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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19588
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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Help! I have had my 6 year old german shepherd/husky mix for

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Help! I have had my 6 year old german shepherd/husky mix for 4 years. He's very well trained, but aggressive with other dogs. It hasn't been a problem until after I had our daughter. We did the introductions and everything our vet recommended, but he is not good with her. He nips and lunges at her. We now keep in in the garage when we can't watch them both, and he is getting worse from lack of attention. I have tried pet classifieds and other ways to advertise him, but I can't seem to find him a home. I really don't want him put down, but I don't see another option. Any ideas?
Hi JaCustomer,.My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. .In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient. .Are you male or female?Is your male neutered?I know you say he is obedient but what obedience training have you yourself done with him?Has it been done on a regular basis during the time you have owned him?What corrections were made when he was aggressive toward other dogs?How long has he been aggressive toward other dogs?What method did your vet recommend to introduce the dog to your child?How old is your child now?What are the circumstances surrounding him nipping at her?Does he growl first?Are you male or female?How much time are you and your partner willing to put into correcting the dog's behavior?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My name is Heather (female). Rusty was given to me when he was 2 from a family with 5 small children. He is neutered. When I asked why they were giving him up, they said he's just too big to be around the babies. I suspected they were not being totally honest. They said he had never bitten anyone and did not know if he was good with other dogs/cats. On the way home, I stopped at a pet store with him and he lunged for any dog he came near, although he is very friendly to people.


I took him to the Perfect Pet Resort in Lothian, MD where we went through private training lesson with a behaviorist to correct is dog aggression. The trainer said it was leash aggression, since he appeared to be fine outside, off leash with other dogs (when he was not around me). When I was with him, he was still aggressive, so the trainer thinks he is just being protective of me. After 6 weeks, I was at least able to control him around other dogs with a pinch collar.


That was the end of any problem for a long time. There was once a very aggressive period when he was stressed due to moving to stay with my mom while I was deployed for a year (He was 3 or 4). When he moved to stay with my mom, he bit a jogger that had jogged on mom's property. The bite was not severe and the jogger did not press charges. He has also bitten my brother when I dropped him off for pushing me.


Whenever we travel to see family, we put him in a kennel. He has always loved kennels and had a great time. Last Christmas, we put him in a kennel that socialized the dogs together and he was attacked by another dog. I don't know how the attack started, because I only found out after I took him home and found the wound on his neck. The kennel denied it ever happened, but the vet was certain. Since then it has been back to square one with the dog aggression.


Now that I have Elena (she is 6 months), I am afraid to take him on a run with us, because he tries to attack every dog he sees and I do not want to put my daughter in the middle of a dog fight. When I brought her home, I let him smell her blankets, and clothes. While I was holding her, I let him smell her and gave him plenty of attention. He was pretty apathetic to her. Now that she is more mobile and louder when she plays, he nips at her or lunges at her for any sudden loud noise or sounds. He is getting restless because we moved to a house with out a fenced in yard and he isn't getting the exercise or attention he needs, and as I'm sure you can imagine, it's only getting worse. I keep him in the garage for about 5 hours per day so Elena can play without me worrying if he is going to hurt her, but he has started pooping and peeing in the garage and just generally acting out.


My fear of him hurting my daughter is driving our decision to rehome him. We don't want to keep him, because we are very nervous that he will hurt her. At this point, we are just trying to find him a good home with someone that doesn't have other dogs or children. We are trying to avoid having him put down or taking to to a shelter that will put him down, but I don't know what else to do. We have had a classified ad on

Thanks for the additional information. I'm sorry my request for information was not formatted properly. Your reply is helpful.
The problem with trying ot find him a new home is that he is an older dog and has a history of both dog and human aggression. It is important that this information is disclosed as in some places, you might be held responsible for any injuries he causes. Some other places you might try in order to find him a home would be breed rescues and no kill shelters. Check for no kill shelters here:
There are several things that you can do if you are interested in doing them. I used to live in Maryland and there is one training center that is really fantastic with dogs and the control they achieve with the dogs I have seen is incredible. They are Premier Dog Training LLC. They have a boarding program. When I lived there, they trained the dog initially and then brought in the owner and trained the owner. This may be better suited to your life at this point in time.
Normally I suggest that the owner do the training with the dog. You also need to realize that training is an ongoing issue and should be done daily especially with a breed or combination of breeds that is extremely strong willed like both the husky and GSD. They need strong leadership which requires daily training and practice and a clear leader in the family. Obedience classes is the best way of accomplishing this.
Before you can get into classes, the following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
In addition, specific training is needed to have him not lunge at other dogs. Finding a helper with a dog to assist you in training would be helpful. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see him fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if he ignores the other dog, he gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until he is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well. Use hot dog slivers or liver slices. It works well as a treat.
The same technique can be done with people as well. I also would suggest a basket style muzzle. They do not restrict the movement of the muzzle as much and allow drinking and eating but prevent bites. It will allow him to be around the family but prevent bites. It will not prevent all injuries such as being stepped on or scratched, but you won't need to worry about bites.
I have a different approach at introducing dogs and babies. I've rasied 5 children around rottweilers and other dogs. Usually there were multiple rotties around at one time inside as well. Dogs don't usually see children in the same way as they see adult humans. They might respect an adult human, but see the children as lower than them in the pack order. Dogs treat them more as puppies. Adult dogs teach puppies manners by growling at them and nipping at them. Puppies have hair and loose skin and are more able to deal with a nip than a child. Puppies also learn quickly not to do the things the adult dogs reprimand them for like biting too hard or jumping on them or taking their toy, etc. A human child does not interpret the dog's warning and thus continues to do things the dog finds unacceptable, so the dog reprimands them. This is where a good strong obedience training background can help. If the dog sees you as the boss and leader, and you indicate that you are the only one allowed to reprimand the children, the dog won't continue to act that way, but you have to be the strong leader.
So, your dog is treating the baby the same way he would a puppy. If the baby does something the dog feels is not permitted or unacceptable, the dog reprimands the baby. Right now the dog is growling to show its displeasure, but as the baby gets older, the dog might start reprimanding in a more physical manner such as a nip. So you have to stop this now.

I would start teaching your dog to stay a certain distance away from the baby. You will leash your dog and if the dog gets within 3 feet of the baby, you will give the dog a short tug on the leash and a firm, low toned NO. Since he hasn't been kept away from the baby, it may take a bit of training before he realizes that he is no longer allowed near the baby. Once he starts stopping the required distance from the baby, start rewarding him with a tasty treat like a thin hot dog slice. At this point you will see him stopping long before he gets to the baby. It is important that you reward this behavior with both treats and praise. Once he has it down pat, you can start sometimes just using praise and sometimes treats so he doesn't know if he is getting treats or not.

After that, you will want to teach him to move if the baby gets within 3 feet of him. So you will move the baby into his space and then using the leash move him away from the baby the required distance and give a treat. Since he already know he isn't supposed to be close to the baby, it may only take a couple of times before he sees that he needs to get up and move if the baby enters his space. Since treats are involved, they usually learn quickly. Again, treat for desired behavior. This is important because when the baby starts walking everywhere, the dog needs to move out of his way.

Most of the dogs that I have trained have learned within a few weeks but the owners worked with the dogs daily and were very consistent. Once your baby is around 3 years of age, then the baby should be able to say sit and down with a little conviction. At this point, you will start the baby giving the dog known commands to teach the dog that he has to obey the child as well.

As I mentioned, this is a long process and takes a lot of work on the owners part and I'm not sure if you are committed to this level of training since you have a young child. Many owners elect not to even try. The other thing you should check into is a medical issue causing the aggression such as hypothyroidism. If it is medical in nature, your vet might be able to medicate and help correct the situation. Read about causes here:


There are some new training methods being used now as well. Read about them here:


I do hope that you take the time to try some of my suggestion if at all possible while staying safe with the basket muzzle. If it just doesn't work, hopefully you can be looking for a new owner or no kill shelter who can work with him while you are training so he is more adoptable and safer for another owner. If all else fails, at least you tried your best to retrain and give him some time with his family.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


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I'm just following up on our conversation about Rusty. How is everything going?

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