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Old 12-12-2013, 08:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help! GSD is growling at male visitors

Quick background: Military flunked him for "no work drive." They told us he's "not aggressive at all." Wasn't even potty trained when we got him in May. He's 2 years old.

All of a sudden he's growling at male visitors. One guy was a maintenance man who 6'4 or 6'5 and I thought that since the guy was so tall that that was why our dog acted slightly growly.

Then tonight a man came over who is about 5'7 or 5'8 (my height) and he growled at him too.

We have kids and their friends come over a lot -- and the moms pick up the kids. No growling at the moms or kids. Just the dads. (And I'm pretty certain the military guys were kind to him; he initially was glued to my husband.)

My thought is to put a treat on the front porch and ask the visitors to pick up a treat and hand it to our dog as they're coming inside.

Good idea? Bad idea? I just thought that might help my dog understand that visitors are good.

HOWEVER. . . my husband travels and I'd love for my dog to growl if the wrong sort of person shows up. So now what?!

Would love any and all ideas!

Alley
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If this behavior has all of sudden happened and he was fine with men before - it may help if you could think of anything that triggered this behavior. If not, I would be sure to be in charge of the door - that is, he would have to sit by my side and I would do the greetings - say "Hi" to show you know the person and the man can come inside and if the dog growled - I would say "quiet" and then give a treat when he is quiet. If you have a trainer in your area, you may want to have some home lessons.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The size of the person has nothing to do with what will trigger aggression. I'm 5'8" and ~140lbs and I can reliably bring out strong aggression in dogs I work better than 200+ and 6ft+ guys. Its all a mental game....

My first reaction is to say, he's a male dog from obviously working lines, and you got an actual GSD on your hands, congratulations... people pay good money for such a dog. The fact that he does not perceive any threat or feel the need to posture at children or women is a very good thing. Men naturally posture... at dogs to a degree, at each other pretty much non-stop, so it could be an appropriate response to the man.

Please take some video of this happening. I can then tell you better what I think might be happening and what you can do to "fix it" and if it can be "fixed". I need to see both the dog, and the person approaching.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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To be on the safe side, I would leash him and make him sit when a male comes over. Ask the male to ignore him completely, just talk among yourselves and after a while you could loosen your hold on the lead to where there is no pressure. After a while drop the lead and allow him to go and sniff the male guest (as long as your guest is comfortable with this) and again ask you guest to ignore him, just allow your dog to smell him.

I'm not keen on asking strangers to treat my dogs if my dogs are unsure of them.

He may just need a little longer time to process and accept a strange male in his house.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry and Lola View Post
To be on the safe side, I would leash him and make him sit when a male comes over. Ask the male to ignore him completely, just talk among yourselves and after a while you could loosen your hold on the lead to where there is no pressure. After a while drop the lead and allow him to go and sniff the male guest (as long as your guest is comfortable with this) and again ask you guest to ignore him, just allow your dog to smell him.

I'm not keen on asking strangers to treat my dogs if my dogs are unsure of them.

He may just need a little longer time to process and accept a strange male in his house.
there should never be any pressure on the lead when you're holding it, ever, unless you're doing certain training exercises... that tension on the lead communicates tension directly to the dog.

Some dogs, particularly military/police/personal protection stock, are "sharp" and will never be accepting of stranger men/adults.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That's odd for the military to give up on a dog after two years, and did not potty train the dog. This poor guy was simply stored for a long time because he was not accepting the training. You will have to take your time with him and work on getting him out where he can see a number of men. The Military has screwed this dog up a little, so be very caring. In the end, I don't trust anyone my dogs do not like.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hunterisgreat View Post
there should never be any pressure on the lead when you're holding it, ever, unless you're doing certain training exercises... that tension on the lead communicates tension directly to the dog.

Some dogs, particularly military/police/personal protection stock, are "sharp" and will never be accepting of stranger men/adults.
Yes you are right, I used the wrong word, I mean to say loosen your hold so that you are only holding the lead by one finger to the point where there is no need to hold it, does that make sense? I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself properly.
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if your GSD is eating and eating and eating and losing weight - please consider testing for EPI.

http://www.epi4dogs.com/epiinsnapshots.htm
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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find a behaviourist/trainer. at this point i don't think it's
a good idea to have a male hand him a treat when they
enter the house. i'm thinking he may bite.
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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yes, i would get some help in training him around men. obviously there is a trigger there. it could be a simple fix with conditioning, but i would get a professional opinion.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for being so helpful! My husband is a privacy freak. He's at work right now. I hope we can send a video tonight.

Essentially what happens is that a play date is happening in my house with a couple of extra kids plus my two. I'm in the house too of course. I was in the kitchen cooking and a dad knocked. The kids opened the door and as the man stepped inside our dog lightly growled at him.

Both times he growled I wasn't at the door welcoming in the new person (the first time it happened w/ the 6'4 guy my husband was at the door opening it). I'm home with our dog all day. Could it be because I'm not the one at the door?

Anyway, the person steps inside and that's when the light growling begins. No hair standing up on neck or anything like that. Just light growling. And throughout the rest of the visit our dog is following the person and watching him.

Alley




Quote:
Originally Posted by hunterisgreat View Post
The size of the person has nothing to do with what will trigger aggression. I'm 5'8" and ~140lbs and I can reliably bring out strong aggression in dogs I work better than 200+ and 6ft+ guys. Its all a mental game....

My first reaction is to say, he's a male dog from obviously working lines, and you got an actual GSD on your hands, congratulations... people pay good money for such a dog. The fact that he does not perceive any threat or feel the need to posture at children or women is a very good thing. Men naturally posture... at dogs to a degree, at each other pretty much non-stop, so it could be an appropriate response to the man.

Please take some video of this happening. I can then tell you better what I think might be happening and what you can do to "fix it" and if it can be "fixed". I need to see both the dog, and the person approaching.
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