new aggressive behavior age related?

Posted by f1953sbcglobalnet
Nov 9, 2009
thanks for all your training info and we use it regularly. We have a brother sister German Shepherd twosome coming up on seven years old. The male has always been a strong alpha and we have trained along with professional training over the years. They both had and survived heart worms/treatment a year ago. In the last year he has increasingly become aggressive even with us, growling and even biting. we have alienated him from the pack(ignored him) and the behavior is still there. He has never been agressive before this year. We are obviously concerned and heard that some shepherds with age get aggressive. He bit my wife over a food incident last week and growled at her in our bedroom this week. We both work with him 3-4 times a week. Is it age, health, us, him? help.
Posted by crazycrayonmom
Nov 10, 2009
First I would check with your vet to rule out any physical problems. We had a border collie that developed senility problems and became very aggressive too. There is medication that can help. Good luck.
Posted by LetsPlay
Nov 10, 2009
Hi there,

I agree with crazycrayonmom. It is a good idea to get your dog checked out by a vet to make sure that there is no underlying medical condition that could potentially cause him to react like this. Especially because he was ill about a year ago.

I have to say though that my first thought was that this will probably not be the case, but nevertheless it is better to be sure. The reason I think it might not be due to a medical condition is that the two examples you give of when he was aggressive happened in situations/places where high value items were involved - food and a high value place. If you know your dog well you will see that there are certain areas in the house that play a bigger role in the dogs live or the dog views them as "high value". Usually that is the place where you feed the dog, where the dog sleeps, and also where you - as the pack leader - sleeps. Any behavioral problems are most likely to show up in areas or situations like this.

Perhaps you should take a step back and try to evaluate your own behavior...has it changed over the last year? Is there anything you have done differently? Do you talk to your dogs more or less, in a different voice? Do you greet them differently? Do you walk them more or less, in different areas?
Some people tend to let their dogs get away with more when they get older.
A friend of mine never fed his dogs from the table, but now that his Lab is 12 years old he does it. No matter how old your odgs are they should always be treated in the same consistent way. That avoids confusion for the dog and makes them feel safer regarding their status.

If he has always been a strong dog with Alpha tendencies I would certainly encourage you to isolate him from the pack whenever he acts like this.
Has he been aggressive towards you as well? Or just your wife?

I would recommend the books from Jan Fennel, the dog whisperer. She works with German Shepards a lot and you might find it helpful.

Let us know how you get on.
Posted by f1953sbcglobalnet
Nov 14, 2009
thanks, we will take a look at our behavior. he has only snapped at me once and i ignored him and made him obey anyway. you are correct about sleeping, we also noticed that if he is sound asleep and jeanie wakes him up he is much more likely to be agressive thatn if allowed to wake up naturally. jeanie has started working with him alone more often. we just went through annual vet visit and got clean bill of health. i will get Jan's books. what about not letting them up on our bed anymore? the only other thing is that jeanie tends to baby talk him much more than i do...........issue?
thanks again for input.