Avoidance behavior during protection/defense
My female shepherd is now 9 months old. She had a TON of drive to begin with, great lines with high drive dogs, etc. Showed a ton of promise on the field. Around 7.5-8 months she started acting a little strange. At home she acted normal at first, but on the field during protection she suddenly seemed as though she had no interest. This was after I had been away almost 2 weeks, but I've gone away before and this did not happen.
I'll split it up into weeks so you can see the progression.
Week 1 - was not interested in helper/decoy, hardly went after tug. Still interested in small reward tug during obedience at home and on the field. tracking unchanged.
Week 2 - continues not being interested in helper/decoy. Interested in small tug reward toy during obedience only at home, no longer on the field. Tracking unchanged.
Week 3 - Same as above, but no longer interested in small tug reward at home or on the field. Bought burlap sac and goes nuts over it at home.
Week 4 - Did not bother bringing small tug reward on the field during obedience, as she no longer cares for it. Asked helper/decoy to use burlap flirt pole instead of long tug as she has been enjoying it at home. Seemed slightly interested as we got on the field but after one semi bite, became completely avoidant, ignoring helper, and at one point even turned her back to him and just started looking around and sniffing the grass.
She has not gone into first heat yet, so a few of us thought that maybe she was hormonal, but her drive still seems to be decreasing with no signs of heat in sight. Breeders opinion was to crate her unless she was working, and this did not help. Her opinion now is to crate her for a few months and she if she improves in the future, I do not feel comfortable doing this. My dogs are not ONLY working dogs, they are family and I don't see how ignoring her for several months could improve anything?
Any suggestions for things I might still be able to try?