German Shepherd aggression can be attributed to many things. The hostility could be a result of an incident that occurred when the dog was a puppy and never quite recovered, such as being abused by an owner or attacked by another animal. It might also be the result of a stubborn dog experiencing difficulties learning who is master.
Whatever the cause for the hostile behavior in your German Shepherd, it cannot be ignored. Acceptance of bad behavior is akin to reinforcing it, which can lead to frightening, if not even dangerous, results.
The Importance of Early Socialization and Dog Training
German Shepherd aggression can start as early as six weeks of age, which is a time when most puppies are learning to socialize with people and other dogs. This stage of puppyhood is when most owners begin teaching their puppies proper behavior, such as not nipping, biting, or growling at people or other pets.
This initial training stage of a dog's growth continues up to 14 weeks and beyond. Because of this, there are some guidelines a dog owner should follow when socializing with a puppy.
* Never remove a German Shepherd puppy from its litter before it has reached 8 weeks of age
* Refrain from using harsh discipline with a young puppy, especially between 8 and 10 weeks of age
* Treat the puppy gently; yelling, hitting, spanking, or any other type of abusive or harsh punishment can be the precise catalyst that initiates aggressive behavior in a dog
* Showing the puppy affection and love will create a bond that will endear it to its owner, not alienate it into aggression and self-defense
Proper socialization around people and other dogs is important so the German Shepherd puppy knows the proper behavior expected of it when it reaches 14 weeks of age. Socialization is essential if dog aggression issues are to be avoided.
The Triggers of German Shepherd Aggression
There are several factors known to trigger aggressive German Shepherd behavior. Some breeds have a higher tendency toward aggression than others do. Often times, genetics and hereditary are contributors, but by no means is that always the case. German Shepherds are generally thought of as a breed with genetics and heredity toward aggressive behavior. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered are sometimes reported to have more of an aggressive nature.
Bearing those things in mind, the primary factors that can instill or aggravate aggression in a dog is bad treatment and a negative environment, including the following:
* poor and unhealthy living conditions
* lack of socialization, with people and other dogs
* fear of other dogs, animals, and/or people
* a harsh and abusive owner
A German Shepherd experiencing any or all of these conditions is extremely more likely to be hostile and aggressive as it matures.
Dogs are descended from wolves, and often times some of their posturing and aggression is the result of the instinct to establish their dominant position in a "pack." German Shepherds may nip, bite, posture, and show other aggressive traits in competition for dominance. It is important to monitor and keep this type of behavior in check to prevent a dog from taking control.
German Shepherd Aggressive Behavior - Nip it in the Bud
When the dog reaches sexual maturity after 14 months of age, problems of an aggressive nature must be dealt with immediately, especially if the dog has been spayed or neutered. It is important that you, the owner and master, have established your position among the animal as "pack" leader or alpha dog. Refrain from rewarding your dog for hostile behavior, even if the dog shows fear.
Start training your German Shepherd puppy at a young age to respond to your commands, whether verbal, hand signals, etc. An occasional treat is perfectly acceptable, but the puppy needs to be trained to respond to your requests with or without a treat.
Walk and exercise the German Shepherd regularly, maintain a regular feeding schedule, and establish who the leader in the household is. By allowing the dog to set its own rules and freedoms, the aggression will only escalate toward others because the dog interprets them as obstacles to its desired behavior.
An aggressive German Shepherd may strike out in its own defense at a person or another animal. In defense of the dog, it may not be its fault. It may not have been socialized properly and is not used to human contact.
Keep a dog with a tendency to strike away from young children, as dogs tend to see them as a direct threat to their existence and well-being. A behavior training session taught by a professional animal behaviorist is a solution that often works to teach the dog to interact positively in social situations.