If your German Shepherd attacks small dogs then you might be wondering why and if there is anything that you can do about it.

This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might attack small dogs and what you should do.

So, why does my German Shepherd attack small dogs? German Shepherds have a strong prey drive which causes them to be aggressive around cats and small dogs. A lack of exposure to small dogs and training from an early age can also worsen the situation.

There are actually a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and depending on your specific situation there are a number of things that you can do about it.

Why your German Shepherd attacks small dogs

It has a strong prey drive

German Shepherds are a breed that are known to have a strong prey drive. This means that they have it in their nature to chase after small things like cats, rabbits and even small dogs. 

They have actually been known to kill small animals so it’s important not to keep them together until you are certain that your German Shepherd won’t do anything. 

A lack of exposure to other dogs

German Shepherds will learn many of their habits when they are puppies. If your German Shepherd did not have a lot of exposure to small dogs as a puppy and it was not taught that it is not okay to be aggressive towards them then it will only know to act on its own instincts.

This is why it is very important to train a German Shepherd from an early age. With that being said, regardless of the age of your German Shepherd, you will still be able to improve its behavior with consistent training.

Dominance

Another possible reason could be that you have an overly dominant German Shepherd.

If this is the case then it could be that your German Shepherd is trying to assert its dominance over the other small dogs.

Signs that this could be the reason would include your German Shepherd displaying other dominant behaviors such as trying to position itself in higher positions than you or being unresponsive to your command (although that could also be a lack of training).

Protection

German Shepherds are a very protective and territorial breed and the reason why it gets aggressive with small dogs could be that it is protecting its territory.

This would be more likely if it also gets aggressive towards larger dogs as well and if it gets aggressive towards people that it does not know. In this case, it would still be very important to take the time to train your German Shepherd to behave the way that you want it to.

Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you

How to get your German Shepherd to stop attacking small dogs

There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to be less aggressive towards small dogs that I will mention below.

You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.

Train it to listen to you while on the leash

To get your German Shepherd to be less aggressive towards small dogs it will be very important to get it to listen to you while on the leash.

You would do this by training it to sit when on the leash. You can do this by getting some treats that it likes, saying “sit” and then waiting for it to sit and then giving it the treat. If you find that it doesn’t sit, you would want to raise the treat above its head so that it sits naturally and then reward it with the treat. You would repeat this until you are able to get it to sit naturally.

Once you can get your German Shepherd to listen to you, it would be necessary to get it used to listening to you when other dogs are around such as is done in the video below.

If your German Shepherd lives with small dogs

If your German Shepherd lives with small dogs then the best option for you will be to separate them as much as possible since GSDs do have a strong prey drive.

However, to train your German Shepherd to get along with small dogs that it lives with you’ll do it in three stages. First, you’ll teach it to stay, then to stay when it’s being distracted then to stay when the small dog is around.

I have written about how to teach your German Shepherd to stay and how to do it when being distracted in the past here.

After you have taught it to stay when being distracted it will be time to slowly introduce the small dog.

You’ll do this by telling your German Shepherd to stay and then start by just putting the small dog in the same room.

Then after your German Shepherd maintains its attention on you you’ll reward it for doing so. You’ll repeat this process where you get your German Shepherd to stay with the small dog in the same room until you’re able to get it to keep its attention on you easily.

Once it’s good at doing that you’ll continue to tell it to stay but you’ll reduce the amount of distance between your German Shepherd and your small dog until you’re able to get your German Shepherd to keep its focus on you even when the small dog is nearby.

Watch the video below to see how it is done with a cat rather than a small dog.

Keep it away from small dogs

While there are things that you can do to reduce how aggressive your German Shepherd is towards small dogs it is still the case that they have a strong prey drive.

With that being the case, it won’t be possible to get it to be completely safe with small dogs and the safest option would be to keep it away from small dogs whenever possible.

Things to consider

How old your German Shepherd is

If your German Shepherd is still young then it would be important to take the time now to train it as much as you can. By doing so you will be able to get it to learn that it has to listen to your command and that it’s not ok to attack small dogs. It will also help to prevent behavioral issues as it gets older.

If your German Shepherd is older then it will still be possible for you to improve its behavior with training provided that you are consistent with it.

If you own other small dogs

If you do not own other small dogs then the best option for you would be to try and avoid letting your German Shepherd near small dogs when it is on a leash.

If you do own other small dogs then, as mentioned above, keeping them separated will help a lot due it the strong prey drive that German Shepherds have.

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