Behavior Concerns - 7 month old GSD - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Behavior Concerns - 7 month old GSD

Hi! I am curious if anyone else has had similar problems with their German Shepherd or if anyone has advice/feedback. I currently have a 7.5 month old male puppy. We attended puppy class when he was younger and we started private training classes at around 5 months and we have been working with a trainer weekly. I understand he is just a puppy but I am starting to have concerns around his behavior. Side note: I would almost go far enough to say my pup is spoiled with exercise, training and socialization too. We introduced the prong collar around 5 months which helped with the excitement around dogs and people on walks. I have continued to use positive reinforcement during his training sessions and on walks. He walks great around people in the city and is aloof/tolerates strangers in an appropriate way when they run up to him unannounced and not asking to pet him first.

My pup definitely seems to feel threatened by visitors/strangers when he is stationary (lying down, sitting, etc). He usually does fine sitting outside at stop lights and crosswalks around strangers though. The issue is when we are visiting someone in their house or having people come over to our house. The other day I took him to my parents house which he has been before. He did great with them at first and we went for a walk together. However, when we got back to the house - when he was resting he got up and charged my father walking back into the kitchen from other room. He got so close lunging and barking that he looked like he was almost about to bite him and tried nipping at his legs. He realized it was my father and felt awful afterwards. He sat there with his head down. My father left the house and came back 30 minutes later and my puppy went over to my father and sat there again, almost looking for forgiveness. He always feels bad about it when he realizes the person he reached is someone he is generally friendly with (which is basically always the situation - it's never someone new to him as he has met our close friends and family since a young age). I have noticed that this behavior escalates with doors opening (not knowing who is coming from the other side) or someone leaves the room and walks back in. He doesn't react to me this way but only strangers (visitors, friends, extended family). Also, I want to note that this happens when we are at a friends house or in our own house.

Thank you so much for any insight/advise! I am starting to feel extremely stressed with his behavior and I just want to nip this behavior in the butt early on so I don't have issues later down the road.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 11:09 PM
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I would say for starters put him on a leash when other people are around. Then when he starts you can easily physically intervene. Tell him he doesn't need to do that. If you can get him to be sensible reward him for that. Make sure he knows you know who that is and his response is unnecessary.

Sounds like an insecure dog/insecure phase, feeling like he is having to deal with stuff himself. Teach him place. Put him in place on a leash behind you (you between him and door) so he feels less like it is all his responsibility
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 11:50 AM
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So we currently have a 6 month old female GSD mix. We got her from a rescue when she was 12 weeks. She was fine upon visiting her at the rescue- we have had dogs our whole life and know a thing or 2 about them There were no red flags. We got her home and we didn't see her for a few days. She was either under the table or behind her crate. We have 2 other dogs which helped relax her in our house. For the first few days, we stayed home with her so she could get acclimated. Well 4 days later our 16 year old son comes home from camp. And she low growled at him. Seriously. I was so upset. We had a local trainer come and analyze what she thought of the situation. She said our puppy is not aggressive, she is reacting out of fear. Startled fear.
You see, we have now had her 13 weeks and she still occasionally growls at our son but the 3 of us have worked so hard to desensitize her from the fear stage. You see, my son is a "loud" 16 year old- loud in the hose, loud in the bathroom, loud walking around, loud closing the fridge. She had to be desensitized from many sounds.

These are some of the tings we have done:
1. If someone walking into a room emits a growl from her (usually my son), I would role play that activity several times that day and the next few mornings. She would think it would be my son, but then she'd be shocked to see it was me or hubby and eventually she stopped growling at someone entering the room because it wasn't always my son. I would drag my feet, slam doors, slam fridge, and she would come running up to me and then quietly walk away.

2. When my son is home we have conversations in his room, on his bed, and I would bring in the other dogs, leaving it up to Piper whether or not she wanted to join us. Which she does now, all the time. She will even jump on his bed.

3. We have our son feed her when he's home- he has a job, school, and friends- so hard to catch him sometimes.
4. We almost take her somewhere in the car every day. Sometimes, my son joins us, sometimes not. We take her to the beach, Home Depot, Lowe's, Petco, etc. Only for 10-15 minutes but it's something.

5. When my son is on his way home from school or work he lets me know and I get out the spray cheese. Yes, spray cheese. Nasty tasty stuff to dogs. Everytime our son comes in, all dogs get cheese. It's a way that Piper looks forward to him coming home- she used to growl when he would come in the house. Now, we try not to give her any reason to growl.

6. On her leash we always treats in a fanny pack with us to give her so we keep her attention regardless if a dog or people walk by.
7. She doesn't like it when people come up to her but she will go up to you on her terms on her time.

8. Piper is crated when we aren't home and my husband and I are the only ones allowed to put her in "jail"; we have let our son free her but sometimes she growls (who knows why???) so now we handle the crates so again, no reason for her to growl.

My husband and I have an awesome relationship with her- she is a "normal" dog with us. And she is getting better and better with our son. It has been a journey and we have been exhausted and frustrated but we have kept at it. Piper has come a LONG way and we are so proud of what we have done with her. It is a work in progress and I don't know if we will ever stop the nasty tasty spray cheese but if it keeps the peace....
Our son can play ball with her out back, he can pet her, she goes in his room and says good morning but she still keeps her distance. It's not all her fault. When there has been opportunity, he has chosen to be on his phone or ignore her because football is on TV. But he's a teenager and he didn't ask for her to growl at him.

I know our situation isn't the exact same as yours, but maybe something I wrote will help.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for sharing! I appreciate the comments and insight.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 04:54 PM
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@GSDBoston2 You are assigning too many human emotions to your puppy. He doesnít feel awful and he isnít looking for forgiveness. When he went after your father he was scared and thought your father was a threat. When he sat quietly next to him he was showing submission to your father. He reacts differently to different situations. You need to figure out what threatens him and then set up situations where he will not feel threatened. If he reacts to someone walking toward him when he is resting, have your father call him to come before walking into the room so your dog is up and moving. Give him a reward and then walk him back into the room he was resting in. Ideally if he knows heel, have your father heel him back to the room.
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