Our German shepherd started to growl at me when I approach him. What should I do

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – Help! We have a 4-year-old male German shepherd that we just love but he's starting to growl at me when I approach him. He does it to my son sometimes but mostly to me and never to my wife. We got him when he was 3-months-old. My son and I bought him from a breeder in Sacramento, when we
got home my wife said "There's something wrong with that dog, I said no and
that was that. Well we soon found out he has hip dysplasia real bad. I
thought it was because he is in pain but he only growls at me mostly.
Please help or point me in the right direction, We love our Teddy Boy.


Tim Stottlemyer


Hi – thanks for your email Tim. You wrote that your 4-year-old German shepherd (GS) started to growl at you and your son. You also indicated that he has hip dysplasia.

He may be in pain but this is no reason to growl at you but not your wife. The safest ands best thing to do is to see a behaviorist that helps you deal with this problem.

My caution is that I don't want to put you in a dangerous situation that could exacerbate the aggression and even lead to a bite of you or your son.

This is my opinion – I think your GS is seeing your wife, not you as the leader. It may be worthwhile doing obedience training with him (even as a family) so your dog sees all of you the leaders.

I'd also recommend that you have him checked by your veterinarian to deal with the hip dysplasia. He may want to give him medication that minimizes his pain or discomfort.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Dominance Aggression and Hip Dysplasia in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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