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I have an 11 and a half month old German Shepherd puppy called Rex, he used to be taken to the dog park very often and was very friendly. Lately we have not had a lot of time on our hands to go to the park so we would either just take him for a quick walk or at night let him run around the park. (Also was taken to GSD school before but has not been lately due to busyness) has not been socialised with another dog for about two or more months.

I decided that we should start taking him to the dog park for some socialization. We got there and there was an old friend of his from when he was a lot smaller and they got along well (Shih Tzu) the other dog started growling a bit at him out of fear, and for the first time ever Rex growled back. I was surprised because it was the first time he had ever done that and thought it was because the other dog, then there was a hyperactive dog around his size (he usually runs from them) and everything was normal. Finally a medium energy dog had arrived that was his size and I brought him closer (both on leash) to sniff each other. For a second everything was normal, then Rex started aggressively growling and I straight away pulled him away and corrected him. I then went to have another go to see what would happen but I was interrupted by another aggressive dog that I had encounters with before and I went away.

I now do not know what to do and am very shocked. What should I do to gain his socialization back? Are my months of socialization ruined? Why is he doing this?

His photo is in my Display picture. (please help)
 

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this is not a good thing to do... " For a second everything was normal, then Rex started aggressively growling and I straight away pulled him away and corrected him especially the correcting him, for me it makes them more defensive towards dogs for being a bad situation to them. it is best when they growling at each other for both owners to remove the dogs in different directions at the same time that there are better things to go and do and not correct them. But teach them how to leave the situation for a positive. Pulling only one dog out of a situation (may be debunked by now) but can cause a reaction for the other dog to go after your dog. Best that both owners have a good control that it doesn't create a worst situation.

I would stop putting him back into the dog park situation, repeating a bad experience over and over again before you understand it, you will get the same negative results and will develop it deeper., and go back to training class where it is more controlled to observe his behavior.. If he is focusing on the other dogs in class and growls put your pup back on task of focusing on you and focusing on the task. I don't correct for growling because they wouldn't be growling if they not focusing on the other dogs. Lots of puppy maturing stages phases for them to go through, it doesn't mean anything is set in stone , just an opportunity to provide good experiences to help them mature through them.
 

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Well, firstly, a shih'tzu has no place in the dog park with a bunch of large dogs, especially if it's growling at them. Gonna be a chew toy before too long, hope the owner doesn't have to learn the hard way.

I'm interested in how you "corrected" him, because a lot of "corrections" can make it worse.

The leash also may have had something to do with it. A lot of dogs can become leash reactive, which is a for of barrier aggression, but once they're off leash they're fine. Mine has this issue.

For now, I would stop taking him to the dog park. I imagine an 11 month old GSD is quite large and if he does get in a scuffle he's likely to do a lot of damage to the other dog. Or maybe he won't and he'll be injured.
 

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An almost year old GSD isn't really a puppy anymore. That's a dog coming into their adult instincts and temperament. It's not unusual for an adult GSD to respond to growling with escalation like that. And leashed greetings are the worst for dogs, it forces them into a weird, face to face greeting that feeds aggression.

I agree that correcting your dog is just going to make things worse. Think of this from your dog's point of view: I got growled at, I responded, then I got hurt by my owner. Other dogs suck! I should just attack them and make sure they go away fast so I don't get hurt again.

You should stay away from the dog park. That's not the place for socialization, it's a place for very tolerant, well socialized already dogs. Take your dog for walks instead. That way he gets exercise and socialization, on leash and everybody's safe.
 

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I agree. Take a few months and start socializing again with friendly calm dogs in a more managed area. And, when Rex is a little calmer, you might take him to the Dog Park, when there aren't many people, slowly working up to a full complement of dogs and temperaments.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the help, but this it not a busy dog park there are only about 5 dogs at a busy time, I will have more time to go to the dog school lately because of the holidays. Also, when I feel confident with his socialization again, should I start taking him to the dog park again?
 

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Rexy, your dog is an 11 month GSD. It means its a teenager, with all the teenager attitude. I wouldn't be surprised if he does more unexpected things. And, as a GSD it can be protective, territorial and unfriendly to dogs.
Training (as mentioned) is mandatory. The good news is that its a GSD, maybe the easiest breed to train. Work on "leave it" and recall. With such dog you need total control and that can be achieved. When you think you control it, try to introduce it to dogs in a neutral environment. When you attend dog classes, you may find other dogs with whom your shepherd can play. It is much safer then with unknown dogs. Also, what about joining your local German Shepherd club? Maybe both you and Rex can make new friends.
 

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I won't even go into dog parks if a GSD is there now. They seem to be worse than any other breed for dog aggression. Having a large dog that doesn't socialize for long periods of time is a bad thing. You should contact a good school in your area and see what they can offer you.
 

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I won't even go into dog parks if a GSD is there now. They seem to be worse than any other breed for dog aggression. Having a large dog that doesn't socialize for long periods of time is a bad thing. You should contact a good school in your area and see what they can offer you.
The GSDs at my local dog park are awesome. It's the small terriers I avoid.
 

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all breeds of dogs can go very very wrong in developing the wrong direction of traits they come with... it has nothing to do with the breed when balanced.. just had to giggle with Amaryllis ..about terriers,:) I've never lived with one to know what is important to them... lol.. give me a narling big dog any day... Hang in there OP...
 

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Thank you for this thread!!

I have a 10-month-old Mini Aussie and he's been going to the dog park since his immunization/rabies shots series were completed at about 4-1/2 months old. He LOVES the dog park and LOVES to chase balls. He's always been tennis ball obsessed and would rather chase balls than get into a scuffle with another dog, which is fine with me, but doesn't have any problems when a dog comes up to him and sniffs him and then walks away. There are certain dogs he LOVES to play with and looks forward to roughhousing when they come into the park.

In the last 1-2 months, we've been going thru the "teenage" period, where he isn't listening to commands, that I KNOW he knows, doesn't want to leave the dog park when we're heading out, etc. I continue working with him to regain his recall and he's coming around...

During this time, we've noticed he's playing "rougher" with the dogs and even becoming a bit of a bully with dogs he used to play well with. Also, we've noticed lately when strange dogs come up to him, sometimes he'll snarl and give a warning bark to them to "back off," which they usually do. This is all new as he's not done this in the past. When he begins to play too roughly, we distract him and take him away from the situation in a positive way to calm him down and run out the energy in a more productive manner, such as chasing more balls. If he snarls/warns another dog, then we also encourage him positively to walk away and focus his energy elsewhere...

He's even barking at familiar, neighborhood dogs when he's on his leash, where in the past, he'd be all wigglebutt and excited to approach the other dog. All these changes seem sudden, but the vet says he's in good health & doesn't believe the changes are a result of any health issues. We've had him since he was 8 weeks old, and he's been a great puppy (still is!!) since we've had him and he gets a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

I'm hoping we are doing this correctly, but it's strange how his reactions are changing as he gets older. I'm hoping it'll mellow out (it doesn't happen often, but it does surprise me as it hasn't been his reaction in the past) as he leaves the teenager stage. It was helpful to read this thread and see that some of this would be considered "normal" as he's a teenager, but I don't want it to become full aggression either.

We've got him signed up for flyball classes starting this weekend, which will allow him to get more training in recall, mental stimulation and learning to work cooperatively with other people and dogs.
 
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