Selective Agressive Behavior Towards People - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-12-2013, 12:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Selective Agressive Behavior Towards People

Hi there,

New member here, and I'm hoping someone can help me out. I just adopted a year old GSD girl (Jazz) about a month ago. A few days after I got her, I decided to take her to the dog park (on a leash) just to see how she did when interacting with large groups of people and other dogs. She did great, all she wanted to do was play, and basically ignored all the people. Well, after a couple trips on the leash, I decided to let her off leash, and she did really well. She ran around, greeted dogs gently (occasionally raised her hackles if a group of dogs greeted her all at once, but never displayed any aggression other than that). If a dog got too "in her face", she would generally tuck her tail and run though.

Well, starting this week, she is still completely fine around every single dog, and 99% of the people. My issue arises with the other 1%, where as she will usually walk by people, give them a quick sniff, and move on to bigger and better things....occasionally she will find someone who strikes her fancy (either in a good way, or bad...I have yet to figure that out). She will run up behind them and bark a couple times, and nip at their heels. Nothing hard, but it's enough that every time it happens, she will certainly get there attention. This usually elicits a bit of uncomfortable laughter from the person, and if called, she will (usually) come back to me and forget about them. Most often, it is males that she does this to, but there have been 2 occasions where she's done it to women (larger women both times).

However, last night, there was a gentleman walking behind us, who she was showing interest in, so I pulled Jazz off to the side, and let the man get a good distance ahead of us. As soon as I let her back on her own, she immediately sprinted up to the man, gave him a couple quick barks, nipped at his heel, and when he turned around, she jumped up and bit his arm. Again, nothing hard, but it did rip his jacket. Thankfully the gentleman was nice enough, and after hearing that she was a new pup, he said something along the lines of "Oh, she'll figure it all out soon enough" and went about his way. He (thankfully) declined my offer to buy him a new ($400) North Face jacket. Then, at this point, Jazz refused to listen to me, and would not come. I'm sure it had very much to do with the level of frustration in my voice.

Needless to say, Jazz has lost her dog park privileges for a while. At least until I can figure out how to nip this in the bud. Which I'm not very excited about, as this has been an awesome amount of daily exercise for her.

But, now, after writing that novel, the main question I have is:
How can you correct something like this? It's something that's so sporadic. She'll find one out of maybe 200 people to do this to. I'm fairly certain that if I took her to a behaviorist, she wouldn't display the unwanted action.

I really enjoy getting her the exercise, and I really don't want her to have to spend her time not being socialized, because she really does do well around other dogs, and like I said....99% of people.

I've been working with her daily on obedience training (sit, stay, leave it, come, and a few goofy tricks just to entertain her)

Any help at all would be appreciated. I'm in Colorado Springs, CO if anyone knows any GOOD trainers in the area.
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Our dog had similar behavior as she became an adolescent, about your dog's age. Her lunging at people was very random. Many times she was extremely nice and at our training center, some people thought she was in the therapy dog program. But because of the 1% she may have a problem with, at that point we did not allow her off leash in most situations.

Here's what I did. Rather than avoid people, I walked her in areas where there would be lots of sidewalk interactions. I took lots of treats and would have a calm, soothing voice and give her a treat as a person was approaching and then if she passed them with no reaction, give her another treat and say "good girl". It did get a bit tedious, but over time it seemed to work. It got to the point where everytime I'd say, "good girl" she'd expect a treat, so then I'd say, good heel, good stay, nice, etc.

After we had a handle on this, then we really worked on a good "down" stay which has helped calm her when we meet new dogs. It's been a long process.

The fact that your dog actually bit someone is worrisome and you know this. Our dog never bit, just barked about an inch away from someone. But hopefully over time and with lots of love from a new home and training you can turn your dog around.
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It may be that this isn't selective. If you just adopted her a month ago, you may just now be seeing her true personality and she's gaining confidence. Definitely look for a good trainer. You may want to start a new thread with a title asking for trainer recommendations.

Do not walk in public off lead. The next person she nips might not be so nice.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
Here's what I did. Rather than avoid people, I walked her in areas where there would be lots of sidewalk interactions. I took lots of treats and would have a calm, soothing voice and give her a treat as a person was approaching and then if she passed them with no reaction, give her another treat and say "good girl". It did get a bit tedious, but over time it seemed to work. It got to the point where everytime I'd say, "good girl" she'd expect a treat, so then I'd say, good heel, good stay, nice, etc.

.
I like this idea, I live very close to a little "downtown" type area. Maybe lots of on-lead walks through there, some sitting on a bench and just watching people pass by will help.
I certainly will be getting in touch with a trainer as well. I suppose even if I can't break her of that specific trait, I NEED to to have an impeccable recall if I want her by my side.
Hopefully she grows out of this as she realizes that people are generally well-meaning.

If anyone else has any suggestions, I'm all ears!
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