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Canine Behavior/Playing with german shepherds


I have a 9 month old German shepherd she loves playing Frisbee and fetch and very good at catching the items.  How ever in the past two months she has become very possessive and won't share nice... she will jump and grab the item off of me sometimes missing the item and grabbing me.  she treats me as I if I am her chew toy. not hurting just gnawing what can I do?

Do not play further with this dog until you have taught her "take it/leave it", "don't touch" and other play related basics as seen here:

Note that the GSD is a marvelous working breed and excels at search and rescue even when not specifically trained for it.  Using a "special" toy (one you sometimes carry around in full sight of the dog, which makes it a "trophy") is an excellent way to teach a dog take it/leave it, don't touch, and "find it".

You have engaged your dog's high prey drive but unfortunately she has misconstrued the fact that she is allowed to KEEP the article (because you lose interest, but she doesn't know that).  You may also have given her many signals regarding social hierarchy.  Not your fault.  Read about how to help a dog to "jazz up and settle down":

Let's do a bit of redecorating in your social hierarchy: using a "sit" taught off leash ONLY with positive reinforcement:

you will then begin to "ask" your dog for "sit" before she is fed, before she is allowed our or in to outside doors (and if you accompany her, she must sit and remain until you walk through the door first in both directions), before you play with her and before you pet her.  Let's do this for the next month during which time you will be obtaining info from sites given and teaching the dog.  Then do followup question using followup feature so I can see original Q&A.

If you have not spayed her, DO NOT.  Allow her through one estrus cycle.  The hormonal benefits far outweigh the threat of mammary cancer that present day generalist veterinarians seem intent on making every owner dread.

You will find other tools by Dr. Ian Dunbar.  Teaching "attention", rewarding "good" behavior, etc.

Your dog is at a threshold: she is in adolescence and approaching the first stage of maturation (approximately age one) and is also in a phase of neurological development.  Your role must be that of calm, decisive, fair and consistent Human.  Reward what you want: ignore what you don't want.  Rule of thumb with any dog: never allow the dog to get SO excited during the course of "play" or any activity that the dog loses control or attempts to obtain full control.  Keep the toy at the end of the game, when YOU are ready to end it.  "Play" in dogs is not mere social interaction, it is a test of strength, stamina, tenacity and social hierarchy.  This is one of the most fabulous breeds in my opinion.  She needs consistent, daily "training" to encourage her problem solving abilities and enhance her trust in you and her desire to please you.  She also at this point ought to have been heavily socialized to other places, people, dogs, cats, cars, busy streets, etc.

I've seen some GSDs go "bad" because they were bored to death; but I've never seen one that couldn't be turned around.  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

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Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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