People walking at us - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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People walking at us

My dog really does not like people walking at us. But only in certain situations

For example if we are walking on the sidewalk at the park and someone walks past us he is fine because we are both moving. He will watch them but does not lunge or bark. It’s much easier to distract him and keep him moving past them

However, if we sit on a bench and someone walks to go past us my dog barks and lunges at them while they are still 10 yards away. He does not like if we are stationary and ppl walk at us. It’s very hard for me to distract him

An example is we walked up to a stranger that was fishing off the bench. My dog was great he lied down 6 feet from the fisherman and was attentive of the man but was quiet and relaxed. While I’m talking to the fisherman another lady comes to walk by us on the sidewalk, right past the bench. When she gets to around 10 yards my dog stood up at attention and as she is walking towards us he freaks out on the lady. He was barking and lunging at her as she walked past. I have him held by his harness handle and am telling him NO. After she walked by my dog lied back down and didn’t care about the guy fishing 6ft away again and even the fisherman was amazed at how different he was

Why does my dog do this and how to correct?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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I forgot to add my dog just turned 1 and is west German working line
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 04:30 AM
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That is a tough one and you will do good to have a pro there watching what happens. You may need help timing your corrections and rewards.

In the meantime, if people are coming toward you to chat with you , there are two things to do: One, tell the person approaching to not look at the dog, look at you and ignore the dog. The second thing is before your dog gets fixated on someone, give him a task. Sometimes dogs do the wrong thing because they don't know the right thing. Both of these ideas are going to help you manage the problem but won't really fix the problem. Correcting is tricky because you don't want the dog to think "someone is coming near us and my human is going to get mad. I better warn them away". Someone there watching can help you figure out if the lunging is fear or frustration (if only I could get off of this leash I could go say hello properly). Then you can work together to figure out how to teach your dog better responses.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 08:48 AM
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Your dog is reaching the age where he's starting to do what is (or should be a part of all good GSDs) genetically a part of his breed.....protect.....when you and your dog are not moving....when anyone approaches he doesn't know their intentions...he warns them off......


Over the years I've had this work but it will take plenty of time and willing people and/or friends---and some treats ......have some friends OR willing folks you may meet at the park walk towards you at a normal pace not fast and not slow you talk to them as they walk to you--they talk to you.... ignoring your dog.....keep talking have the "stranger" sit down a few feet away from the end of your dogs leash turning their back to you and your dog as they sit as both of you keep talking your dog will typically calm down when he does...have the "stranger" give him a treat or two....repeat this over and over with different folks on different days over time your dog will stop seeing the strangers as a threat....it'll take time and repetition but based on your fisherman story your dog sounds very stable....I suspect he'll learn pretty quick....
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CatMan900 View Post

Why does my dog do this and how to correct?

It could a variety of things, but I would say at least a low threshold for defense or possibly some nerviness or insecurity. Is he obedience trained? If so, practice having him do sits and downs with people approaching and correct him with a prong collar if he breaks the sit or down and becomes reactive.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 09:41 AM
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You fix this with obedience. Your dog has been told to Sit. He breaks the sit, now you can correct him. You can't correct for the reaction but you can correct for disobedience.

I'm sure somewhere in these articles Beth talks about reactive dogs and obedience.
https://www.dog-trainer.biz/dogtrainingarticles.html




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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 11:27 AM
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I had this issue with my dog. He is doing great now at 2. Low threshold for defense sounds about right for our case. He has suspicion and is a forward defensive dog.

I can only tell you what worked for us under the guidance of a K9 trainer who had worked with his sire. I am a novice but he has taught me a lot.

1) joined an IPO club, learned more structured obedience that is based on focus on handler. The focus part was key. I thought the focused heel was silly until I learned the value of being able to get your dog's undivided attention on demand. It doesn't mean he has to walk around in life like that, it means when I say fuss it means look at me and only me. Also at IPO he learned confidence through the protection work. Being that defensive is steeped in uncertainty and lack of confidence in a lot of cases..it was in our case.

2) Once I felt he knew the focus command it was serious correction time when he ignored it and lunged, barked, or even eye balled somebody in a specific way. There is a more graphic term for the "eye balling" but cant type it here lol Prong corrections, and being 4'11 I had to correct like I meant it. You don't make those decisions, I do. And it has to be delivered with timing. Once they are in full reactivity ill/late timed corrections don't always work and can also make it worse. Definitely have a breed knowledgeable trainer work this with you. It is a worthy investment.

3) Continue with training and safe exposure. It isnt train and it's fixed. It's a matter of implementing what you have learned all the time. When we go to Lowes we do OB there. He is constantly rewarded for being neutral in one way or another (verbal praise, a tug or ball reward..I change it up)

Through all that and probably through maturity and his genetic temperament coming into full view, he is actually friendly. He like meeting people that are appropriate. he sits and is released to greet. He enjoys that. Who knew? His "curious" face puts some people on edge so I have to watch for mixed signals too. I can tell when he is curious and anticipating saying hi, or when he is dead staring. It is not easy, it was my obligation to learn all that body language and to pay a trainer to teach me.

However I will always have to have my head on a swivel for the idiots that will ruffle and get all over a strange dog without asking. He will never be ok with that. He has good bite inhibition but he will scare somebody off by loudly letting them know not to do that to us. It is 100% my responsibility to pay attention at all times to what we are doing and who is around us so he is not put in that position period. It isnt fair to anyone, least of Valor..it undoes a lot of confidence building work. So I have developed a very firm "stop, do not pet him" without sounding alarmed which isn't great either. It's a command, not a distress plea if you know what I mean. So what if people are insulted? You have to protect your dog.

He is a good GSD. I feel safe with him by my side and in my house. It is my job in life to him to make sure he is safe too

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 01:49 PM
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...1) joined an IPO club, learned more structured obedience that is based on focus on handler. The focus part was key. I thought the focused heel was silly until I learned the value of being able to get your dog's undivided attention on demand. It doesn't mean he has to walk around in life like that, it means when I say fuss it means look at me and only me...

I have put a ton of time into my dog with a focused static and moving heel and have made very good progress. You said it doesn't mean the dog has to walk around in life like that. For me, when the dog is on leash and not doing a focused heel I either let him be at the end of the leash directly in front of me or on the right side so it is clear the focused heel is only on the left side. We are not at the point of doing a focused heel when coming out for bite work, but I have him on my right side and hold the leash up and tight and give the "walk" command meaning he has to come on the field for bite work under control rather than coming into drive as soon as he sees the decoy. Then I call him to heel, down him, have him sit, tell him fuss and after a few seconds of eye contact I give the pass auf command and he lights up and comes into drive. This is training for PSA where control is one of the biggest aspects of the sport.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 03:01 PM
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I use Fuss for the focused heel either left or right, and then when we are out and about I use "with me" which means nice loose lead next to me and "free" which means go ahead and zig zag sniff around in front of me. I used "fuss" to get him past stuff in public when he was tensing up. I don't need to do it anymore off the field in public anymore, but I keep it practiced. Then there was the time I was carrying a full poop bag in my left hand and he thought it was a gappy ball...and he figured 10 paces of focus earned him a grab. Nobody was happy about that outcome, especially him.

Learning demand intense focus was game changing for us.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 04:04 PM
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Then there was the time I was carrying a full poop bag in my left hand and he thought it was a gappy ball...and he figured 10 paces of focus earned him a grab. Nobody was happy about that outcome, especially him.
I hate when that happens.
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