Controlling Aggressive German Shepherd Behavior

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April 3, 2024 / Behavior / By: iPupster

We hear a good bit about aggression in dogs and one of the breeds that often gets mentioned is the German Shepherd. It’s important to note that aggression in the German Shepherd is not breed specific – it is not a typical characteristic of the German Shepherd and is more likely related to poor training, lack of socialization and not dealing with the dominant personality of the German Shepherd.

If you notice any signs of aggression in your dog, it is important to address them as soon as you can. Prolonged unaddressed aggression can become scary, out of control and dangerous.

A Strong Intelligent Breed

The German Shepherd breed is an intelligent, athletic, and strong breed. This is why they are used as police dogs, bomb detection, guard dogs, therapy dogs and family pets.

This is a strong breed both physically and mentally. The problems start when owners do not recognize these traits and they land up with a mixed up, aggressive German Shepherd.

A passive German Shepherd Puppy Sitting in the Grass

Start training early to avoid aggressive behavior

When Does Aggression Set in? 

Did you know German Shepherd aggression can start when your puppy is only 6 weeks old? This is a very important time for your puppy as he learns to socialize with other dogs. They learn during this time skills that stop them from biting humans.

This period lasts until they are 14 weeks old. This is one of the key reasons why your puppy should never be taken away from the litter before it is 8 weeks old.

Also, check out our related blog post on the best dog food for German Shepherds, to ensure he gets the right diet. 

You should never use any harsh forms of discipline on a puppy between 8 to 10 weeks of age. Of course, harsh discipline is never recommended but it is even more unforgiving at this young age.

Harsh punishment of your dog, including yelling, can lead to your German Shepherd becoming aggressive over time. This applies to all breeds not just the German Shepherd.

8 Aggression Triggers To Watch Out For

Watch this quick educational video below to help you understand what makes a dog aggressive.

The main takeaway from it is that you should research the breed of dog you have or are planning to get to help you understand the problems in the dog, because it can be related to that specific dog breed.

Here are a number of other important factors that can trigger German Shepherd aggression:

  • Lack of socialization: By 14 weeks a German Shepherd puppy should be socialized around people to avoid aggression later. Continue with regular socialization around other dogs and people.
  • Heredity and genetics can definitely play a role so always check bloodlines before you make your purchase.
  • Not being spayed or neutered can increase aggression.
  • Poor living conditions.
  • Being attacked or scared by another dog can cause aggression at any age.
  • The need to establish pack order leads to biting, nipping, growling, and aggressive behaviors.
  • Establishing dominance when the pack leader is weak.
  • A harsh or mean master.

How to Stop the Aggressive Behavior in your German Shepherd

Once your GSD has reached sexual maturity (14 months) any signs of aggression need to be immediately addressed.

You might also be interested to read our related article on the best dog toys for German Shepherds, a good way to manage their aggressive behavior.

The very first thing you need to do is ensure you are seen as pack leader by your dog. From young, you should have been working at establishing yourself as pack leader, but it is never too late, so start now if you believe that is an issue.

Adult German Shepherd Lying Down on the Grass

You should never reward for aggressive behavior even when you think that your dog is scared. Petting your dog, telling them it’s okay those are rewards and you need to stop.

If your German Shepherd tends to strike out in fear then you need to address those fear issues and begin to desensitize your dog. You should keep your dog away from young children who they can see as a threat.

It is important that you begin to work with your German Shepherd the minute you see signs of aggression, using firm correction. If you are unsure how to proceed then hire a dog expert to help you. The sooner you correct the behavior the sooner you can relax.

Working with a professional behavior expert, start to incorporate management techniques in conjunction with behavior modification. 

Here are some examples of management techniques for aggressive behavior in dogs:

Consider Taking an Online Dog Training Course

There are two good online video based training courses that we recommend and can both help with controlling aggressive behavior in dogs.

Both courses are good but they serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan online course tackles behavioral problems like excessive barking and aggression in ways that are creative, kind and most important - effective!

Brain Training For Dogs uses 21 brain training activities and is an excellent course for bored dogs that get destructive.  Dogs that are bored tend to get into trouble by looking for ways to entertain themselves. This course is a great fun boredom buster that goes from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog has behavioral issues stemming from boredom this video course is a good choice.

Do you have any tips or comments you would like to share on what makes a dog aggressive or ways to stop aggressive behavior?



At iPupster, we're dedicated to bringing high-quality content to help owners take better care of their furry friends. Our team of expert contributors is made up of skilled writers, trainers and enthusiastic pet parents. With an affinity for and love of pets, we apply what we learn and share our knowledge with our readers.

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  1. My GS is 6 weeks old but we adopted her at 4 weeks because the Dam started attacking the litter.. She bit the pups.. This week, at 6 weeks, our pup has become so aggressive if she doesn’t want to be touched 🙁 we have a 17mth old son and I’m nervous. I’ve had dogs my whole life and have never had a puppy not want to lick me to death but would rather bite us while growling. If we’re touching her when she doesn’t want to be touched..

    I’m lost

  2. I have a 2 yr old and a4 yr old sherpherd , they rush at other dogs at the dog park sounding very aggresive toward them. both females. the 2yr old was not raised in our home we’ve had her approx 8 months. what do I do to stop this.

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