Reactive Dogs - How to stop from "charging" and barking at dogs? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 11-17-2010, 12:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Reactive Dogs - How to stop from "charging" and barking at dogs?

Sasha is 8 and a half months old. She's very social with people, and usually with dogs. We take her to obedience class and she's fine (except she gets so excited and pulls on the way in there). She goes to the dog park and she's fine; she loves to play with the other dogs.

The problem is when we're at home. We take her to relieve herself in the front yard because we don't have grass in the backyard, and if a dog or person is walking by she goes crazy. She becomes really fixed on them and will charge up to them if she has the chance. I know she isn't aggressive, but she looks scary as she runs up to them barking with her hackles up, and it usually scares the dog and owner. But once she gets over there and sniffs them shes fine.

She only does this near home, so I'm wondering if she's just being property protective? How can I stop this behavior? I know she won't actually attack them, but I don't want my neighbours afraid that I have a vicious, unsocialized GSD. If anything, I would be more afraid of a dog not appreciating her style of greeting and attacking her :/

Last edited by MaggieRoseLee; 08-31-2011 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would be sure to keep treats in my pocket and when you see someone coming down the street get her attention and start distracting and treating her. If she's normally good with other dogs it shouldn't be hard to eventually get her to let the neighbors walk by without mass chaos.

If she's a normal 8 month old it should go something like this when you first start.
Distract, treat, distract, treat...distract...opps...lunge...distract, treat.
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Old 11-17-2010, 10:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is she unleashed when she runs up to them? First thing I'd do is put a leash on her, then practice doing things OTHER than charging/fixating when other dogs go by. When she does lunge, she hits the end of the leash and self-corrects.

What you do NOT want to do is start getting tense or doing lots of corrections when she sees the other dogs, that can make the situation worse. If she self corrects, that's fine, it doesn't really add any tension or stress because you are staying calm. But you would try to avoid the self correction by practicing stays, sits, etc. on leash and with tasty treats.

If it only happens at home then it could be challenging unless you can stage other dogs walking past. I'd definitely start with a leash or some other barrier that will prevent her from getting the satisfaction of storming up to a passing dog and sniffing. She can learn that that particular behavior does not result in anything fun, but sitting, staying, hanging back etc. has benefits.
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just keep walking by, put a little distance between me and them so she can't get the satisfaction of getting what she wants, after a few weeks when we run in the morning she quit doing it, and still only gets to greet another dog if they stop to say hi, and heidi ignores her until I say "greet" which means she may approach and investigate the situation
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Old 01-12-2011, 05:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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dog socialization courses and walks needed :

Go to those places, does not matter if in Petco, petsmart or with a dog trainer, but go to those places where people bring their dogs with them and sit in a circle and learn what the dog trainer has to say. That way you will eventually calm down, so will your dog then, as well as all other dogs, then they get to know each other.

Probably the main reason why your dog charges other dogs is because the way you react now everytime you see another dog is a mix between panic, being annoyed and having doubts and hoping for the best and then you probably act the wrong way and there your dog goes off again. He feels all of what you feel.

Then i suggest, go walk with other people that have dogs. Preferably walk in a group where people have several dogs alone so it learns being around other dogs is normal.

Do that asap.

Just walking by other dogs ignoring them does help but it would be wiser that your dog if still young, learns to socialize with other dogs to begin with. The ignoring other dogs and just walk by you usualy do if you see the other dog is a race that is not compatible with your dog, or when the other dog is highly a Boss dog, or those tiny small dogs that are scared to death of your dog but got to bark around and bite his ankles to pretend that he is not scared and so forth.

What not to do :

- Carry your dog to another dog that is on the ground or vice versa so they look at each other like some toads not knowing what to do next.

- Make baby noises to the other dog and kneeling, pointing fingers at the other dog and saying what a good buy it is.

- Giving treats to the other dog

- Walking with your dog leashed to the other dog, especially when the other dog is an alpha, so the leashes get all tangled up and both dogs end up with stitches and whoever goes in there to sort the dogs out with a accidental bite in their leg.

- ignoring all other dogs and just walk by every single time. (you do that on certain occasions I mentioned above).

- bringing a bunch of neigbour dogs to your house or garden or vice versa "so they can meet each other" (do not do that if your dog is over a certain age, consult with specialists with how many months they start becoming very territorial.

- bind your dog to a tree and walk to the other dog to pat it and give it a treat.

I have seem all of this happening over and over and over and what I hate the most is the people that carry their dog over and then hold them around their ribcage and slowly hover push them towards your dog.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Some great information is on

Aggression / dominance to other dogs
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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MRL, Shasta does this, too, and I'm wondering what causes it. I just don't see her as being particularly aggressive or dominant. If I had to say anything I'd say fearful, but she will run right up to another dog to greet it. Could it just be over excitement, plain and simple? Even the hackles? (Which, by the way, is hilarious...the combination of long fur, plus the particular color reminds me of a porcupine.)
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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German shepherds were first bred as guard dogs its is instict to protect their home, it is up to you to teach her that people walking on the side walk or road are allowed to be there. Keep her on a leash until she masters control. Get people in your neighborhood to help with training (most people will be willing to help) use treats or toys which ever she like best . When the people approach get her attention feed her small amounts of the treat while the people walk by. If she does not settle with the treats and continues to lung walk her away. As she learns to settle when people walk by start to get her closer if she lunges back up to where she was. the goal is to be able to walk her up to the people and other dogs for greeting. If at any time she slips up take her back the point where she remain calm. It takes time and most of all patients. Good luck.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ugh. Heidi is 2 yrs. old and has been charging other dogs since she was 8 mos old. She is not unfriendly, just likes to charge right up to the other dogs face and then lick them. Scares the heck out of the other dog owner.
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yep...know what you're saying. My dog is fine with people too once he knows they're ok with us. I think it's their natural instinct to protect their pack leader and the perimeter of the property (no matter where you are) at least with my dog it is...he hackles up and charges to the fence line. No matter what I say he won't stop...it's like he's gone deaf in his quest to defend his property/people. It is pretty scary if you don't know them!! Keep trying...I am and he's 5 yrs old now!
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