Barking at people's feet and does not let people pet him?? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Barking at people's feet and does not let people pet him??

Hey guys,

I have talked about my pup Hunter here before he has had many problems I got him at 4 weeks of age and is doing much better now he is 5 months. But he is still scared when people they try and pet him and especially men. He also runs up to people and starts barking at there feet. I dont know what to do i try and correct his behavior when he barks at people and tell him NO!. I always go to Petco and give people treats to give him to socialize and he is very comfortable with it. But when it comes to petting with eye contact he gets scared and some times tries to bit peoples fingers. I feel like there is something else I need to do that is missing not just have people give him treats.

Also he gets very scared at dog parks he has had some bad incidents where he would get scared and every dog attacked him there it was horrifying. This happened twice one time two german shepherds attacked him and their owner had to pull them off and they had bloody hands and needed stitches from their dogs biting them when trying to pull them off poor hunter. At the dog parks people can pet him because he is more focused and scared of all the dogs so he doesn't really pay attention when strangers are petting him.

Please I really need help. I don't know what to do I am so worried. I have dog train and she hasn't been helping all she says is don't let anyone pet him and just let people give him treats. And she also put him on Prozac so he has been on that for that past three months and I want to take him off of it.

Thank you!!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 11:55 AM
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people with more experience will give you advice here.... but PLEASE don't take little Hunter to the dog park... at least not now. It sounds horrifying for him!!!

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 12:06 PM
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Why is your puppy on Prozac? Am I reading this right, the trainer put him on it, when he was 2 months old?!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 12:14 PM
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I'm not a trainer, but your trainer might be saying this to make sure EVERY human encounter is positive. Your dog might not view petting as positive, it might be scary for him, thus the reactions he's been displaying. To help build his confidence, it might be important for him to start seeing human interaction as a good thing.

While you work on his issues, I'd avoid situations that might end badly for your dog, including the dog park. Set him up for success.

This sounds like a delicate issue, and it'll take a lot of time. I'm no expert by any means, but that's what it looks like to me!

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 12:24 PM
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I can't give any advice with your issue....I have never had to deal with that far...
I can say our breeder and trainer have told us to AVOID dog parks!!!
They said many different reasons to avoid them!

Good luck!

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 12:26 PM
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It sounds like he's overwhelmed both at the dog park and outside in general. I'm going to tell you what worked for me

Rather than force interactions on him, take it slow and work at HIS pace. If he backs off, you back off and let him have his space. There's no need for him to be touched by strange humans any more than he needs dog friends. I have a fearful poodle that dislikes 99% of dogs and strange humans, I allow her to socialize as much as she wants but if she starts licking her lips, avoiding eye contact, or hiding behind my legs I immediately put an end to the interaction. If she starts showing signs of avoidance before they even touch her I step in between and block and politely tell the person that she's not up for being touched at that moment. I don't actively tell people to touch her or offer treats because I know she doesn't like it. If she approaches first that's great, but I let her make that call

Fearfulness is rarely cured through immersion techniques, dogs don't think like humans and rationalize that the fire hydrant beside the sidewalk is just a fire hydrant and therefore not scary. They see the shape and want to flee, it's an animal instinct.

The biggest tool you have in your pocket with dealing with a fearful dog is trust. It doesn't come easy, just like if you were terrified of heights, you trusting another human that does skydiving and wants you to join in is not easy. You can trust a family member or close friend that they will be there to support you through the entire experience or you can trust the instructor once they have demonstrated their capability. But if John Smith says "hey, here's my airplane let's go jump out of it. I'll keep you safe! Don't mind the rips in the parachute, its ok!" Trust doesn't erase the fear, you'll still hate heights but you can get through the experience if you have someone you know at your back willing to help you. What you are conveying to the dog is this: "I understand you are scared, that's ok and I'm here to protect you no matter what. Relax and we'll work through it together"

Your dog will learn to trust you in fearful situations when you have demonstrated again and again that you will protect them in those places.

So if the dog is scared of a fire hydrant as I've already used that example I would walk calmly and watch the dog as you approach. Once the dog shows signs of stress then immediately stop, you've reached that threshold. Relax, sit, sing a song quietly, etc. and wait for the dog to relax, it might take 5 seconds, or it might take 5 minutes or more. Give the dog the time it needs to process the scary thing. Once they've relaxed take one step forward, if the dog balks again then step back and wait again for the calmness then either walk back the direction you came or give the object a wide berth so the dog doesn't react and continue on your way. If the dog is showing only light signs of stress or nothing at all then give the dog extra leash so it's loose and walk yourself right up to the object, walk around it and touch it and prove to the dog that through your actions it is safe and not harmful.

It might seem overwhelming and hopeless and you'll probably have more failures than successes at first but you should slowly see improvement. Always end on positive notes, no matter what and when you look back you'll start to realize how far you've progressed. When I look at my poodle and see her succeeding where before she would fail, and to see that look of confidence and happiness on walks trust me, it's worth every drop of sweat and tears. My poodle will never be a 'normal' confident dog but I've learned that's ok with me, she's special just the way she is

I hope that helps, I wish you and your pup nothing but the best


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 12:40 PM
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You know, Jericho has a very similar issue. He's never once had a bad human or dog experience (well...since he has been with me. I adopted him when he was 3 months old, so I'm sure he's forgotten anything prior to that), but for some reason is fearful of strangers. I've been watching him and trying to figure out what the trigger is and it seems that it is men with hoods, caps, or people with gloves.

I talked to my trainer about it and she said that it is not uncommon for GSD's to have fear aggression issues. She suggested that when he is in a fearful situation (like ones described above) to get his focus back on me and treat the heck out of him so he begins to associate these situations with treats instead of fear. She also suggested giving the strangers with these triggers the high value treats to reinforce that these are not scary things that they are good things.

It's no easy by any stretch. Jericho is tall, strong, FAST, and scares the tar out of most people when he is in this mode. It's not easy to find a brave sole willing to be your test subject. Especially a stranger. However, this suggestion does seem to be working for Jericho. He's starting to turn to me for treats and my reaction to the "stranger danger". However, if they come too close or try to pass us, he loses focus and it back to the "I'm gonna eat you" behavior. So, while I have not totally proofed this, it does seem to be a solution that is working. You might want to try it with Hunter.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by shawnshayan9 View Post
I feel like there is something else I need to do that is missing not just have people give him treats.
Actually, since he's uncomfortable with eye contact and being petted by strangers, it would be better for people NOT to give him treats. If you want to have him around people for socialization it's important that those situations be positive for him, so keep your distance, and YOU give him treats. Instruct people to simply ignore him. Let him initiate contact if he wants to, never force him, and if people insist on staring at him anyway, turn him so he's facing away from them. If he's not happy and having fun, get him out of there and avoid those situations in the future! Over time you may be able to decrease the distance and keep him relaxed and focused, but don't rush the process.

Same with the dog park, he's already had bad experiences there, so please don't continue taking him. It would be better for him to be around dogs that you know (owned by friends, family, neighbors?) are healthy, UTD on vaccines, well socialized to other dogs, and especially, good with puppies. No socialization is better than bad socialization, and exposure to new people/places/things does not require interaction with them.

I would also find another trainer. We have a sub-forum for finding a good trainer, you might want to post a thread there for some suggestions. Talk to your vet about taking him off Prozac. I don't know much about it, but I think you need to do it gradually rather than stopping cold turkey.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 02:36 PM
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First, find another trainer. Look for one that specializes in aggression cases or a behaviorist. Start with private classes (more expensive but worth it) then when he is ready move to small classes. The advantage is you will be trained to handle your dog, gain the confidence you need as well to handle him.

I am surprised the vet would give a 5 mth puppy prozac, (went back and read better the pup was actually put on prozac as a 2 mth old?) I am almost willing to say find another vet as well. It definitely is a drug that has to be weaned off. Your pup will need to be followed up with bloodwork periodically monitoring his liver and thyroid functions. Woolf is on flouxetine(prozac) but that was done as a last resort and he was an adult. There are side effects and it can have the opposite effect on some dogs.

Here is a great thread that is ongoing for socialization - take the time to read the discussion and all view points -

Some links for training methods - I am biased towards BAT because I saw a huge change with Woolf when that was introduced.

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

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

This is a great page to help you learn to start reading your pup: The Canine Language | Life With Dogs
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 02:58 PM
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Our male BC Dexter developed issues with men, we got him at 8.5 weeks old and i know for a fact he has had zero bad experiances with people. He likes dogs alot so we took him to the dog park when he was younger but we have not been to a dog park for about a year or so, Dexter's attitude did not change until he was about almost 1.5. We adopted a rescue GSD mix and it was a amazing step forward or dexters issues. Shiloh loves people, she greets them with tail wagging, she loves being touched, she loves! loves! loves! and that is something dexter observed everytime someone came to the door. He watched shiloh get mad attention and rubs and she communicated something to him we could never communicate. I think that shiloh and the fact as he matured he gained more confidence in himself really helped with his crazy anti people antics. Its been a very long time since we have had a "dexter moment", and im so happy that he is over himself. I personally like the treat idea
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