5 month old barking at people
I'm still going through all the other posts here, but I wanted to put something up to see what others thought.
Mauser is 5 1/2 months old and is generally very well-behaved. He knows I'm the boss and in all alpha respects that I can think of, he accepts that I'm alpha. I got him about two months ago, he was somewhat shy at first, but we've been going to the dog park for closely-supervised play, and he enjoys it a lot.
People and dogs were no problem after the initial shyness. He was accepting of friends and family that came over, people and dogs at the dog park, and even on walks. Starting about two weeks ago, at 20 weeks of age, he became very agitated at a close, trusted friend of mine who he had seen at least 6 times for hours at a time. This happened when my friend arrived and came up onto my deck in the pitch darkness. This friend is a true dog-lover, and has no fear of dogs, but is also not in the dog's face about it. Mauser was barking and going crazy. I tried to stop him, to correct him gently but loudly, he ended up circling around, barking, and trying to nip at my friend from behind. No growling, no other indications of
vicious intent, just barking and slight nipping. (not trying to minimize, this is bad enough) We finally got him cooled down, and all was fine.
A couple days after this, at the dog park, we were alone for maybe a half-hour, and after this when people arrived, he started barking at them, almost like he had claimed the bench where we were sitting as our "territory". That night, he barked at a woman he had met before, and when she started walking away, Mauser walked after her and tried nipping. It's safe to say that he will now do this to almost anyone that I'm talking to, or who is even in my general vicinity at the park. Not dogs though, only people.
He seems to be nervous or scared when these things are happening, he doesn't want people to pet him when he's doing this, he will dart away. He's also following me more closely. Sometimes he will be right with me for a while. I try to engage him with the friendly dogs, and he will forget about me for long periods of time. Then, when he comes up to me and a group of people that we both know, he will start barking at them again. It's hard to get everyone to act consistently towards him, but I'm trying to get them to give him treats when he stops barking and is calm. He will settle down, maybe even sit down at a bench directly under them, but then a few minutes later, he'll come back and start barking at them again for no reason. I do scold him when he does this, not massively angrily. Someone tonight suggested that I should be more forceful with my scolding. Of course, when he's actually pursuing someone (it's mild pursuit, but still...) I am definitely more forceful. When he is good, I give him lavish praise.
Nothing has happened to give him a bad impression of strangers as far as I can tell. He was initially very jealous of other dogs, but I worked on this and the jealousy is mostly gone. I know Shepherds can go through a second fearful phase at some time between 4 and 8 months, maybe this is it? Maybe he's sensing my mild nervousness at the implications of this behavior? Maybe this is his way of claiming me as his? I can't think of anything else. Sorry for the long post, hopefully I included all the pertinent details. Any ideas or suggestions?
Mauser (DOB 3-18-2013)