I have a 3 year old german shep. that I've had for 5 months. I've started him in dog training classes and he does well (hes at the 3rd level). I have a problem with him getting along with other dogs male or female. Sometimes he acts nice and other times he will let the dog sniff him for about 20 seconds and then growl and snip at them. I've even observed him poking his nose into the other dogs. I correct him and let him know that is unwanted behavior by me. I don't yell or hit. How should I handle him when meeting new dogs?
Some dogs are very 'nosey' and very in your face. I think that from what you describe, it's your dog's way of saying "Ok that's enough sniffing, move along". I consider this very different from the aggressive dog that goes berserk at the sight of any other dog. I'd do my best to avert that by limiting the amount of time other dogs have to sniff him by leading him away. Dogs identify each other by both sight and scent, so sniffing is absolutely vital to their natural behavior process. However, excessive sniffing and direct stares exchanged between two dogs can be an indicator of one or both dogs showing dominant behavior, and can result in a challenge, posturing, growling, etc.
Also, you havent said if your dog is neutered. If he's unaltered, this can make a bad situation worse aggression wise.
first of all Miniyar is right that is most likely what is happening and your dog is saying "enough". Within the group I train with we don't allow sniffing for more than a few seconds because it leads to trouble with strong willed dogs. Also I'd have to be there to see which dog is actually causing the trouble, try to keep that situation to a minimum.
Secondly when it does come time for a correction a GSD will not learn from a weak correction. My mentor in training showed me some time ago that one good correction is worth a thousand weak ones. Your dog is only three so he can still be taught not to do anything you decide is not right. When a GSD thinks he can get away with something he/she will push the envelope a little farther each time. If he doesn't know you mean it that action will become his test for you.
The recipe for a "good correction" is as follows and I only guarantee it on strong willed dogs. It could cause cowering in some breeds. Immediately after the incident grab the dog by the sides of his neck, below the ears. Lift the dog off it's front feet and while looking it straight in the eyes from a few inches away give them a stern and rather loud NO. Before letting the dog go push it to the ground into a lay position and again say NO. GSDs always want the human side of their "family" to be alpha, and after that just the word NO will remind them of that correction.
And for those of you that say that's mean, you don't know how to properly train a GSD.
i agree with minnyar. i have had my gsd for 9 years and he has never been aggressive towards another animal , but he has been real nosey at times and even snipped at them. when i first introduced him to my sisters male boxer there was alot of sniffing and low growls (not serious ones) harley my gsd nipped at dexter a few times and then they were running around the yard like best friends. it sounds like your dogs was just letting the other dog know to leave him alone. thats normal .if it looks like he is serious the holding his head and a firm no works.they are very smart dogs and catch on quickly
When out in public, keep him on a leash at all times. Then when he meets a dog, be cautious and look for signs that shows when his aggression is coming. When he shows these signs pull his leash sharply and say no. If u don't have a choke chain then u should buy one, because there real good with obedience. I have a pitbull/Rottie mix and he's very aggressive with people, dogs, etc. Ever since i used the choke chain he's learned how to heel. Also German Shepherds are very protectrive. When a dog sniffs him, he probably doen't know what the dogs gonna do next and gets scard. Well GOOD LUCK! And also if u have the channel National Geografic, go to that channel and look for "dog whisper", he's real good with dogs. u can learn a-lot.