Germans Shepherd Growing Pains

For many dog breeds, the hardest part of raising a puppy is over by the time the dog is twelve months old. However, for the German shepherd owner, German Shepherd growing pains are just beginning at this age. During adolescence, the German shepherd has almost reached his full height, is sexually mature, and is beginning to reach his adult weight. This is often the time period during which a German shepherd will challenge his owner, test the boundaries of his home, and need more exercise than ever.

The Teenager In Your Dog

Canine adolescence is very similar to the human teenage years in that adolescent dogs have a very strong desire to challenge authority. Even though your German shepherd can not speak to you, your dog will still find ways to talk back to you. He will also overstep many of the boundaries that he respected as a puppy. This time can be very frustrating to the owner, but just as with human teens, adolescence is an awkward phase that always passes eventually.

By the time your German shepherd hits adolescence, he will start looking for and noticing certain opportunities. If the rules pertaining to home and family have been lax and inconsistent, your dog is going to push his limits. He will try to gain as much control as possible until someone puts him in his place.

This does not mean that one day, out of the blue, your German shepherd is going to turn on you and become a destructive menace. Challenges to owners are far more subtle, which is often the root of the problem. The challenges begin so imperceptibly that many owners do not realize they are being challenged until they suddenly will not put up with a behavior anymore and the German shepherd responds with a growl, snarl, or snap.


First of all, it is important to understand that physical dominance is not leadership. If you use physical and verbal punishments to keep your German shepherd in line, it is almost a guarantee that you have not established yourself as first in command. Rather you have created a combative relationship in which the German shepherd will constantly be looking for an opportunity to put an end to all the callous handling. Unfortunately, a German shepherd that has acted out against an abusive owner usually ends up in the pound.

A positive relationship between dog and human is a partnership in which the German shepherd and handler trust each other implicitly. The owner makes the rules of the house very clear, and those rules do not change. The German shepherd knows that if he crosses the line, he will not be rewarded. He may be isolated from his owner and put in a timeout for serious offenses; for less serious ones, he will be asked to perform the correct behavior several times and receive rewards. The bottom line is that the German shepherd wants to work for his owner. His natural inclination is to please his owner; as this person, all you have to do is provide steady, consistent guidance. Working at obedience training every day is a very effective way of reinforcing leadership. There is no need for physical punishment or harsh confrontation.

You can also reinforce your leadership by participating in sports that both you and the dog enjoy such as agility, fetch, and hiking. Training for sports provides many opportunities to reward your German shepherd for doing the right thing, and it allows you to see how truly gifted your German shepherd is.

Nothing Is For Free

One practice that is extremely effective in establishing and maintaining leadership is making your shepherd work for treats, toys, and affection from you. If she does not get anything for free, she will always look to you to know what she should and should not be doing.

The way this method works is that before you dole out rewards, the German shepherd must do something for you and your family. For example, your shepherd could be asked to sit before she receives a biscuit. She might be asked to do a series of actions, such as a sit, down, sit, before being given a treat at the end. When it is feeding time, ask the German shepherd to lie down and stay while you put the bowl on the floor. Then let her eat using a release command. She will consider the dinner her reward.

Dealing With Dominant Dogs

Since dogs consider physical attention such as rubs, pats, and scratches as a reward, it is important that the German shepherd do something for him to receive this reward. Again, it can be something very simple, such as a sit. If you want to work even more on cementing the number one and number two positions, ask your German shepherd to perform long downs periodically throughout the day or during dinner. Dogs perceive the down position as a sign of submission. Dogs that seek to please their owners will be happy to perform a down. While very dominant dogs can be very resistant to do so. If you have a controlling dog, begin by working on shorter down stays and work up to down stays lasting as long as 10, 20, or 30 minutes.

Here are a few examples of possible situations you could encounter with your dominant German shepherd, as well as suggested solutions:

Situation: Your German shepherd is lying on the floor and won't get up and out of your way.

Solution: Shuffle your feet until you come in contact with the dog and then gently push her until she moves.

Situation: Your German shepherd won't get off the couch when you want to sit down.

Solution: Use a food alert to move the dog. Work on the off command for future use.

Changes in Pack Order

A huge part of maintaining a leadership role is being confident in yourself. It's easy for you to be comfortable around a puppy. If a puppy talks back to you, it's not intimidating enough to interfere with what you are doing. However, when a full-grown German shepherd growls, it can scare off even the most outdoor type of owner.

It is very important to maintain your stature in front of your dog. If you show even the slightest hint of fear of your German shepherd, he's going to pick up on this immediately and walk all over you. If you do feel afraid, think about why this is. He is the puppy that you have praised for the last 16 months. Unless the dog has an unstable temperament or is very aggressive towards people, your German shepherd is just trying to intimidate you. If he succeeds in this, all he has to do in the future is growl a little to get his way. You cannot allow him to take advantage of you and change the pack order.

Unfortunately, growls can become snaps, which can escalate into bites. If you're having a confidence problem with your German shepherd, contact a professional trainer or behaviorist immediately for help. If your German shepherd is suddenly exhibiting odd, unpredictable, and aggressive behaviors, first contact your veterinarian. Behaviors that come on suddenly often have a medical cause. After illnesses can be ruled out, consult with an experienced trainer or behaviorist for assistance.

Dog/Dog Aggression

Most people consider dog/dog aggression something that he dominant, controlling, canine bully instigates, but this is not necessary true. A Shepherd that is spiritual around other dogs-or perhaps with panic on as a puppy, law and try to set up a good offense to avoid a confrontation with another dog. The manner in which you work with your dog to overcome this antisocial behavior depends on whether your dog aggression is fear-based or control-based.

Fear-Based Aggression

If your Shepherd's dog/dog aggression is fear-based, you'll notice a difference in the dog's body language just before he reacts to the site of another dog. He may back up slightly or leaning into you. You might see the hair and his rough rise in an effort to make himself appear bigger. Users can shift backwards to. Ways to help your Shepherd overcome his fears include the following maintain a distance at which your Shepherd feels he is not threatened by other dogs.

To divert your dog's attention away from other dogs by giving him something to do. Asked for an on leash recall a quick heal, a jump for tree, or start jogging. Always for raw reward good behavior paragraph

Walk your Shepherd with another dog that is confident and friendly. Timid dogs can learn a lot from outgoing friends.

Work on confidence-building sports. More confidence your Shepherd as an himself homeless frighten he will be of other dogs.

Practice obedience with a club. Training will give you more control over your Shepherd, and club members will be able to help you, too.

Control-Based Aggression

If your Shepherd's dog/dog aggression is control-based, his entire body will stiffen. He will peer reviewed and up on his toes, and he will stare at the other dog with intensity, with his ears forward. He may wait his tail, but this does not indicate friendliness. He might also see his hind quarters dropped slightly so that he can lunge forward to attack.

If you own an aggressive Shepherd that is not fearful of other dogs, consult a professional for help. While the fear-based dog-aggressive Shepherd will not attack another dog on as he feels that there is no escape, the control-based dog-a gray-aggressive Shepherd will attack and possibly injure or even kill the other dog. This is your dog, you need to seek help right away.

Walking your Shepherd, maintain a safe distance from all other dogs. You not want your Shepherd's leash to provide him with enough leeway to reach and attack another dog. Keep your Shepherd in complete control. When you see an another dog approaching, but your Shepherd in a down stay. A step on a leash. Word him only if he remains in the down stay until you give your release command. Whatever you do do not shout at your Shepherd. This only serves to excite a more.

If you own a mail dog, consider neutering him. If you own a female that is terribly dog-aggressive, consult your veterinarian. This being a female has the potential to make her more aggressive. Spain that causes the level of female hormones to plummet, leaving primarily testosterone.

Possessive Aggression

When a dog of any age guards a precious possession, the behavior is referred to as possessive aggression and implies that you are dealing with an aggressive, dominant dog that wants to be in control. However, the situation is often just the opposite. Timid dogs that are constantly having their things taken away by other dogs or humans will exhibit this possessive behavior.

This behavior should really be known as resource guarding. The dog has found a treasure and does not want to give it up. If in the past the shepherd repeatedly suffered the loss of favorite items, it is only natural that she will start protecting her items.

The best way to prevent resource guarding from becoming an issue is to work on the "take" and "out" commands. Your primary goal is to build her trust in you. She needs to know that you will give the item back. When you really must take the item: for example,it is something that could injure her is very valuable, she will willingly give it up.

Swapping is another method to use when dealing with possesive aggression. If your German shepherd has an item she really should not have, offer her a high-value reward to replace the item you are taking away, such as tasty treat or a favorite dog toy. Praise her when she drops the item and immediately give her the treat.Remove the item and put it in a place where the shepherd will not find it again.

Territorial Aggression

The guarding your home and yard comes naturally to the Shepherd. A serious guarding instincts begin to appear during adolescence, when a previously sweet Shepherd transforms almost overnight into a strong-willed protector of the universe.

You do not want your Shepherd to alert you to anyone approaching your home, as long as he will calm down when you give a touch command. Someone in the front door, however, you want the Shepherd to turn off his guard instincts and immediately change back into a well-mannered pet. Often, your Shepherd will behave in this manner if he is well socialized-he won't bark, I your gas at these not afraid of them-as well as well-trained and trusting in you.

Sometimes when a Shepherd hits adolescence, she becomes increasingly territorial. Part of the reason for this is that the adolescent Shepherd's owner often thinks he's finished working with his Shepherd. He did all the puppy training, house training, and a little obedience work-what's left to do? The Shepherd is not like other breeds, she is a lifelong project. He stopped taking her out of the home regularly for socialization, she is apt to become increasingly territorial about her home and yard.

As a Shepherd is that is very territorial it is difficult to own as a house pet. If the Shepherd is protective to the point where only family members can enter the home, life gets compensated. If you want to have friends come over and be safer on the dog, you will have to crate her. She will have to be traded, two of your children have friends come over to play.

Since confinement to her home seems to increase a Shepherd Center protection, with all that the more you get her out of the house, was territorial she will be. Actually, this seems to work. The more the Shepherd is outside of her home, whether riding in the car, going for a jog, or attending training classes, this time away appears lessen the dogs territorial behavior.

Additionally, if your Shepherd is an intact male, consider neutering him. Neutering does not alter the dogs basic character, but it does tend to take the testosterone-charge nail down a notch. They could help to make the Shepherd was territorial. Your dog will still be protected, but his behavior will be more manageable.

Adult Rescue Challenges

The biggest challenge when dealing with an adult rescue dog is aggression. When you bring a rescue dog into your house, you do not know how the shepherd will react in all situations. In essence, you can not trust him. You will be able to trust him in the future, but your shepherd must first earn that trust over a period of months.

Likewise, you must earn the trust of your rescued German shepherd. He must know that you are not going to take everything away from him or that you will not put him in any frightening situations with other dogs to overcome any fear-related dog aggression. Most important, for him to accept you as leader, he must respect you.

Working with a rescued shepherd adult can be a challenge. Self-confident people who are very in tune with dog nuances and body language will have a much easier time if the adopted dog presents any problems. In most cases, a rescued German shepherd that is up for adoption has already passed through this difficult period. In this case, what you see is what you get.

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