. Next time you are in a situation where Rocco growls at someone, either squirt him with a water pistol and reprimand him or throw a heavy blanket on him while reprimanding.

Your dog should always be reprimanded for bad behaviour. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on a dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

If you don't have the time to train Rocco, and your parents don't have the strength, you may want to consider sending him to a professional dog training facility/boot camp, to get his behaviour/obedience under control. They will also help with reintegration back into the family - teaching you and your parents about what Rocco learned and how to maintain his obedience and good behaviour. It's hard to send him away, but for the sake of his mental health and your safety it may be something to consider.

I hope this has been helpful, if you have any questions, feel free to post them, and let us know how things are going!
Best of Luck
Posted by Steph-ampWyatt
Feb 27, 2008
Hi C Goakes,
I posted a note for you in "The Dog Lovers Corner"
Steph & Wyatt