German Shepherds have, throughout the years, had a reputation of being aggressive. That reputation, while not entirely accurate, is based on some truth.
While German shepherd aggression is in some small part genetics, the main cause of ill manners is caused by the owner.
German Shepherds are used as guard dogs, police dogs and to round up other animals while keeping predators away. Aggression helps them perform all of those jobs well. The problem arises when there is an aggressive German shepherd whose only job is to be the family pet.
It is important to point out that not all (not even most) German Shepherds display inappropriate aggressive behavior. It is unfair to pin the label of “aggressive” or “dangerous” on this entire wonderful breed.
That being said, it is vital for owners to learn to recognize the signs of German shepherd aggression so that they can immediately begin to work to bring them under control.
Types of Aggression
Aggression can take many forms. Some dogs will be aggressive only towards other animals. Some will only become aggressive if a person or animal approaches them while they are eating. Others are aggressive toward strangers and still others show aggression to the human members of the household in which they live.
No aggressive behavior should be ignored as it has the potential to escalate to the attack of an animal or person and any time. Below are some of the signs of German shepherd aggression. If you notice any of these behaviors take action immediately.
- Dog is out of control upon seeing another animal
- Dog is fearful around people
- Dog growls or bares his teeth at people or animals without provocation
- Dog reacts adversely to being petted on the head
- Dog barks or tries to jump at people while he is riding in the car
- Dog growls if you take away food, toys or treats
- Dog growls at children or adults who are trying to play with him
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive. It is important to learn ALL of the signs of aggression so you will know right away if you have an issue.
If you do notice signs of aggression in your dog, proper training and handling can turn the behavior around and, potentially, save your dog’s life.
Never Yell or Strike
Some owners make the mistake of yelling at or hitting their German Shepherd when he displays aggressive behavior. In almost every case, this is only going to make the behavior worse. A person is not going to win a “fight” with a German Shepherd. If he attacks you, you are going to be seriously hurt, and he is probably going to be put to sleep.
Yelling or trying to show your dominance by hitting the dog is not the proper way to train or reduce aggression in German Shepherds, or in any dog for that matter.
For German shepherd aggression one course of action that can be taken is obedience training. It is best to begin at a young age before any bad habits are formed. No matter the age of your dog, obedience training should be a top priority. These dogs were bred to work and if they have a job to do there attitude should begin to change.
Spay or Neuter
If your German Shepherd is not already spayed or neutered, this is one of the first things you should do. Spaying or neutering can reduce aggression greatly, especially in male dogs. It will also help ensure that more unwanted dogs are not brought into the world.
While you should never ignore German Shepherd aggression, it is not a sign that you must immediately get rid of your pet either. With a fast response from you, and proper German shepherd dog training, your puppy or adult dog can learn to be well-behaved and properly socialized.