7 month old gsd barking at guests - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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7 month old gsd barking at guests

Pretty simple, tried to searching the forums but didn't find the same situation. Basically my 7 month old gsd will bark at any guest entering my home. He won't bark at me and four other people who in the house regularly, but anyone else he will. It scares the people coming in because his a loud deep barker. He usually stops after a minute or two and is fine when he realizes the guest is okay. Then he lets the stranger pet him, licks him and brings a ball to play with the guest.

Lately with two of my friends its lasted longer than a minute and he went up to them barking, following them barking and it lasted for a few minutes. I crated him right away until he calmed down and then let him back out again, he barked again at him. He kept it up basically and didn't stop, so he was in his crate rest of the time.

I generally will give him treats or have the guest give him treats. He has no issues when on walks, at pet stores, home depot, training center. No barking, no real interest usually. Once in awhile he will watch someone walk by. He knows people are there but doesn't care.


Just looking for tricks and tips to fix this. What can i do besides putting a leash on him and crating?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 12:31 AM
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i had a dog like this, had to always be crated or closed in a bedroom when people came over. some dogs are just like that. when you say you give him treats, if you're giving him treats while he is barking he'll never learn. he's getting treated for doing it!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by scarfish View Post
i had a dog like this, had to always be crated or closed in a bedroom when people came over. some dogs are just like that. when you say you give him treats, if you're giving him treats while he is barking he'll never learn. he's getting treated for doing it!
treats are for when he is not barking and is calm
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 01:00 AM
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Alert barking is normal and a good thing.My dogs all bark when guests arrive.I put them in their kennel or gate them in another room until everyone is settled in.Then the initial excitement is over and they are released and everyone is calm.That's what works best for us anyway

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:28 AM
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At seven months old, your dog is tracking guest in "your" home and barking at them??? If he is doing that now ... what will he do in another seven months??? And the fact that he is fine when he is out an about is not that a big a surprise, the outside world ... is not his home.

But your "issues" are ... your dog lacks structure and has to much freedom indoors. He should not be allowed to practice that behaviour. The more he "practices" that behaviour the better at it he becomes. And the treat thing yeah ... no serious trainer does or would recommend the use of treats with strangers ...nor did I use "treats with my dog for his people issues??

That ... only works with dogs that like people and with those dogs if you don't have a treat ... they still like people. I follow a few trainers that deal with aggressive dogs and none of them do the "Treats and Strangers" bit?? But one of them as it happens did ... and it kinda sorta went wrong ... so he does not do that anymore.

But since your dog is apparently "Crate" trained??? That is impressive so your pretty much halfway there! You just have to take away your dogs "opportunity to make "poor choices." In the home with guest ... he should be in "Place" or in his "Crate." And he needs more "Structure around that right now your just kinda sorta guessing that maybe this time he will be fine??? Who comes into your home ... is not his choice.

The details on that are here.:
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/8006017-post7.html

It's a lot of words but in essence ...walks, sigh ... exercise, rules, structure and limitations. Train Place and do Sit on the Dog and don't put him in positions to make "Poor Choices" do that and you'll be fine.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 11:28 AM
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I don't remember exactly how old my boy was when he started barking at people who came into our house.

Anyway I have had a code with my dogs that I have always used and this is the time that I taught it to him. If I say a specific thing with a hand signal it means, this is our invited guest, go say hello and therefore no more need to do any alarm over this person.

I was fortunate with this dog that I had two older dogs who already knew the drill. So I would put him on a leash, tell him enough barking, then give the other two the command and let him watch. When they were done (their greetings generally short and sweet), then I tell him to go. He got the hang of it really quickly.

Flip side is if I DON'T say that, then I expect them to keep their distance and not greet and not necessarily accept this person into the house. (this I would only do obviously with people who don't belong in the house, aren't welcome, and I want to hear about it from the dogs if they show up somewhere they shouldn't be)

My dogs have found this pretty easy to learn and I think it helps them know how to act. I basically would always have them on a leash until I knew I could execute the whole thing on voice command only, which I could with both my older dogs. I still put the young one on a leash when people enter the home, he is big and loud and young and I want to be sure always he is handling himself and guests like I want him to. Usually he only needs to be on a leash for less than a minute then we're good. But otherwise he would rush up to people acting pretty intimidating and I wouldn't want to scare people like that.

If it is someone I don't know THAT well I ask them too if it is okay for the dogs to come up to them. If I don't know if they are afraid of dogs, allergic or whatever...
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 11:51 AM
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here's what i used to do with my dog that would bark at anybody. if the company was just stopping in for a minute the dog would go in the bedroom. if they were staying for drinks and dinner i would bring the dog outside for a meet and greet first. that always made it easier.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 01:22 PM
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Honestly, that is not enough information to go by.
Dogs bark at people for many reasons.
Most of them I find are insecurity reasons. The fact that it sounds like it may be getting "worse," is concerning, this is what you said, "Lately with two of my friends its lasted longer than a minute and he went up to them barking, following them barking and it lasted for a few minutes. I crated him right away until he calmed down and then let him back out again, he barked again at him. He kept it up basically and didn't stop, so he was in his crate rest of the time."

Here are some questions to get a better understanding of his behavior:
What is his body like? Tense?
What does his tail look like when he is doing this? (Wagging doesn't mean "happy" just aroused.)
What do his ears look like?
Is he sniffing them and than backing off?
Do you guests make eye contact and talk to him the whole time? What are they doing?
Does your dog attempt to hide behind you, get to the side of you, in front of you, etc.? Or is he just in constant motion? Attempting to lunge at all?
What are YOU doing when he does this?

You are the most important part of all this.

More times than not its insecurity. Which is dangerous as insecurities can lead to fear aggression. So prevention is key before it gets to this point. As he is still only 7 months, there is a lot of time for him to get worse and worse.

From the information that I do have:

Get a dog trainer, one who specializes in GSD's or fear aggression.
Getting him a JOB would help a lot!
You have to be on top of the game. You know when people are coming over, prepare yourself for it. Get your dog on a leash and do obedience with treats as they come in. Taking his mind off of what he is insecure about, and putting his brain to work. Making him THINK, not just using instinct and habit which can worsen and worsen over time to become something extremely hard to maintain.

What it will look like:
Your friends are at the door. (They do not need to knock, you can work on that later, to condition the knocking with something positive as opposed to alerting.) Your friends come in. What you are doing is you are working in the opposite room of where they are. They will sit down on the couch and have a conversation among themselves (this is clearly something you have to talk with them in advance about). Your dog is on a leash in that opposite room with you. You are doing obedience. Sit. Down. Heel. (Heeling is so important for your dog to know!) Slowly. You will work your way into the room with your friends. Your dog should be 100% into obedience and looking for your next command. After, you are somewhat in the room. You will work in a heel. Going past your friends, not stopping, going back and forth. So your dog has to go by them, without reacting. He will be in his working mindset. Keep doing this. Until you think he seems calm and relaxed. Your friends can keep ignoring him. Until you think he is ready for any sort of interaction.

Only you will know how long to do this for, when to stop, etc. As you know him best and no one else is there to tell you how as we are not there with you. Which is why it would be helpful to get a dog trainer.

It may not seem like a huge deal now, but he is only 7 months! It can change drastically. He is just a baby right now!

Good luck!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 04:20 PM
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I had this issue with my GSD also when he was about 6 months old. Anybody that would walk by our sliding door to get to our condo he would start going crazy. We would always have to take him outside to meet our guest first so he can see them and get familiar before allowing them into the house (which is an obvious drag). When our trainer found out we did that he gave me a disappointing look (i didn't know better sorry?). Practically said the dog does not set the rules you do and that is most people's issues with their dogs. I'll mimic what somebody said below which was he said he had too much freedom. All dogs need a job and if you don't give him one he will assign himself one which tends to be the "protector" and is why so many dogs are very protective of their home. The bottom line is he needs to learn that if you are calm he needs to also be calm. Prior to his e collar training i helped reduce the barking by standing in front of his face and telling him OFF! I NEVER hit my dog but it got to the point where he would bark and I would yell OFF and start walking over to him and he would just start to walk away scared like crap here he comes to stand in front of me and tell me Off! I would also crate him and let people in and let him out a few min later so he can see we were okay with the guest in the house.

I never want him to stop barking at strangers to him when they approach the house (i would assume you would want that), the issue is if they don't stop once you establish that the guests are okay. So sometimes if he is barking at somebody through the window because I'm getting a package delivered or my water delivered I do NOT stop him, I don't want him to think ANYBODY who walks up the place is friendly by discouraging his barking at anything that approaches my house. Which ironically enough the same Sparklett guy delivers my water every two weeks and Koda now sees him and is like " ehh he just drops off my water he's cool" and doesn't bark at him anymore. I feel like I allowed him to realize on his own this guy is not here to cause harm.

Another thing I did prior to his e collar training that was suggested by another trainer I worked with was to do training with him everytime he barked. Like if he barked put his leash on and do heel walks around the house and basically annoy him while he is trying to be nosy with the guest and barking or whatever. You are walking him around your living room/kitchen and don't stop until he calms down. This actually had a big impact on his improvement for me personally. The dog learned "Dang, every time somebody comes in and I bark at them I have to walk around for 5 min it's so annoying. If I don't bark at them I can be nosy and get belly rubs from the strangers" By the time I did his professional training this habit was basically non-existent, it just required lots of patience (like anything else around training) and some weird first 5 min with some guest as they watch you annoy your dog.

Moral of the story is you have to be consistent with whatever you decide your command or strategy is to get him to stop barking if you say so. Whether it's standing in front of him, doing some training, crating him, using specific commands etc you need to do it so much that he learns If i just do what they say I don't have to deal with whatever his consequence is.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2017, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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i had a nice long typed respond but didn't save lol going with a shorter one this time.

will definitely try the obedience training when people enter the house. Also will continue to keep him on leash and use the crate to calm him down as well.Thanks for the advice so far.

Vtgirl, its not that its getting worse and he only followed and barked at one person. Generally he will approach and greet, sniff then bark and stop after a few barks, or he will bark then greet and then he stops. With the one person he followed, it was a friend who was carpooling with me to an event. i was in the process of feeding both dogs, when he walked in unannounced and went straight to the bathroom to use it, and thats when he barked and followed. About 10 hours later when we came back he was in his crate calm, when i let him out he was fine until he turned the corner and saw my friend, he barked and followed him again. I had him on leash and got him out of there and immediately crated, he calmed down after a few minutes, but did not come back out while he was there.

but will try all these things with him now, he's always out and seeing people and while we train, in group classes, at the park, or at a store. He never has any interest in anyone, he knows they are there but doesn't care about them in the slightest.
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