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Categories: Dog Aggression

Q. My 13 month old GSD has excellent obedience as long as distractions are at a distance. Lately she's been jumping up on people and becoming more aggressive when meeting strange dogs & people. I'm starting 'Level 1' protection work with a trainer, is this a good idea? Do you have any suggestions for me about the jumping and increasing defensiveness?
Hi Ed and Cindy,

My question(s) revolve around my 13 month old intact 70 pound GSD (West German) female. Her lineage on both sides for generations is Sch3, including a few World Sieger relatives. She is beautiful dog, very attached to me, and has an EXTREMELY high prey drive. Thank God I work from home and can exercise her vigorously 2-3 times/day utilizing her favorite activity -- fetching a ball. My problem is her distractibility and jumping up with greeting people... lately she is becoming more aggressive meeting strange dogs and people. Her obedience is excellent including off leash heel in the park as long as distractions are kept at a distance of about 10 yards or so. I just started advanced training with her with a former military and police K9 guy who is also starting 'Level 1' protection work -- is this a good idea? Any suggestions regarding the jumping up and increasing defensiveness she is exhibiting?

A. I can’t comment about the protection training since I don’t know the methodology of the trainer you are working with. I start my pups on “protection” training from day 1, but I follow a really fun system that is all about self control and learning the mechanics. If I had a dog that was showing defensive behaviors, I’d be careful with the type of protection work I exposed her to.

At 13 months she’s beginning to become a young adult and dogs of this age often push the envelope a bit, much like teenage kids.

Since she loves to play,I might suggest doing some exercises with a tug yourself.
The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog
Foundation of Puppy Bite Work (for dogs 8 weeks to 16 months)
Teaching Protection Skills Without a Decoy

The great thing about building value for tug games is that you have a way to keep your dog’s focus on you and the reward stays with you (as opposed to throwing a ball where all the value is for the object being thrown AWAY from the handler).

I teach all my dogs a focus on me cue so in the face of distraction I can ask for them to watch me and have a great way to reward them for listening. I don’t let my dogs approach strangers or other dogs, I make them remain with me. If they are staying engaged with me, they can’t jump on people. That’s good that you are aware of her distance, with more training and building value for toys and the relationship with you I think you’ll find the distance will be able to be reduced.

I might also suggest Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis DVD.

I hope this makes some kind of sense. :)

Cindy Rhodes


Dear Cindy,

How nice of your to offer such thoughtful comments... sincerely appreciated! I'll check out your website suggestions and will keep a tug with me in the park... yes I think your teenage kids observation is right on... I look forward to her maturity!

Best to you and yours
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