Commands and training a dog that a person is "OK"/Safe? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Commands and training a dog that a person is "OK"/Safe?

My dog has become very protective of my husband at his work. He has a tow/impound yard with a small office in an office trailer. Our dog starts barking fiercely as soon as a person, even people she knows, starts to climb the three stairs up to the office with my husband. When I am working there by myself, my dog is always with me, she initially barks as someone comes up to our half door, then I can get her into a "down" and she will be alert, but not crazy. When my husband is there, he often has business neighbors stop by and some police officers. The police officers think it's cool that our dog is so protective, but there must be a command and a way of telling a dog, "this person is OK, not harmful". Outside the office, most of my husband's friends can pet her, and she will accept treats from them, but they could give her treats all day and she still gets reactive if they want to go inside with my husband. Any suggestions, resources? Or should I get some private training lessons?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 07:23 PM
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Did this just start, or has it been ongoing? How old is she? Has your husband corrected her or tried to tone down the behavior?
You have to teach the dog what level of protection is acceptable. If you don't teach them, then they decide on their own, and it isn't always what the owners want, as you are finding out.

Emphasize the obedience.
Set up some drills with friends where they start the furthest point away when she starts getting upset. Tell her 'no' and place her in a down or sit. Have the person go away. As this gets easier for her and she is reliably calming down, have the person move in a little further. You don't have to repeat or get it done all at once. Take in whatever steps she is comfortable with. You have to make a big difference though between telling her 'no' and when she has done what you asked her to. She really has to understand you are not happy with her when she is so reactive, and are very happy with her when she is calmer.
Working with her on focusing on you will also help. It will be easier to disengage her if she has a solid focus command on you.

I use "easy" or "ok" to let the dogs know they can approach someone, or that the person is ok. You can use 'pizza'. The command doesn't really matter, but conveying to her what you want through consistency and voice tone does. So pick a word and stick with it.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 08:09 PM
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The fact that she doesn't go crazy when you are in the office, and she's fine with people outside the office, tells me there's something going on between your dog and your husband inside the office. I bet that he is, perhaps unwittingly, rewarding her reactive behavior. It's very common for people to pet and coo at their dogs when they are barking at something, ostensibly to "calm them down"... but the dog interprets this as praise.

Does she obey him generally? How old is she?

My GSD barks at people on the other side of the fence, but a sharp "quiet!" from me and she stops. If I were to say, "It's okay," she would interpret this as praise and encouragement.

My Akbash Dog, on the other hand, has a totally different temperament and thought process. He feels duty-bound to alert, but doesn't really want to bother himself to *do* anything. With him, "it's okay" means "I heard you and I'm taking care of the situation", which is all he seems to want--to know that I've been alerted, so he can go back to sleep. If I were to reprimand or use a sharp tone to quiet him, it would confuse him. "Why are you yelling at ME? You should be paying attention to the thing I'm barking at!"

I suspect your dog is more like my own GSD. With GSDs, barking can become a sport in and of itself; scaring people is fun! I think the key is to let your dog know that YOU are in control of the situation and her barking is not necessary or desired. Most GSDs have a strong desire to please their owners, so it helps to let her know when you are NOT pleased with her behavior. Interrupting the barking and giving her an alternative command like "platz" or "go lay down" gives her something else to do than WILL please you.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your responses, they are giving me good insight. Molly turned 2 years old last April. And this is something new, usually I was just with her alone at the office, but recently my husband and I have been there together more often. He has done no training with our dog, he loves her, but has difficulty walking a lot, so the dog has done all training with my adult daughter and myself.

Elektra2167 - I always make her go into the "down" position, and she usually responds well, but still barks. I'll take your recommendation and practice some drills with my husband's friends while they are there. Most have dogs and are very understanding. You are correct in that our dog has taken it upon herself to decide the level of protection for my husband. Hopefully over time, as with much of her training things have improved with practice.

Freestep - Our dog does obey my husband, he just does not have that much practice. You also hit on some points, sometimes I think our dog does have fun scaring people, and at first I think my husband was secretly pleased with her reactive behavior, plus it seemed like some of his law enforcement friends may have thought it cool, even though it scared them too.

Our dog was sometimes reactive on walks with people and dogs, we've done a lot of positive reinforcement, especially with dogs and she's doing great and seems to easily make new doggie friends. I'll try the same approach with both of your suggestions, and along with getting my husband more involved while we are at work. It's probably been confusing for our dog, on one hand it is nice to have some level of protection, although most of our customers are nice, some have criminal records and others may come to our office under the influence of something. So for me it's nice to have back up, and she behaves with me, so hopefully we can create a more disciplined environment between her and my husband. Thanks again.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 12:34 AM
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Explain to your husband that it won't be very funny when she takes a bite out of a completely friendly customer. I know you think it nice to have that protection, but you also have to think about how huge of a liability your dog is becoming. Without proper training, and you knowing that you have her under control 100% of the time, you will never know what she is capable of doing and when she will cross the line from barking, to more aggressive action.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martemchik View Post
Explain to your husband that it won't be very funny when she takes a bite out of a completely friendly customer. I know you think it nice to have that protection, but you also have to think about how huge of a liability your dog is becoming. Without proper training, and you knowing that you have her under control 100% of the time, you will never know what she is capable of doing and when she will cross the line from barking, to more aggressive action.
I'm agreeing with the above.

And thinking that all the police and people praising your HUSBAND for having such a 'protective' dog have mis-lead your husband to encourage rather than take charge.

Take charge the way you have.

Funny thing is your husband has taught your pup that HE is weak and puny and needs protection. And that's the dogs JOB.

Rather than you have taught your dog that YOU are in control, YOU can handle anyone, and that you are the Queen of the World! So funny that your husband is the one that needs someone to take care of him, and not just from a real threat, but from EVERYONE!

Good to know that your dog is wonderful, it's your husband that need to learn how to get your pup to realize he's not afraid of everything and needs to be protected. Instead that HE is a big guy, can take care of himself, and he can step forward and deal with the situation so your pup can chill.

If your husband does nothing, I agree there's a good chance someone will get bit, and probably someone your husband knows cause they won't know enough to be afraid cause they know the dog...




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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 10:56 AM
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Sounds like you have a very nice dog, have somebody evaluate her when she is doing the behavior. Many many dogs today that have become barkers in situations won't bite butter. Barking is not a primary precursor to biting someone. A good trainer can observe your dog and give you good advice. The body language of the dog will tell the way the dog is perceiving things and whether there is probability of this escalating into a bite.
Good Luck
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