==> There's a LOT you can do to keep your dog calm

No dog is born aggressive

How to Prevent Dog Aggression

Have you noticed that...

  • some dogs always seem to be barking
  • some dogs chase the postman or postwoman, and the UPS man too
  • some dogs permanently pull on the leash
  • some dogs snap if you come too close to their food bowl
  • some dogs require your attention all the time
  • some dogs frequently mount other dogs
  • some dogs easily get into a fight with another dog
  • some dogs chase playing children, cyclists, squirrels etc, or even cars
  • some dogs attack your house guests
  • some dogs make a scene at the vet's office
  • :
This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

aggressive dogWhy is that? Is it hereditary? Really?

No, it isn't hereditary. Each of the symptoms above results from a wrong dog training approach - or the lack of training. And each of the symptoms above is a precursor of soon-to-be dog aggression. Yes.

But each of the dog owners asks how to cure the symptom. They don't consider to rather address the cause.

I can't count anymore the endless stream of dog owner help requests sent in to mygermanshepherd.org that have the explicit or implicit topic of dog aggression. It probably was in Q&A 1 where I disclosed that, based on that number the German Shepherd Dog must be an aggressive beast.

bored dogOf course the GSD isn't. The GSD is no more aggressive than any other exercise-prone dog that doesn't get enough exercise. And no more aggressive than any other dog that receives or received inappropriate training or inappropriate upbringing.

These two causes are probably already enough to explain everything! And in this very order.

1. Exercise

Never forget that the German Shepherd breed is a herding dog. Herding dogs have been bred to run across meadows all day long. These genetics and the resulting metabolism don't change within 50 or a hundred dog generations just for the fact that most GSDs since say the 1950s are now primarily indoors, or even couch dogs!

This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

For the dog's metabolism to adapt to modern people's way of dog keeping we'll probably have to wait at least another thousand dog generations. And that's only for the physical adaptation. We have no idea how long it takes for the dog's mental well-being to adapt (maybe the same period). Both physical and mental adaptation is necessary to get a German Shepherd that won't turn aggressive if kept as a couch dog during a significant part of the day.

Thus whether or not your GSD is from a professional GSD breeder, a backyard breeder or a shelter, whether imported from Germany, Czech or home-bred:

If your GSD is between 6 months and say 9 years of age and doesn't get AT LEAST 2 hours of outdoor running each day, then no need to ask me for any further advice how to prevent your dog's aggression! That's it.

2a. Appropriate upbringing

For a GSD that you rescued from a shelter or a prior owner, of course you can't turn the clock back. You can't now provide the socialization that the dog missed as a puppy and think: That's it.

No, it will require more effort to bring the typical rescue GSD up to standard. - Yet it is always possible.

traumatized dogSimilarly, if the rescue dog is traumatized from the shelter or prior owner experience, it will require more effort to heal than what it took to do the harm.

Here, dogs are no different to people: Abused children suffer lifelong, unless they receive ongoing support. A traumatized dog too needs ongoing support and appropriate training.

2b. Appropriate training

By the time of this Periodical you are about two years into the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS. Thus even if you haven't read any of my books(?), you should be well aware of my almost apostolic discussion of Behavior Training versus Obedience Training - and why this is all the more important when we have a German Shepherd!

In a word: smart. - The German Shepherd Dog is just too smart to cope well with an obedience-focused dog owner. Remember that the GSD has been bred to be like the CEO in a company: To organize and manage all staff. Now is the time you may want to read again Core Areas of German Shepherd Psychology.

GSD family managerSuch a dog that can act like a CEO or business manager just doesn't cope well with a dog owner that acts like an obedience-obsessed back-office prick.

Did I really write that? No, it was someone's hand going wild. :-)

Frankly, when I see the typical average dog owner trying his military-style training bossing approach on a German Shepherd, I see from the GSD's body language and impression in the eyes that the GSD is thinking something along the lines:

"Oh dear! Will my pack buddy here ever grow up??"

  • Unless you are the dog's accepted Pack leader, a GSD is the boss (the Pack leader) - regardless how much you command.
  • And if you are the dog's accepted Pack leader, bossing the dog around is unnecessary - and harmful for your dog-human relationship.

Conclusion: There is no purpose ever for intense Obedience Training when we have a GSD.

This may well be the exact opposite of what you read elsewhere. I know, I read elsewhere too. ;-)

GSD caretakerBut I also read one constant feedback from the GSD owners who do it right: "Best dog ever!"

Really, these exact words. Regularly. "Best dog ever".

The GSD's CEO-like skill and mentality is one of the reasons why I always cringe when a famous dog expert on his website, in a book or on TV uses the word "pet" when he or she talks about the GSD. You may or may not have noticed: I never speak of the GSD as a pet dog. Because a German Shepherd is not a "pet" - though you can still pet him/her. For many GSDs rather the dog owner is the "pet". :-)

So, our core tasks to prevent dog aggression are no more than:

  1. Provide sufficient varied exercise, and
  2. Provide the right upbringing and training.

Since we already had these topics individually earlier, let's here instead make a quick list from the top of my head, what exactly you can do to keep your dog calm, in any situation. As you know from me by now, we will of course address the cause of aggression, not lose ourselves in symptoms.

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==> Next edition: When you meet a dangerous dog... <==

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?



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    After reading this periodical and re-reading the periodical about core GSD psychology, I think it can't be stressed enough that GSDs are not for casual dog owners. Their extraordinary intelligence and work ethic require a human who will make the dog an integral part of daily life. It is such a privilege to share life with a German Shepherd, and the bond that is created is like no other.


    I have had five German Shepherd dogs so far and the one I have now has been my hardest one. She is a rescue and even though I got her as a puppy, she was not socialized and had other issues early on. I had always trained my own dogs myself, and never had a problem with any of them. They were not obedience trained at all, they were just always with me and looked to me as their leader. Yes, they learned to sit, stay, come, etc. but it was never hard, and they were never forced, they just kind of did it.

    For the first time in my life, I had a dog that was difficult to train. She was dog aggressive (due to an attack, true, but I could not train her out of it), and yet the rest of her training was easy. I tried obedience training with her. You advised against it, and I kept at it anyway, but I also read all of your books (thank you!), and really paid attention to her body language while in training. I could tell she was not at all enthused by it and she actually seemed bored with it. I finally really just relied on your advice.

    She is so much better now. She still has some issues with dogs that bark at her but she is coming along. We walk three miles twice a day, and have play sessions in the back yard a few times a day. She comes from working stock, I am sure, and she needs plenty of mental stimulation as well as physical. If she wants to play and I don't play with her (I try to be the one to always initiate play. If she persists, I will ignore her until she quits and then I will initiate play so she doesn't think it was her idea, as I don't really like her to be bored, she has so much energy), she will make up her own games and play by herself.

    Gosh this is long. What I am getting at is that if you can't devote the time and energy that a German Shepherd requires, then get a stuffed one!
    There are plenty of dogs out there that are couch potatoes.


      Thanks so much, interesting your comments, as always. And you are really lucky that she "plays by herself", I envy you.
      I am still wondering if there is a way to successfully train a dog (any dog) to become a Solitaire, to play alone, to "make up her own games and play by herself"?
      Because, you like myself, are at home, so your dog too SEES you being around, and yet she plays by herself, while this ....today 1 yr old!... Miguel is seeking my attention 24/7 (almost)! I don't mind taking him out (a LOT), but I do mind that he interrupts all my workflow. :cry:

      Any tips for the rest of us?


        I don't think I really had anything to do with her learning to play by herself. I just made it clear to her that I would not play just then by taking whatever toy she brought me and quietly placing it on the ground next to me and saying "not now". When she would pick up the toy and walk away I just said "good" and ignored her. She soon learned that I was not going to play. As far as her taking that toy and playing by herself with it, I think that just came naturally to her. She makes up all kinds of games, and I think that is just her personality. She is a thinker for sure and she has that working dog persistence and mentality. She would rather play by herself than be bored. I should add that she has never, not even once, been destructive, torn up anything or messed up the house in any way. It took a few times of putting the toy down when she brought it before she accepted that I wouldn't play at first, but patience is always the first thing in training, no? Its worth a try with your guy...just be more stubborn than he is! Happy Birthday Miquel!


    My GSD, is quite but he does not like other dogs to come close to him, not even the ones that live him, I've tried private schools and hi resents the trainer, so what to do to get him more friendly with other dogs?

    Your periodicals are out of this world, extremely helpful in understanding dog behavior thanks for your invaluable input.
    God speed


    I've read the "be the accepted pack leader" many places, but no one ever explains how to become that. Can you go into further detail about that please.


      You can't MJ, it's our trademark term, so you should really only have read it here, or where please?
      And indeed, here we DO explain it (of course). It's in the Periodicals, like everything.

      I should have linked one above, agreed. In fact, now that you asked, I will make an extra PUBLIC page of it when I have time. Thanks for the hint! Pl remind me in another comment in a month if you still can't find it here, will you?

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