If your German Shepherd has been attacking you, this post will show you a number of reasons why and what you should do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd attack me? Possible reasons are that it has been mistreated, injury, you have inadvertently trained it to be aggressive, resource guarding, it feels threatened or a lack of training.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd attacks you
Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd does it will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention a number of possible causes along with the things that would make them more likely.
The reason that your German Shepherd attacked you could be that it was mistreated. It could be that you mistreated it yourself but it could also be the case that someone mistreated it in the past and it has caused behavioral issues.
Instead of being aggressive towards your German Shepherd or to punish it yourself it would help to be calm around your German Shepherd and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way that you want it to.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd has an injury and it has been causing it to be in pain and to lash out. This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been showing signs of being in pain such as by whining or by limping. In this case, it would help to take your GSD to a vet.
You have inadvertently trained it to be aggressive
It might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to be aggressive. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it is aggressive such as positive or negative attention, toys or treats.
Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it is aggressive and to train it to behave the way that you want using positive reinforcement training instead.
There are some situations where normally passive dogs will often become aggressive. If your German Shepherd attacked you when it was eating or when you sat in a place that it normally would then it could have been resource guarding.
In this case, it would help to avoid putting yourself in situations where it might become aggressive and to get the help of a certified dog trainer to deal with the aggression in certain situations.
It felt threatened
The reason that your German Shepherd did it could be that it felt threatened. This would be more likely if it did it in a situation where it might have felt threatened such as when it was in a corner or when you were aggressive towards it.
A lack of training
German Shepherds are a breed that will naturally look to their owners a lot for direction. When they do not get much training it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including being aggressive. If your German Shepherd has not received much training then it could be the cause of it being aggressive.
In this case, it would help to start giving your German Shepherd training provided that you do not think it will attack you. If you do think that it might be aggressive then it would be the best option to get a professional dog trainer to help you.
Things to consider
Below, I will mention some things to consider when trying to figure out why your GSD might be doing it.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider the timing of when your GSD first started being more aggressive.
If your German Shepherd attacked you on one occasion then it would be more likely that it was due to things such as resource guarding or feeling threatened.
If it has done it on more than one occasion then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as you inadvertently training it to be aggressive, injury or mistreatment.
What is different when it becomes more aggressive
It would also help to consider what is different when it does become aggressive.
If it tends to become more aggressive in certain situations then it would be likely that there is something triggering it to do it. For example, if it is only aggressive when it is eating then it would be more likely that it is resource guarding.
If it is aggressive in multiple situations then it would be more likely to be due to things such as being inadvertently trained to be that way, injury, mistreatment or a lack of training.
What to do about your German Shepherd attacking you
The best thing for you to do will depend on the cause. However, I will mention a number of options that you have below.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
Instead of training your German Shepherd not to attack you yourself, it would be best to get the help of a professional dog behaviorist or trainer. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular German Shepherd and they will be able to show you how to train it in a safe way minimizing the risk of you getting hurt.
Take it to a vet
If you think that your German Shepherd might be injured, it has been showing signs of being injured or you can’t figure out why it attacked you it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to ensure that there is not a medical cause for its behavior.
Avoid putting yourself in situations where it might become aggressive
If your German Shepherd seems to become aggressive in certain situations then it would help to avoid putting yourself in those situations and to get the help of a dog trainer so that they can show you exactly what to do in a safe way.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook