German Shepherd Aggression

If you’re thinking about getting a German Shepherd, then you’re going to be wondering how safe they are. Especially, if you have small children and other pets. In this article, not only will you find out how common German Shepherd aggression is, but you’ll also learn the different types, the signs to look out for, how to treat it, and how to prevent it!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

Different Types Of Aggression In German Shepherds

Dogs can exhibit various types of aggression, and it’s important for dog owners to be aware of them to ensure a safe and healthy relationship with their pets. Here are the most common types of dog aggression:

Fear Aggression

Fear aggression is the most common type of aggression in dogs, and it occurs when a German Shepherd feels threatened or scared. This can result in defensive behavior, such as growling, snarling, or biting, to protect itself. If you notice your German Shepherd exhibiting fear aggression, it’s important to identify the trigger and work on desensitizing them to the source of their fear.

Territorial Aggression

Territorial aggression, on the other hand, happens when a German Shepherd perceives a threat to its territory, such as when a stranger enters its home or yard. This behavior can result in barking, growling, or even biting. To prevent territorial aggression, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and teach your German Shepherd to be calm and obedient in different situations.

Predatory Aggression

Predatory aggression is a type of aggression that is characterized by a German Shepherd’s instinct to chase and attack small animals, such as cats or squirrels. This type of aggression can be difficult to manage, but proper training and socialization can help to control predatory behavior in your German Shepherd.

Protective Aggression

Protective aggression is another type of aggression that is common in German Shepherds. This behavior can occur when a German Shepherd perceives a threat to its family members, such as when a stranger approaches its owner or a child in the family.

Protective aggression can result in barking, growling, or even biting. Proper socialization and training can help to prevent and manage protective aggression in your German Shepherd.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression can occur when a German Shepherd is unable to reach the source of its aggression, such as when it’s on a leash or behind a fence. In this situation, the German Shepherd may redirect its aggression towards another person or animal.

It’s important to avoid triggering redirected aggression in your German Shepherd by keeping them calm and avoiding confrontational situations.

Pain-Induced Aggression

Pain-induced aggression can occur when a German Shepherd is in pain or discomfort. This type of aggression can be sudden and unexpected, as your German Shepherd may lash out in response to touch or movement that causes pain.

If you suspect that your German Shepherd is experiencing pain-induced aggression, it’s important to seek veterinary care to address any underlying medical issues.

What Causes Aggression In German Shepherds?


Some German Shepherds may be genetically predisposed to aggression. This can be the result of selective breeding, which may have inadvertently bred for aggressive traits.

Poor Socialization

German Shepherds that are not properly socialized as puppies may be more likely to display aggressive behavior. Socialization helps dogs to develop positive associations with people, animals, and their environment. Without this, a dog may perceive new situations and people as a threat, leading to aggression.


Fear is a common cause of aggression in German Shepherds. Fearful dogs may lash out in order to protect themselves from perceived threats. This can be triggered by loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, or even certain objects.


Anxiety can also lead to aggression in German Shepherds. Dogs with anxiety may display destructive behaviors or become aggressive towards people or animals they perceive as a threat.

Lack of Proper Training

German Shepherds require consistent and appropriate training to learn appropriate behavior and develop self-control. Without this, they may become unruly or aggressive.

Guarding Behavior

German Shepherds are bred to be protective, and this can sometimes lead to guarding behavior. They may become aggressive towards strangers, other animals, or even family members if they perceive them as a threat to their territory or their owners.

Negative Experiences

Negative experiences, such as abuse or trauma, can also lead to aggression in German Shepherds. Dogs that have been mistreated or have experienced traumatic events may become fearful, defensive, or aggressive as a result.

Signs Of Aggression In German Shepherds


Growling is a warning sign that a German Shepherd is feeling threatened or uncomfortable. It can occur in response to a variety of stimuli, such as a stranger approaching or a perceived threat to their territory or resources.


Snarling is a more intense warning sign than growling and often occurs when a German Shepherd is feeling more threatened or defensive. It involves lifting the lips to show teeth and often accompanies growling or barking.

Baring Teeth

Baring teeth is a clear sign of aggression in a German Shepherd. It can be accompanied by other signs of aggression, such as growling or snarling, and is often a precursor to biting.

Stiff Body Language

When a German Shepherd is feeling aggressive, they may exhibit stiff body language, with their ears pinned back, tail erect, and body tense. This can be a sign that they are ready to attack if provoked.


Lunging is a sign of aggressive behavior in a German Shepherd, in which the dog quickly moves forward toward a perceived threat or target. It can be accompanied by barking, growling, or snarling.


Biting is the most severe sign of aggression in a German Shepherd. It can cause serious injury and should be taken very seriously.

Dilated Pupils

Dilated pupils, or “wide eyes,” are another sign that a German Shepherd may be feeling aggressive. This occurs as the dog’s body prepares for the fight or flight response, and the pupils enlarge to allow more light in for improved vision in low-light conditions.

Raised Hair on the Back of the Neck and Shoulders

When a German Shepherd is feeling aggressive, they may raise the hair on the back of their neck and shoulders, a behavior known as “piloerection.” This is an involuntary response triggered by the dog’s nervous system in response to a perceived threat.

It’s important to note that every German Shepherd is unique and may display different behaviors. Some dogs may also display aggression in more subtle ways that are not on this list, such as growling under their breath or tensing their body. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language and behavior to better understand their emotions and needs.

Different Ways To Train An Aggressive German Shepherd

Socialization & Positive Reinforcement Training

One of the easiest ways to stop a German Shepherd from being aggressive is socialization and positive reinforcement. This will be one of the many tools in your arsenal, however, you should remember that it works best when your German Shepherd is still young.

Identifying Triggers

One of the first steps in training your German Shepherd to stop being aggressive towards strangers is to identify what triggers their aggression. Common triggers may include unfamiliar people, other dogs, loud noises, or certain environments. Once you have identified the triggers, you can start working on desensitizing your dog to them.

Start Socializing Early

The key to preventing German Shepherd aggression towards strangers is early socialization. Expose your puppy to a variety of people, animals, and environments while they are young. This will help them learn that not everyone is a threat and that there is no need to be aggressive towards strangers.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training is a great way to train your German Shepherd to stop being aggressive towards strangers. Use treats, toys, and praise to reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior. For example, if your dog greets a stranger calmly, reward them with a treat.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is important when training your German Shepherd to stop being aggressive towards strangers. Make sure everyone in the household is using the same training methods and commands. This will help your dog understand what is expected of them and make the training process more effective.

Be Patient

Training your German Shepherd to stop being aggressive towards strangers takes time and patience. Don’t expect overnight results, and be prepared to put in the time and effort needed to see progress. With consistent training and patience, you can help your furry friend overcome their aggression towards strangers and become a friendly and social companion.

Clicker Training

licker training can be a powerful tool in redirecting your German Shepherd’s aggressive behavior. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Teach Basic Commands

The first step in clicker training is to teach your German Shepherd basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” These commands provide a foundation for more advanced training and help your dog understand that you are in control.

  1. Desensitize Your Dog to Triggers

If your German Shepherd is aggressive towards strangers or other dogs, you’ll need to desensitize them to these triggers. This involves gradually exposing your dog to the trigger while providing positive reinforcement for good behavior.

For example, if your dog is aggressive towards strangers, you can start by having someone your dog is comfortable with entering the room. Click and treat your dog for calm behavior, and gradually work up to having strangers enter the room.

  1. Click and Treat for Calm Behavior

When you’re working on desensitization, click and treat your German Shepherd for calm behavior around the trigger. For example, if your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, click and treat when your dog ignores the other dog and focuses on you.

  1. Redirect Aggressive Behavior

Once your German Shepherd is desensitized to the trigger, you can start redirecting their aggressive behavior. For example, if your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, you can click and treat when your dog looks at you instead of the other dog. This teaches your dog that they will be rewarded for calm behavior and helps them associate the trigger with positive experiences.

  1. Use a Verbal Command

Once your dog is consistently responding to the clicker, you can add a verbal command. For example, say “leave it” when your dog looks at you instead of the trigger. Click and treat when your dog responds to the command.

Obedience Training

Here’s a step-by-step guide to obedience training your German Shepherd to address aggression:

Assess the Situation

Before you begin obedience training, it’s important to assess the situation to determine the cause of your dog’s aggression. Is it fear-based or territorial behavior? Are there any triggers that lead to aggressive behavior? Identifying the root cause can help you develop a more effective training plan.

Seek Professional Help

If your dog’s aggression is severe or you’re unsure how to address it, seeking professional help from a certified dog trainer or behaviorist is recommended. They can provide tailored guidance and support to help you train your dog effectively.

Establish Yourself as the Leader

Establishing yourself as the leader in your dog’s eyes is crucial for effective obedience training. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise to reward good behavior and establish trust and respect.

Teach Basic Commands

Teaching basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “heel” is a fundamental part of obedience training. These commands not only improve your dog’s behavior but also create a strong foundation for advanced training.

Address Aggressive Behavior

Once your dog has mastered basic commands, you can start addressing specific aggressive behaviors. Use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior and redirect your dog’s attention away from triggers that lead to aggression.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is crucial for effective obedience training. Be patient and consistent in your training approach, and avoid punishing your dog for mistakes. Positive reinforcement and consistency will help your dog develop good habits and eliminate aggressive behavior.

By following these steps, you can obedience train your German Shepherd to address aggression effectively. Remember to be patient, and consistent, and seek professional help if needed. With proper training and care, your German Shepherd can become a well-behaved and loving companion.

Seek Professional Help

If your German Shepherd’s aggression towards strangers is severe, it may be necessary to seek professional help. A dog trainer or behaviorist can help you identify the root cause of the aggression and develop a training plan to address it. They can also provide additional resources and support as you work through the training process.

Try Brain Training to help with your German Shepherd’s Aggression

If you haven’t trained your dog properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, that you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your dog completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)