The best way to retrain your German Shepherd Dog not to be dog aggressive is to expose them to a lot of strange dogs while walking on lead while healing, and when the opportunity arises refocus their attention from the aggressive actions to that of a calm and relaxed mindset. To get your German Shepherd Dog to refocus while it is being aggressive requires a firm action from you that must be robust enough that it will distract them from the object of their aggression and refocus their attention back onto you. For those that are physically able a Kung Fu type grip and a sharp poke into the rib cage of your German Shepherd Dog is usually enough to get them to refocus back onto you. This is not to be done hard enough to physically hurt the shepherd, but hard enough that they will be unable to ignore it and that they have no doubts that you disapprove of their behavior.
In the wild, the pack leader would harshly bite a subordinate if they were showing undue aggression to other pack members or a perceived threat. By poking your shepherd in the ribs, you are assuming the role of pack leader and biting a subordinate dog that is misbehaving, and this is how your dog will perceive this correction. If done properly, the dog will turn in your direction and look at you, and at this time you should provide a sharp verbal command of “Leave it”. Throughout this retraining exercise, you cannot become anxious or excited, you must remain calm and exude confidence or your dog will pick up on your negative energy and remain aggressive towards strange dogs.
When the correction is repeated and done correctly over several days your German Shepherd Dog will begin to relax around strange dogs and remain calm while you are walking. Once this begins you can start trying to work this exercise with long leads and allow your German Shepherd Dog to actually interact with strange dogs. You must continue to use a lead so that you can separate your shepherd from the strange dog if either dog begins to show aggression. Only when you are fully confident that your shepherd is retrained can you allow your shepherd untethered access to strange dogs.
For those people that are not physically able to perform the above exercise, electric shock training collars work well to replace the hand as the pseudo bite to your dog. In addition, if your German Shepherd Dog shows unwarranted aggression in the backyard by barking and charging the fence every time a strange dog walks by, the use of a shock collar will place an end to this unwanted behavior quickly.
If the shepherd that demonstrates this behavior towards strange dogs has subordinate dogs in the yard with them, they may lash out at the subordinate when the shock is applied. This is because they believe that the dog closes to them applied the shock (pseudo-bite) and since they are subordinate, they had no right to correct the dominant shepherd. This is a simple problem to fix, just put up subordinate dogs when using the shock collar. You may want to create the corrective situation by having friends or neighbors walk their dogs by your yard until your aggressive German Shepherd Dog ignores the strange dogs after a few corrections from the shock collar.
If you hire a professional trainer to retrain your German Shepherd Dog not to be aggressive towards strange dogs, they will basically be doing a derivative form of the above training exercise. Once they retrain your dog, they will want to retrain you. If you do not follow their instructions you will likely be right back at the starting point with a dog aggressive German shepherd.
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