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Old 01-23-2013, 09:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default an overprotective Shepherd?

Hi everyone. I am new to this site and am seeking some advice. I have a 2 year old GS female who is extremely overprotective at home. When she is outside and someone walks/runs by the house...she starts barking and tries to chase after them. However, if I notice that someone is about to walk by I have her sit and she doesn't put her scruff up or bark. Even when she is inside and sees someone out the window she goes nuts.

She has never bit anyone, but there was a time during which she ran after someone. Also, if I ever take her out somewhere, like the park, she doesn't bark at or try to chase anyone.

Is there anything I can do about this? I'd like to be able to play with her in the yard off leash but she's definitely not ready.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Unless you have a fenced in backyard, you'll need to work with her on leash. Go out there with her during the "peak times" when there are a lot of people about. Start going to the edge of the yard - then turn suddenly - even turn into her - reward her for following. Also have her sit/stay - keep her focused on you. Also show her that you are in charge of the yard. Stand in front of her - back to her and you are facing the distraction - that shows her you are in control of what is going on - she doesn't need to worry about that - it isn't her job. Same thing inside - when she starts to bark - go right in front of her - look out the window - then turn back have her sit/stay - then follow you to another room - reward. In my view, it isn't so much overprotectiveness since I had to work with my Sting on the same behavior - but prey drive. Something to chase. She needs an outlet for that drive. So play tug with her - but be sure to let her win after a struggle. Also do fetch. If she doesn't like to fetch - use 2 balls. Also makes sure she gets lots of exercise. What helps also is to have her by you inside - the down/stay near you chair when you are reading and so on, that way she can't do the "window watching".
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Mary Beth's advice is good (as is doggiedad's...trainers are never a bad thing), and I'll add that this is a common problem that is self-reinforcing. From a dog's perspective, she's not barking at people passing by, she's chasing off potential intruders. Think about it...the approach the house, she goes nuts, and they leave. Most dogs don't quite realize on their own that those people weren't actually going to approach the house anyway. You've got to teach her that random passersby aren't a threat or an appropriate thing to chase. While you're teaching her that, try to prevent her for having the opportunity to "practice" the behavior, as like I said it is self-reinforcing. This may mean anything from keeping the blinds closed for a bit to confining her to back rooms while you're gone for the time being.

Prey drive is also often a big factor in this behavior, and I agree that you need to be sure she has an outlet for that. Really, most dogs do need one, and GSDs tend to have a pretty high prey drive generally.
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