teaching calmness around strangers - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-16-2010, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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teaching calmness around strangers

Wolf and I went to another horse show this weekend. As a reminder, he is a Slavic/W.German bred working dog and we are in Schutzhund training. I rented him a horse stall and put his wire crate in it. He does really well and only barks occasionally when he is startled. I took him for 5-6 long walks each day but he can't play off leash like he can at home. He does well in the hotel room except for the same occasional bark when startled. The problem is that when we walk around people, he will mostly ignore them, but occasionally bark and lunge. I had his prong collar on with the fur saver as back up and would correct him when he barked at pedestrians. Since we are wanting to get his BH and know that he has to pass the group test, what else can I do to get him comfortable around strangers????? We have gone to the feed store, vet and Petsmart with similar issues. He is 10 mos. on Sat. Could this be a phase? I guess the most disturbing part is that it seems to be unpredictable and some people have already labeled him "aggressive' which I know he is not. He does have a very high drives. By the end of the show, he is much better than at the beginning, but I must admit that I started steering him away from foot traffic. Any advice would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-16-2010, 05:27 PM
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Instead of correcting him when he is reacting to people, re-direct his attention back to you with toy or treats. I'm sure it is his age, but you need to work on it anyway. Positive works better than negative in this instance. The book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt has great exercises for dogs who are reactive. I would order or borrow a copy, it won't do anything negative as far as SchH training goes.
By the time hes 15 months he should be good to go for his BH if you start working on it now(at your club too!).

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-17-2010, 01:38 AM
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I have a Dutch Shepherd, whose line is known to mature very slowly - so he's 1.5 yrs and seems to be about the same stage as you're going through. We're going through a similar thing. He doesn't lunge at strangers while walking - but if I have "friendly strangers" come up to pet him (or pet him w/o permission), occasionally he'll hackle and bark like a fool. I've had him eval'd by 3 different trainers and they all said it is an age thing and he's being a jerk - that's he's not aggressive in that way. Just wanted to share that we're in the same boat and feel what you're going through!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-17-2010, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-18-2010, 12:30 AM
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When you have the obedience foundation in him for a BH, this problem should have extinguished itself unless he has weak nerves.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-18-2010, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by cliffson1 View Post
When you have the obedience foundation in him for a BH, this problem should have extinguished itself unless he has weak nerves.
That's good to hear. We're not that far along in our training quite yet but I can already see an improvement in what he thinks is "threatening". Our TD thinks we might be ready next Spring...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-18-2010, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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We will be going for our BH in May.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-18-2010, 04:10 PM
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When you have the obedience foundation in him for a BH, this problem should have extinguished itself unless he has weak nerves.
Absolutely.

My dog went through a very reactive period when he was younger. He's never had problems with people but he was super reactive toward other dogs. I did not force the issue, I didn't really do anything specific to work on that issue, I just continued building a strong bond and going about my normal obedience. Six months later he was fine. He is not a dog that desires to run off and play with other dogs but he doesn't react anymore (unless the dog is actually in his "space"). I believe it was a combination of maturity, gaining confidence (part of maturity and part of me not forcing the issue and setting him up for failure), and the obedience giving me control.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2010, 02:45 AM
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Absolutely.

My dog went through a very reactive period when he was younger. He's never had problems with people but he was super reactive toward other dogs. I did not force the issue, I didn't really do anything specific to work on that issue, I just continued building a strong bond and going about my normal obedience. Six months later he was fine. He is not a dog that desires to run off and play with other dogs but he doesn't react anymore (unless the dog is actually in his "space"). I believe it was a combination of maturity, gaining confidence (part of maturity and part of me not forcing the issue and setting him up for failure), and the obedience giving me control.
This was the biggest recommendation to me as Madix goes through this stage and I have been following it, seems to really be helping. A couple of times when I needed him to just be ok with a person right away, he was (aka, Jane helping me stuff him into your harness Lies lol) and adjusting a fursaver the first time (I strangled him at first lol, on ACCIDENT). He's so good with almost everything else, I think we can work through this
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