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Old 10-31-2013, 05:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is she scared or mean?

Hello yall, I joined here to learn more about a beautiful 6month old GSD. Since then I have been attempting to socialize her with no luck. Anything and anyone else besides my wife and I cant even look at her without her going crazy raising all her back hairs and barking very mean. I was working with a freind who is a pet trainer at petsmart but a very good one. She seems to be able to be in the same room ad my girl and doesnt get barked at. For this training were stuffing her with treats to keep her attention away from everything. My question is, is this nervous barking "back up or ill bark you away" or blatant "back up or I'll bite" barking? I wanna also know great solutions to this because I love her and I only want her protective when at home!

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Old 10-31-2013, 06:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It sounds like fearful barking. The problem is, that most biting happens out of fear. Weak nerves are generally a genetic thing. Which means, she is what she is. But you can make some headway by doing a few things:

Use positive training techniques to boost her confidence, and to learn her triggers, and to train her what to do, rather than what not to do. So, before she has a chance to react, give her a command, SIT, or Come Front. LOOK, etc.

Manage her environment. Do not give her the opportunity to bite anyone. Learn her body language, and react before she reacts. Get her out of situations before she reacts.

Socialize so that you do not overwhelm her. If she is barking and reacting, then she is overwhelmed. This may mean walking her so that someone is 50 feet away when you turn and go the other way -- before she reacts. Slowly decrease that distance.

Time and maturity may decrease the reactivity.

She can be an awesome pet. You just need to know who she is, and what her capabilities are. Play to her strengths. Set her up to succeed and praise her. Build the bond. Give her clear instructions and rewards. Build the confidence.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree to keep using positive methods with lots of treats. don't overwhelm either to help build her confidence.

Using distance is key alot of the time. You want to prevent the over-reacting and barking (fear) so if you can start the treats BEFORE your pup feels they have to do something, that works the best.

You clicker training? http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/general-puppy-stuff/150660-intro-clicker-training-perfect-puppies.html

Have you seen this?

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Old 10-31-2013, 08:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by prjwh081810 View Post
Hello yall, I joined here to learn more about a beautiful 6month old GSD. Since then I have been attempting to socialize her with no luck. Anything and anyone else besides my wife and I cant even look at her without her going crazy raising all her back hairs and barking very mean. I was working with a freind who is a pet trainer at petsmart but a very good one. She seems to be able to be in the same room ad my girl and doesnt get barked at. For this training were stuffing her with treats to keep her attention away from everything. My question is, is this nervous barking "back up or ill bark you away" or blatant "back up or I'll bite" barking? I wanna also know great solutions to this because I love her and I only want her protective when at home!

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note 2
This is fear. Back up on socializing for a bit. That doesn't mean stop socializing, but doing it at a distance where your pup can still focus on you instead of the human. During this time work on getting her obedience solid. Also, learn what her first stress signals are - tightening and closing the mouth, tension around the eyes, standing up taller. These signals can happen within seconds of her full blow up. Your friend can guide you on the obedience training but you will probably want to consider locating someone experienced with aggression and very experienced with GSD.

Some training methods to look at:

Official Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) site: humane help for aggression, frustration, and fear in dogs, horses, and other animals.

BowWowFlix.com : Grisha Stewart - DVDs of the BAT method for rent

Look at That! A Counterintuitive Approach to Dealing with Reactive Dogs | Dog Training for Dog Lovers Blog

How To Handle Fear and Fear Aggression in Dogs | The Balanced Canine

Using the BAT method is where I started seeing huge amounts of improvement with my dog. It allows the dog to decide when he/she is close enough, or if they are just a bit more curious then the last time.

Will she bite? It is a possibility you should be aware of always. The focus will be to keep her out of situations of where she would want to bite. Conditioning her to a muzzle is a priority for the times you aren't able to avoid situations such as the vet. Be sure it is a basket muzzle which will allow her to drink, pant, accept treats.
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Old 10-31-2013, 09:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It's been a while since I've had a puppy, but she could be going through a fear stage as well, they do.

I agree lots of positive work right now, without pushing her/stressing her too much in the process. You want to positively reinforce, so don't bring her to the breaking point of fear/reactions.
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. I do like the BAT training. Im gonna attempt to give that a go. It looks very usful in this situation. Im just scared she will always bark crazily at strangers.

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Old 11-01-2013, 12:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Use positive training techniques to boost her confidence, and to learn her triggers, and to train her what to do, rather than what not to do. So, before she has a chance to react, give her a command, SIT, or Come Front. LOOK, etc.
Whole-heartedly agree. I have found that the SIT command is an effective means of "disarming" a GSD, even if you're a little late and the hackles are already up. It is really a confidence-building exercise, and you should see some improvement over a few months where she may even turn her back on a situation that would previously have had her overwhelmed.

I'm skeptical about using treats in potentially volatile situations. The timing of the reward needs to be spot on to have the desired affect. If not, it can go very pear-shaped. Never use a reward as a temporary distraction.

Last edited by honeysdad; 11-01-2013 at 12:53 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Whole-heartedly agree. I have found that the SIT command is an effective means of "disarming" a GSD, even if you're a little late and the hackles are already up. It is really a confidence-building exercise, and you should see some improvement over a few months where she may even turn her back on a situation that would previously have had her overwhelmed.

I'm skeptical about using treats in potentially volatile situations. The timing of the reward needs to be spot on to have the desired affect. If not, it can go very pear-shaped. Never use a reward as a temporary distraction.
Okay she sits extremely well at home with only 1 hand movement. When around others she won't sit or do anything for me. I cant seem to remove her attention away from everything around her. What helps this?

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Old 11-01-2013, 01:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'd be happy to hear from others with more experience...

Getting her to sit can be a problem. At six months, it should still be OK to grab her by the scruff of the neck with one hand and raise slightly, and gently down on the rump with the other. Whichever method you get her to sit, you'll find she relaxes.

I'll admit, it does take time and patience, but it needs to be done.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Okay she sits extremely well at home with only 1 hand movement. When around others she won't sit or do anything for me. I cant seem to remove her attention away from everything around her. What helps this?
I'm no expert, and I might jumble this, but hopefully I can make some sense. I try to think of the three D's when I am training with my animals: Distraction, Distance, and Duration. Anytime you add to one of those D's, you'll need to lower your criteria on one of the others. So say she Sits perfectly in your living room from five feet away with a hand signal. Awesome. Now we're going to move outside where there aren't any people or dogs, but still distractions. You can't expect her to still obey perfectly, you've got to up the ante a bit to keep her attention. Once she's doing her Sit perfectly outside around nobody, then you progress to somewhere where people and other stuff is still a ways away, and do it all again. Of course, this doesn't all happen in one short training session, but over the course of some time. (Depending on the dog, it might be a few days to several weeks for each step.)

I'd also consider having extra super yummy treats for those times when there will be more distractions, so that she might be persuaded that you are infinitely more interesting than anything else around. Set her up for success. Don't go so close to anybody else that she completely ignores you, instead turn and go another way and work her a bit more. Have a happy party for her when she does what you want.

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Never use a reward as a temporary distraction.
I have to disagree with this, as rewards can be a great way to break a cycle with a dog. For example, when I was out with my dog one day, keeping her on the leash as I should, we were charged by a couple dogs. Rather than try to pick up my girl and run, which could trigger them to chase, I threw a handful of really yummy smelling treats and quickly moved off to the side and away from the dogs, while stuffing treats into my dogs mouth as well. Or, in another case, with a fearful dog who could not deal with traffic (in NYC no less!), I pretty much turned into a jackpot machine for quite a while so that she would be thinking about all those nummy treats instead of the big scary smoke machines.
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