Ok, I feel like throwing my hands up and giving up!
(I would like to preface this by saying, my pup is in daycare. My mom was caring for her during the work day, but she recently lost her battle with cancer, so that is no longer an option for me. With no daycare, my pup would be locked in her crate for 10 hours a day. I live in the country, so finding a dog walker is difficult)
I have my 5MO female. She is very friendly with people, but is over-reactive with other dogs.
It can go either way, she either wants to play to the point that she does her excited barking and pulling to get to other dogs, or the hackles are up and it's her big girl bark.
I know this is her challenge, so since I've had her, I've been taking her to flyball a couple days a week, we did a puppy socialization class, just completed Grade 1 (passed with flying colours) and I take her to schutzhund trials (to spectate) and she's in doggy daycare 5 days a week. I try to do all the things to establish myself as the pack leader, but maybe I'm not being successful? I feel like if she trusted me to handle it, she wouldn't react like this.
Other dogs have always been her problem, so I've been working really hard to make sure she spends lots of time with all kinds of dogs. Sometimes she's completely cool with other dogs and then some dogs seem to set her off.
This morning when I got to daycare she saw an Airedale and soon as she caught his/her scent, before she even saw him/her she was barking and the hackles were up. This dog didn't seem to be put off and actually came over to greet her in a friendly way. While they sniffed she was quiet, but then when the dog walked away she was back to barking.
This is a dog she hangs out with frequently with no problems, so I'm not sure what is up.
A couple of things are maybe changing for her and setting her off.
1) it was dark out and windy - I don't know if that puts dogs into a more alert state of mind?
2) usually when I get there, any other dogs are in the play area already, it just worked out today that we got there at the same time and this dog was in the pickup/drop off area when I got there, so that might have been unusual in her mind
3) I think she's starting to see the daycare as one of "her" places, like a second home? Maybe in her mind it's her territory? She barked at a painter that came in one time when I was dropping her off, like she thought he shouldn't be there. (He just walked right in, wasn't let in - which was fine with us, but maybe not in her mind?)
4) I was there (obviously) does she think she's guarding me?
5) Is she guarding herself?
6) she's getting to the point where I need to think about spaying her soon, could this be partly hormonal? Shes' always kind of been like this though, so I don't think that's it.
She's not got the strongest nerves of any GSD I've seen. I don't want to say she's weak nerved exactly, but she is more of a submissive type and sometimes is unsure about things so I think she tries to scare them off before they eat her or something.
How do I work through this with her? I've noticed that it's sometimes certain types of dogs that seem to bother her more, other GSD's seem to get to her, could it be a confidence/dominance thing that she's reading off them?
At obedience class she was completely fine with the other dogs around her. I can drop her leash and do sit/stays, down/stays etc and she's great. But another GSD owner took her big boy close to me and she barked at him. I'm not even sure if she thinks shes guarding me or what?
Is this a hopeless situation? I want her to feel ok around other dogs and I don't want to be afraid that it might escalate from "all bark, no bite" into a biter and have to hide her away.
I don't know how much more dog to dog socialization I can possibly do with her! I live in the country so it's hard. I grew up with Labs, we were utterly negligent on their socialization and they turned out so much better! I'm getting really frustrated, with her and with myself. I'm trying so hard with her, but I feel like I'm doing everything wrong.
What should I be dong to correct this? Should I be actively correcting her, should I walk her a different direction? (Hard to do when I'm running late for work as it is)
She's such a sweet girl otherwise, I want her to feel happy and relaxed.