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We have a 9 month old puppy (65 pounds already) who is getting more aggressive with strangers then we'd like. At first it was just when someone came into the house or our yard or if other dogs stares her down she would bark . She was fine with people (and most dogs) at dog stores, parks, etc. and has been taken pretty much everywhere we can take her since 9 weeks old and she goes to Doggie Day Care 3-4 times a week for socialization with other dogs. We also go to obedience classes where she gets along with all the dogs and people there without any issues.

Recently, these behaviors (barking and snapping) have gotten worse, not better. Just this past weekend we took a ride down to Virginia Beach and took a walk on the boardwalk. For the most part she walked well and hung out at outside like she's been trained to. While walking, there were people who wanted to come up and pet her which we allowed. This is where the strange behavior(s) (to us) started. She'd walk up and sniff the persons hand and a couple seconds later would bark and snap at them. This happened a handful of times over the 3 days we were there so we stopped allow people to approach her. But, this isn't where the aggression and barking stopped. While we talked to these people about her and GSD's in general (surprised how many people own GSD's) she'd sit quietly and even lay down and relax but as soon as the people started walking away she'd bark and go after them.

We'd correct her for doing this but it seems the corrections for this behavior just aren't working like we had hoped.

Any ideas, guidance, or experiences anyone would like to share would be greatly appreciated. We're not sure if this is a phase GSD's go through or if we have a much larger issue on our hands we need to correct now while she's still pretty young.

Our next step is to contact a dog trainer in our area to see about what we can do and moving on to the electric collar since it seems the prong collar isn't a big enough deterrent.
 

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Without seeing your girl to observe her body language it is hard to determine exactly what is happening. At her age, I think the aggression is most like due to fear and insecurity. I will say that using corrections in these situations can be a bit dicey and may make things worse depending on how they are applied.

Fear Aggression By Dogs Directed Toward People

https://www.msu.edu/~silvar/fear.htm

A dog trainer who is familiar with behavioral issues and has a good approach to these is important to find. Not all trainers will be appropriate in this. A behaviorist who deals with aggression could be of help.
 

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For some reason she's thinking she has to make a decision about people based on ???????? and sometimes she's ok and sometimes she's deciding to act unappropriately.

Instead, I know that I'd be taking a ziplock of cheese/chicken/liver/beef (and skipping my dogs meal) on all these outings. BEING proactive and taking away the decision making from her brain should help. You can greet the people and act normal/happy/fine. You can ask them if they will give your dog a treat. And then you will hand over the MOST delicious treats to these people.

To give a smelly yummy treat, people have to have their hand come in low and under the dogs chin (helps if you ask them to veed open handed, like with a horse). A low hand is MUCH less threatening than one coming to pet the top of the head. A hand full of treats is wonderful. And YOU acting calm, happy confident is something your dog should pick up IF THEY ARE USED TO YOU IN A LEADERSHIP ROLE.

If your dog has somehow unintentionally been led to believe they are in charge of new meetings. They are in charge of if the new person is 'good' or 'scary'. They are set up to have to make decisions they are completely incapable of due to their lack of age and experience..........you have to flip this around.

Realizing young dogs have ZERO abilities to accurately gage a mass murderer walking down the boardwalk towards you from a friendly grandmother. So it's much better for us to treat everyone like they are 'friendly grandmothers' and happy to see them, taking control of the situation in a calm and happy way. Letting the dog (allowing the dog?) to step down from an accidental leadership position and allowing you to be the leader while they are still learning.

You feeding and treating your puppy at these times. Showing off her tricks. Adding to the CALM and HAPPY of being out, rather then maybe to the tension and fear with corrections and verbals and tight leashes when you have to 'react' AFTER she's acted poorly.

Way better to have a plan to set our dogs up to succeed before we have a problem. I know that tons of treats, a hungry dog, ME being in control of the meetings, are all the most helpful.

There is a great DVD called 'Calming Signals' that shows alot of other things we can do to be aware of our dogs and when they are getting tense (we all get the obvious snapping/barking/growling but thats WAY after the other quieter signals).



:)
 
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