My wife and I have a German Shepard with a biting history, and are now expecting a baby. What should we do?

My wife and I have a 7 y/o German Shepard with a history of behavior problems: Aggression towards dogs, bit a neighbor (broke skin, police report got filed, this was 2 years ago), nipped two dog-friendly house guests, repeatedly peeing and pooping in the house, and bit the cat (who survived fine but now keeps his distance).

We hired a professional dog trainer. There hasn't been any biting or nipping in the last 9 months, the pooping inside has gone away (he still pees inside sometimes—marking his territory in the house), and he can now go on a walk (leashed) and sit while other dogs pass without being aggressive. He was aggressive towards a repairman recently, but didn't bite (we restrained him).

My wife and I are expecting a baby girl. We've installed baby gates, which the dog has learned to open.

What should we do? Get more training? Can we be confident that the dog is (or can be still be) cured? Or are we crazy to believe this is a safe situation for baby (& future toddler)?

Asked by Member 1110703 on May 14th 2012 in Dogs & Kids
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It sounds like he's exhibiting dominance aggression. Out of curiosity, is he neutered? Also, have you ever watched any of the Dog Whisperer series?
If you had time to give it a try, there are a lot of episodes with problem German Shepherds, and the way Cesar Milan deals with aggressive cases is remarkable - if dealt with correctly, aggression can completely disappear in a dog. I have seen first hand how his methods work, and I've watched most of the episodes - I would particularly recommend Season 4, Episode 26. It features a German Shepherd called Joey who has started displaying aggression in the house, and the couple involved have a baby.
There are also a few other episodes which deal with the issue of a new baby coming into a house with a difficult dog.
Best of luck, and congratulations on your new baby!
P.S. I would recommend doing a bit of research on Cesar Milan's methods before trying them out, because they must be done correctly - he has books and dvds that might be helpful.

answered on May 19th.

Other Answers


Kali earned her wings 10/21/14

More training is a good idea. But, I would keep the dog away from the child, indefinetly. I would never trust it around any children, ever. There must be some way to restrict his freedom in your house. Different latches on baby-gates? There have been several stories In the news lately where dogs or puppies either injured or killed babies. Good luck.

Kali earned her wings 10/21/14 answered on 5/14/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


I agree with Kali. More info would also help. Is the aggression new? Has he had it for most of his life? What was happening when he did bite? How was before 2 years ago. Has he had a complete physical to rule out pain, thyroid conditions, etc? What did the trainer do? How do you manage now?
NEVER leave the dog with the baby..EVER! Even with more training, this dog will likely need to be managed for the rest of his life. Training could help. Have you tried BAT, by Grisha Stewart? Or Scaredy Dog! by Ali Brown?
This is NOT a safe situation for a baby, toddler, child, or adult. Good luck..this is going to be a tough one. Please consult a certified behaviourist, not just a trainer.

Member 904338 answered on 5/15/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer