If you’re thinking of getting a German Shepherd you might be wondering if they tend to be aggressive.
This post will show you how aggressive German Shepherds tend to be and what you can do to make sure yours does not become aggressive.
So, are German Shepherds aggressive?
German Shepherds are generally considered as being more aggressive than other breeds such as Golden Retrievers.
However, when raised well, they are normally very loving, loyal and protective towards their families and are only normally aggressive when someone is threatening their families.
As with most other dog breeds, the way a German Shepherd is raised will have a big impact on how aggressive it is likely to be. When German Shepherds are raised well, they are very rarely aggressive towards their families and only usually become aggressive when people are threatening them.
Below, I will show you what you can do to prevent a German Shepherd from becoming aggressive and what normally will cause a German Shepherd to be aggressive.
How aggressive German Shepherds are
When raised well, German Shepherds will normally be very protective of their family and not aggressive towards members of their family.
However, German Shepherds have been rated as being more aggressive towards other dogs and people outside of their families.
But, the above study was based on survey data which may not be very reliable. Also, it found that there was a lot more variation in the dangerousness of different dogs of the same breed than there was between the different breeds themselves.
This would suggest that the way a dog is raised will have a much bigger impact on how dangerous it will be than the type of breed it is.
With that being said, German Shepherds can be very aggressive when they are not raised well towards strangers and even towards their own owners.
This study shows some of the common themes among aggressive dogs including not having positive human interaction, not being neutered and the owners being aggressive towards them.
Since German Shepherds are a large dog breed with a strong bite force, it does mean that they have the potential to do more damage than other dog breeds.
This means that, before getting a German Shepherd, it is important to make sure that you will be able to spend time with it daily, that you do not intend to separate it from you or your family and that you will be able to devote time to training it regularly especially when it is a puppy.
What can cause a German Shepherd to be aggressive
Below are a number of things that can cause a German Shepherd to become aggressive. I have written more about what can cause a German Shepherd to become aggressive and what to do about it in this post.
German Shepherds are a working breed so they tend to do best when they are given training and direction. When they are not given training, they will not know how to behave so they will behave the way they feel like behaving and they will be less likely to respect their owners.
This is why it is important to give them a lot of training especially from an early age.
One way to train them is with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where desired behaviors are encouraged by rewarding the German Shepherd when it shows signs of displaying them.
By giving it positive reinforcement training from an early age, you will be able to reinforce the behaviors that you want to see while curbing the less desirable ones.
I would also recommend that you follow the training tips outlined in this book so that you can keep it well behaved in many different scenarios.
Also, something to consider is that many people think of German Shepherds as being aggressive due to them being used extensively in the police and military.
However, a key reason they are used in the military is how well they respond to training. Those German Shepherds have been trained to be aggressive and make the German Shepherd breed seem much more dangerous than they actually tend to be.
Previous owners mistreating it
Another reason why a German Shepherd might be aggressive is if previous owners mistreated it. When buying a GSD it would help to make sure to take as many precautions as you can as mentioned in this post.
People being aggressive towards it
If someone is aggressive towards a German Shepherd then it will make it much more likely to be aggressive because it feels threatened. This is why it would help to interact with them calmly and to get rid of undesirable behaviors with the use of positive reinforcement training.
Being too emotional with it
One reason why a German Shepherd can become aggressive is being too emotional with it.
German Shepherds tend to be very responsive to their owner’s emotions. If you start behaving in a reactive way around a GSD, it will likely pick up on it. This could cause it to feel like something is wrong and to become aggressive.
This is why it is important to interact with them calmly and to give them lots of training even as puppies.
A lack of exercise
German Shepherds are a breed that is meant to get a lot of daily exercise. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults. When they do not get enough exercise, they will often start to behave abnormally and it can contribute to them becoming aggressive.
If you are considering getting a GSD, it is important to ensure that you will be able to give it exericse on a daily basis when it is an adult.
A lack of socializing as a puppy
When German Shepherds are puppies they will interact with the world and learn what to trust and what not to. If they do not get many interactions with other dogs and people when they are young then it may cause them to become untrusting of them.
If you get a GSD, it would help to give it as many positive interactions as you can with other friendly people and dogs. One way to do this could be to take it to dog training classes in your area.
Protecting its owner or territory
German Shepherds tend to be very protective of their families. If a stranger is threatening their family or is entering their home, they will often become aggressive.
How to prevent a German Shepherd from being aggressive
If you do get a German Shepherd, below are some things you can do to prevent your GSD from becoming aggressive.
Train it from an early age
As mentioned above, it is important to ensure that you train your German Shepherd from an early age. By doing so, you will be able to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to and to make it much less likely to become aggressive as an adult.
I would recommend using positive reinforcement training and following the tips in this book.
Also, when training your GSD, it would help to start by training it in an environment without too many distractions and then to build up to training it in an environment where there are lots of things going on that could distract the GSD.
Avoid negative reinforcement
Negative reinforcement is where undesirable behaviors are inadvertently encouraged by giving the dog rewards when it displays them. If you give the GSD things such as treats, toys or extra attention when it misbehaves then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead of using rewards as a means of stopping undesirable behavior, it would be better to try to redirect its focus before it starts misbehaving and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to change its behavior.
Enroll it in dog training classes
It would also help to take it to dog training classes in your area so that you can see how to train it in person.
Be calm with it
As mentioned above, German Shepherds tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. It would help to interact with it in a calm manner especially around other people so that it is less likely to become reactive.
Allow it to be a part of the family
German Shepherds are meant to be a part of the family. They can develop behavioral issues when they are separated from their family and they will be more likely to become dangerous.
This study shows that dogs that are separated from positive interactions with humans are significantly more likely to be aggressive.
Neuter or spay it
The same study mentioned above also shows that dogs that are not neutered are also more likely to be aggressive.
Follow a training plan
If you have not raised a GSD before, it would help to follow a dog training guide. This guide has been made specifically for German Shepherds and shows you how to train it to do important things such as to come to you on command and to stop barking when you tell it to.
How a German Shepherd will usually behave
German Shepherds are widely considered as one of the most loyal dog breeds. They usually have a high drive to protect their owners and their territory when they are raised well.
They are often described as being a one-person dog because they will often become depressed when they are separated from their owners. But, they actually tend to be very loyal to their entire family and not just their primary owner so it would be more appropriate to describe them as one-family dogs.
Since German Shepherds were bred to be working dogs, they are also eager to please their owners. As a result, German Shepherds tend to respond well to training and will normally adapt to roles that they are given quickly.