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Edele Grey
Edele Grey, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 417
Experience:  BSc, MVB
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My German shepherd has gone at my partner twice in the space

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Good morning my German shepherd has gone at my partner twice in the space of a month aggressively. The first time he came back into the room and we let her off because he'd got his work clothes on and she was half asleep. This morning she followed him into the room and was fine. He then stumbled on something and again she showed aggressive behaviour and barked at him. She absolutely adores my partner and we've been together a year so he's not new to her. I'm in absolute pieces because I don't want either of them to feel uncomfortable. Can you help at all please?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. This sounds like it might be serious. I'll let the Dog Trainer know what's going on ASAP. Is there anything else important you think the Dog Trainer should know about your dog?
Customer: Not really no

Hello,

You're through to Dr. Edele a UK based vet.

Sorry to hear your dog and partner are having some issues. The best thing to do is book a face-to-face consultation with a behavioral therapist who can watch how you both interact with your dog and how she responds etc. There are so many different possible causes for this behavior that without a face-to-face consultation we could make the issue worse. Attempting to resolve aggressive behavior without a therapist's direct input can actually make the behavior worse and may sadly lead to more serious consequences for both your dog and partner.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The thing is shee dotes on him most of the time there are just odd occasions so im not sure a therapist will work as they are not going to see anything out of the ordinary and my partner works away so this isnt easily done
Ok, that’s strange behavior. When she has these episodes, is it after he’s been away? Or is he wearing work clothes?
Edele Grey and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Not really, h was at home yesterday morning too and no issues, she didnt even raise hr head when he came back in the bedroom. Today he stumbled before she started barking...could that of been a trigger? The time before he had been away a few nights but this has only just started in the last month. We have been together over a year.
It could be that him stumbling startled her. Has anything else happened in the past few weeks/months that has had her on edge at all (other than covid)?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She was up and moving about behind him though. The occasion before he came back in the room and popped the light on so she looked at him and then started to growl. Nothing that time should of really bothered her. At weekends when we have no work this has never happened. My partner is on edge at work at the moment though
Ah, it could be that. Dogs are incredibly intuitive and pick up on our stress and emotions, sometimes before we really even realise we’re stressed. Because your dog is a GSD, she will naturally be very protective of you so if he’s stressed, she’s essentially telling him to not bring that to you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is there a way to stop her doing it? Apart from changing his mood?
There are a few things you can try to do to build their bond and establish him as higher on the house ladder. It may take me a while to type out
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If you could let me know a few tips I would be very grateful :)

First to try to build their bond, have him do some basic training with her so that she is fully responsive to you both. You can use treats or a high-value toy to reward her good behavior. As he is stressed with work, this may sound silly but just taking a few deep breaths and exhaling slowly and allowing our body to relax can really help to release some of the tension and she will be able to pick up on that and should relax a little too.

For the next month or so, really monitor her behavior with your partner to see if she ever shows any subtle signs of concern (standing rigid, staring at him with her tail stiff, etc). Monitoring her like this will help to find out exactly what's causing her behavior (fear, protective, territorial, possessive, defensive, etc) which can further direct training. Eliminate any tug games and try to stop any mouthy behavior (if she has these). You may be able to re-introduce tug games again, but not until they've developed their bond and she is fully responsive to you both.

Never punish her for this aggressive behavior as she won't really understand it and is more likely to escalate the situation, so the goal is to condition her into good behavior (which seems she already has most of the time).

She may have what's called 'social aggression' where she feels she's higher up in the pack than your partner (especially if she was with you before the relationship or because he isn't always there). Essentially, you need to re-establish the order without causing a major aggressive episode. Avoid trying aggressive training tactics (so no alpha rolls, scruff shakes, etc) as these could make her much worse.

Start with the basics, sit, stay, lie down, etc with your partner and you do these together, then with you stepped back until just your dog and partner are doing these together. This will teach her in a gentle way that you and your partner are higher in the social status of your pack than her. Having your partner do more of her daily care routine too will help (feel free to use a basket muzzle to help your partner relax during the early stage). Have him feed her, groom her, hold her leash when he's home. These things will all help to build their bond. At the moment, she may see him as this 'fun but expendable' creature in her pack. So by giving him more of an input in her 'care' and not just in playing games/snuggling etc will help re-teach her this.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
You’re welcome. Be safe and if at any point you’re concerned it’s not working or anything a behaviourist would be the best course of action. If you have any queries etc you can come back here. It’s not a quick fix but worth it.