Odd reaction to visitor - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Odd reaction to visitor

My GSD/BC girl is 10 weeks old. She's met my father 4 times, once at his place and the rest at mine. On the last two occasions, a week ago and today, she wouldn't go near him (she even backs away if he reaches for her). Today she was also barking at him and watching him really closely. I can't compare her behaviour with him to her behaviour with anyone else at home as we have few visitors. When we visit elsewhere she's initially reserved but soon settles and will let my friends handle her.

I know suspicion of outsiders is a GSD trait, and I'm happy with that. I hadn't expected to see it yet though, especially with someone she sees regularly. Is it supposed to start so young? He's tall and bulky, with huge hands and a gruff voice and a less than ideal approach to dogs. Could it just be because she finds him intimidating?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 03:30 AM
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It's perfectly normal behavior, and it could be for any number or reasons. Maybe his voice, or his size, or may be just trying too hard to be friends. Have him just ignore her completely, but you show her he's okay by interacting with him. If he continues to ignore her, she'll get curious and investigate him on her own terms. I have a very deep voice, and can be rather loud on occasion, so some dogs take a little time to get used to that. All perfectly normal...
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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That's reassuring, thanks. I just took her to a family gathering and she was good as gold and lapping up the attention. My father doesn't understand dogs at all and is unlikely to ever learn (he once backed one of my nervous fosters into a corner and still denies that the growling and bared teeth were anything to do with him) so it's not like I'm ever going to leave her in his care. I'd just like her to not be afraid of him. I'll ask him to back off.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 11:01 AM
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Given what you've described, you may have to take a different approach --- at least, when your father is around. It's hard to tell what she's responding to or why, but, at this age, you don't want her developing bad responses to questionable behavior. And, I consider staring at a dog/puppy questionable behavior no matter how well-intended it might be. I find the fact that he'd corner an unknown dog to be concerning; that he doesn't understand how he caused the dog's reaction, I find alarming. I suspect that simply "asking" him not to do something isn't going to be effective.

I'd recommend crating the puppy (with toys and/or a yummy treat) in a separate room with the door closed and locked, if need be. If asked, I'd say something like "Puppy doesn't do well with strangers, so let her rest." And, insist that he leave her alone.

From my perspective, your primary responsibility is to protect your puppy so that she doesn't think that she's got to protect herself from people (e.g., your father) who don't know how to interact with dogs or how to read the dog's behavior. So, there are two things you want to avoid: Having your father get bitten and having your puppy learn that biting is an acceptable default in scary/questionable interactions.

I certainly sympathize with your predicament; clueless relatives and friends can be a trial.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-29-2018, 12:53 PM
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GSD/BC-- Is that Border Collie? Isn't 10 weeks about the age of the first fear stage?

He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast;
He prayeth best who loveth best
All creatures great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth All.

Last edited by Nurse Bishop; 06-29-2018 at 12:57 PM.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, BC is border collie. Between 8 and 9 weeks she had a couple of days when she seemed to spook at absolutely everything but at the moment she's back to her normal self. She likes to take a few moments to weigh up new people/objects/situations, then she has a sniff and relaxes.

I don't want to take any chances with her as she grows up so I will take that advice to keep her away from him.
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