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My 2 year old German Shepard recently started growling at my kids when they get near him.  I think it started when my husband got laid off work and started staying home with our 5 year old.  He's an outside dog during the day but comes inside when we are home and to sleep.  My husband thinks it's either he's jealous of me with the kids (5, 7, 10 yrs old) or it's a dominant behavior thing.  We've since started having my younger kids in charge of feeding him and practice giving commands and offering treats.  It started with my youngest 2 kids and he has now started growling with my 10 year old and recently with me!  He used to snuggle on the coach with me & the kids but doesn't do it anymore. Is it possible he is depressed?

Answer
Hi Sophia,

A normally peaceful dog who suddenly develops episodes of aggressive behavior is very likely suffering from a pain. Sudden aggression in dogs can be a result of an undiagnosed or untreated illness, or pain or discomfort of any kind.  By nature, dogs are stoic, and are good at not showing pain, so you could be unaware that your dog is having a problem. The first step in finding the cause of your dog's aggression is having your dog examined by your vet.

Until your vet gives your dog a clean bill of health, you should discontinue anything you're doing that causes your dog become aggressive.  

Your best route to getting a handle on your dog's aggression (once a medical issue has been ruled out) is to have him evaluated by a dog behaviorist. If your vet can't give you a referral, you might be able to locate one here:

https://iaabc.org/consultants

I realize you've said your husband has lost his job, and that my suggestions involve spending money. Unfortunately, there's no substitute for vet care. You might ask your vet if he/she would agree to having you pay off the vet bill over an agreed upon period of time. Many vets are open to this if it's discussed prior to treatment.

I hope I've been a help.
Patti

Dogs

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Patti

Expertise

To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.

Experience

My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

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Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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