Do German Shepherds Turn On Their Owners? (8 Reasons)

Categorized as Training and Behavior
Do German Shepherds turn on their owners

A German Shepherd dog is a loyal and obedient dog breed that has been popular for over 50 years. They are brilliant, quick learners, and they can be trained to do almost anything their owner would ask of them. But what about when the tables turn? Do these dogs turn on their owners in any way? This article will explore the question of whether or not German Shepherds ever turn on their owners.

Do German Shepherds Turn On Their Owners?

Most German Shepherd dogs won’t ever turn on their owners. In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC) consistently ranks this breed as one of the best family dogs. But there are some instances where a German Shepherd will turn on his owner. This happens when unresponsible German Shepherd owners push their dogs too hard and make them react negatively towards them. The same goes for harming or abusing the dog. When this type of situation occurs, it can be enough to make any dogs bite or attack their owners.

Where Does This Misconception Come From?

Many people are afraid of German shepherds. This may have something to do with their large size and the fact that they look very intimidating, but it’s not because they’re dangerous dogs or known for biting. In fact, German Shepherd bites are no more likely than those of other dogs. So the basis of the fear is actually more of a misunderstanding.

Although it is true that German Shepherd bite cases are among the highest reported dog bites in the US, it may not be for a reason, you think. According to the researchers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, this wasn’t entirely the dog’s fault; the circumstances and behaviors of the victims may have extremely contributed to it as well. For example, the victims could tease or pull the dog’s ears or tail which may trigger aggressive behavior from the dogs.

Why German Shepherds Turn On Their Owners

1. You don’t establish yourself as a leader of the pack

All dogs need to have a leader. It is just part of their genetic makeup. If you do not establish yourself as the leader, then your German Shepherd will step up to take up that position on their own accord, and you’ll lose some control of the situation. If this is the case, they may begin acting out in an attempt to get you to back down.

2. You don’t properly train your German Shepherd

Poorly trained dogs are a recipe for disaster. As a responsible dog owner, it is your job to train your dog and teach them how to act. The goal is for your dog to learn how they are supposed to act with you, their family, and other people so they don’t have any bad habits that may get them into trouble. If you aren’t training your dog properly, then it’s only a matter of time before they will form bad habits.

3. Your German Shepherd is resource guarding

Resource guarding is a big problem among dog owners, and it can have terrible consequences if left alone. If your German Shepherd takes after this behavior, then you’ll need to work to change it, or they’re likely going to lash out not only at you but at anyone who they think is attempting to take their foods or toys.

4. You don’t properly socialize them

All dogs, including German Shepherds, need to be properly socialized. This is how they learn how to act and respond in a variety of different situations, places, or around certain animals. If you don’t have them properly socialized as a puppy, it will affect their behavior later on in life and may even turn them into aggressive dogs.

5. You don’t fulfill their basic needs such as food, exercise, and attention

You’ll never have a properly behaved dog if they aren’t getting their basic needs met. As their owner, it is your job to make sure they’re fed, exercised, and given plenty of attention. If you don’t take care of these things for them, then they’re going to be prone to develop bad habits, and it will be much harder to correct them when necessary.

6. Your German Shepherd is trained using bad training methods

Dogs learn by association, and if you use bad training methods, they’re going to associate those things with whatever behavior you are trying to produce in them. If the way you train your dog involves any kind of physical abuse—such as beating them with a leash, withholding food or water, intimidating them to train them—then you’ll just end up making things worse and possibly putting yourself and other people in danger.

7. Your German Shepherd is stressed

Dogs can be prone to develop bad behaviors as a result of stress or anxiety. If you are experiencing any serious changes in your life that are causing your dog to feel stressed out, then they’re likely going to lash out in an attempt to deal with it.

8. Your German Shepherd has a medical problem

If your dog has a medical problem, then they’re going to feel pain or discomfort and are going to lash out because of it. If you get your dog checked by the vet just in case there is something wrong with them, then you’ll catch any underlying problems before they create bad behaviors.

How to Prevent your German Shepherd from Turning On You

1. Establish yourself as the leader

You can’t expect your German Shepherd to listen to you if you aren’t showing them that you’re the boss. You want them to know who the alpha of the pack is, and this begins by taking charge from day one. The best way to do this, in my experience, is through consistency. This means making sure everything they hear from you is consistent and your actions are consistent. They should know what is expected of them and how they should act around you, your family, and other people.

2. Socialize Your German Shepherd

I cannot stress how important it is to socialize your German Shepherd early. It is something that you’ll need to be doing with them from the first day you bring them home.

If you don’t socialize your dog while they are young, your dog will have difficulty adjusting to their surroundings and may act out in response.

3. Train Your German Shepherd Obedience Training

Together with socialization, obedience training is something you’ll need to start as soon as possible. Obedience training helps keep your dog under control and constantly reinforces good behavior in a way that makes it very difficult for them to act out.

One part of obedience training is to establish rules and boundaries from the very beginning, which will help prevent bad behaviors later on down the line. As your dog grows older, they’re going to use the rules as a reference when it comes to deciding what is and is not appropriate behavior.

4. Train Your Dog Bite Inhibition

Bite inhibition teaches your dog how hard they can bite while also reducing their desire to do so. This is a very important skill to work on, no matter what type of dog you have.

In their natural habits, puppies learn this naturally from their mothers and littermates, but since now they live in a human home, it is up to you to teach them this.

5. Get Your Dog Spayed or Neutered

In some cases, it may be necessary to spay or neuter your dog. Studies have proven that dogs who undergo this procedure tend to be less aggressive than those that are not.

6. Check with Your Vet for Any Underlying Medical Issues

While your dog is growing, they’re going to be prone to allergies and illnesses that can manifest themselves in the form of behavioral problems. Make it a point to take them in for regular vet visits so that any underlying medical issues can be caught as soon as possible.

7. Avoid Punishing Your German Shepherd

If your German Shepherd acts out and you punish them, then they’re going to associate those things with whatever behavior you are trying to produce in them. When something goes wrong, it is best to take the time to re-evaluate your training methods instead of punishing them because it will make the problem worse.

If you need to discipline your dog, a better way is to use positive reinforcement training instead of punishment-based training. Positive reinforcement will help your dog understand what you want from them without having them develop a negative association with whatever they are doing.

8. Learn to Read Dog Body Language

Your dog’s body language can show you a lot about what they are experiencing at the moment. Whether they’re stressed, or they feel threatened by something, you’ll be able to tell. This is important because it gives you the ability to avoid or prevent any potential problems before they start.

If your dog’s body language indicates that they are feeling stressed or threatened, then take action and re-direct them into a positive activity immediately. If there isn’t anything for them to do, try to calm them down using your voice or by touching them in a non-threatening way.

9. Fulfill Their Basic Needs

Your dog needs to have all of their basic needs met in order for them to be happy. If your dog is unable to find satisfaction through the things that they naturally want and need, then there is a chance that they’ll act out.

Whether it’s eating, playing, or just getting enough exercise, whatever you can do to help your dog feel calm and content will help make them happier dog.

What To Do If Your German Shepherd Turns On You?

When you find yourself in a scenario when your dog attacks you because of their aggressive nature, keep in mind to avoid lashing out at your dog and staying calm so that they do not sense any fear on your part. When they pick up on fear, they’re going to be more aggressive.

Then quickly get help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist before the situation turns worse. One more piece of advice is to never run away from your aggressive German Shepherd if you can’t just walk away because that will only make them chase after you and attack even harder.

If possible, find an escape, get somewhere safe immediately, and try to reach somebody on the phone who can help.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are a big responsibility and come with many challenges. But, if you know how to train your German Shepherd properly from the beginning, you’ll be able to avoid most of these pitfalls. By following my tips above, you’ll be sure to have a good relationship with your German Shepherd for years to come.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.

Here are some of my favorite reviews for German Shepherd supplies that I personally use and recommend. If you do decide to purchase them, please remember that I’ll earn a small commission which helps me maintain this website.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.