Barking at People/Dogs (Our 1 Issue with Jazmyn) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Barking at People/Dogs (Our 1 Issue with Jazmyn)

We are absolutely head over heels for our little girl. She is a really well behaved dog (13 weeks), and her training is coming along really well. She is really food-driven and this works to our advantage in most cases. So far, we only use her kibble as "treats" and this works extremely well. She knows the basics (sit, lay down, stand, stay, come, her name), as well as tricks (jump, spin, paw, speak). We have worked on off leash work in a tennis court and she stays right with us, but have yet to expand into open areas as her recall is not where it should be for this. She doesn't jump on people when she greets, them and is learning leave it for her biting.


Our issue with her that I'm concerned about is that she is nervous/fearful of excited dogs and she barks at oncoming people/dogs on walks. She did not do this the first 3 weeks, but has been getting worse the last 2 weeks. Here are some recent examples:
  1. On a walk, a man approached us with his 2 terrier dogs. She was walking well with us, and then we all but disappeared to her. She barks at him, wants to go forward, but then will move behind us and continue to bark. We do not reward this and try to ignore and keep moving but shes fixated.
  2. Hubby walked her by a house with 2 elderly people out front. She barked of course. They're experienced GSD owners so it didn't phase them, and once she got to go see them (they wanted to meet her), she was super happy, tail wagging and all.
  3. People will walk by across the street, or something catches her attention that shes unsure about, and she barks. Distracting her with a treat will often work for this.
  4. At puppy school, she does not like the crazy excited puppies. She tries to get away from them. However, she is very curious about the slow moving puppies (a bulldog pup and a lab that fell asleep in class LOL). She does love meeting the owners more than the puppies.
  5. We were down by the waterfront, and she barked at all approaching people, including 2 kids who were about 9-10. When the people have no dogs, she is excited and is very much wanting to meet the people, but her barking is probably making them nervous.
  6. We went to visit my mom & our neighbours 2 dogs were out. Their GSD 7 month puppy is a little wild and was going nuts. Jazmyn was unsure of her, so she just layed down and ignored their dog (yay!) and eventually their dog followed suit. However, she did bark at first and go behind us. She did this at puppy school as well, but as the class went along, she was paying full attention to us and less to the other dogs around her.
She is usually quite confident on our walks. She doesn't pull, walks fairly well with a loose leash but when she sees people/dogs its totally different. From what I've read, this is leash reactivity, and she's slightly fearful. (At home, at my moms home and in our yard, she is very confident & explorative, and LOVES to meet new people)

This week is supposed to be warmer so we are going to try and sit outside of a Walmart/Superstore to just let her people watch and treat her for ignoring or watching quietly. We are also going to ask strangers to give her a treat during walks to help her learn that good things come from new people too.

Are there tips on how we can help this? Any tips specifically for the winter?

Thanks!!! (and ask away if you need any more info!)

Lisa
Jazmyn - 11/11/2011

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 02:53 PM
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I read 1 mistake you made and thats giving her a treat to redirect her attention. You are actually rewarding her for barking.

I would also ask who is taking who for a walk. Do you follow the correct guidelines so your dog understands you are taking her for a walk. If you allow your dog to think she is the pack leader she will possibly continue acting the same way.

Allowing her to socialize as much as possible should build her confidence.
You might want to stay clear of dogs that are very hyper or dog owners that don't control their dogs until she gets a bit older and more confidence in herself.

Reward her only when she acts appropriately.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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I should clarify that we ask her to sit & pay attention to us (being quiet) before we give her the treat. If shes barking, no treat. If we can't stop her from barking, we remove her and continue on our walk with no treat/praise.

I believe that we definitely take her for a walk. We get her to sit before any street crossing and she is almost always walking right between us in a loose heel position (she likes to be close). We don't allow her to wander and we do not let her pull us where she wants to go. If she stops behind us, she gets a little encouragement or a treat lure and back inbetween us she goes. She also does this when we are practicing off leash in a tennis court or fenced area.

Lisa
Jazmyn - 11/11/2011

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ZAYDA View Post
I read 1 mistake you made and thats giving her a treat to redirect her attention. You are actually rewarding her for barking.

I would also ask who is taking who for a walk. Do you follow the correct guidelines so your dog understands you are taking her for a walk. If you allow your dog to think she is the pack leader she will possibly continue acting the same way.

Allowing her to socialize as much as possible should build her confidence.
You might want to stay clear of dogs that are very hyper or dog owners that don't control their dogs until she gets a bit older and more confidence in herself.

Reward her only when she acts appropriately.
Many people use treats as redirection in reactive behavior. It's not seen as rewarding the barking, but associating reward or a good thing with whatever she is reacting to. I used this with my reactive female as a pup. As she got older and stronger, I used a combination of correction and rewards.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by *Lisa* View Post
I should clarify that we ask her to sit & pay attention to us (being quiet) before we give her the treat. If shes barking, no treat. If we can't stop her from barking, we remove her and continue on our walk with no treat/praise.

I believe that we definitely take her for a walk. We get her to sit before any street crossing and she is almost always walking right between us in a loose heel position (she likes to be close). We don't allow her to wander and we do not let her pull us where she wants to go. If she stops behind us, she gets a little encouragement or a treat lure and back inbetween us she goes. She also does this when we are practicing off leash in a tennis court or fenced area.
I think you're doing well. Just continue to socialize and redirect the behavior. My female was extremely dog reactive beginning at only 14 weeks. Her fear is genetic and can never be fully trained out of her, but with time, she has come leaps and bounds. The most important thing I learned is not to react to the negative behavior, and always display calm assertiveness. I used to get tense on walks because of her reactiveness and she would sense it and feed off of me. It will take some time, but you will learn to read her body language and intercept the behavior before it occurs. Good luck!
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-17-2012, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Jaz is my first dog, and the first that has been people/dog reactive. She has been improving in some ways, but not in others.

Tonight for example, we were out on our walk. A couple was coming up behind us and i saw them so i had her focus on me, being quiet with treats. Once they were within 20 feet, i disappeared to her. She barked like crazy. Thankfully they werent afraid. They approaced us and finally Jazmyn realized she may get some attention. She does back up behind me so she is unsure & nervous. The female wanted to pet her so i asked if she'd give treats and she agreed. Jazmyn came right around, fear gone! Tail wagging, happy puppy. HOWEVER, when they went to walk away from us, crazy puppy returned! Barking, whining & pulling. She had no focus so we went the other direction. She barked until they were out of her sight.

She seems to act up more on walks at night vs. daytime. We'll see what i can do tomorrow with higher value treats.

Any other suggestions?

Lisa
Jazmyn - 11/11/2011

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-17-2012, 09:18 PM
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I think you're doing well. Just continue to socialize and redirect the behavior. My female was extremely dog reactive beginning at only 14 weeks. Her fear is genetic and can never be fully trained out of her, but with time, she has come leaps and bounds. The most important thing I learned is not to react to the negative behavior, and always display calm assertiveness. I used to get tense on walks because of her reactiveness and she would sense it and feed off of me. It will take some time, but you will learn to read her body language and intercept the behavior before it occurs. Good luck!
I agree. She is only a baby and I think you will get a handle on it. Just stay calm and in charge and she will probably come around. Many GSDs have genetic weaknesses that can only be partially overcome or overcome with a lot of work and time. Hopefully, your pup is just exuberant and will calm down with maturity and your leadership.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-17-2012, 09:38 PM
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Your puppy sounds exactly like my girl at that age! I finally figured out the best way for me to work through those situations. I would use my happiest voice, get her to focus on me using a treat, and keep on walking!

It is so essential not to back off socialization and be put off by the discouraging barking. Best of luck!

Gracie - GSD - May 3, 2011
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a bit of an update:

Jazmyn is now just over 16 weeks old. This is still an ongoing issue. Some days are better/worse than others. We have yet to find the "right" treat that will help snap her out of a crazy state. Prevention seems to be the key, but doesn't always work.

Barking at "things" (ie plants, strange trees, etc) is calming, and is more of a quiet huff. She is very easy to quiet when passing these objects and focus is very easily returned to us.

People/Dogs are still another issue. It also doesn't help that just about 2 weeks ago, she was almost attacked by an off-leash rottweiler (ugh the joys of set backs). She is learning "watch me" and occasionally checks in, but when shes very interested removing her is the other option & we turn and walk the other way.

Hubby is taking her more places during the day, to walk & people watch. Walmart parking lot, grocery store lot, gas stations are all in close distance so they are the plan for now.

We took her to a puppy social at our new training facility on the weekend, and overall she did fairly well (I think). She was barking like a crazy woman going in, but we had her calm down & lay down before entering. When you walk in the door before the off leash play session there is a gate, she layed down before entering. Once in, she was unsure, but got comfy after a little bit. The puppy social is for dogs 10-24 weeks old (preferably breeds over 20 pounds by this stage). She got along fairly well with our friends 20 week old white gsd, and did enjoy chasing the ball and playing chase with other dogs. A few things I noticed:
1) She is not a very good puppy greeter, she goes for the nose sniff rather than the rear, we're working on this
2) She attempts to nip playing chase (herding behaviour that I don't like - we'd call her back for a moment if she was doing this)
3) She likes to be the Chaser, not the chasee sometimes
4) She barks at the dogs when playing, which they dont seem to totally understand/like
5) She doesn't like dogs with highly excited energy or when they're jumping all over her (one puppy was 3 legged and moved sparatically and was jumping all over her, she didn't like him)

She starts her next "Basic Manners" class tomorrow night, so I am going to ask the trainer for any advice (She'll see Jazmyn's behaviour when we walk in, as there will be new dogs/people in the class she hasn't met)

After puppy social she met my friend & his wife, with the 3.5 year old twins and did great! They have a chihuahua/jack russell cross that was very annoyed by her size, but she was nice. Their Pomeranian mix did well with her and she pretty much just ignored her. She was really nice to the kids, except 1 case of sock stealing lol.

Any advise is greatly appreciated

Lisa
Jazmyn - 11/11/2011

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 03:16 AM
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Sometimes when a dog gets over threshold then there IS no treat that will bring them back, so prevention is really really important. If at all possible, really watch for the signs that she's getting closer to reacting and work from there or farther away.

I've found that some dogs just have different playing styles. And some dogs can adjust to most styles, or might not like certain ones. A good trainer should be able to help point out things you can do to mitigate any issues that might be small now but turn into big ones later.

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