• Michael D'Abruzzo

    September 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    I’ve been reading through the thread. Sounds like in a nutshell your boy is basically making some bad judgement calls. The good news is that he is young and probably related to the fact that you said he can be little fearful of silly things. This is common in some German Shepherds as you may know – but the fact that it may be towards a child is a reason to jump on it right away. With the right plan he can only improve. With the wrong plan or no plan it can get worse, since dogs can get into the habit of handling things in the wrong way which becomes harder to break.

    Here’s a simple breakdown of a plan:

    1. Leadership like it is a religion. Be sure to run through the relationship with a fine comb and make sure he is not initiating anything. Remember you having him sit to be pet isn’t leadership if he was asking for it and triggered you to give him a command. Or him going to the door and you making him sit isn’t leadership if he actually initiated the process. Not saying you are doing these things, but just telling you some of the common things people do wrong which mean a lot to the dog.

    2. Work steady toward phase 3 – off-leash obedience. Commands like “place” have to be rock solid when someone is at your door. And you want to be able to have a solid “come” and “leave it” to manage situations where he makes misjudgments – or so you can get him to focus on you quicker. If he doesn’t focus on you in these situations and look for direction , he will never get the chance to see you ,as the leader, are OK with the situation.

    3. Get him on the muzzle, and I would never have him around an outsiders child without it until he really proves himself reliable. It’s just the responsible thing to do – and not worth the gamble. With the muzzle you can continue to socialize him around children safely.

    To keep him away from children will just make things worse, and to put him in the situation without safety precautions in place is like russian roulette. With patience we can make a lot of progress – i’ve seen this a lot.

    You may also want to consider putting him on a fish oil supplement if not already. There is a lot of evidence that points to the fact that it helps dogs with impulse control. Also, make sure that your dog food is coming from a good protein source – nothing like beniful which is full of corn and junk. Good brain is part of the building blocks for greater success. Keep us informed and hammer away with the input. We are all here to help eachother.