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Will A German Shepherd Attack Its Owner? 9 Possible Reasons

You might be considering getting a German Shepherd since these dogs are truly mesmerizing, but a question might be stopping you from making that decision. That question is: ˝Will a German Shepherd attack its owner?˝

This is a completely normal question since these dogs have quite an appearance that can intimidate even the bravest of the brave.

The German Shepherd dog (GSD) is a dog that has a lot of personality, but it needs a lot of care just like any other dog. In this article, we will be answering this question, and giving you information about everything you need to know connected to this question.

Will A German Shepherd Attack Its Owner?

german shepherd dog outdoor posing

There is no direct way to answer this question since it has a lot of layers. When it comes to German Shepherd aggression, you probably have not heard a lot about that, but things can happen.

This is a dog breed that is extremely loyal to its owner, and they are considered as family dogs, which is true, but only in situations where they are well-taken care of.

These pooches are known to be police dogs or military dogs, and because of that, some people might think that they are aggressive dogs. Their appearance is also intimidating, which brings up a lot of stigmas.

This is also true with Rottweilers and Pitbulls. Both Pitbulls and Rottweilers can be dangerous and aggressive, and attack their owner and everyone around, but only if they are mistreated. The same is with German Shepherds.

This breed attacking its owner depends… well, on the German Shepherd owner.

A big thing that we want to emphasize is that a German Shepherd, or any other dog breed, will not attack their owner or become aggressive if the dog has no trauma and if the dog is not mistreated. There needs to be a reason why a dog attacks.

The main thing when it comes to these loyal dogs is to shower them with love, and give them enough training and socialization, as well as exercise.

What Are The Reasons For A German Shepherd Attacking Its Owner?

There are a lot of scenarios that can develop a certain dog behavior. You need to take a lot of things into consideration when you are getting a dog that is big and that is known for being a good guard dog, a protective dog, an intelligent dog, and a family member as well.

There needs to be a good balance between all these things; otherwise, you may end up either being attacked or end up with a generally aggressive dog.

Here are some things that can make a German Shepherd aggressive and attack its owner.

1. Poor Socialization And Training

Sad German shepherd in the aviary

It is a known fact that all dogs, including the German Shepherd, need proper socialization and training sessions when they are still puppies. If either of those are not done properly, you can have some serious problems later on.

A German Shepherd puppy needs to learn that you as a dog owner are the pack leader, and that they need to obey you no matter what. This might sound rough, but trust us… when this is determined, your dog will love you and respect you even more.

Keep in mind that it is really hard to socialize an aggressive dog.

If your GSD doesn’t know basic commands, and thinks of himself or herself as the alpha of the family, you can end up being attacked by that dog.

2. The German Shepherd Is Living In A Bad Environment

Living in a bad environment can be traumatic for everybody, not just for dogs. A GSD needs a lot of handling. These dogs like to be treated nicely, and they demand respect the same way that they give respect to their owner.

There are a lot of factors that can make an environment bad or stressful for a dog, and here are some of those factors:

The dog is sleeping and being kept in a place that is cold and wet

There is constant fighting around the dog

Being with people who don’t know how to take care of a dog

Living in a place that is nice, but doesn’t have a lot of space (a.k.a., a small apartment)

The dog is not taken out to go to the bathroom regularly

The dog is not fed regularly

They do not get enough attention

These are just some of the things that can make even a trained dog and a calm dog turn aggressive and lunge at their owner. The good thing is that all of these can be changed if you have the will to do it.

Unfortunately, if the dog is surrounded by people who just don’t know how to take care of it, the best thing would be to find new owners.

3. Past Trauma, a.k.a., PTSD

German Shepherd dog laying down

When talking about traumas and PTSD in dogs, this can go two ways. German Shepherds are lovely dogs, but they do have some things that they don’t like; for example, taking a bath is one of those things. If a German Shepherd puppy gets traumatized by bathing time, you need to know that this can stick with it for the rest of its life.

This is why when they are in their puppyhood, you need to make sure that you do everything nice and slowly, with a lot of patience.

Yelling is also something that can traumatize a dog. If your dog is constantly listening to yelling it can snap and start showing some aggressive behavior, and even attacking its owner.

If you notice that your dog has witnessed some yelling, try using positive reinforcement, and make sure that they didn’t get traumatized from it.

Trauma can also be caused by something much more severe. Unfortunately, there are some bad guys who will treat their dog violently and cause them a lot of trauma. In lucky cases, these dogs get sent to the shelter so they can get a new owner.

If you plan on adopting a GSD from a local shelter, you should always ask if the dog had any past traumas. You should know these things because you will need to adapt to taking care of a traumatized dog.

These dogs will most likely be very grateful and learn to trust you during some period of time, but you need to be aware that they can be extremely traumatized to the point where they will even showcase some aggressive barking, lunging, and at the end, even attacking you.

This is why we always say that hitting is never good punishment. If you hit your dog, it may never forgive you.

4. The Dog Got Startled

This is something that can happen to anyone. You could accidentally scare your dog, and their defense mechanism can make them attack you. In most cases, these attacks are not full-on. The second they realize that it is you, and that you didn’t mean any harm, they will stop.

You can also accidentally injure your dog, and their natural instinct will be to attack. In this moment, they will probably not realize that it is you, and that is the reason why they will attack.

German Shepherd bites are no joke, but try assessing the situation. No one would feel comfortable getting attacked by their own dog, but if the situation is a big misunderstanding, try to calm yourself down.

5. A German Shepherd Is Protecting Her Puppies

german shepherd mother with her puppy

Female German Shepherds are very protective of their puppies. Sometimes, even when the dog trusts you, it might feel uncomfortable by you being around her puppies a lot and touching them all the time.

This is not the case with every GSD, but some will for sure show you that they are not that happy about you being around a lot. It is important to read the signs that your dog is showcasing.

They will alert you for sure at first, but if you don’t pick up the signals, they might end up attacking you.

If you own both a male and a female German Shepherd, you need to know that the female will not be the only one that is protective. The male GSD can also showcase that they are not happy about you handling its babies.

You will not need a dog trainer or some specific training methods for this situation. Just try to give the mamma and her babies some time alone.

6. An Aggressive Bloodline

This is something that is not the fault of dog owners, but breeders. Some breeders will breed these beautiful dogs just for profit, and most likely keep them in environments that are not good.

These dogs will develop aggression that can continue for generations, and because of that, your pooch might also have an aggressive gene.

This is not the dog’s fault, and no dog will just be born aggressive, but over time, it can get stuck in their bloodline.

Finding a reputable breeder is very important for various reasons, including this one.

7. The Dog Is Territorial And Protective

german shepherd running in the field

We already mentioned that German Shepherds are territorial dogs that love to protect their owner at any cost. This is a good thing if you want a dog that will protect you and your family so you can feel safe.

It can also turn the other way around. There are not a lot of examples of a dog attacking their owner because they are territorial.

It can happen by accident, but they can also decide that they have a favorite family member, and that the rest of the family are like intruders.

This is one of the symptoms of bad training and socialization. You can try some reinforcement training, but we suggest hiring a professional dog trainer for this one.

8. Injury Or A Medical Condition

Some dogs become attached to their owner if they are sick or injured, but other dogs might not. If your dog is prideful and doesn’t trust you that much, they can attack if you get too close to their personal space.

If you notice that your GSD is injured, in chronic pain, or sick… always approach them slowly, and let them know that you are just trying to help.

If you see some signs that can showcase that they are not happy with your presence, try to leave them alone for some time. Contact the vet, and get them there in some way or another.

If you cross some boundaries, the dog might end up attacking you.

9. The Dog Is Fearful

german shepherd barking

Fear can be a big factor as to why a dog can attack people, even their owner. In most cases, bad socialization is the reason for a dog being fearful.

Nothing traumatizing had to happen for your dog to be this way. It can be the fact that they were not surrounded by many sounds, environments, people, animals, etc.

When it comes to this, you need to know that your dog can also become scared of kids. This is the worst thing that can happen, especially if you bring a baby home at some period of time.

You need to make sure that your German Shepherd is surrounded by kids so these things won’t happen. If you do the socialization part well, German Shepherds will be amazing with young children.

To Sum It All Up

German Shepherds, just like any other dog breed, can show some signs of aggression. The question, “Will a German Shepherd attack its owner?” can be hard to answer directly.

We are big believers that no dog will attack its owner without a specific reason. To make things clearer, we made a list of things that can trigger a GSD into attacking its owner.

All of these things are on we humans, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything that will make the dog feel comfortable and useful. If you are not giving your GSD everything that the dog needs, you can end up with an aggressive dog.

A good thing is that all of these things can be corrected. Some will take more time while others can be changed in a short period of time.

It is up to us to raise our dog accordingly. So, don’t worry – we are sure that you will be the best dog owner, and that your dog will love you and respect you with all its heart.