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Old 01-16-2013, 12:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Ups and Downs of GSD Puppy

The name of my GSD is Dante. He is a male who is not neutered yet but will be within the next 14 days. He was born July 12th 2012 which makes him a few days over 6 months. I adopted him when he was 9 weeks. Our successes together far outweigh the negatives which are still there. The current and probably only problem right now is how he greets new people. If someone was to come over, Dante will start barking at them. I tell my guests not to make eye contact, talk to, or touch Dante. Unfortunately I will be lucky if 1 our of 10 people actually listen to my instructions. I always get people who think they are dog people and immediately start talking, trying to pet, and making direct eye contact with Dante. It makes me furious and drives Dante crazy. I'm close to posting a sign on my backdoor with clear instructions for guests. I do have one person who comes over every Tuesday and Thursday for my youngest daughter for speech therapy. She has been very cooperative. She has done exactly what I have asked and it takes very little to calm Dante down when she is in the house. So I guess my question is this. How do I teach my GSD not to growl and bark at people even though they are not following the rules? And is this just a phase? I can always kick people out of my house but if I am in public walking him and bump into someone I know and talk he will bark at them.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Am I correct to assume he hasn't been socialized that much? Or maybe he has but not enough? The puppy (by general and broad rule of thumb) should interact with 100 people by 4 months. Growling and barking at people within your own home means the puppy is defensive and bit insecure. Which is somewhat reasonable from a young puppy but at 6 months going on 7 this behavior needs to be nipped asap. Especially because at this age, they are already getting much bigger, have the attention and focus and mental capability to understand your wants and to be trained appropriately.
The opinions may vary but I also think that there is some truth to the fact that the dog does not believe you to be the leader. Call it what you will "pack leader", "alpha", "leader", "daddy", whatever it is. He's calling the shots, he's becoming defensive and addressing strangers. But don't misunderstand, trying to outalpha your dog with corrections will only mitigate the problem a little bit if it's a socialization issue. And vice versa. Just curious, is he crate trained? Does he pull on the leash when you walk? Does he sit on your furniture and on your couch without your approval? Have you ever had him sleep on the couch and woken him up and told him to get off? Did he? Or did he look at you and ignore you or worse, growl? Does he have any food aggression issues?

I would look for an entire change in the dynamic of your relationship with the dog and start crate training if it hasn't happened already. Teach door manners, start NILIF training. Make the dog work for the food, walks, going outside, etc. Don't do anything when the dog asks or whines. Do you it on your terms. I make my dog sit before I give her water after exercise, before meals, before any treat. I make her sit before we leave the door. She was a little mischievous as a younger puppy and still is (5 mo old now) but now I can leave the door open and she will not go out. If she sticks her head out, I correct her verbally and give her a command. Simple No and "Back" will suffice. but the reason why it works is because she knows my so-called "threats" or verbal warnings to her are backed up 100% of the time. She knows if I have to repeat myself 3 times, I'm going over there to her, 100% of the time. Flu or cold, eating dinner or laying down watching a movie, I get up and address the issue 100% of the time. So you can say I'm strict but I'm not mean. And it's because that she knows I will back up what I say, I can simply whisper "lucky... no..." and she will look at me and listen.

The one thing I do not tolerate in my house is barking or growling. And because I have such a peeve with barking I made sure to have bunch of different people (tall, short, with hats, no hats, groups, thanksgiving dinner, etc.) come over. She goes potty in the front yard where there is a school field and there are other dogs, people on walks, playing soccer, etc. She was exposed to this environment of people coming and going since she was young and so she absolutely loves people. too much in fact.

I'm not sure where you're located but I have a good training formal obedience school if you're in Southern California. Good luck
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My GSD is crate trained, shows no dominance over my family or myself in any ways. During our daily walks the only time he pulls away is if there is another dog close by. But it's very easy to correct him and keep going. He is not allowed to walk into any door before myself or my family. And he does this on his own at this point. The only real problem I am facing is when someone he is not familiar with looks him in the eye. But when a person does as I ask and not makes eye contact or any contact to him he will be fine. When some knocks on my door he will bark, look to me, I will go to the door, all the while he will sit about 5 feet away. He knows now that rushing the door is not allowed. He does not chew anything other then his toys. He is not allowed on furniture unless he is invited. And he is not allowed on my bed for any reason. So I don't feel my role as Alpha is being questioned by him. It seems the barking at people is because he doesn't know how to act. Which is why I'm here.

EDIT: And we go to our local dog park all the time and he is excellent there. He walks into the pack nice and submissive and allows everyone to smell him both in the face and rear. But as soon as someone makes eye contact with him he will bark at them. So I guess what I need is an example of a good exercise to make him ignore people. Know they are not a threat till they truly threaten him or myself.

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Old 01-17-2013, 03:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodimus80 View Post
My GSD is crate trained, shows no dominance over my family or myself in any ways. During our daily walks the only time he pulls away is if there is another dog close by. But it's very easy to correct him and keep going. He is not allowed to walk into any door before myself or my family. And he does this on his own at this point. The only real problem I am facing is when someone he is not familiar with looks him in the eye. But when a person does as I ask and not makes eye contact or any contact to him he will be fine. When some knocks on my door he will bark, look to me, I will go to the door, all the while he will sit about 5 feet away. He knows now that rushing the door is not allowed. He does not chew anything other then his toys. He is not allowed on furniture unless he is invited. And he is not allowed on my bed for any reason. So I don't feel my role as Alpha is being questioned by him. It seems the barking at people is because he doesn't know how to act. Which is why I'm here.

EDIT: And we go to our local dog park all the time and he is excellent there. He walks into the pack nice and submissive and allows everyone to smell him both in the face and rear. But as soon as someone makes eye contact with him he will bark at them. So I guess what I need is an example of a good exercise to make him ignore people. Know they are not a threat till they truly threaten him or myself.
Hmm that is weird but if he's good with people until they make eye contact I think maybe it's been subconsciously conditioned into him now. Eye contact = bark esp since people are not allowed to give him eye contact due to his behavior. Kind of a catch 22. I would condition him to be okay with people making eye contact and start off slow from a distance where someone from the opposite side of the room (or wherever) will give him eye contact and you will be with him. And the moment you see the hackles go up or his "locked on" demeanor (fight mode), correct him and tell him no. This is before the bark occurs and it takes a while to see in a dog. Most of dog training and correcting weird behaviors is timing. Corrections as well as praise require impeccable timing but it's very easy once you see the signs. Do this and progress to where the person is allowed to come within a few feet of you (with your dog on a muzzle, absolutely a must at this point) and converse with the person for 5 minutes. Dog on the side of you and receiving corrections every time he acts up with a firm no. When he calms down the person may offer him a treat and pet him with eye contact and walk away. No looking back, just end the experience on a high note. And do this about 20 times with different people in different settings. I dont think it will be too hard to break espcially since he is still only 6 months. But it's hard to say without seeing him first hand.

A few things. I'm not sure what kind of corrections (if any) you are currently giving the dog but keep in mind that even soft dogs when they get into a fight or flight mode, will require much harder corrections to snap them out of it. You want to find that spot where the correction is adversive enough for the dog to snap out of it without injury to the dog or your relationship. A hard dog can receive a strong correction and will act like nothing happened within 3 seconds. They forget easily. Softer dogs you can barely touch and they will cower and it will take the drive out of them completely so you have to know which is right for your dog. It is much better and more effective (for you and the dog) to give one, good correction that snaps the dog out of it. one movement coupled with "No!" rather than multiple corrections that aren't quite delivering the message followed by "no no no no!!".

Last edited by pancake; 01-17-2013 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The correction I do the most at home is to stand in front of him and look at him. When we make eye contact he will sit. As soon as his rear is touching the ground I turn away. Here and there he will attempt to move past me after I've turned and I go back to blocking him and gaining eye contact. If he seems so excited that I can't get his attention, I will do the claw touch just to snap him out of it.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The Ups and Downs of GSD Puppy
I know I'm no expert, but according to an episode of Cesar Millan's show, it could be that Dante is picking up on your fear and frustration, and acting out against your guests?
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