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Common German Shepherd Behavioral Problems and Personality Traits

Common-German-Shepherd-Behavioral-Problems-and-Personality-Traits-HEADLINE

Over the years working as a dog trainer, I’ve probably worked with as many German shepherd dogs as any other breed.

Most often, they are an incredibly loyal breed, are devoted to their owners, and have really sweet and fun personalities. And so, to those of you who love the breed and wouldn’t consider anything but a German shepherd in the future, I understand!

Yet, some people are terrified of them and feel they are dangerous dogs to own.

To those of you that are wary of German shepherds, I understand where you are coming from, too! First off, they are very large dogs and can come off very intimidating.

Second, their instinct to protect their family or property is strong and can lead untrained German shepherds to becoming very protective, aggressive, and scary dogs.

The keyword here is untrained, as any untrained dog–regardless of breed–can have the same problems.

Over the last decade I really feel like I’ve come to understand German shepherds and have personally fallen in love with this breed. I’ve also realized that they’re so misunderstood due to poorly trained German shepherds often ending up in the news and how they are portrayed on TV and in the media.

For this reason, I wanted to write today’s post in hopes that, if you are someone who fears this breed, are looking for help and direction with your dog, or you know someone who is wary of German shepherds, then this honest truth about this lovely breed might change your mind.

Let’s start by taking a look at the breed itself…

German Shepherd Breed Overview

The German shepherd as a breed originated in Germany. No surprises there. But, believe it or not, their name was changed soon after the war. Before the war this breed was commonly called the Alsatian in Great Britain and parts of Europe.

There are still parts of Europe that refer to the German shepherd as the Alsatian; however, most of the world has converted back to calling them German shepherds.

Pretty interesting, right?

As for life expectancy, German shepherds normally live for around 9-13 years.

The color of a German shepherd can range considerably from gray to black to tan, and even a silvery color.

The males grow to be approximately 24 inches at the shoulder and the females tend to be a little shorter, measuring around 22 inches at the shoulder.

As for weight, males average around 80 pounds and the females are a bit lighter at around 60 pounds. There is no denying that these are big dogs!

Now, as I mentioned earlier, German shepherds are known for their physical strength and intelligence. As working dogs, they were bred to be confident and powerful…two traits which often scare people away from wanting anything to do with the breed.

It’s this combination that makes them quite incredible beasts. They have strong muscles. They’re obviously large, and yet, in their minds, they’re also very confident, watchful, and alert.

So, it’s very likely that you’ll really have your hands full if you choose to get a German shepherd, and for those of you who already have one, you may well know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes, they are a lot of dog to handle. But, I don’t want that to scare you. Any dog, regardless of whether it’s a Labrador retriever or a chihuahua can be a lot of work. All dog breeds require proper training and daily handling. This is especially true when your dog is a puppy as proper training can prevent a lot of behavior issues down the road.

If you have a puppy, I encourage you to check out my Puppy Coach training program.

So, that being said, a German shepherd really isn’t that much more of a commitment than any other dog breed. And, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to work with your German shepherd and you know what you are doing, they can turn out to be incredibly beautiful, gentle, and loving pets.

I know this for a fact, as I’ve spent many years working with countless German shepherds of all ages and behavioral problems who were very enjoyable to be around. So, here’s a little more about my own personal experiences with German shepherds…

My Personal Experience with German Shepherds

As with any breed, there’s the whole range of different personalities and characters and temperaments that you can come across. But today, I want to share what my general experiences with German shepherds has been like.

I can confidently say that the breed description given to German shepherds is pretty accurate. I have encountered many German shepherds who are physically and mentally strong, courageous, and often have a hard time backing down.

Of course, not all German shepherds fit this description. I’ve come across many who are very fearful and nervous. But mostly, I’ve seen the confident, strong-willed shepherds.

What’s fascinating to me with German shepherds is that, despite a strong personality, they do seem to want to work alongside you. They all seem to have a deep desire to connect with you, work for you, and do a great job.

It’s almost like they want to be your partner rather than work independently. However, this means, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, they will very quickly step into the driving seat, which is a problem. You really don’t want your German shepherd in charge of making the decisions!

That’s where they’re not a dog for everyone, because German shepherds play this game of “Who’s in charge, me or you?” at a very high level. I call it the dog code.

It’s basically the psychology of the dog. They have a code or a set of rules, which they follow. That code decides “Who’s calling the shots around here?” That’s where it can often fall apart for people who don’t know the dog code, but they own a German shepherd dog.

A guy that I knew down the street had an issue with his German shepherd and I happened to know that deep down this German shepherd was a beautiful boy. He wanted to do right, but left to his own devices, he was going to make mistakes.

The guy was actually going to get rid of him after a serious incident and was ready to hand him over to another family because he felt that his dog had tasted blood and that was the end of him as a good dog. It was only by stepping in and explaining a little bit to him about why his German shepherd had actually bitten another animal—a sheep he owned—that he decided to keep the dog.

I explained that it wasn’t the German shepherd’s fault. I said to my neighbor, “This is not Walt Disney.” He basically had the German shepherd and a sheep—believe it or not—almost feeding from the same bowl so it was a recipe for disaster.

I told him that he needed to pull his socks up as a dog owner and start putting into place some really simple training techniques, and it was very effective. Basically, I taught him the dog code! He still has that dog, but I was very tempted to say, “I’ll take him off your hands!” because secretly I knew he’d be a beautiful member of our family. He was still an amazing dog deep down, but you needed to know what you were doing!

Since then, I’ve fallen in love with German shepherds. I could certainly see myself ending up with one in the future. And yes, I would fully trust this breed around my kids, my wife, and my other dogs.

Like I said, with proper training and boundaries put in place, German shepherds are beautiful, friendly dogs. You just have to be willing to put the time and energy into working with this breed of dog (and understand the dog code) so that you don’t end up with some of the most common German shepherd behavioral problems, which we’re going to talk about next.

Most Common German Shepherd Behavioral Problems

Before we dive into the most common behavioral problems associated with German shepherds, I think it’s important to look at where the breed has actually come from.

Over the last century, German shepherds have been used for tracking, search and rescue—especially for the police— and protection and guarding. So, it’s no surprise that a lot of the issues are in this exact area.

They have been intentionally bred for traits such as fierce loyalty, intelligence, and strength.

This leads to one of the first common problems for German shepherds, which revolves around aggression and the need to protect. It’s very possible that an untrained German shepherd would be likely to bark or lunge at other dogs or people, especially on his own property.

It’s not at all that this type of dog is being mean or nasty. In fact, from the dog’s point of view, he believes he’s just doing his job of protecting his family or territory.

It’s a very, very common problem, and, at the end of the day, it is what the German shepherd has been bred to do a lot of the time.

The good news…this behavior can be untrained. Or even better yet, if you’re working with a German shepherd puppy or a young German shepherd, you can easily avoid this behavioral problem. And in case you are wondering, this does not automatically mean, that if you ever really do need help, that they won’t rise to the occasion!

The second issue that I have found to be common for German Shepherds—which I think is probably due to the determined nature of the German shepherd and their size—is pulling on the leash.

When a German shepherd wants to pull, they are very strong, obviously due to their physical design. If you’ve just got a standard collar on them, it can be an absolute nightmare, almost impossible to hold them back when they’re pulling forward so it makes it very tricky.

Once again, with some basic training and a good sturdy harness, this behavior can be easily prevented.

The third most common issue I come across with this breed is biting and nipping, especially with adolescent German shepherds that are around 6 or 7 months of age.

They can be really, really nippy, and they seem to enjoy using their teeth on people’s arms—again, something which has been bred into them in certain areas for certain reasons.

Here’s something I want you to think about though…most dogs around this age range are nippy due to teething and simply have a natural desire to chew. German shepherds are big dogs, so this issue might seem scarier with this breed. I totally understand that.

But, like any other dog, all you have to do is redirect your dog’s need to bite and chew a toy and make it clear from the get-go that biting hands, arms, legs, etc., is not ok.

And for those of you that are wondering, nipping and biting should really stop at or before 4 months of age. So, if your puppy is still doing it past this stage, watch out because that’s not so cool!

The last major issue I’ve noticed while training German shepherds is separation anxiety.

When this breed is left alone, they can become very stressed. This is due to their fierce loyalty to their humans and their desire to stay close to and protect their pack.

When a dog is stressed out due to separation anxiety, he may show a variety of different behavioral problems like digging holes, trying to escape, or barking. You have to remember that these problems are caused because your German shepherd gets upset about not being able to protect you when you’re going.

These problems are annoying, frustrating, and should not be acceptable, but they do happen out of love.

(If you have a puppy, good news! You can curb these issues early before they become a bigger problem with my Puppy Coach Training program! Learn more about the program here!)

Once again, many dog breeds suffer from separation anxiety and will show the exact same behaviors when left alone. This is where the training comes in. Work with your dog to put an end to his separation anxiety, and regardless of whether he’s a poodle or a German shepherd, you’ll be able to put an end to these unwanted behaviors.

The Dog Code

At the end of the day, all of the common issues associated with German shepherds come back to what I call the dog code.”

All dogs have wolf ancestry. And like wolves, all dogs have a family pack mentality and a desire to protect and look after and love each other. I would say the German shepherd follows that dog code to the letter of the law.

So, if you want to have a good German shepherd, you really need to understand the rules of the dog code—and you need to learn those rules quickly.

And because German shepherds are so smart, they are often playing on their “A game.” But, if you’re playing a “B game,” your dog won’t listen to you. With the German shepherd, you need to be playing on your “A game” or an “A+ game.” You’ve got to be an intelligent dog owner.

It’s like a game of chess. A lot of people know how to play chess, but there are masters and then there are grandmasters, and it just seems to me that German shepherds are the grandmasters of this dog code. They will take you to the next level, and you make your move, and they will do something else to outwit you.

Until you actually understand the basics of how to win that German shepherd’s mind, you’re always going to struggle.

If you are looking for a comprehensive training program for your German shepherd pup or a comprehensive training program to stop any of the above listed issues, then be sure to check out my online training program—The Dog Calming Code.

In the program, I give you solutions to a bunch of different dog trainer problems, from fixing aggressive behavior and leash training to recall training and puppy training.

Start using The Dog Calming Code today!

So, that’s my summary of the German shepherd. I hope that you now know a little bit more about their history and why they behave the way that they do.

If you’ve got a story to share about your German shepherd I’d love to hear it! Please share your story in the comments below! I’ve heard a few good ones over the years 🙂

Enjoy,

Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan

“With real smart dogs you must win your their minds. Only then can you train their bodies.”

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

169 Responses

  1. I am a police officer but not at the K9 Unit. I only believe in German Shepoards and your blog is 100% spot on. I am at my 4th GS and all of them had the same challenges. Thanks i enjoyed reading your blog

    1. Hi Anton, thanks for the feedback and I’m really glad you enjoyed this blog….I thought it may resonate with a few people. Best, Doggy Dan

  2. Hi Doggy Dan,I have had 2 beautiful GH’s they are beautiful dogs Boss the male was very protective.my neighbour and I were talking over the fence ,he jumped into my yard,next minute Boss rushed in between us ,didn’t bite or jump up ,just let the neighbour know not to come any further,he gave the neighbour a fright,my female Daisy went blind at 5 years ,she died from a stroke when she was 12 and 4 months old ,they were such beautiful dogs,Boss had attitude ,he knew he was top dog,I have had many breed’s of dogs and loved them all,the GSid my favourite .

    1. Hi Valda, Boss and Daisy sound like great dogs. It’s always nice to realise that if you were in danger that your dog is firmly in your corner! All the best…Doggy Dan

  3. Thank you for the material presented herein and for the videos sent to my email. We own a GSD and I can tell you they are really great creatures. Doggy Dan I find correct and insightful on his remarks and I am impressed from the simplicity and the practicality of his tips. I think I will enroll. Our GSD is 10 months old and barks a lot, pulls the leash and really needs training. We took him to a trainer, but he uses some violence (sudden dragging from the chain around the neck) and we are not happy about it. We do not want our dog to be afraid of us or to act under (smthng perceived as) a threat. Doggy Dan’s way seems fantastic. Thank you for your approach Doggy Dan!

    1. Hi Konstantinos, thanks for the feedback. My advice to all owners is that if ever you feel uncomfortable about a dog trainer’s methods then it’s a sign you should move. You can absolutely address behavioural issues without the use of force, physical dominance, pain or intimidation. Building a relationship of trust, not fear, is an important part of having a loyal, well behaved and happy dog. All the best…Doggy Dan

  4. My favorite breed has always been the Tibetan Mastiff. I grew up with one and took care of some… they are simply majestic but of course not for first time dog owners. My last TM has been trained to be my service dog.

    1. The Tibetan Mastiff is becoming a very popular breed and I have seen a few being used as service or emotional support dogs recently. Thanks for posting, Dan.

  5. My lab is 17 months old. He will sit and leave things alone if told to leave it. My problem is leash training. He drags me when I try to walk him. Suggestions

  6. I have a German Shepard named Rico who is now two and my family and I love him! I not sponsored by Dan, but I have used his training program and Rico has turned out absolutely awesome!! He know that the humans are the bosses and listens to us. Very good with our 6 month old and protective in a good way. I don’t think I could ever have any dog and stay sane without using his program. Staying consistent is key and you won’t regret it! I wish I could post a picture just to show how awesome he is.

    1. Hi Seth, thanks for the fantastic feedback! Having a well behaved and happy dog is pretty simple really but you do need to understand the right information to give them at the right time….and then after that consistency is absolutely key. Rico sounds like an amazing dog who is very lucky to call you his family. All the best…Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      Jumping up and pulling on the leash are really common issues across all breed of dogs, in fact they account for a lot of enquiries we get from owners. If you have a look back through previous posts I have written, on the link below, you can find ones covering the issues you are having. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com also shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan
      https://theonlinedogtrainer.com/home-3/

  7. Hi Doggy Dan — great post! I’m a huge German shepherd fan although totally agree with their unique challenges. I also agree that their particular challenges are also their gifts which is why I cherish them. Where I live, there are many coyotes and even some bobcats and mountain lions. My German shepherd named Gemini (a huge dog, over 100 lbs!) came out with me one evening to call in our cat. It was almost dark and I could only see shadows, but there was enough light for me to see what happened next. I saw the shadow of my cat running across the field in front of our house and then much to my horror, a coyote shadow running behind her. Gemini took off after the coyote and intercepted it before it reached my cat, chasing it out of the area near our house. She came back so proud of herself and was greeted with love and leg rubs from my cat! German shepherds are protective and loving towards their families and even living alone with my daughter, I always felt safe while Gemini was around, and apparently, so did our cat!

    1. Hi Debbie,
      This is a fantastic story demonstrating just how loyal the breed can be and I bet it’s very comforting to know Gemini will act if and when necessary. I bet your cat is now Gemini’s number one fan! All the best….Doggy Dan

  8. I used your online dog trainer website to train my German Shepherd puppy and it worked really well to teach her the basics. Now she’s older, she’s not always happy around other dogs. She’s seeing a behaviourist to sort that out, who was very impressed with the level of her training so far.

    1. Hi Julia, thanks for the great feedback about the website! Often it all comes down to knowing how and when to respond to your dog to overcome behavioural issues and that is the aim of The Online Dog Trainer. Best, Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Kelly,
      I don’t have a post about either of these breeds at this stage but may do so in the future! They are both great breeds of dog….Best, Doggy Dan

  9. I just read your email regards to the German Sheperd breed. I am a proud owner of a 90 pound 17 month old male GSD named “Tank”. He is a great loving family dog but extremely protective over us. He is spoiled by me which is my fault and very intelligent. He was the role model of his puppy class. Lately he listens when he wants too ugh! Help lol
    Dina

    1. Hi Dina,
      We can certainly help! Maybe have a quick look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com as we deal with just about every behavioural issue you can think of….. its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  10. We have owned 3 German Shepherds. All brilliant dogs and very intelligent. Only problem we had was with the last one which was professionally trained. He never barked at people but could not accept a new person for the first five minutes and would attack if he did not have a mussel on. After 5 minutes the person was accepted and could remove the mussel without harm. We now have a weimaraner which is also a very intelligent dog and is amazingly calm around people and other dogs with no official training. He is very affectionate and just wants to please.

    1. Hi Roger,
      Many dogs can become agitated when visitors arrive because from the dogs perspective that person may be a potential threat to their family. If the dog then feels it’s their job to protect the family then it can lead then to panic and over-react as the responsibility of keeping your family alive and safe is a big one. My website helps owners understand how to help calm their dog’s behaviour around visitors but more importantly to remove that sense of responsibility so they don;t feel the need to act in the first place. All the best…Doggy Dan

  11. I have a wonderful German Shepherd named Lola. When I adopted her nearly a year ago, she was extremely aggressive towards other dogs. And yes pulling on the leash and lunging was a given anytime I walked her outside. I knew that I had to gain this dog’s trust and build her confidence. Her aggression towards other dogs because somehow someway her previous owners gave her a bad association with other dogs whether intentionally or not the damage was done.

    I then started working with Lola, I knew I had to exercise and tire her out before we would do any sort of training, so that’s exactly what I did. I’d exercise and right away we’d go into some training. Walking was the beginning and soon she realized that approaching dogs and walking only happened on my terms. She needed to know that I ALLOW both to happen. And I want them to happen. But she started figuring out DAD tells me when to move forward and when to say hi to that pup over there.

    Once we mastered the walk and the lunging subsided I decided to take her to a dog park so she can meet other dogs off leash and interact with them in this manner. She did extremely well, however she would still have her little bouts of aggression when other dogs would show aggression towards her. Well one thing happened that changed our relationship forever.

    Lola was running and from afar I noticed two dogs running towards her, these two dogs can sometimes be aggressive so I knew I should get close to Lola immediately, I calmly walked towards the action and about several seconds before I got to Lola the two dogs had gotten to her and pinned her against a fence. Before they could do any damage I took both dogs from the collar and lifted them off Lola and held them until the owner arrived. When I took the dogs off Lola though she looked at me, stood up, and the eye contact that she gave me was almost as if she said “thanks dad, you really do have my back” and yes i certainly do. She then when on to go play again as if nothing happened. Ever since then Lola has zero aggression, if a dog reacts towards her she puts her head down and walks the other direction.

    Quite a long way she has come from being the aggressive pup she was when I adopted her.

    1. Hi Jay,
      Give yourself a great big pat on the back for earning Lola’s trust around other dogs. This can be a hard one to crack and to retrain positive associations around strange dogs but you started at exactly the right point. The first step is to be in control from the moment the leash goes on and helping them understand how they should behave on a walk, looking to you for direction, is important. Your patience and consistency has paid off no end and you have allowed Lola to relax and live a truly happy life….well done! Keep up the great work, Doggy Dan

  12. A little over a year ago I rescued a female GSD. At the time, she was 15 months old and I was her 4th home. Needless to say, she was fearful, afraid of normal everyday things, and had some minor behavior quirks. Fortunately, I have been able to spend almost everyday since I got her, working and playing with her. She is beautiful inside and out and we have a special bond. Is she still learning? Yes. Does she still need an occasional time out? Yes. But, she has come so far and is so eager to please. I have had GSDs over 50 years and even though I see other beautiful and even cute breeds, I can’t imagine not having a GSD. They are worth every second of time spent with them….loyal and loving to the core!

    1. Hi Anita,
      It does seem that German Shepherd owners are very loyal to the breed and many do find it hard to think about every not having one. It sounds like you have made fantastic progress with your rescue and she is very lucky to have found a loving and patient family to call her own. Some dogs do require a little more patience than others but it’s also very natural that all dogs test their owners from time-to-time. I certainly don’t have perfectly behaved dogs all the time, and nor do I expect them to be, but I do know how to respond to their questions to keep them on the straight and narrow! Thanks for posting…Doggy Dan

  13. I already have a part German Shepherd dog! The other part is Siberian Husky! She is an awesome dog and loves you to pieces and she’s very energetic!

  14. I owned a fabulous GS girl who loved to play, loved people and was the best dog I’ve ever owned BUT I was in a position where she could come to work with me (on a thoroughbred stud), socialise with all my colleagues & their children, the various visitors to the farm and the other dogs on the property. I also had the time and knowledge to train and exercise her. Would love another one but will have to wait until I have the time to do that again.

  15. Thanks Doggy Dan for that insight into the breed !! Totally the best dogs ever if you are willing & able to put the time in

    1. Hi Maria,
      That seems to be a common response from owners, who are very loyal to the breed as well! Best, Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Don,
      No harness or device alone will stop a dog from pulling on the leash, it also requires training and teaching the dog how to behave correctly when on a walk. I do find that with physically strong dogs a normal flat collar can make it difficult for owners to control their dogs if they are pulling strongly or lunging. One harness I do recommend in this instance is an Easy Walk or Gentle Lead harness where the leash clips onto the chest area of the harness. It means that when the dog pulls forward the hitching point turns their body back towards their owner, who is behind them, and it takes a lot of the energy and power away making it easier to manage their behaviour.
      I must repeat that the harness alone generally won’t stop a dog from pulling on the leach, only training and giving the dog the right information will be effective in doing so. All the best….Doggy Dan

  16. My absolute favorite dog was a female German Shepherd named Heidi. When we got her, she was about 3 years old and had been kept for years chained in her owner’s yard.
    The very day my dad brought her home, she showed her intelligence and willingness to obey. Dad had walked her around the house and clearly showed her the boundaries she was not to cross. That evening, we and some guests were relaxing in the living room (a forbidden area) after dinner when they started calling to her. She lay on the threshold and whined – she so wanted to join the fun – but she didn’t come in.
    Another time, we had just arrived at a camping site when Heidi took off toward the lake. That was very unlike her, so we followed – and found her rescuing a child from the water.
    She lived to be 17 years old and was dearly loved the whole time.

    1. Hi Dina,
      Heidi lived to a good old age for her breed! It sounds like she was a very special dog indeed and was even luckier to have ended up in such a loving home. Thanks for sharing her story…Doggy Dan

  17. Your blog is a perfect summary of GSDs. I grew up with them, I had several myself over the years. We live in the tropics, so there are a few issues one has to be aware of when caring for a GSD, i.e. fungus in their paws during monsoon season, mange potential when young, etc.
    GSDs are a perfect image of their owners – if you raise them gently and train them well, they are a the best bread for house & family.
    (My second choice is a Rhodesian Ridgeback )
    Keep it up DoggyDan, your dogtrainer website is the best …

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for the great feedback! I found your comments about living with GSDs in the tropics really helpful, it’s always great to add to my knowledge base! Keep up the great work…Doggy Dan

  18. Hi, Doggy Dan, interesting to read about German Shepherds. They are my favourite breed, I grew up with them in Germany. In Germany they are always
    called Deutscher Schaeferhund- German Shepherd, it was only here in Australia that I first heard the expression Alsation and a breeder told me, that american Soldiers (now can’t remember if it was the first or second WW) loved their traits so much that they wanted to take them back to the states but didn’t want to call them German Shepherds (as everything German was bad at that time) so they renamed them alsations(coming from the Alsace region). Also they are a fairly new breed only bred just before 1900, and the breeder a cavalry officer von Stephanitz used the best of herding dogs and developed the German Shepherd, although they looked a bit different then.
    You are absolutely right, they give you everything and more if one gives them the time to train. And they connect with their owner, that is probably why GSD owners will have another GSD again and again, never mind the constant shedding, that is a minor issue for most owners.
    About 14 years ago, after having GSD crosses, I finally got my first purebred GSD from a breeder. I spent a lot of time getting him to where I wanted him to be, and I got so confident with him that I got a second purebred girl. Again a lovely dog. Unfortunately she had to be pts at three years due to osteomyelitis. My boy got acute pancreatitis about two years later and ied. I wish I knew than what I know now. Anyway, for a few years I found myself unworthy to have another GSD, instead I got a Heinz variety from a rescue when my girl passed. Not the same. About two years ago I wanted to have one more GSD before I was getting to long in the teeth and found a 9 month old boy, pure black someone advertised. Talking about teenage dogs. He was left in the backyard, it was the first dog for a young couple with a toddler. Max didn’t know what sit means , he was never taken for walks, never had someone playing with him. Anyway I knew he was a lovely boy, although unruly. It took about 2-3 weeks until I could see a slight shift in his behaviour. Believe me, I thought I could not handle him any longer. But I stuck to my guns. To this day I am still working on issues. This is a very intelligent boy, who picks up tricks like no dog before him, he enjoyed every class I have done with him. He gives me so much back and it is so much quieter and peaceful at my place. You are absolutely right, these dogs connect with their owners and want to be with them and I can’t wait until I can spend my days with the dogs, when I retire. Mind you we still have some issues, very poor impulse control when it comes to chasing animals, not anymore with food. So there is hope.
    Love reading your e mails. Kindly Christel

    1. Hi Christel,
      I heard a very similar story about why the GSD were known as Alsations in some countries and I had wondered if it was fact or a little fiction, Either way the GSD is a wonderful breed raised correctly and mindfully.There is no doubt that some dogs are a little more challenging than others but I personally believe that these dogs make us better dog owners. They teach us how important patience, consistency and the right information/response is and that can only be a good thing. Keep up the great work, Dan

  19. hi dan
    yes i have a german shepert and at only 1 year old he is a hand full,,,,,most of my time i had sheperds
    i do nead some help at traning this one,,,,,,,,,but there
    is one dog you have never mangend and that is the dutch sheperd it is a better dog then the german
    one go and look into it ,,,,,i com from holland
    and live in australia now,,,but i grow up with a
    dutch sheperd,,,it is not the melanose that is a
    belgen sheperd
    with regard
    albert

    1. Hi Albert,
      I just had a look at the Dutch Shepherd breed and they do look very similar to Belgian Shepherds but there are definite differences. The first year of any dog’s life can be filled with challenges for the owner and as long as you are consistent in how you respond, at the right time and in the right way, then you can guide them through with more ease. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com may be helpful if you feel you need guidance…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  20. Dear dan
    We met you on a beach in Cornwall in 2016 with our chocolate brown Labrador puppy reggie, he was 5 months old, one stroke from you and I think he was in love, you said he may be a hand full when he gets to 12 month and he was
    But with your training methods he soon settled down, he is a great dog for family life with children and grandchildren so my vote goes to the lab for my favourite dog breed. This was our first family dog and it’s been a joy. Thanks for your help
    Regards kim

    1. Hi Kim, great to hear from you! Haha, I do remember speaking to you about Reggie and as I remember he was a pretty handsome puppy. Really glad to hear he has turned out to be such a joy to have in your family. Happy to help where I can, Doggy Dan

  21. A lovely article Dan, thank you. We’ve had 2 German shepherds, out first we got at 4 years old, and was gorgeous but a bit of a handful when it came to recall and other dogs, she’d never bitten another dog, but did all the dominant behaviour of barking at them and then once she’d shown she was boss totally ignored them, but had normally left the owner terrified! We tried lots to sort it, and it did get better with lots of positive training, calm assertive handling, and sometimes just making sure there was always space for her when other dogs were near. I was heartbroken when she passed away, as she was loving, affectionate, great with children and on a couple of occasions I’m sure saved me from some dodgy individuals!!
    We knew we wanted another one but this time I was determined to get a puppy so I could train and socialise right from the start and did lots of reading and research. We got her aged 10weeks. It has totally paid off, I wasn’t working so had all the time to commit to this crucial age. We now have an 18month old pup who won’t let me out of her sight, is more than happy when left alone as we did this right at the start, has never so much as growled at another dog and knows her boundaries (no jumping on sofa, going upstairs etc), she is a pleasure.
    The only thing I get so annoyed with is people’s reactions to her….and I hope that she will start to change just a few people’s perceptions of them as so many comment on her gentle nature. Everything in your article is spot on, they truly are amazing dogs, but time, dedication, patience, training, exercise, boundaries are needed just like any other dog. I hope you get your German shepherd for your family soon!

    1. Hi Justine,
      Thanks for the great feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed my Blog. It seems to have been a popular one amongst all the GSD owners out there! You are absolutely right in that all dog’s require time, input and patience to reach their full potential. All the best, Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Nadine,
      I don’t have any plans to write one on Aussie Shepherds at this stage but you are the second person to ask as a result of this post! Thanks for the feedback….Best, Doggy Dan

  22. I have fostered and owned German Shepherds for many years, they are the most wonderful dogs. I only get dogs from rescue centres that have been given up by their owners due to so called behavioural issues, the truth is that many owners do not realise what they are taking on and just don’t put the time and effort into training and understanding the dogs needs. I also have taken Rottweilers out of rescue (both breeds get labelled as dangerous dogs). Sorry for rambling on but German Shepherds can make the most wonderful pets in the right hands, if you get one and put the work in, you will have the most fantastic and loyal dog ever. Needless to say, I LOVE THESE DOGS.

    1. Hi Sue,
      Great work in taking on these dogs, who can be really great pets when consistently given the right direction and information. They are a great breed and the purpose of my Blog was to help potential owners be aware of the challenges and realities of taking on a GSD. It’s important to also point out that all GSD are individuals with their own personalities that will go a long way to dictating their behaviour….as with all breeds! Thanks for posting, Doggy Dan

  23. Hi Dan,
    Since 1995 I (the monastery) 7 GSD and 1 rescue Saarloos wolfdog. Each is a story and a joy! But about Temor my 4 year old black standard:- got off to a wrong start- wrong trainer, a member in the household was negative etc. I was very distressed- nothing seemed to work…I found you and the 5 Golden Rules – and Temor is my best buddy and the joy of the monastery. As we have very limited interaction with outside the monastery it’s enough that he is great with our community of 14- and some visitors. Tyne is almost a year. He is a rascal. and super energy. We are working at the reducing his energy- by some crating AFTER exercise. Always the golden Rules. Also Temor is gentle- but must assert himself as top dog. The two get along- but Tyne never takes a moments rest. The crating seems to reduce the craziness, give Temor some peace and old lady Tara (8 years) can survive. Type sort of picks on her- but she can be snappy and just ONCE invaded his food dish. The crating seems to cover all problems by giving each some space . So that’s a bit about T ‘nT’nT and Sr Maria You are a blessing in our lives. I cannot be a Trainer /Academy but I am your steady pupil at the DoggyDan online training

    1. Hi Sister Maria,
      Thank-you so much for the lovely feedback and I’m really happy to hear that Temor has grown into such a wonderful dog. Your patience and consistency has paid off for everyone involved. Every dog, no matter the breed, is born with a unique and individual personality and this is often where we find the joys and challenges! Your dogs have found a wonderfully patient and loving home and what better gift is there than that! All the best, Dan

  24. Well, I finally got a Newfoundland. He was pretty clumsy as a huge wild puppy, now, at 2 years old, turning into everything his breed is supposed to be, gentle, mannerly, intuitive, intelligent, self controlled … with thanks to Doggy Dan’s guidance and a lot of time and thought. I had to laugh at the dog code though. We had 60 people on the farm for the Eclipse, lots of children in the pool. Their parents were supposed to be supervising them and of course were caught up talking to each other. Nick stood with his front feet on the low stone wall around the pool, watching each child carefully for almost two hours. At last, a father climbed into the pool to interact with the children. You could almost see the relief on Nick’s face as he walked off! No question but that a Newf is a better child minder around water than a human is!

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Newfoundlands are a great breed of dog and if you look at their history, in fact present history, they are still used as water rescue dogs in some countries and so it’s unsurprising to note Nick’s concern about the children in your pool! Thanks for posting…Doggy Dan

  25. We are presently living with our third gsd. Each of them had/have their own personality but shared the same characteristics. They are definitely pack animals, treating their human family as their pack. On a group walk all of them would regularly check to see that all members of the party were/are present. Anyone who goes in a different direction is rounded up. Even the one dog who was wary of strangers, but once he had the measure of a human and was confident they were safe. The present dog has taken this to a higher level, using an aggressive attitude when anyone leaves. He is five yrs old now and we have never managed to curb this behaviour. He has to be distracted (usually with a ball) so visitors can leave without being accosted.

    I would say that puppy and adult dog socialisation is the most important criteria for having a gsd along with an early training programme. They enjoy interaction but you can wait for up to 3 years (dog maturity) to experience the full results of training. Dan is right about the 6/7 month adolescent. It is the time to keep a very close eye on their behaviour.

    The present dog has not had enough socialisation mainly due to the quiet area where we live. He did very well at training but that suddenly came to an end when the excellent trainer left the area. Since then I would purposely drive him to a busier area to enable him to have contact with others. But another problem arose: his excitability in the car. Constant barking makes journeys a nightmare and this is something else we have not been able to overcome. We have tried various remedies but it is though the dog laughs at our attempts to keep him quiet.

    However, he is a beautiful creature and an excellent companion around the house. We would not be without him and miss the previous two dogs terribly. They truly are a great breed. If you can obtain a copy of Moobli by Mike Tomkies (I think). That is a great read about a smashing German Shepherd dog.

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for the book recommendation!
      Dogs who get agitated and excited when family or guests are leaving the home is often motivated by the dog feeling that they cannot protect that person if they leave and so they are attempting to stop them from doing so in the only way they can! Another reason may be that is good-byes are too excited then a dog can also feed off that excitement. You may like to consider popping your dog on a leash just before they are due to leave so that you have control and can respond to his behaviour calmly. Remember to stay calm yourself as getting upset at him or making a fuss can be counterproductive.
      If you need any guidance with his behaviour maybe take a quick look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com as we do cover barking int he car……its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  26. Great Post. Have 14mth old GSD girl that has shown many traits mentioned. My experience is to stick to the 5 golden rules and they will come round. Persistence and patience key for training out some of their quirks. Loyal as and smart with a stubborn streak. Similar to my teenagers. Did have 1 issue where she had a bit of a fright and her wanting to be the protector got her really hyper and way too sensitive to the point that she would rip the crate up and wouldn’t sleep. Re-establishing her role in the pack where she isn’t the alpha is crucial. Am constantly reinforcing it but is what you need to do with a highly intelligent and active breed. GSDs can be seen to be a lot of work. Although is worth every penny if you make the educated effort.

    1. Hi,
      The really great thing about owning an intelligent and challenging dog is that they make us much better dog owners, for them and for every other dog we may care for. These dogs teach us the importance of being patient, consistent and being honest with the information we give them. There is no doubt they can be a little frustrating at times but therein lies their personality! Keep up the great work, best Doggy Dan

  27. Hi, I have an 8 month old GSD that has never cared for strangers. As a baby he just deeked from them if they went to pet him. Naturally there is some fear aggression beginning now. I can’t find a behaviourist to save my life. Also we live on a farm so doing any sort of home training with strangers is very difficult…… But I have a grooming business at home, I used to use my clients to desensitize him but he’s too big now, I would scare them off….lol Can I fix this ?

    1. Hi Lori,
      You can absolutely fix this kind of behaviour, in fact we have a whole section relating to Aggression on my websiteTheOnlineDogTrainer.com …maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days and was designed to help owners work through their dog’s behaviour no matter where in the world the are located…. all the best Doggy Dan

  28. I have had German Shepherd Dogs since childhood and am on my fifth. I have also had Border Collies at the same time. Both are very smart breeds, although I think that the Border Collie wins by a small margin. However, having said that, each one required totally different training! Though both picked up on what was wanted from them very quickly, the German Shepherds seem to be more independent minded and will challenge you so much more. My current shepherd is my first whose lineage is from working lines instead of show dogs. She is super smart and super strong and absolutely tests me every day!!!! She is the best out of all of them and your description is absolutely right on the mark. Having never been taught, she knows how to open doors and even gates, can find her way back to a starting point from anywhere, and is the most loyal dog I have ever had. She is the most fun, and is ready to learn anything. And she is happiest when she knows that she has pleased me.

    1. Hi Maureen,
      Another really important factor in every dog’s behaviour is their individual personality. This can also be where the challenges lie for dog owners as well but I believe there is nothing better than being able to see a dog’s personality at work. Whether that be their big, goofy self or a super smart and intelligent thinker….they are all to be enjoyed and cherished.
      We have had a lot of great feedback in relation to this Blog and there is no doubt that GSD owners are just as loyal to the breed as their dogs are to them! All the best…Doggy Dan

  29. Dear Dan, I am in a wheelchair and my German Shepherd dog is 2 1/2 years old now; all she wants to do is protect me and all I want her to do is go everywhere with me as my Service dog but she barks at the postmistress when she brings my mail over to me in my van. How do I get her to stop barking? I love her and I know she loves me! Semper Fidelis, Christinah

    1. Hi Christinah,
      I have a Blog about how to stop dogs from barking and you may like to take a look. I have posted the link below. barking is a common issue that we get asked about a lot, in fact my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com will show you very clearly how to overcome this issue…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan
      https://theonlinedogtrainer.com/how-to-stop-dog-barking-doggy-dans-ultimate-guide/

  30. My favourite dog by far is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. My last one was a search dog, examined yearly by the RCMP. Great for hunting as well as searching and an eye opener for those who knew nothing about the breed. I miss her terribly!

    1. Hi,
      I must admit I hadn’t really come across this breed before myself! They are a very interesting breed with really interesting functional characteristics (webbed feet and a dense, wavy coat). It sound like she was very well loved by her family and sorely missed. Thanks for posting, Doggy Dan

  31. Hey, Dan
    We have a 1 year old shepherd and she is a wonderful dog, but sometimes she has these biting and lunging fits at my 15 year old daughter who is her second carer after my husband. Would appreciate some advice.

    Love your blogs! From Australia

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      One thing to consider here is what happens around the biting/lunging incident. For example has your daughter approached your dog to give her a pat/fuss, does this happen around certain events (feeding, training, cars/dogs/people). Obviously this is a behaviour you do want to work through as soon as possible, either yourself or with the assistance of a professional. y website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com deals with this type of behaviour…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  32. DoggyDan, I agree with Albert about the Dutch Shepherd. They are incredibly inteligent dogs. I purchased a puppy from a breeder.2 and a half years ago. She was 9 months old when I got her and made sure she was trained with positive reinforcement so she did not become agressive. She was used to all the other dogs I had since I was in rescue and also trained service dogs for the disabled. I am blind and have trained all of my own guide dogs as ther were no schools that trained guide dogs for wheelchair users.I trained 3 Siberian Huskies as my guide dogs. They are very inteligent and have great work ethics.All of my huskies were very loyal to me and my first husky guide barked and groweld when a man I didn’t know,was trying to kiss me when at a bus stop. The man quikly left. I also trained a Belgian Tervuren as my guide dog. I swear he had ESP when in traffic. He saved my lif and his as a semi truck made a turn as I was waiting at a curb. Shaman started dancing around and backed up fast,so I backed up my wheelchair and the trailer of the Semi went over the curb where we had been seconds before. My current guide dog is a husky and She is a wonderful dog and a very concious worker.When Nici is redy to retire,Sedona,my Dutch Shepherd will be ready to pick up where Nici left off. I am now 72 years old so I am retired from training dogs eccept for Sedona now. I only have 3 dogs now. Shaman, Nici and Sedona. All of my dogs have been wonderful dogs and ecellent workers. I love the Siberian Husky and I have always loved shepherds. I love the Belgians and tha German Shepherds,but the Dutch Shepherd has my heart at the moment. Please write something about the Dutch Shepherds and their versality. I enjoy reading your blog.

  33. I have a mixed breed. 25% White Swiss Shepherd and 17% German Shepherd – the rest is St.Bernard and Australian Shepherd. I ran into everything you stated above. We got him from a shelter at 6 months of age and he used to jump up and bite me on my nipples! He is the reason I signed up for your on-line training class. I had tried other on-line training courses and in person training classes and nothing really worked until I started using the 5 golden rules. He is almost 6 years old now and the best dog ever. He has changed my life with his A+ game!! Thanks again for your on-line course. I wish I had found it years ago instead of just last year…

  34. Hi I adopted a male 7 mth old GS. Was told he had seperation anxiety I’ve read several items on this and still am bound & determined to help him get past this anxiety. I kenneled him and went to work I came home 2 hrs later to find he had escaped the kennel and tore up a few items and jumped through a glass window to get out of the house.I’m afraid he’s going to hurt himself. I’m positive I can help him through this but need some help to be doing the right thing. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Lynne,
      Yep Separation Anxiety is behaviour that can be stressful for both the dog and the owner. It’a actually a lot more common than people thing as well. I have found that the most successful and simplest solution is to implement my 5 Golden Rules, which can be found for a $1 trial inside my video website ! https://theonlinedogtrainer.com There is a whole section about SA but basically the solution comes down to some pretty simple stuff. Hope that points you in the direction of a great solution. Best, Doggy Dan

  35. Hello Dan. I have a 15 month old Rottweiler and I think all the comments about GSs can be equally applied to the Rotts. I wonder why there are (almost) no police dogs of this breed. Apparently there is only one in the whole of Australia. Is it because of their reputation? My Maxx could not be more friendly to his family or anyone he has been introduced to, but strangers beware!

    1. Absolutely a lot of the things I mentioned can also relate to Rottweilers and owning Maxx you can attest to this. It may just be a historical thing that police dogs have mainly been German Shepherds or Malinois/Belgian Shepherd, although the BS less so in the Southern hemisphere. Perhaps the strength/weight of a Rottweiler is a factor in stamina over longer distances and also agility, I’m sure a police dog handler would be able to explain why. I’ll look into it! Best, Doggy Dan

  36. Hello Dan & supporting staff,

    I have joined your membership family and surprisingly I watched the 5 golden rules. The issue I have is really different from everyone else in this post. I have a 8 yr. old female GS which is my 3 GS in my life. This female has all of the description you mentioned in the article plus one additional behavioral issue. I really need help and I have watched all of your barking videos; however, the problem I am experiencing is not listed or even addressed on your site. Here is a short story when this issue began: Nikita was taken to pet hotel for a night visit and she had been to this place before with no problems, but this time was different. This happen 3 yrs. ago and Nikita never had this problem until this night visit. When I brought her home the next day and everyday since Nikita will bark and whine for a complete 2-3 hours. It is not separation anxiety because she can start barking when everyone in the house is home and even while we are sleeping. Matter of fact she is quiet when we are away but as soon as a family member returns she may start barking and run to her security stop. I have taken her to the vet and the meds didn’t work, I have taken her to a behaviorist and their suggestions only made her a begging dog for treats. I have taken her to professional trainer and that caused her to become shy and aggressive towards other people. I am attempting some of your techniques especially calming technique and stop-start-change with minimum help due to her issue seems to be difficult to know when the trigger point is going to happen. Nikita has no problem with no who is the pack leader and is very obedient as far as listening and following directions. We love her dearly because she is loyal, kind, loving and a joy to have around us. But I am starting to work from home which means I need to have a quiet space but it is impossible because when she begins to bark it is overwhelming and loud. Calming her down is impossible because she would rather be isolated. She goes to Red Zone and it happens fast or like I said in the middle of the night or anytime. I have never had this issue with any of the other GS and no one seems to be able to help. We are at our wits in because I may have to give her up in order for me to work from home. We have spent so much money to obtain help for her and now I am paying for your training. However, if you have any additional help it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Remember, if you’re a member of our Membership Website then we have a Forum where you can ask all your questions and they will be answered by our helpful dog behaviourists. Some dogs can be very sensitive to change and so when their routine changes it can result in a change in behaviour. Nikita’s behaviour is likely a symptom of her feeling a little confused and unsettled about her role in your family and while she may have Separation Anxiety, her whining when you are home is a different type of behaviour. It’s also important to point out that obedience is very different than leadership….what I mean by that is that a dog can be very obedient to commands and yet they can still view themselves as the leader/decision maker in their family as they have a completely different set of criteria for working that out.To start addressing her behaviour you first need to clear up any confusion she has about what her role is in her family/pack and you do that by applying ALL 5GRs consistently as advised. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve thi and if you have any questions please post them to the Forum as we are monitoring that daily…all the best Doggy Dan

  37. i have a german sheperd male dog it is over a year old but has become very agressive if anybody comes in house barks growels trys to snap at them when going out for walk goes for any body going by dogs as well grabs things in house cant take anything off him he will snap at you even putting jacket on pulls at it going out living room door goe mad what can i do

    1. Hi Katrina,
      It sounds to me that your dog has assumed the role as protector for their family. This means that any strange dog or person on the walk or visitor to your home may be a potential danger is his eyes and he is acting to ensure this is not the case. The key to overcoming this behaviour is to remove his sense of responsibility and how to go about doing that is a little more complex than I can go into here. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  38. I had a beautiful long haired male German Shepherd named Tosh. I have never known another dog like him, in the best possible way. He shared my parenting duties, particularly at the beach, and would stand or swim in the water between the children and the deep. I will never forget how once he knew that a set of bigger waves was coming (it was still a little way away) and he started barking at me, and trying to get my son out of the water. His thinking was at a different level to any other dog that I’ve known, he was a member our family with a role to play. We also had a cat and random other pets, all of which he tolerated graciously. He was the best ever family dog.

    1. Hi Jen,
      I love hearing stories about dogs like Tosh. It reaffirms to me just how amazing and valued a family member dogs can be! Best, Doggy Dan

  39. GS are so smart and clever. My Remy brought his stainless steel water dish to me when it was empty at the age of 4 mo and still does at the age of 11 mo. I never taught him this. Awesome!

    1. Hi Marilyn, you are absolutely right….dogs are incredibly smart and in most cases far more so than we give them credit for! Thanks for sharing your story about Remy, Best Doggy Dan

    1. Hi,
      At 4 months of age your puppy is still learning about what behaviours are appropriate when it comes to interacting with other dogs, and you play a big role in this education. Teaching a young dog to use self-control and to start to moderate their own behaviour can take a little patience and consistency from the owners perspective but it is time well spent. Knowing when and how to respond to this behaviour is a key factor in starting to calm things down. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  40. Hi Dan,

    Here’s a pretty fudged up situation for you. My family has a GS who originally had other owners, then became my sister’s ex-husband’s dog, then my sister’s dog after the divorce. At one point, he was about 90% to being very trained and well behaved, but that went away after the divorce too. Then he bit my sister (pretty badly) twice, so now he lives with my parents. He also didn’t really get walked more than once every 3 months or so for many years, and my parents aren’t spry enough to handle that. My father is also physically handicapped and falls down occasionally, which has caused our GS to be very anxious whenever my father moves around, often running around his legs, which makes the situation worse. On top of that he has a medical condition that causes many of his physical attributes to stay in a puppy-like state. So even though he’s over 9 and a half years old, he looks and behaves much younger. He was also never neutered.

    Though he is loving and very needy for attention, he also occasionally growls at us for reasons that I can’t figure out. I moved back to the area after a long absence and I’m walking him regularly now, but he’s definitely confused about who’s in charge, and tries to lead the situation half the time. He’s very unpredictable around strangers and other dogs, and he dips in and out of listening to commands, as if it’s completely situational to him.

    Sorry for the long post. Got any advice?

    1. Hi… wow it sounds like this boy has been through quite a lot of changes in recent times. This in itself can be really unsettling, and terrifying, for a lot of dogs because it completely throws them out of their comfort zone. You can certainly help improve his behaviour and help calm things down but the education starts with you first. With consistency and the right information you can start to restore a semblance of routine in this dogs life, which he will relish. It will help to also get your family on-board with some of the changes as well. If everyone is giving him a consistent message then he will start to relax a lot quicker. He’s just a bit confused at the moment and there is a lot you can do to help him. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  41. Perhaps there are German Shepherds that aren’t monsters, but if there are I haven’t met them. My neighbors have one and think it’s funny to let it out on a very long, loose leash. The way my apartment is set up, I have to access my door and car though a very narrow walkway, right next to their yard. They like to leave the dog’s leash just long enough so it can’t quite touch me.

    Tonight they decided to up the stakes of the game and play the prank at night.

    I can’t wait to move to an apartment complex that applies common sense with pet rules.

    1. Not a pleasant situation for you to be in Rachel….but it sounds to me that it’s not the dog in this scenario that is the problem…. it’s the dog’s owners who are acting irresponsibly and are to blame for their dog’s behaviour….best, Doggy Dan

  42. So I need some advice… My Ex-husband moved in beside my house a few years ago. He is a truck driver. He has recently gotten him a German shepherd that has ran in my yard and attacked and killed my cat. In front of our son. Our son came over home for a few mins during their weekend and the dog attacked my cat.. I ran out of my house and tried to protect my cat. I grabbed his collar and pulled him off my cat so he could get in the tree away from the dog.. Since that moment the dog seems to have it in for me. I camt go outside with my son for any amount of time bc of the dogs hears me he comes running at me.. He stares at me with a look so scary and cold like he waiting for the right time. I have physical custody of our son and every other weekend he visits with his dad when he comes in on the weekends from driving truck all week. The dogs is kept outside on a chain which he has broken numerous times. Once after he tried to attack me ome evening I went to feed him. Being nice enough to not let him die of heatstroke or starvation with nobody around to feed him. The day after he tried to attack me he broke his chain and kennel. My son and I walked pver to see if it was him that trailed trash across my yard to his.. Well he ran up to my son and started pushing him and wouldnt let him cross the property line… My ex just keeps him outside whether he is chained or not. For 2 weeks I have been scared into my house. Today, he ran up on my shed porch bc me and my son were standing there talking. My son wouldnt let him between us and tried himself to stay between the dog and myself. Until I could get inside my house. Nobody else does he do this too. Only me. I see him amd I start to tremble anymore. He bought him full grown from somebody online. Can tell me why he may have an issue with me. Or any advice on what to do to ensure my safety.

    1. Erin this sounds like a really stressful situation! It goes without saying that leaving a dog alone for days/weeks at a time without access to food or water is not acceptable. It’s also not acceptable that he is able to get free of his yard and behave aggressively towards you, or anyone else. Having said that, to get to your question it’s likely that your husband’s dog has been triggered by the situation with your cat, particularly your involvement with trying to stop him from doing what he was doing. There is also the other possibility that he sees you as someone who is outside his circle, and therefore someone to be wary of. I’m not saying that you’ve done anything to harm him or have given him reason to mistrust you, but instinctively he may. First and foremost you need to be safe around this dog and he needs to be adequately contained within his own property. If you have a look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com there are resources to help you show your husband’s dog that you are no-one to be feared…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  43. I have a georgous 1 year old GSD who is extremely clever and is always challenging me for top dog. I have found it easier to control him when I create structure in our lives ie first thing in the morning we play fetch with tennis ball and raquet so he gets a good long run then he gets a brush, ears eyes etc and then a 5 minute training session and then his breakfast and into his crate for a nap while I get my jobs done. He comes to work with me and sleeps by my side all afternoon , then its home a game of tug, or chasing the flirt pole and then 20 min walk, and then I am training him to sit on his mat in the kitchen while I get tea. After tea I feed him and then its back on his mat with a biscuit until bedtime. I only have to say “bedchins” and he runs upstairs into his crate and waits for his biscuit. He sleeps in his crate by the side of our bed, I used to have him on a long lead by our bed but two chewed up iphones later, it was cheaper to invest in another crate by our bed. He has always been good at night we had him since he was 8 weeks old, and only once had an accident that was my fault I said whilst walking downstairs “lets do wees” and he did there and then! I find my commands must be stern for him to obey me, sometimes I think I am becoming Attilla the Hun! I read somewhere that the police force train their shepherds using the German language as it is more commanding than English, I understand that as I had a German mother who none of us kids dared to disobey! He is very happy with his routine and its lovely to see him go into his crate on his own and wait for his treat without me having to say anything, they are so a creature of habit. I found that the easiest way to train is to identify what I expect of him and work on a way to create a habit to get it. consistency is the key and being present in the now , its me I have to watch most and me that has to be ware of the unconscious signals I am giving. I blame disney for that as all of us that weren’t brought up with dogs think that they are all born like rin tin tin or Lassie what a shock! We are currently working on “the walk” and not getting out of control when visitors come, and not to chase the cat, the problem is that because he is just about full grown I forget that he is still a baby. I find that using your 5 golden rules is beginning to work especially when I am now aware of his game plan, he is such an opportunist , and my job is to make sure he doesnt get the opportunity to be the boss!

    1. Hi Greta,
      Some dogs really do thrive with a predictable routine. It helps them feel like they know what’s coming next and so they can really relax until that time comes. One of the things I say a lot when working with dogs is that ‘consistency is key!’ and that being clear with how you expect your dog to behave is vital also. Dogs can become easily confused if we are inconsistent and it means they don’t really know what we want from them. It’s far more than just giving a command, our dogs look at our body language and other non-verbal signals (hand signals) that often owners may not even realise they are sending them. It sounds like you have a firm grasp on this and that will only benefit your dog. Keep up the great work! Best, Doggy Dan

  44. Hello Dan,

    I come to this website with best of interest on learning how to control my German Shepherd’s behavioral issues. She’s about 7 months old now, and is overall a fantastic dog when it comes to training so I hope this can be an easy fix. She has barking issues whenever she sees our neighbors leave or return to their home, and refuses to leave them alone until they’re inside. I can understand how that can be a handful to deal with, especially living next door to a dog like that, and hope you have any suggestions. We’ve tried teaching the “speak” and “quiet” combo that many suggest, but it usually leads to a lot more uncontrollable barking periods. We’re just needing suggestions from someone who knows the breed fairly well, as this is our first German Shepherd and we’re used to owning Labradors. We love her tons, and I can tell she will become a fine dog as she has good temperament overall with people. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Jaz, we have a very extensive section on my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com that covers barking and provides techniques to overcome the behaviour…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days… If you also take a look at some of my previous Blogs I do have one that discusses Barking and offers some solutions and techniques that will help. The barking you describe is your dog’s way of alerting you to a potential threat in her eyes, your neighbours! How you respond can very quickly calm things down, provided you do so calmly and consistently. All the best Doggy Dan

  45. Hi, I’m vishal. I’ve got a pure breed Germen shepherd male one. He is a part of our family . But today I’m surprise to see him angry with my mum. She use to clean up his place and to give him food. What could be making him angry with my mum…? Its the first time I saw him acting like that.

    1. Hi Vishal, it’s a little hard to say why your dog behaved the way he did without knowing the circumstances around this particular encounter. There are many reasons a dog may react aggressively, even towards those they know, so it’s a matter of working out what occurred so that you can start to work your dog through this behaviour. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com has an extensive section relating to Aggression …maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  46. I rescued a 1 year old German Shepherd 2 years ago. I live on a lake and he loves being in the backyard. Up until a month ago, he would always come back into our home when called in or even if I only tapped on the glass sliding door. However, he now ignores my calling to come in, won’t even come in to eat or drink, and has stayed out all night too. And seemingly barking for no obvious reason. Around that time I found out there are several coyotes right in our neighborhood. Been living here in Arizona for 18 years and never heard about coyotes here. Could that be the reason for his new behavior??? I don’t know what to do. Any advice would be so appreciated.

    1. Hi Gina,
      If your dog perceives a ‘danger’ in the area, that may pose a threat to your family (in your dog’s eyes) then this would absolutely explain his behaviour. Essentially he is putting himself on sentry duty, keeping a look-out to keep everyone safe. The easiest way to ensure that you can easily bring him back inside would be to have a long-line attached to his collar so that if he does refuse to come inside when you ask him to, then you can wait a few minutes and then go and take hold of the long-line and lead him back inside with you. Only use the line when you are home to supervise so that he doesn’t accidentally get caught up on anything. There are other ways to encourage your dog to respond to you when you call him. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  47. So how to help my 1 yr old shepherd with fear. At 6 months old I had taken her in for a bath at a local pet place. She became so afraid of the hair dryer. We were in a puppy class and asked the trainer about how she had started whine so much. She told me it was a phase. She use to be fine goi g there until this incident. Now she doesn’t want to go in there and while in there she whines, pulls on leash and sticks like glue to me. What do I do?

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      The change in your dog’s behaviour when going to the groomer would ring alarm bells for me. I’m not suggesting that anything untoward has happened but it’s clear your dog now believes that this place is not safe and it’s causing a great degree of anxiety. Dogs who are really afraid can then feel they need to defend themselves when put in situations they feel they can’t get out of. It may help to practice routinely visiting the groomer, but not actually have anything done, the aim being just to show your dog that there is nothing for her to worry about. Take some treats with you and just sit in the waiting area for a few minutes and then leave again. If she behaves fearfully then just try to be as matter of fact with her as you can, rather than try to verbally reassure her too much. This approach is all about building up her confidence again, but ultimately if she is that fearful then it may be better to try a new groomer or ask the groomer to only towel dry her instead. Best, Doggy Dan

  48. Hi, I have a over 1 year old German Shepherd. He is a really sweet dog to me, my boyfriend and step-son but when over come into the house or come near me when we go out for walks he barks at them lots and doesn’t like being left alone. When he was little people used to keep coming up to him and stick their hands in his face to say hello and then one day he just wouldn’t let people do that anymore, he has never gone for anyone he just barks and makes them back off. I was wondering if you had any tips to help with that. Cause like I said he is an amazing sweet dog to us just want others to see that. So if there is anything that could help would be great. Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Sarah…..dogs generally do view strange people as a potential threat…whether that person actually means them harm or not is irrelevant to your dog. Essentially your dog is trying to keep you (his family) safe as he feels that this is his responsibility. The key to solving the behaviour is to show him that it’s actually not his job to keep you safe around strangers, you can do that yourself! When on a walk give him a little space when passing strangers and also ask them not to say ‘hi’ to him, he won;t appreciate having his space invaded by a stranger who may be dangerous….actually I feel the same way! If people come over ask them to delay greeting him until he is calm and if he barks at them then calmly place him in another room to calm down. When he is calm you can bring him back int the room but if he barks again then repeat the technique…and it will help if you remain calm when you are managing him. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to deal with Barking…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  49. Friends of mine just got a dog from the dog pound and it’s a German Shepherd. She’s about a-year-old. This family has a daughter that is in a wheelchair and the reason they got the dog was because the dog came up to her and layed down.

    I have worked with dogs all my life and I’m telling you this GS IS going to end up hurting someone.

    I have been looking to try to help them find someone to train this animal but have not been fortunate to find someone.

    They don’t have a lot of money but any assistance would be really be helpful.

    1. Hi Mary,
      It can be hard to be a bystander when you feel a situation may get out of hand, so well done on keeping an eye out for this family. Finding some help for the family sounds like a great idea but it’s also really important to remember that the family are the ones who need to be committed to make the changes required to help settle this situation down. If they are keen to work with their dog then my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com is a fantastic resource and covers a broad range of behavioural issues…maybe get them to take a quick look to see if it’s something they would find helpful…I have a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  50. Please help me. My daughter moved back home 9 months ago with a 2 1/2 year old female German Shepherd. I had only met the dog once before. The dog has not adjusted to me. She is fearful and stays away from me. She will only go for a walk with me if my wife puts on his leash. She gets along well with my wife and other daughter….what can I do?

    1. Hi Larry,
      Some dogs do take a little more time to adjust to some members of the family than others. In most cases we can identify why that’s the case but in others it’s not so obvious. My advice to you is to ‘play hard to get’ with your daughter’s dog. I know this may sound really counterproductive but if you basically ignore the dog (no eye contact or speaking to) for a little while then she will feel that she has the space and time to observe you and work out that you are no threat to her! Often when we try to push or force a relationship with a reluctant dog it can result in them being even more reluctant to interact. So try going about your day as if she isn’t even there, but if you feel that she seems relaxed and calm then try calling her to you using a high value treat as leverage. If she chooses not to come to you then leave her and avoid approaching her, she is letting you know she’s not ready to interact. Keep trying but also allow here to feel she has a choice in whether she interacts with your or not…forcing her won’t work! I would put off any walks with her until she is more comfortable with you around the house first. Try not to take it personally, she is a fearful dog and she just needs a little patience….Best, Doggy Dan

  51. I rescued my German shepherd 5 years ago at around 1 year old. At the time I worked with behavior rehabilitation of large violent offending dogs in shelters and rescue organizations in my free time (about 20 hours a week). I took on my dog because she was a mess and the rescue org was about to give up on her. Severe reactivity, separation anxiety, zero training… she was a German shepherd to a T. Extremely driven, very strong, very smart, athletic… it was a lot of work but eventually I got her to become a very good citizen. I even took her successfully to doggy daycare a number of times. Recently, we moved across country, I started a family, and we bought a farm. I thought the farm would be heaven for her (the dog). But instead… its been a complete backslide. not into the same behaviors she had, but all new terrible behaviors. intense Separation, but also generalized anxiety, destructiveness (she ruined every refurbished hardwood door in our house in one day) which was never her MO, she is not getting used to the animals even after 2 years, and she’s just become…. I hate to say it… but she’s become a major pain in the ass. I’ve actually considered re-homing her because it seems like it would be best for her and for us. But I hate the thought. I mean, as frustrated as I am with her… she is still my furry soul mate and I made a promise to her. But I’m at the end of my rope. I dont have the time or energy I once did to work with her like I used to. I know I know… I can feel the crazy dog people shaking their head at me. but you know, I already brought her back from the brink once before and that wasn’t easy. I’ve done everything I could for her to give her the best possible life. But I can’t go back to working with her 4 hours a day every day. What can be done? I have her 80mg of anti anxiety meds now and she’s still an anxious mess. I dont get it. I dont know why this place illicit this response from her. I just dont understand

    1. Hi Stuart, well done for taking on such a challenging dog initially! It sounds like you made really great progress with her behaviour and I just want to reassure you that you can get back to that again with a little consistency, patience and the right information. Moving homes can be an incredibly unsettling time for dogs and they can struggle to get their bearings, leaving them feeling uncertain and over-whelmed. In nature dogs would rarely change territories because their survival depends on knowing where the potential dangers may be, so in your dog’s mind she is feeling incredibly vulnerable because she doesn’t understand that she is in fact safe. Add to that, her world just got a whole lot bigger and so she has more space than before to worry about. So I’ve given you an idea behind why she is behaving this way she is, now for the solution! What she needs is reassurance, that despite the change in location, she can trust you to keep her safe and she doesn’t need to worry about anything. It’s not a complicated process but it does require that she receive the right information at the right time. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  52. I’m having trouble with my eight month old puppy, Vince. He’s a German Shepherd and we’re having problems that should’ve been solved a long time ago… could you help me in a comment??

    1. Hi Anne,
      I’m not sure what kind of problems you’re referring to and so I can;t give you any specific advice but my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to work through a broad range of behaviours in any age dog…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  53. Hi there. Me and my family are wanting to add a GSD to our family. We have a Male black lab who is 7 years old. We were wanting to add a Male GSD pup to the family, but are nervous how he will act when he is older with our other dog. I’ve read alot about same gender aggression and am a little nervous if we should move forward with getting our GSD pup. Would you have any recommendations? Should we look more at getting a female? Is it a common problem with GSDs to be aggressive even when he has grown up with other dogs? Please help!

    1. Hi Rushelle,
      Choosing a sex of dog to bring into your home, when there is already an existing dog, can be one factor in helping the dogs get along well together. However it should be noted that even if you do choose the opposite sex there can still be tension. The most important factor in helping the two dogs get along together will be your input, essentially the way you teach then how to behave appropriately towards each other. Before bringing your puppy home it would also be a good idea to work on your current dog’s behaviour, if you need to, to help prepare them for the new arrival. This will mean that when your puppy arrives you existing dog will look to you for direction rather than do whatever they feel is necessary. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to go bout this this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  54. I’ve had German Shepherds growing up! And now are me and my husband have two of Our Own. Are female is to are male is 7. The mail is very protective of me. But I’m the one that keeps getting bit. And when I say bit I don’t mean draw blood bit I mean nipped at and it hurts. He guards doorways and won’t let people pass. I need to break these habits. Help

    1. Hi Pamela,
      Dogs have a very limited way of trying to communicate with us and so it’s important to look at their behaviour and try to understand what the likely motivator is. If your dog is guarding doorways to try and stop people from moving around, and possibly leaving the house entirely, then he is trying to perform a role he believes is his….to keep his family safe. The best way to change his behaviour is to change the role he believes he needs to fulfil in your family…and it’s nowhere near as complex as it sounds! When he starts to understand that his role is no longer to try to keep his family safe, because you can do that perfectly well yourself now, then he will start to relax and h is behaviour will change. It’s a little complex to explain in this post but my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  55. German Shepherd Dogs just love routine. With mine I burn of their energy first thing in the morning, feed them their morning kibble while training and then they sleep in their crates with chew toys for the rest of the day. Tea time I play tennis with them or chase the frisbee before their dinner which is stuffed into kongs. Then its in their crates with their evening biscuit and they sleep all night. A tired dog is a good dog! It’s all about management and building the routine around your life so everyone has security.

    1. Hi Greta, thanks for sharing! It’s true of many dogs that they like to know their routine, but it’s also important that they can cope when that routine being disrupted. Exercise is important for a dog’s overall health, and in terms of behaviour the information given to them by their owners is the most important factor in creating happy and well behaved dogs. Keep up the great work…Best, Doggy Dan

  56. Help.. We just acquired a german shepherd who is 1.5 yrs old from my in-laws. My father in law has dementia and at times was mean to the puppy, so we ended up taking/rescuing him. He’s an awesome pup. But…1 huge problem. He’s aggressive towards my son who is 14 to the point of trying to bite him and growling at him the entire time they are in the room together. My son is terrified, I want to make this dog a part of my family. Please help.

    1. Hi Wendi,
      This sounds like a bit of a tense situation at the moment and my advice is to be really careful and cautious when your son and your dog are together. No-one likes to feel unsafe in their own home and so I would recommend having your dog under control (on leash) or separated from your son so he feels safe. This will also mean you can calmly respond to any unwanted behaviour from your dog more immediately so he learns how to behave correctly. Also, it will help for both your family and your dog to understand how to interact correctly with each other. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to go about this…maybe take a quick look as I do cover Aggression in detail…it’s a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  57. Hi. So my grandpa had a GS dog and his name was Frank. A little over a year ago maybe, he died of large tumour in his spleen. In July, they bought a GS puppy that they brought to my house to meet me so she would know who I was. She seemed to love me the most out of everybody. After that, I never saw her until about a month and a half ago. She obviously grew (she was seven months) and I greeted her with the usual squeaky voice that I use with every dog because they supposedly love it.. but instead she barked at me. But not just the way GS dogs bark when a car pulls up, she snarled and growled. She also seemed to be intimidated me as she would duck her head. She is a well-trained pup and has never bitten, only play nipped. My grandpa has made me walk with Belle (the pup) and she seems fine then, and she listens to me when I say heel, sit, down, etc. She even does shake a paw and she loves when I pet her. But when I don’t have her on leash she gets very skiddish, like she wants to play with me but she thinks I’m a vicious beast that will attack her. And when she’s in her cage, she barks and snarls and stares with mean eyes. What’s going on??

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      As young dogs mature and develop their behavior can change a little compared to when they are puppies. Life become a little more serious and there are loads of potential dangers for them to worry about as older dogs. Whenever I meet dogs, even ones I know, I always delay greeting them until they are calm, seem comfortable in my presence and are not trying to get my attention. This allows me to show them that I am not a threat to them but that attention or affection will also be given only when I decide to BUT they need to be calm first. With dogs who are fearful or nervous around strangers or people in general, I find this is a great way to help them feel more confident. Best, Doggy Dan

  58. My 6th month GSD challenges me and I had to find a routine to make sure she knows that I am top dog. It has brought me closer to her though finding ways to let her know that I am the top dog to her. We play fetch, go on runs, and I make sure that she is never aggressive with me. Being consistent sure has helped with my dog making it so she has a routine and likes other people.

    1. Hi Robert…routine can be really helpful as it allows dogs to feel more at ease as they know how their day is going to play out. Many human beings also really enjoy routine and predictability for the same reason…moving outside that routine can present more of a challenge for some of us, even resulting in feelings of anxiety. Dogs are no different! I’m not saying that routine is the key for all dogs but with many it does help. Best…Doggy Dan

  59. We have a 3 year old akc female, who has become aggressive to our other very old farm dog. This behavior started just after her last cycle. We thought it was a one time thing, but we have to keep them separated 100% of the time. Any suggestions, any help, or comments, are very much appreciated. Thank you Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      When dogs reach breeding age, especially dogs of the same sex living together, it can cause a little tension in some cases as they try to establish who is the higher ranking female….as in your case! In any dog pack it’s generally only the Alpha female who will breed, so when female dogs come into season they will naturally test the other females in their family to figure out if it’s them who should be breeding/higher ranking.
      You can restore calm, just by giving all of your dogs the right information and being consistent in how you expect them to behave. If you would like to try them together I would recommend having them both on-leash and allowing space until they are relaxed in each other’s presence. However, before you do that you may like to take a look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com ….as we do cover this issue and can provide you with the correct strategies…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  60. I love the breed, had a malamute-shepherd mix for 14 yrs. I now have a purbreed who is three. They all have different personalities. The purebred nearly made me crazy until he was over two years old. They are smart and get bored easily. They need games and puzzles (like busy boards). But they love you with all their hearts.

    1. There are many dog owners who are loyal to the German Shepherd breed and it’s pretty easy to see why! Doggy Dan

  61. The fearful and nervous GSD?? That’s my girl! At 11 weeks she is full of anxieties. I take her to lowe’s and the park but she’s still afraid of most things. Shorter list is what she’s not scared of 🙁 We’re working on it. I think it will just take time and work but I never dealt with this before.

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Remember that settling into a new home and getting used to life without her Mother and Siblings for reassurance, is a very unsettling for all puppies. If we do too much too soon with them then we risk overwhelming them even further and adding to their stress/anxiety. Your puppy’s personality may also be a nervous or anxious one and so taking a more gentle approach with her when introducing her to new things and experiences will be really important. My other big piece of advice is to ‘make nothing of it’ if she does react fearfully…..just move her away and try to remain as calm and confident as you can, too much verbal reassurance or affection can actually make the behaviour worse. Best, Doggy Dan

  62. My wife and I are giving a temporary foster home to a male GS aged 18m.

    He was kept in fenced yard away from other dogs. He was not aggressive towards his very elderly owner, but neither was he given any training.

    His owner is now in hospital and had to give up all his dogs. My wife works for an animal rescue, so I volunteered to go and help pick him up to take him to be neutered. He is a gentle and affectionate dog towards his chosen “owner”. However over the last week he has become increasingly dominant over our three medium sized (rescue) dogs. He rushes at them snapping and growling. Not every time, sometimes he waits until I am not paying any attention. The result is our dogs are now frightened of him and will not come near (except the old terrier as he is mostly blind and partly deaf).

    As this is only a temporary arrangement, we will be happy to have him go back to the rescue group, as it is unfair on our three to have a newcomer dominate them and take up so much of our time too.

    We walk him on lead, and have been practising heel and sit. We have also set him on a sit near another dog, and transferred scent on our hands from our dogs to him while praising him and giving the occasional treat. When he does lunge at one of our dogs, if it is in the house then we put him straight into the laundry room for 10 mins.

    Any suggestions on how to more quickly rehabilitate this otherwise wonderful dog?

    1. Hi David,
      This would be an incredibly unsettling time for the dog you are caring for. His world has changed, in a big way, and he will be feeling vulnerable and likely overwhelmed. I think my first piece of advice would be to be realistic and patient about his behaviour. Expect that you will need to teach him what behaviours are ok and which ones are not. Also realise that he will have both good days and not-so-good days along the way. As long as you are providing meaningful, consistent and clear guidance then he will learn to moderate his own behaviour but I would start by keeping his world smaller at this point. Essentially this may mean holding off on too many walks until he settled into his new environment and having him on-leash and under control when he is at home with your dogs will allow you to calmly and immediately manage his behaviour if you need to. Using baby-gates and barriers to create safe space for your existing dogs, but also to allow the new dog to feel part of the family, is a very useful strategy to avoid any injury to your dogs. When he is calming down and getting used to a new routine then you can start to give him a little more freedom. Knowledge is power and so and educating yourself about how best to cultivate a trusting relationship with this dog is the best way to help calm things down. If you need any guidance here then my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  63. Would it be OK to except a year and a half German Shepherd poorly trained into your household what should I do first and what should you look four in behavioral patterns

    1. Hi Bobby,
      I think my first piece of advice would be to be realistic and patient about the dog’s behaviour. Expect that you will need to teach them what behaviours are ok and which ones are not. Also realise that they will have both good days and not-so-good days along the way. As long as you are providing meaningful, consistent and clear guidance then they will learn to moderate their own behaviour. Starting off on the right foot is really important and educating yourself about how best to cultivate a trusting relationship with this dog is the best way to go about this. If you need any guidance here then my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  64. A couple months ago I purchased my first German Shepherd. At 5 months and one week old he is already huge. I’d say he is already about 70 pounds. He is sweet, loving and I have trained him well on a leash. My issue is he continues to jump up on me and the walls. He also continues to bite my feet and forearms. He is really smart with it. He will push his toy near my feet and sneak a nip. As a consequence I put him in his pen. He is an indoor pet and I am pen training him over the summer. I teach an will be back to work soon. However, in the past I breed and owned chow chows. I thought big dogs not much different…how wrong could I have been. This baby is not giving up the nipping! I have given him to toys. I tell him “no bite.” But he sneaks them in. Any suggestions on how to stop this. I know he already wants to protect me and I’m not afraid of him. I have no plan to remove him. I believe I’m as an owner doing something not quite right in the training of him.

    1. Hi Dorothy….wow your puppy is going to end up to be a big boy!
      Despite his current size he is still a puppy doing normal puppy behaviours, its just that they have a bigger impact due to his size and we want to encourage him to use a little more self-control. With behaviours like jumping up or mouthing/biting owners we do need to be careful with how we respond. Often these behaviours are motivated by attention seeking and if we respond verbally, such as telling the dog ‘no/get down!’, or by giving the dog too much attention then they learn that the behaviour works and they will continue to do it. If your puppy jumps up at you then try gently turning your body to the side to help deflect the jumping a little and avoid speaking to him or making eye contact. If he keeps it up or his behaviour becomes more intense then you can calmly pop him outside or in a room where he is on his own to help him learn that there are consequences for this behaviour. Make sure you are consistent and calm and he will be able to identify exactly which behaviour is the one he needs to adapt…some puppies can be far more determined than others! You may also like to have a look back through my previous Blogs as I have covered both behaviours previously. Best, Doggy Dan

  65. HI,

    I HAVE A 10 MONTH OLD WORKING DOG .. HIGH DRIVE GERMAN SHEPHERD PUPPY THAT WHEN HE GETS BORED HE WANTS TO ATTACK ME AS THOUGH HE IS DEALING WITH ANOTHER DOG… I HAVE HAD THREE GSD’s BEFORE BUT NOT A HIGH DRIVE WORKING DOG AND I AM NOW 67 YRS .. HOW WOULD YOU STOP THIS BEHAVIOUR APART FROM LEAVING THE ROOM AND THAT IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE .. HE IS OBVIOUSLY BORED .. HE GOES OUT TWICE A DAY AND I PLAY FOR A LONG TIME WITH HIS BALL BUT HE IS JUST RELENTLESS .. I HAVE TRAINED HIM UP TO TRIALLING STANDARDS AND HE IS EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT BUT THIS IS A PROBLEM I HAVE WITH HIM … WHAT WOULD YOU DO … THANKS

    1. Hi Maxine, having owned a few German Shepherds in your life you will know that they all had very different personalities and this has a big impact on how a dog behaves and the questions they ask their owner. When it comes to attention seeking behaviours, like mouthing or jumping up, you do need to be really careful about how you respond. Verbally correcting a dog by telling them ‘no, get down!’ for example, or creating additional excitement can be really counterproductive……purely because it teaches the dog that this behaviour works for them, it gains our attention. With digs who are physically strong or mouthy I do often recommend owners immediately and calmly leave the room they are in and close the door behind you so they can’t follow. Consistency from you will teach your dog that the consequence of his behaviour is that he will actually lose you, rather than gain your attention, and he will start to modify his behaviour. I always say, ‘calm and consistent actions speak far louder than words!’ and this is certainly an example of that.
      If you would like some more help my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com has loads of resources…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  66. Hi Doggy Dan. My name’s Carli and I have a female GSD named Luna. She’s almost 1 year old and I’ve been struggling with her. You see, Luna is a really sweet and loving dog. She never growls, barks or bites at us, but she’s untrained and extremely protective. She’s disobedient and it seems like she doesn’t take us seriously when we scold her. We rarely have any problems with guests coming over to socialize, but she threatened to steal a limb from the men who came over to renovate our house because she saw them as a threat. She hates other dogs. Her rough play with my mother’s Yorkie has turned into her basically charging at it and basically ripping it apart for no reason. She also doesn’t just pull on the leash, but she manages to wrestle out of her collar And her harness. The thing is that I would be more than willing to pay a large amount of money for professional help or to train her myself, but I’m only 17. I have no money, and my parents are much more willing to just throw her away than to pay for obedience classes. I can’t even get them to buy me a simple choking collar. The more annoyed they’re becoming with her behaviour, the more they threaten to put her down. They’re even becoming extremely physically and vocaly violent towards her and it’s definitely not having a good effect on her. I don’t know what to do anymore, I’m concidering giving her to my uncle, who used to be part of the K9 force at the police department, but I don’t know how I will live my life without her. Do you have any advice?

    1. Hi Carli. As dogs age and mature it can lead to them assuming a more important role in their family…that of protector. Luna is now coming into her prime, where she thinks she knows how the world works and she feels like it’s her responsibility to keep her family safe from all the ‘dangers’ around her….including workmen and other dogs! Obedience training is a great thing to do with any dog but it’s not the most important thing when it comes to solving behavioural issues. The solution to overcoming her behaviour and helping her calm down is to remove her sense of responsibility over you and that comes down to providing her with the correct information, essentially that you are now the one who can take care of you both! My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  67. dan, I have a gsd,female and a mixed breed gsd, male. The female is the most affectionate k9 I have ever had in my life! The male is also affectionate. When she plays w/the male, she treats him like he is a sheep; knocks him to the ground by his neck & grabs his back legs. What gets me is he is always asking her to play, even though she can be rough w/him sometimes. She is very protective of him as he came to us as a puppy rescue. She is protective of the yard & him & pushes him away from what she perceives as a danger. She has epileptic seizures from time to time, which I have meds for that. I also noticed a correlation between ‘zooks chicken treats’ & her seizures, so I don’t feed her them anymore. Her first seizure came after a teeth cleaning & microchip, this was after I got her home-it was when she was two years old. I love gsd’s & am very happy w/both my k9’s. They are quite ‘mouthy’ at times, but mine know not to bite on hands ect. They also have a habit of chasing small animals. I can see why gsd owner’s are usually very happy w/their k9’s, they are ‘one of a kind’ dogs!!!!

    1. Hi,
      It’s really normal for dogs to use play as a way of practicing certain ‘life skills’ in case they ever need to use them….like hunting for example. Grabbing another dog playfully by the hind legs practices bringing down a prey animal and grabbing them around the throat may simulate the kill. This type of play is nothing to be concerned about provided it is not too rough and both dogs seem happy to participate. However, if at any point you start to feel uncomfortable about the style of play then calmly intervene….the same applies if you think one of the dogs i not happy about being treated that way or is trying to avoid the other dog. They both sound like fantastic dogs to have in your family! Best…Doggy Dan

  68. I have a shepherd that has become very aggressive toward delivery people on our porch. So much so, that’s he’s ripped multiple window sills completely off the wall trying to get through the window. He has always been protective, which is obviously typical of the breed. He’s never been protective to THIS extent though. This started after a neighbor had a dog that continually got out of their yard and would come onto our porch and jump on our window. This is the same window he now destroys when people come up. I’ll mention too that we have a lab mix and Rottweiler also. Both females, while the shepherd is a male. The girls obviously alert and bark and interact, but neither of them show the same aggression. They have been a pack together for three years now, but previously it was just myself and my shepherd, and my husband and the girls. Even still, having them all together, this wasn’t an issue prior to the neighbor dog. The dog has been gone for months now, and we still have this problem, but now directed toward delivery people. He ONLY acts this way when we are not home, and does NOT do this if he were out in the yard with us and someone were to come up. It’s only while in the house and we aren’t home. Any advice to break this behavior? My husband is ready to use a shock mat, and I’m afraid if he bites that it will do damage.

    1. Hi Chelsea,
      Every dog has their own unique personality and life experiences, which means they react and respond to situations differently. Typically in any dog pack in nature it’s the males who defend the family from danger…..and believe it or not in our domestic situation that includes strange people, like delivery men! If your dog’s behaviour is only an issue when you are not at home then I would recommend restricting his visibility or access to areas where he can see or hear delivery men dropping off packages. Moving your dogs to the back part of your house and maybe leaving a radio playing at low volume, to cut out any back-ground noise, may help as well. If you need any further help my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com discusses how to address this type of behaviour…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  69. We have a 3 month old German shepherd puppy. We have tried everything and we can not get him to stop biting. We cant walk or pet him without him biting us. Please help

    1. Hi Sondra,
      Some puppies can be really intense with mouthing and biting behaviours and the keys to success are very simple, respond calmly and consistently! If your puppy can predict that their behaviour will always result in the same calm consequence then they are far more likely to use self-control and not bite. You also need to be careful that you don’t over-react to this behaviour because in most cases the puppy is doing it to try and gain attention and telling a puppy off for the behaviour, by saying ‘no’ or ‘stop’ is still attention. We have a topic under our Puppy Coach course that aims to help owners overcome this behaviour, you can find the program on my website theonlinedogtrainer.com and it comes with a 60-day, no questions asked, 100% money back guarantee. All the best, Doggy Dan

  70. I rescued a beautiful female gold sable GSD about 20 months ago. She is of questionable age (between 4-7yrs according to the vet).
    Historically she has been through at least three shelters and a one home that was a neglect situation.
    I love her so much. She’s very intelligent and very attached to my husband, myself, and my dad. Nothing but sweetness towards us. Problem is that she lunges and make fearful yelps and tries to bite anyone new, the neighbor, my friends etc.
    I have to have long, slow introduction periods for her to feel “ok” with someone else to come in the home.
    I really wish I could show my friends and other family how absolutely sweet she is, but she scares some people.
    Note that when she was in the only home she lived in besides ours, somehow her bottom teeth and canines were ground to nothing. She doesn’t chew rocks or anything so I’m not sure how that happened. She eats fine, though.
    I wonder why it’s so hard for her to accept other people even when we express that it’s ok.
    Any insight would be lovely.

    1. Hi Tawnya,
      Some dogs can really struggle meeting new people, for very good reason if people have treated them poorly in the past, but you can help calm things down by developing a consistent strategy and remaining calm yourself. It can be really helpful to pop your dog on-leash whenever visitors come to your home, or if you are out on a walk allow her some extra space and keep her close to you. Ask the person to delay greeting her, in fact ask them to ignore her all together (no eye contact or speaking to) until she is totally calm in their presence. This will give her the time she needs to work out the person means her no ham and is nothing to be worried about. If you feel she is genuinely calm then they can attempt a greeting BUT ask them to call her to them to say ‘hi’ rather than approach her and invade her personal space. Doing it this way allows her the freedom of choice and if she is not comfortable or she is still a bit anxious then she will not approach them….which if she chooses to stay away then avoid forcing her to interact. If she starts to bark then calmly place her out of the room until she is quiet and then try again. Practice, consistency and patience will prove successful here. If you need any additional help then my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…it’s a FREE trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  71. I have always had German shepherds and am loyal to the breed. The one I have now is 2 1/2. When she was four months old she dislocated both hips. The survey kept her down for over 3 months. This was her socializing time. Since then I have a terrible Tim with her barking but she’s been perfect in every other way.
    Until now. She has recently been lunging and close to biting when anyone approaches. I live part time in a condo part time and am worried about taking her back. How can I stop this behavior.? I have always socialized my gs dogs we’ll always I know this is my failure because I excused her so much after her surgery thinking she would get over this. Please tell me what I can do at this age.

    1. Hi Vickie,
      Illness and injury can make dogs feel really vulnerable, which can lead to them over-reacting in certain situations. Just to reassure you, you can address this behaviour even if you feel your dog has missed an important socialisation period. Dogs are way more resilient than we often give them credit for and they can learn to adapt their behaviour if they are given the right information and the opportunity to learn. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…we currently have a FREE trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  72. Glad I found this blog. It was definitely nice to read more information about the breed and to get some helpful tips on how to help with behavior issues. I have my first GSD he is 8 months old. He has been a wonderful addition to my family. He is pretty well behaved but definitely still needs some training. He is very attached to my 3 year old son our pup wants to be everywhere my son is and gets very anxious when he leaves without him. Also when we all go somewhere together he will not walk well on a leash and barks excessively and has to be everywhere my son is and will not listen to any command we give him. But if I or my husband takes our pup on a walk without my son he is perfectly fine. Walks well and doesn’t bark. Not really sure what to do about this and why he acts so differently.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      It is a really common trait for family dogs to get a little agitated when younger members of the family venture too far ahead on a walk. The dog feels that the child could be in danger and that the rest of the family should catch up to ensure they are kept safe! You can solve the behaviour with a just a little practice and by putting a few key principles in place. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com has a free 3 day trial going at the moment….it will give you an idea of the processes we use to help dogs (and their owners) live a happy and stress-free life…all the best Doggy Dan

  73. Excellent online dog training for some aggression I seen in my GS (or should I call it MY Training). It’s Simple and easy to do training such as give my dog space when visitors come over and using silence instead of yelling at my barking dog.

    1. Hi Charla, it is amazing just how much a calmer approach from owners can ease the mind of an anxious and overwhelmed dog! Simple, common sense strategies are often the best! Doggy Dan

  74. Hi Dan,

    I was brought up with German Shepherds and even named after my parents favourite Karl, though my mother registered my name with a C not a K.

    I have not owned a dog for over 40 years, though now retired young at 56 and all the time in the world to enjoy a loyal companion.

    I have been to see a 15 month old who was returned to the breeder by its owner due to family and friends being scared of its behaviour.

    He barks and lunges at people he doesn’t know out of protection if himself, his family and the property. He was in my face and telling me that he was in charge.

    Yet when the breeder got out his biscuits and used them as treats, he followed all the commands intently. I took some treats and he was totally fine with me. Yet afterwards returned to a bark and lunge to remind me who was boss of the manor.

    They are not sure how he was treated by the owner, though it seems that he lived most of the time in a large crate and is used to wearing a muzzle

    Once he had calmed down, he was playing with the breeders partner and you could see how much love he has to give and licking his face, etc.

    Based upon your knowledge, assume you would not see any issues in training him and using the dog code to change this behaviour to be that loyal loving companion.

    I am aware that he is totally fine out walking and meeting people walking their dogs, yet not people on their own.

    I would appreciate your response, though it seems that you have covered these traits well already.

    I know that it will take time and effort to change this behaviour, thankfully I have that in abundance, especially being outside and active as I walk about 50 miles a week.

    Regards
    Carl

    1. Hi Carl,
      Your post raises something I talk about a lot…the difference between dog training and dog behaviour. Dog training (sit/stay/drop) are all great things to teach a dog BUT when it comes to addressing behavioural issues this type of training is not suitable. I draw the analogy where I liken Dog Training as ‘icing’ on a cake….but first you need a cake otherwise all that ‘icing’ can come crashing down under the slightest amount of pressure. How many times have you heard a dog owner say….”my dog’s great until I try to take them for a walk/they see another dog etc.’ What we do is teach owners how to make the ‘cake’…the foundation of showing any dog that they can trust their owner with all the tough decisions no matter what is going on around them.
      So my personal opinion is that you can absolutely help this dog provided you give him the right information and focus on the ‘cake’ as well as not just the ‘icing’. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to go about this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  75. My neighbor has a 2 year old female King Shepard. I’ve known her since she was 10 weeks old. I watch her during the day when the owners are at work. Lately, she’s starting walking between my legs when I’m standing, and wanting to sit right between my legs. She’s very large, and has knocked me over several times, as I lose my footing when she does this. I am the only person she does this to. Have any ideas?

    1. Hi Marvel! This type of behaviour can be all about a dog trying to gain attention. If she starts to walk between your legs try gently taking her by the collar, move her out of your personal space and hold her there for a few seconds. Make sure you do all of this without saying anything to her…..just allow your calm and consistent actions do the work for you. She will soon realise the behaviour is no longer working for her and she will stop doing it! Give that a try, Doggy Dan

  76. Hi I am on my 5th GSD and you are point on. Funny story and it points to how intelligent…they have a revenge gene and do not like to be tricked..keep in mind my 10year old did not know better. We were all walking or should I say we were be herded by Max. My daughter had her bike. As we walked pass a batting cage Max was curious so daughter lifted net and Max went in only to find there was no way out. Max did not think it funny and when I scolded daughter she quickly lifted net to let Max out. He promptly pranced over to her bike and proceeded to remove front tire. Max also thought it necessary to dive into city pool to rescue daughter. The lifeguard would quickly announce “Max Alert” so that everyone could move out of the way. We sure needed you 20 years ago! Max was my 2nd.

  77. We brought home a 4 yr old german shephard from a rescue pound last nite. Well behaved, calm, and a good dog. Very little back story on the dog. Today I was watering the plants and the dog was snapping at the water from the hose like she was drinking…cute? LAter I put the spray nozzle on the hose to wash down the patio furniture. The dog went crazy like it was attacking the spray. I locked her in the pool fence while I finished spraying and for the first time she barked and tried to jump out over the fence toward the spray. Does anyone have any thoughts??

    1. Hi Rick…big thumbs up for choosing to bring a rescue dog into your family. Sometimes dogs develop certain behaviours that initially their owners think is cute, but they can then develop into a much more intense, almost obsessive behaviour….like biting water out of a hose! A great way to overcome the behaviour is to do a little practice around the garden hose, starting at a lower pressure. You can enlist another member of the family to operate the hose as you have your dog on-leash and positioned further away. Turn the hose on slowly and if he becomes agitated then hold the leash short so he movement is restricted and he will be less likely to become over-excited. Practice this until he is not reacting and then increase the flow of the water, repeating the technique. If he becomes really agitated then turn the hose off and allow him to calm down and then try again. Short, frequent practice sessions will keep his adrenaline level lower and show him how you now want him to behave. You can use treats/praise to reward the correct behaviours as well. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com also shows you very clearly how to address obsessive behaviours…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  78. I just don’t like them. They may be the smartest dogs around but for such a smart breed they apparently refuse to read signals or follow directions. Get your mouth off of me, get off of me, quit rubbing up against me, quit barking at my other animals, I don’t trust the dog not to nip and injure my cattle or worse – get stomped into a bloody smear – and he will not shut up when I have him tied to a fence post so he can SEE me but not REACH my cattle.

    I paid the fee on him when my spouse retired (spouse picked this dog out at a shelter) and I KNOW my spouse is doing a lot of work but now I think there is separation anxiety setting in and now we’re held hostage by the dog. We can’t have people come over without him behaving like an idiot (I say put him in the crate when people enter so they can come over and say hi, he can settle a little, then he can come out) and we can’t go anywhere and leave him with the other adults in the household because we don’t know that he won’t scratch (again) or bite.

    Thank heavens the dog is good about being crated overnight and enjoys the puzzle toys I’ve purchased, I’ve looked into scent training, we’re going to be enrolled in obedience, I’ve purchased a no-pull harness, we may get another kind because this dog can set back and slide out of it, I have hopes that maybe agility is in the future eventually, he’s learning some basic commands but challenging us constantly and honestly – I dread coming home to this dog. I don’t want to be jumped on, I don’t want to be used as a tackling dummy and all I want to do is hide in my bedroom to get away from him.

    All the dogs I’ve had up to this point were hunting dog breeds and while I put a lot of time and training into them I ENJOYED THEM. I do not LIKE THIS DOG and now I’m saddled with it for another 10 years or more (it’s 13 months old – neutered about 6 weeks ago) and it’s sapping the joy out of my life. I can’t get a dog that I like when I retire because I doubt this animal won’t rip it apart because of its prey drive and food aggressiveness.

    I want to cry whenever I come home out of dread, but I can’t. So I cry in the car for 45 minutes as I drive home from work. My spouse is working hard with it and doing well; I will put a lot of work into him as well but all I can say is I’m tolerating this dog. Why spouse has always had such a soft spot for this breed is beyond me. I’m guessing that the only GSD my spouse encountered as a child/young adult were old and/or beautifully trained dogs so it was easy to discount my stating this is a breed that requires a disproportionate amount of time, energy and training for so little pleasure.

    FML.

    1. I can feel your frustration and emotion, trust me I can…and I understand it. I do want you to know that there is hope and that you can turn your relationship around with your dog…..if you want to and that’s really important, because in order for your relationship and your dog’s behaviour to improve then you will need to change your behaviour first. I’m not talking about spending hour upon hour training and working with your dog, what I’m talking about is quality and relevant information that makes sense to your dog AND will help overcome the issues he is experiencing. From his perspective, he doesn’t want to behave the way he is but he feels he has to….he is confused and needs help to work it all out. Frustration and anger are not the ingredients that will help him reach his true potential…….but trust me when I say he will be your biggest teacher and you will learn the most from him, especially about yourself. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the middle of it, but I guarantee you it’s there if you head in the right direction. My approach is an holistic one, aimed at building trusting relationships between dog and owner, and my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

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