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Canine Behavior/German Wirehaired Pointer Behavior


Dear Madeline, I have read you biography and I promise to read and rate your response within three days.  I understand that your time is valuable, that you are most likely spending at least 45 minutes of your time in response to my question, and I understand too that when questioners read and rate your responses fairly that you make random donations to animal shelters to help homeless animals.  In the interest of being appreciative of your time AND helping shelter dogs and cats, I agree that I will rate your response and give you fair feedback.
  We got a dog 2 years ago that is a German Wirehaired Pointer. He is almost 3 years old though. He has become attached to my dad. Obsessed would be an even better word. He waits at the window for him everyday to return from work and when he sees him pull in the driveway he goes nuts barking and literally sprinting around the house uncontrollably. Even though I know a dogs is a mans best friend, this dog literally is by my dads side 24/7, which obviously means he is protective of him as well. I'm 20 years old and have lived here the whole time and the dog is ALWAYS nice to me. He cuddles with me in bed and is just the sweetest dog. But there have been 3 instances in the past 2 years where the dog has turned on me. Each time it occurred in the bedroom where my dad is at night. 2 times the dog was asleep, when I walked into the room and he didn't know who I was and attacked me until I yelled, which I kinda thought was understandable. But last night something very different occurred. I went into the room and dog was awake and I even talked to him saying hello and he knew it was me. My dad was awake and talking to me as well so it was nothing weird or sudden. I went to walk by the dog and he attacked me he ripped the side of my jacket off and got my skin a little bit. It was the scariest thing that has ever occurred to me. My dad actually had to punch him in the face in order for him to release from me. My dad along with the rest of the family doesn't understand why the dog did this. He seems to act fine to everyone else in the family, but has only attacked me. What are the steps we need to follow with this dog? My dad wants to get help immediately because if he turned on me, he can turn on anyone. My dad never wants me to be in danger again let alone anyone else. It's not like this dog is vicious. We have a 5 pound dog who is the alpha dog and barks at this dog all the time and the German Wirehaired has never growled or misbehaved with the small dog ever. Any help on what we need to do would be greatly appreciated.


Today I made donations in the amount of $40 to shelters in response to two recent questioners who read, and then RATED fairly, my responses.  It is too bad that you have not yet rated my response since July.  Don't you want to help animals with donations by simply providing a fair rating for the time I took to respond to your question?


Hi Samantha,

Thank you for doing a most excellent job of perusing my biography before submitting a question, which I greatly appreciate.  You have also done a very nice job in your question submission, providing me with enough detail so that I can respond thoughtfully to your question.

Your dad is absolutely correct in wanting to obtain immediate help in regard to your German wirehaired pointer, which, by the way, is a breed I absolutely love and hope to have one day as a companion.  By help, I don't mean simply asking a question of a volunteer at AllExperts, although that's a good start in order to guide you - I mean in-person, professional help, and I would start with a veterinary behaviorist (see to find one closest to your area).  A vet behaviorist is a veterinarian who has a specialization in the behavior of companion animals, mostly dogs and cats.  There are less than 50 in the country, so it is truly an area of specialization for a veterinarian.  You can find out more on the Web site.  If there's not one close to where you live, start with your regular veterinarian.

It's not normal for any dog to attack a family member in the way you described your family dog has done.  While some people might write the first two attacks off as the dog having been startled, which you suggest is what may have happened, I'm not so apt to do so.  As you've explained, the third attack clearly seemed as if the dog should have known you were a family member, and I agree.  Although I'm not a vet, the behavior has elements of seizure-related activity to me, and I would discuss the possibility with a veterinarian behaviorist as my first choice to see whether they feel this might be a contributing factor to what you've described.

In the meantime, some management steps I would suggest your father take are to have the dog crated or gated in the room, so that if anyone enters who may be viewed as an intruder by the dog, or something else which may be going on is triggered in him, he won't be able to attack.  Your father is wise, too, to suspect that the dog could show such aggression to others.  I would suggest that, for now, until you know what's going on with the dog and if there are any medical contributors to his behavior, that you not be alone and unsupervised with the dog, nor should anyone be who can not physically control the dog.  I would suggest having the dog drag a leash at all times under supervision (not when he's alone) so that he's more easily controlled if his behavior becomes out of control suddenly.  At other times, I would have the dog crated or securely gated so that when people enter, the dog is not loose.

You say that the dog is very attached to your father.  I would suggest, as part of any rehabilitation for this dog, to make the dog more dependent on you, again with supervision.  That is, I would feed the dog, walk him, and start taking care of his needs for a while while your father purposefully ignores the dog.  I think taking a training class with him is a good idea, so that he learns to follow cues which come from you as well as bonds with you.  Make sure that the trainer in any such class has a good idea of what's been going on with the dog as well as uses ONLY positive methods in training your dog.

This is a serious situation and one where I feel you do need to seek in-person professional assistance.  Until I see a dog such as the one you describe and evaluate him, I can't offer more than I'm offering right now in terms of addressing his training, because the issue you describe is so serious and may have medical implications in addition to behavioral ones, which I suspect.  However, I hope my suggestions and my guidance have been helpful and put you on the right track to getting your dog help.

Best regards,
Madeline at AllExperts  

Canine Behavior

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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.


I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.


Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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