Porter has developed Fear Aggression? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
semcat66's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Florence, Montana
Posts: 50
Porter has developed Fear Aggression?

This past Saturday's training lesson (just basic leash manners) took place somewhere with a few more people around as the trainer wants to start getting him used to being around strangers. Now before this weekend, he's interacted with the folks at daycare, had a few encounters a couple of weeks ago with some people at a brewery (in the yard, he was just out for a potty break) and with my mom. No issues at all - in fact, at the brewery, he was very excited to meet the kids that came over and didn't seem to mind the adults.

This Saturday, after I park the car and get him out, first thing - he starts barking at the parking attendant. I ask if I can bring him over to meet him and give the guy a couple of treats. He stays about 3 feet away and gets down on one knee -very non-threatening - and Porter is backing away, barking his head off. So I tell the guy thanks anyway and head over to the grassy area away from the parking lot. I'm still waiting for the trainer to show up, so I walk him around so he can sniff away, stop and do some "sits/downs/waits". He's fine. Then a couple heads out of the parking area to a trail about 15 feet away from us, Porter starts barking again. When the trainer gets there, I tell her what's going on and we proceed to go on one of the trails for our training. We see some folks headed our way and she takes the leash. We step off the trail about 5 feet and once Porter sees them down the trail, she starts having him focus on her, then looking back at them - to break his focus off them and to focus on us, being calm, talking in an upbeat voice, treating when he looks away from them to us. The first people want to say hi, but as soon as they look at him and actually focus on him, he starts barking and trying to back away. Trainer is trying to give him the sit command and finally gets him to comply but he won't turn his focus away. Further down the trail, we see another few people so we repeat the process. This time, they pay no attention to him and Porter looks at the trainer every time she commands his attention.

This happened a couple more times - basically the same - if they just walk by, no biggie; but if they focus on him, he barks and backs up, no matter how calm or upbeat we're being. Trainer says this is fear aggression rather than whatever other aggression there is and says we can work through it. I have complete confidence in her - she does puppy training but her specialty is working with aggressive breeds. I'm just wondering if this is normal? Why would he seem so happy go lucky and then all of a sudden have a fear? Is this just part of growing up? It's been so long since I've had a puppy - I don't remember Bonita being like this at all.

Our next appointment is Sunday - we're going to a pasture full of cows to work on breaking focus and re-focusing on me. She thinks that's a small step in the right direction. Once we conquer the cows, we can move up to "planned" encounters with people he doesn't know.


Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!
Bonita - GSD/Golden Retriever - 1/24/98 -
Porter - GSD - 12/17/16 -

Last edited by semcat66; 04-18-2017 at 07:24 PM.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 07:29 PM
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Location: SW, MI
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fear stage, teach him to focus on you after he's 'looked at that' and when he does focus, mark it, and reward him. I would not do the cow thing...that is too much too soon at this time.
Instead, I would back step in your training, and do some rear end awareness type training, place board and keep it simple. You can still bring him out but keep him on the fringe and work on the LAT exercises.
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