Barking 6-Months Old GSD Embarrassing Me - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2018, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Barking 6-Months Old GSD Embarrassing Me

Hello everyone! My GSD is now 6 months old and still barking at strangers. I've been having this issue since he was 4 months old and thought maybe we oversocialized him. He has been going to PetSmart classes since he was 3 months old (now in intermediate class). We used to take him out to plazas at least twice a week in the past and we slowed down after thinking he was oversocializing. However, he still barks whenever strangers come up to us. Just this weekend, my hubby and I took him camping with us. Whenever our friends came up to us to bring us food and drinks, he will bark at them nonstop and then even try to lunge at them. We tried to have our friends give treats to him. He took the treats from them, but right after that, he started barking at them again. We had to pretty much segregate ourselves from all our friends during the trip because we don't want him to continue barking at people.



Another recent example was when we were at Home Depot. He was fine with the employees there at first since they didn't really get too close to him. Then he started sniffing the employee, and when he petted our pup on his head, he starting barking at the employee.



He also barks at our guests if he's outside in the playpen and sees visitors in our yard and won't stop until the guests are inside the house.



I know a lot of dogs do bark at strangers but since our pup is so big, it scares people away. I don't want people to think GSDs are mean so I want to do my best to control my pup's barking but don't know how else to. We don't use any prong or correction collars. When he starts barking, we just pull him away until he stops. As mentioned we, tried the treats thing a few times but that doesn't work because he'll take it and starts barking after he finishes eating it. If anyone else knows any other ways, please let me know. Thank you so much!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2018, 10:12 PM
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You are inadvertently rewarding his excited barking with treats and attention.It won't be easy since he's practiced this behavior for some time,but you can teach him to be calm in these situations.Start observing people from a distance where he remains calm.Don't allow people to touch him,just say you're sorry but he's in training.Crate him before guests arrive so he doesn't get all ramped up and start barking.Reward him calmly for good behavior as opposed to excited praise and showers of treats.Time,patience,and consistency
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2018, 10:45 PM
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I've never had this problem so I'm only guessing here. How about distractions? Get him to focus on you and work on sits and other commands while a friend is walking up. Reward the dog when he actually pays attention and find a high value treat. Not a regular treat. A HIGH VALUE treat, something that gets him drooling and his eyes get big, like peanut butter or liverwurst or shredded boiled chicken, etc.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2018, 10:47 PM
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Well,
GSDs should have some human aggression. They werent bred to be friendly and social. So he might not be an everyon type dog. Aloofness is ok, and hes learning to tell people that hes not comfortable. I'd limit people petting him. But he doesnt need to bark at people.
I don't think he understands that you don't want him to bark so much. You need to learn how to clearly communicate with him. A well placed correction (with a prong, with a no, etc.) would work wonders.
You can even work on him focusing on you. Dont treat him to not bark. Treat him to focus on you.

Snitches get stitches.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-09-2018, 11:01 PM
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I had a similar problem too back when he was 6/7 months (He's now approaching 1 year). It was sudden 'new' behaviour back then, I was surprised. He barked and lunged at people and scared people away. And around that time was the time he had his largest growth spurt, 14lb in 1 month, so he was suddenly 'big.' That's when I got him on a choke collar (I like it better than prong).

I trained and taught him leash correction means 'sit down and behave'. Also, you have to be able to differentiate if it is a 'friendly excitement bark' or a 'Get out of my face and my owner's face bark.' My dog barked no. 1 more frequently that I had come to know what I needed to do was to bring him out of the excitement, whatever that may be. I also taught him 'quiet' since he was 3 months old. Also, to minimise his chance of barking in public places, I try to exercise him (not only walk, I rollerblade with him too) vigorously before taking him to places like the malls. It makes SO MUCH difference. About a week ago, I took him to an outdoor mall in LA after we walked for 20 minutes and played in the park for 1-2 hours, he was very calm and relaxed in the mall. I sat down on a bench waiting for my sister to shop for around 15 minutes, 8 people came to ask if they can pet him, he was cool as a cucumber. He still barked once when one of the people had a really excited high-pitched voice, but he was under control the whole time.

In contrary, we went to another outdoor mall when he hadn't been exercised, and again I waited while my sister was shopping. He was completely unrelaxed, barked a few times, had to leash-correct him multiple times. I told my sister we better leave and exercise him before we go somewhere else. That's what I did.

So exercise your dog physically AND mentally. Get some training done. Make him feel secure with you. Try not to freak out when he's freaking out. The most important thing is to find a way to correct him, whatever works for both of you.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 02:02 AM
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Think long term, what do you want to see? Do you want a dog that will allow someone he hardly knows to walk up on you without him barking? Or, would you prefer he let you know, thank him, then have him settle?

The key is to work toward what you want to see from your dog. And stop being embarrassed! Take charge and teach him, he's just a puppy! Alerting you is a good thing, and as others have pointed out it's an integral part of the standard for GSDs.

As @cloudpump pointed out, communication with your dog IS training. Simply pulling him away and being embarrassed doesn't communicate what you're hoping for the dog to learn, in fact quite the opposite! When you get embarrassed your dog feels that change, but doesn't really understand it, and consequently he goes on even higher alert and acts worse! Tell him, via a leash correction, that you don't like that behavior, then immediately give him something he CAN do, sit, down, spin, it really doesn't matter, just something he CAN do that you then reward with praise, or a treat! But you need to be calm too afterward!

The leash correction, basically a sharp jerk, but not a yank or anything, it's difficult to explain but really easy to demonstrate. But you give a sharp jerk to break the spell and get his attention, then you give the new command and reward. Try your best not to let this kind of thing fluster you in any way, it's a teaching thing. The leash correction is not a punishment, it's an attention grabber and that's it!

Dog's focus on a thing, then wind up, then act. When you see the hyper focus, a smaller leash correction breaks the "spell". And this is the best time to act! When they get a bit more toward the wound up stage, it takes a bit more force to break the spell. When they're wound up enough to act on it, it takes even more force to break the spell. But in all cases it's a "spell breaking" action, not a punishment. And not something you should get upset about, it's training. It's communication, but it takes time!

It's really a perspective thing too. My puppy could never "embarrass" me because, after all it's her acting like an idiot, not me LOL! All puppies are idiots at times LOL! Good luck, and keep us updated!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 02:08 AM
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...dupucate post somehow....

But I am curious why you thought your pup was oversocialized in the first place? And exactly what you consider socialization to be?

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

Tim

Last edited by tim_s_adams; 07-10-2018 at 02:21 AM.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-10-2018, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogma13 View Post
You are inadvertently rewarding his excited barking with treats and attention.It won't be easy since he's practiced this behavior for some time,but you can teach him to be calm in these situations.Start observing people from a distance where he remains calm.Don't allow people to touch him,just say you're sorry but he's in training.Crate him before guests arrive so he doesn't get all ramped up and start barking.Reward him calmly for good behavior as opposed to excited praise and showers of treats.Time,patience,and consistency[IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif[/IMG]
Thank you for your response and for the recommendation to only reward calm behavior!

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Originally Posted by tc68 View Post
I've never had this problem so I'm only guessing here. How about distractions? Get him to focus on you and work on sits and other commands while a friend is walking up. Reward the dog when he actually pays attention and find a high value treat. Not a regular treat. A HIGH VALUE treat, something that gets him drooling and his eyes get big, like peanut butter or liverwurst or shredded boiled chicken, etc.
Thanks for your input and for the suggestion of high value treats. I'll try real meat next time we go out with him haha.

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Originally Posted by cloudpump View Post
Well,
GSDs should have some human aggression. They werent bred to be friendly and social. So he might not be an everyon type dog. Aloofness is ok, and hes learning to tell people that hes not comfortable. I'd limit people petting him. But he doesnt need to bark at people.
I don't think he understands that you don't want him to bark so much. You need to learn how to clearly communicate with him. A well placed correction (with a prong, with a no, etc.) would work wonders.
You can even work on him focusing on you. Dont treat him to not bark. Treat him to focus on you.
Thanks so much for your response! Yeah maybe my pup doesn't know that we don't like it when he barks at people and maybe thinks he's doing a great job lol.

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Originally Posted by McGloomy View Post
I had a similar problem too back when he was 6/7 months (He's now approaching 1 year). It was sudden 'new' behaviour back then, I was surprised. He barked and lunged at people and scared people away. And around that time was the time he had his largest growth spurt, 14lb in 1 month, so he was suddenly 'big.' That's when I got him on a choke collar (I like it better than prong).

I trained and taught him leash correction means 'sit down and behave'. Also, you have to be able to differentiate if it is a 'friendly excitement bark' or a 'Get out of my face and my owner's face bark.' My dog barked no. 1 more frequently that I had come to know what I needed to do was to bring him out of the excitement, whatever that may be. I also taught him 'quiet' since he was 3 months old. Also, to minimise his chance of barking in public places, I try to exercise him (not only walk, I rollerblade with him too) vigorously before taking him to places like the malls. It makes SO MUCH difference. About a week ago, I took him to an outdoor mall in LA after we walked for 20 minutes and played in the park for 1-2 hours, he was very calm and relaxed in the mall. I sat down on a bench waiting for my sister to shop for around 15 minutes, 8 people came to ask if they can pet him, he was cool as a cucumber. He still barked once when one of the people had a really excited high-pitched voice, but he was under control the whole time.

In contrary, we went to another outdoor mall when he hadn't been exercised, and again I waited while my sister was shopping. He was completely unrelaxed, barked a few times, had to leash-correct him multiple times. I told my sister we better leave and exercise him before we go somewhere else. That's what I did.

So exercise your dog physically AND mentally. Get some training done. Make him feel secure with you. Try not to freak out when he's freaking out. The most important thing is to find a way to correct him, whatever works for both of you.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the suggestions! I'll try to exercise him before taking him out with us and find the best way to correct him. Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
Think long term, what do you want to see? Do you want a dog that will allow someone he hardly knows to walk up on you without him barking? Or, would you prefer he let you know, thank him, then have him settle?

The key is to work toward what you want to see from your dog. And stop being embarrassed! Take charge and teach him, he's just a puppy! Alerting you is a good thing, and as others have pointed out it's an integral part of the standard for GSDs.

As @cloudpump pointed out, communication with your dog IS training. Simply pulling him away and being embarrassed doesn't communicate what you're hoping for the dog to learn, in fact quite the opposite! When you get embarrassed your dog feels that change, but doesn't really understand it, and consequently he goes on even higher alert and acts worse! Tell him, via a leash correction, that you don't like that behavior, then immediately give him something he CAN do, sit, down, spin, it really doesn't matter, just something he CAN do that you then reward with praise, or a treat! But you need to be calm too afterward!

The leash correction, basically a sharp jerk, but not a yank or anything, it's difficult to explain but really easy to demonstrate. But you give a sharp jerk to break the spell and get his attention, then you give the new command and reward. Try your best not to let this kind of thing fluster you in any way, it's a teaching thing. The leash correction is not a punishment, it's an attention grabber and that's it!

Dog's focus on a thing, then wind up, then act. When you see the hyper focus, a smaller leash correction breaks the "spell". And this is the best time to act! When they get a bit more toward the wound up stage, it takes a bit more force to break the spell. When they're wound up enough to act on it, it takes even more force to break the spell. But in all cases it's a "spell breaking" action, not a punishment. And not something you should get upset about, it's training. It's communication, but it takes time!

It's really a perspective thing too. My puppy could never "embarrass" me because, after all it's her acting like an idiot, not me LOL! All puppies are idiots at times LOL! Good luck, and keep us updated!
Thank you so so much! I love the spell breaking analogy. I feel much better after your response because I shouldn't feel embarrassed. I love my pup so much and so I have too high standards for him haha. Thanks for informing me of the leash sharp jerk. I'll try that next time he acts up again as a form of communication to him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
...dupucate post somehow....

But I am curious why you thought your pup was oversocialized in the first place? And exactly what you consider socialization to be?
I was taking him out many times a week in addition to puppy classes so some people suggested that he may be oversocialized causing him to bark at people. What I think of socialization is for him to get used to other dogs and humans around us and if they come close, he'll investigate but not barking at them nonstop. I'll definitely keep you and everyone posted after trying all the suggestions. Thanks everyone again!
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