How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Sally G. Your Own Question
Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9564
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
Type Your Dog Training Question Here...
Sally G. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

We have a german sheperd. His name is Gryff. We got him at

Customer Question

We have a white german sheperd. His name is***** got him at about 6 mos old. He is now 3 and has become aggressive toward us, his owners. We have consulted a dog behaviorist, but things are not getting a lot better. We don't know what to do him. we love him, but my husband is ready to give up. What can we do?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What is the matter with Gryff?
Customer: this happened this morning, Gary, my husband, was sitting and called Gryff over to pet him. Gryff came and gary never touched him, and he started growling.
JA: Where does Gryff seem to hurt?
Customer: How do you know he is hurt?
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Dog Trainer should know about Gryff?
Customer: The dog has a slight tear in his back left ACL. He walks on it ok, but we have to be careful, he doesn't aggravate it. He used to run after sticks with our other GSD. Now we can only walk him.
JA: Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: There is nothing there.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome. This is just a short note to introduce myself or to request needed information for your problem. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today. I am looking over your question now.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 9 months ago.

I see you have gone offline. If you could answer the questions below I will be sure to help you when I am next on line tomorrow.

When did the aggression start?

Did the aggression coincide with the ACL Tear?

What type of obedience training have you done with him?

Can you tell me what your other trainer told you was the problem and what suggestions were made?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The aggression toward other people and dogs started when he was about a year and 1/2. No, it increased it..He has had puppy training in pet smart and some professional training. We had to quit, because the trainer didn't feel I could handle him. He became aggressive in our training class, and put his mouth around my arm.
the behaviorist told us to ignore him when we come home. Pet him when we initiate it. Everything should be initiated by us, not him. He came in to our family as the dominant dog. Our other dog is afraid of him.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I can't afford to have all these charges. Lets try to continue with the computer,\.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for that information.

What I would suggest if possible is to make sure he is not in any pain which is furthering his aggression. This is a breed that is prone to hypothyroidism as well, and this can play a part in sudden aggression. I would consider a blood test be run for this. Generally this comes on after one year but closer to two years.

Depending on how you handled it when he was a year and a half old, would determine his path.

When you have a dog that wants to be alpha it is important to continue training on a daily basis in a positive manner as this reinforces your role in the home, this is not to teach a command he knows already. It puts you at the top so to speak. Dogs with this personality can't be given an inch, consistency is key through the dog's life.

I would also want to know if there is any possession aggression going on, especially with the other dog around. Take notice if he growls when you want to take a valued item from him or if he growls at the other dog if there is a valued item in the room. A valued item can be from anything to a bone, to space.

If this is happening then he also has some possession aggression.

Because he has been this way for a while it is going to take time to retrain him.

This can all be done in a positive manner though daily clicker training and the learn to earn program. The learn to earn is likely what your previous trainer was telling you to do, and with dogs that feel they are above all in the home, this needs to be done on a daily basis and thoroughly. Meaning it is more than just ignoring the dog when it wants attention. It means putting its daily dose of dinner high up and using it to train throughout the day, even if it is a few minutes of come, sit, stay then praise and reward. The more you can put the learn to earn in the training program the more he will begin to see you as a consistent leader and will stop trying to take over the home front.

As for walking him, he need commands in place such as a firm 'leave it ' so when he sees that squirrel or other dog, when you give the leave it command, he puts his attention right back onto you awaiting the next command. This is where your command watch comes in. Watch means the dog should be looking directly at your face when this command is given.

All of this has to be restarted in a non distracting area, so that he first sees you in charge. Then you take this training to the back yard, then to the driveway then to the street. The more the distractions, the better value the reward has to be. So outside in the driveway or the street you will need to switch to hot dog slivers or chicken slivers.

I will direct you to a few links for clicker training and the learn to earn. This has to be in place by the whole family daily.

I know this is a lot of information, but once you get going and make it daily , it will become routine to you.

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off

video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

clicker maintaining focus

Dr sophia yin learn to earn

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He does have possession aggression, but only toward our other dog. I have had to take all toys away. I can take things away with no problem.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 9 months ago.

That would make sense as to why the other dog is afraid of him. This makes it even more important to start the learn to earn so that this puts both dogs on an even playing field.

I can understand why it may not have gone well in a class setting, I think at this time, putting him in a class setting would only set him up to fail. By starting at home, there is less stress, you are not putting him among people/animals that he does not know. so the transition should go smoother. I think it will be easier for you to handle him and be successful with him.

I will be on again tomorrow if needed. If you have found my answer helpful please don't forget to use the star rating, and of course if you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 9 months ago.

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

Sally G.

Related Dog Training Questions