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Dakota is an 8 month old white gsd and I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. She has what I would consider fear aggression. When we walk near a strange person she does one of two things. She will either bark non-stop or tuck tail and get really low to the ground and not move. With unfamiliar dogs she barks non stop. I have never once physically harmed my girl but when she was about 4 months old, her and a dog (pit bull) that we were sitting were playing tug of war and for no reason the pit snapped at her and bit her face. She had to have a tooth removed and stitches under her eye. I'm assuming that this is partially the reason for some of the fear. She is a very active dog and responds well to training. As soon as someone strange is near, all training goes out the window. I'm a younger guy and also married. This is my first dog since I've lived on my own (6 years now) and obviously I have a lack of knowledge. My uncle in law has been helping me, as he has an older gsd as well. I'm just looking for some tips to help ease her out of her fear aggression before it becomes a major issue (bite) and while she is still young. I love this dog to death and would never consider getting rid of her. I'm sure most here feel the same way. Sorry for the long post and any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

Here is a pic or two.
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The Black and Tan shepherd is my uncles dog Cheba. They get along great. Although Dakota isn't used to the rough housing yet.


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Since Dakota gets along with Cheba, I suggest you and your uncle walk them together on their leashes. This is a great training exercise to help Dakota develop confidence. When you walk Dakota alone, and you see another person or another dog - turn suddenly - reward Dakota for following you, keep changing direction - the idea is too have Dakota concentrate on you and not start up the barking when she sees another dog or person. Also this shows Dakota that you are in charge of the walks and whoever you meet - she doesn't need to be afraid.
 

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Is her training in a class with other dogs? Zoey was attacked more than once as a pup. No serious physical injuries, but psychologically there was damage. She is fine with people, but she acted aggresive with other dogs. We enrolled her in what I incorrectly called the naughty dog class. There was a lot of controlled interaction with other dogs with similar problems. It really helped us, maybe something like this is available in your area?

Also having a good OB foundation is a must. We have had a couple incidents where a solid "leave it" averted what could have been a bad situation.
 

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Welcome aboard !

I'll leave the behavior question to the experts !
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We walk Dakota and Cheba every night together. I have not taken her to any classes. I can't afford it at the moment. Within the next week or so I'll look into it. I'm a college student and just started a job. When I see people coming I do turn away from them, I never rewarded it. But I will start doing that. Should I wait till she starts barking or try to do it before she does the barking? Also thanks for the compliments on my girl.


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Hi Dakota is really sweet girl!!! My boy (20 months old) is dog aggressive/fearful. I try work on it by myself with some improvement but ended going to trainer anyway. It's great to work in controlled environment.
I try to control his barking at other dogs by turning away, praising is he didn't bark. Once he started barking there was no stopping him unless I remove him from situation.
I understand the money issue very well but it is really the best think in long run, and sooner you address it faster you fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Are there certain types of classes I should look into? Also, the wife has a King Charles spaniel who Dakota sees as a tier above her and they get along great. They kind of just stay out of each other's way. The spaniel is a lot older and he doesn't tolerate play unless its a ball and he goes nuts. We also have a year old kitten and ever since Dakota was a puppy they always played and they get along great too. We have begun not to allow her to play with the cat because she is a lot bigger now and can be kind of rough on her. Even my uncles chiuauha(however you spell that) and Dakota get along fine. We've tried socializing Dakota with as many dogs and people as we could since she has been a member of the family. My wife's mom has 4 King Charles spaniels and her grandmother has two of them. They all get along fine. Obviously they are in the family so she probably realizes this. But we have also taken her out in public places where dogs are prevalent since she was a pup. She did fine but its like after she got bit, she changed. Does this happen?


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my boy is ok with dog he knows and he was fine as puppy with all kinds of dogs, but he changed.
I find the trainer who works with GSD and I take one on-on behavior modification class with his 8 dogs in room. It is work in progress, no quick fix or miracle but after 3 sessions I see improvement. Part of the training is stepping up obedience.
I'm sure people here will give you great advice I'm not expert just want to share my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Little update on Dakota. I've been actively trying to socialize her. I took her to the dog park here in town and kept a hawk eye on her. Now, if I ever felt like Dakota would bite I would not have done this. But she just steers clear of dogs until I pet the dog and then she comes and smells and says hi. She did great, even when surrounded by 5-6 dogs at a time. I was actually surprised at how well she handled the whole ordeal. She barked a few times, but she was quickly turned around. When she saw me petting other dogs she investigated and was totally fine. Now I was a little weary because sometimes, she will bark and her back hairs will stand up. But she never lunges or shows teeth. Just vocal. She even just turns away as opposed to lunging. Am I doing this right or should I be more careful?


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Please, please don't take her to a dog park. You already know she has some fear issues. Taking her to a public park, where you have no control over which dogs show up or how they will behave once they get there, is asking to make your puppy's fearfulness much, much worse.

You really need to get into a good training class (better than Petsmart or Petco), where you can work with a trainer that has experience in working with a youngster with reactivity. Look at the cost as the same kind of necessity as her food.

If you have to wait a few weeks before you can start a good class, Google "Control Unleashed" protocol and start using those exercises. I promise you that the results you get from good, consistent training will be much better than taking her to a dog park.
Sheilah
 

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Congrats you have made wonderful progress! The petting other dogs is really showing her that there is nothing to fear and your lovely Dakota is not possessive of you. When she turns away that is a good sign because she is using a calming signal to the other dogs. I would just be real careful about the other dogs you choose to socialize her with, because not all dogs respect calming signals from other dogs and that can escalate to an aggressive encounter.
 
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