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My GSD is a male and 1 year old. We got him when he was 10 weeks old, and have socialized him and currently take him to obedience classes every week with a trainer who works with GSDs.

Zeus was perfectly fine with people on walks. If someone came up and started talking to me, he'd wag his tail, sniff them then let them pet him. No barking or anything. And when people come over, he just does the same thing. He was extremely friendly.

A couple weeks ago, he started to act aggressive towards strangers when we went on walks. He'd stop walking and stare if someone was across the street, but I'd correct him (he has a pinch collar) and just continue walking. But if someone's walking near us, he'll try to go towards them and lunge at them. And if someone tries talking to me ("hello", "good day"), he'll actually go a little crazy and start barking , lunging, growling, and baring his teeth at them. This happens EVERY time we go on walks and someone greets me. One person even tried petting him, an attempt to calm him down I guess, and Zeus snapped at him and almost bit the guy (I warned them that Zeus wasn't a friendly dog).

When this happens, I do try to correct him but its like I don't even exist. He'll just continue barking and growling and trying to get at them.


He doesn't do this when people come over. He's extremely friendly and even brings them his toy most of the time. Its only on walks that he does this.


I really don't understand why he's acting like this. He was never like this before, there has been no incident or anything like that. Up until a couple weeks ago, he was a really friendly dog.


Also, sometimes when I'm out in the yard or something and he still has his leash on, and if I let go or drop the leash, he'll quickly pick it up and just run really fast away from me, while holding his leash, and won't listen to me or come back. When I get the leash, I correct him, like the trainer advised me to do. But he still does it every time. Any idea why?
 

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my dog had recently started to do this too. He will be a year this week. Fortunately it wasnt with every stranger. Quick question are you doing any positive reward training?.
 

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Few things…
First, it could be a fear phase that some dogs go through. But assuming it's not, let's figure this out...

What type of dog do you want? Sounds like your dog is showing defense. Owners like myself like it when the dog shows defensive drive towards a stranger. I personally like my dogs to be protective of their territory/pack. Maybe you just want a house dog?… that's a different story. Look into e-collars in that case. Also, it's obvious the dog is stressed around strangers. If you want to decrease this behavior without corrections or punishment, try treating the dog from a 100 yards. Get closer and closer with the dog and find that line when being too close causes stress. Use rewards to show the dog that being around people doesn't need to be stressful and get closer and closer to them. It can take some time but it's more effective than corrections in my opinion.

Assuming you want a protector… I'd look into use classical or operant conditioning training to teach your dog an "on and off" switch when it comes to defense and aggression towards strangers. I'll try explaining this…

When you see a stranger coming around and you know your dog is going to snap into defense, give him a command ("watch him"), allow him to get worked up, and praise him while he growls and barks. He will eventually associate that command (watch him) with getting defensive and feel comfortable. Then, use motivation (favorite toy or food) to get the dog to stop doing the behavior. Engage him and distract him by letting him bite a toy. Biting is a tool to relieve stress in the dog. Once toy distracts the dog from this behavior, through repetition you can start to add in a command like "enough".

Here's the problem with correcting your dog in these situations… By correcting the dog you can potentially do two things: kill its defensive drive OR really piss of this dog.
The leash problem sounds like a dominance issue. The dog obviously hates the leash. A dog that runs away from its owner doesn't enjoy and/or respect its owner. I think you need to engage this dog, play fun games, bond and build trust instead of correcting behavior you don't like. Let the dog be a dog sometimes and don't correct them every chance you get (not saying you do but I gotta say this in case you don't… I've seen some stuff). Use classical or operant conditioning to give the dog a good experience through training and bonding. You want your dog to run towards you… obviously.

You could be getting into a sticky situation if not handled right. I'm not sure the trainer you have is good… i also don't know if he's bad. But I would never give "corrections" as my first line of advice when training a dog. But that's only me… everyone has their own ways.
You ever consider an e-collar?

Good luck.
 

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They go through a change at around 1yo, they will start to challenge you and other dogs, they may develop unreasonable fears for no reason, they test boundaries and test the strength of other dogs and people.

Good news is that it only lasts a couple of years! Around 3 to 4 they tend to relax.

You could use positive reinforcement training where you reward him for behaviour you want, eg when you approach a stranger on your walk, as you get closer, show him his favourite treat, get him to focus on you for a second or two and reward him with treat, keep do this whilst walking making sure he focuses on you until you have passed stranger. Be consistent with your training and training him to focus on you will help you in many situations.
 

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i would catch this behavior way before it happens. i would make him sit when you see a stranger coming give him food to keep his attention. just letting him stare is going to escalate his behavior. make sure you address the stranger by being upbeat and saying hello. this may take a while but he should get it if he's into the food, and i would make it good stuff that he only gets when training, chicken or something. if he isn't real food motivated try a toy, and bring the toy out before he gets fixated. this is easy to fix with persistancy. eventually when he is relaxed you can walk over to within a safe distance from the stranger make him sit, food, etc. then maybe if all is well have the stranger drop food, then eventually if he is curious enough to smell the stranger let him, but tell the stranger to ignore him.
 

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Yeah you catch it really early at the start of the behavior when he begins to fixate or you have to correct way harder and probably to a degree you wouldn't be comfortable doing.
 

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i think you need to figure out if its fear or protective behavior to determine the correction. if its fear i would use the food or positive redirection. the dog reacts because its the only thing he knows to do, needs to be taught he doesn't have to do that. my guess is fear of the strange person, but i can't see it in person....
 

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the dog is acting on a fear arousal .
that stranger is a pedestrian, neutral to friendly , in a neutral (non-territory) environment and the dog has no business being aggressive .

maybe lets take it back to the beginning and describe your dog -
why did you get him ?
what was he like as a pup?
how did you socialize him?
who is the trainer - (not necessary to name) but what are his credentials , classroom, method ,

it seems that the dog has changed since attending this class.

sometimes the extremely friendly pup is showing excitability -- not exactly in the breed character definition -- dog is still hyper excited but channeled differently

need more information
 

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He'd stop walking and stare if someone was across the street, but I'd correct him (he has a pinch collar) and just continue walking...

...When this happens, I do try to correct him but its like I don't even exist. He'll just continue barking and growling and trying to get at them.
So you were correcting every time he checked out a person. This could be exactly where the aggression started. Every time he checked somebody out, he felt pain. This can create an association with the dog, and now he's trying to drive the person away. This is called superstitious association. If the dog wasn't perfectly clear what he was being corrected for, he may have made the connection to people while he's on leash.

The continued corrections drive home that people are bad. The harder you correct, the more the dog escalates.

Without seeing the dog, it's hard to tell. This is just another angle. It could be a fear period, but it is pretty extreme.

No time to type out a training plan right now.
 
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This is why if you were to correct for any kind of inattention you have to put focused attention on command first. You give the dog a command to look to you and if he doesn't follow he knows he's being corrected for blowing off a command. The superstitious learning doesn't happen (or at least happens with much less frequency.). I mark my punishments like I mark my positive reinforcers and that can help prevent that issue as well.
 

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Everybody goes through a degree of this when a pup starts to become an adolescent. Depending on what you are training the dog for, what I did with mine and he's going to be 10 this year. I would exercise him before his walk. Then he could focus. We would go to parks, find a bench far away from everything and he would sit on the ground next to me. Praising, petting, calm. To the point where the leash was completely relaxed. Once we mastered this, we could move closer, eventually to the point he could be in a fray of people and not react, just walk, sit, whatever I told him.
On walks, we got away from other people until he learned to control himself, long walks down country roads, when cars came etc., he got off to the side of the road and sat. Same with city streets, he sat if someone walked by us, trails, he got off and sat while someone went by. What this did was teach the dog to relax, because I could relax, I didn't have to worry about him acting like a fool, because we had removed ourselves from a situation and he was sitting and under control. So any emotions I was transferring down the lead, were changed.
The lead is an extension of yourself, if you are anxious, that translates down the lead, so the dog becomes anxious. You have to basically retrain both of you. In the beginning there were times he would break his sit and attempt to move/lunge forward, but it's easier to read and harder for the dog to get ahead of you, if they are sitting and under control. Eventually, it got to the point, he didn't care if someone got near him, we were complimented by cyclists on trails for the fact he got off the trail and sat. Now he can walk by anyone, attend events with large groups of people and if I see a dog who isn't under control when we are walking, I simply cross the street.
I say that, but it wasn't quite so simple, the exercise had to be upped, the obedience in the house had to be upped. It wasn't NILIF, it was a version that worked for him. Our Saint we adopted at 18 months, so she was 150lbs, no leash manners, no manners period. She will be 5 this year. The last year has been much better. She heels perfectly, she listens, she needed hardcore NILIF, she needed her prong far longer than the ShepX, she respected the prong because it gave her boundaries she had never had before. She responds well to an incredibly ordered, structured day. There is no sleeping in on the weekends, at 3:30am, she goes outside, now she does go back to sleep, but breakfast is at 7:30 - not a minute later, she goes out at 7:45 for a potty, she is in bed by 10pm, her supper is 7pm. The ShepX, he is more adaptable to changes, she is not, so in curbing both of them and teaching them both manners, I could use similar styles, but had to adapt them for each dog.
Walks are just as big a part of training for a companion dog as anything you will do. Get to a corner, butt on ground, I don't play around with crossing streets. Someone is walking by, yield the way, butt on ground :)
We're at a public event, we're going to spend 10 minutes on the fringe, watching, sitting there and watching, I know I am comfortable and confident, I know that is traveling down my lead, I know my dogs are going to be confident and predictable. You are the master, you decide who is scary and who is not.
 

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So you were correcting every time he checked out a person. This could be exactly where the aggression started. Every time he checked somebody out, he felt pain. This can create an association with the dog, and now he's trying to drive the person away. This is called superstitious association. If the dog wasn't perfectly clear what he was being corrected for, he may have made the connection to people while he's on leash.

The continued corrections drive home that people are bad. The harder you correct, the more the dog escalates.

Without seeing the dog, it's hard to tell. This is just another angle. It could be a fear period, but it is pretty extreme.

No time to type out a training plan right now.
This is why if you were to correct for any kind of inattention you have to put focused attention on command first. You give the dog a command to look to you and if he doesn't follow he knows he's being corrected for blowing off a command. The superstitious learning doesn't happen (or at least happens with much less frequency.). I mark my punishments like I mark my positive reinforcers and that can help prevent that issue as well.
YEP.

I see this time and time again my classes, for people or dog aggression/reactivity.

OP, you correcting the dog has made him aggressive. Go back to step one, ditch the prong collar if you can't use it correctly.

Look at that clicker training. Please and thanks.

And for the love of everything holy, please don't let someone "pet him to calm him down" when he's acting this way. You create distance. He bites someone and it could potentially be the end for him, depending on who he bites.
 

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Everybody goes through a degree of this when a pup starts to become an adolescent. Depending on what you are training the dog for, what I did with mine and he's going to be 10 this year. I would exercise him before his walk. Then he could focus. We would go to parks, find a bench far away from everything and he would sit on the ground next to me. Praising, petting, calm. To the point where the leash was completely relaxed. Once we mastered this, we could move closer, eventually to the point he could be in a fray of people and not react, just walk, sit, whatever I told him.
On walks, we got away from other people until he learned to control himself, long walks down country roads, when cars came etc., he got off to the side of the road and sat. Same with city streets, he sat if someone walked by us, trails, he got off and sat while someone went by. What this did was teach the dog to relax, because I could relax, I didn't have to worry about him acting like a fool, because we had removed ourselves from a situation and he was sitting and under control. So any emotions I was transferring down the lead, were changed.
The lead is an extension of yourself, if you are anxious, that translates down the lead, so the dog becomes anxious. You have to basically retrain both of you. In the beginning there were times he would break his sit and attempt to move/lunge forward, but it's easier to read and harder for the dog to get ahead of you, if they are sitting and under control. Eventually, it got to the point, he didn't care if someone got near him, we were complimented by cyclists on trails for the fact he got off the trail and sat. Now he can walk by anyone, attend events with large groups of people and if I see a dog who isn't under control when we are walking, I simply cross the street.
I say that, but it wasn't quite so simple, the exercise had to be upped, the obedience in the house had to be upped. It wasn't NILIF, it was a version that worked for him. Our Saint we adopted at 18 months, so she was 150lbs, no leash manners, no manners period. She will be 5 this year. The last year has been much better. She heels perfectly, she listens, she needed hardcore NILIF, she needed her prong far longer than the ShepX, she respected the prong because it gave her boundaries she had never had before. She responds well to an incredibly ordered, structured day. There is no sleeping in on the weekends, at 3:30am, she goes outside, now she does go back to sleep, but breakfast is at 7:30 - not a minute later, she goes out at 7:45 for a potty, she is in bed by 10pm, her supper is 7pm. The ShepX, he is more adaptable to changes, she is not, so in curbing both of them and teaching them both manners, I could use similar styles, but had to adapt them for each dog.
Walks are just as big a part of training for a companion dog as anything you will do. Get to a corner, butt on ground, I don't play around with crossing streets. Someone is walking by, yield the way, butt on ground :)
We're at a public event, we're going to spend 10 minutes on the fringe, watching, sitting there and watching, I know I am comfortable and confident, I know that is traveling down my lead, I know my dogs are going to be confident and predictable. You are the master, you decide who is scary and who is not.
So I have a question about the sitting to the side thing. I have been doing something similar with my dog for the past 7 mos, it has helped tremendously, but she still stares daggers at other dogs if they take notice of her at all. Do you correct for staring? We practice "watch me" and she can do this in obedience class but not with dogs on the street moving unpredictably. A different trainer told me to keep feeding her so long as she was below threshold because it would serve as classical conditioning.


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So I have a question about the sitting to the side thing. I have been doing something similar with my dog for the past 7 mos, it has helped tremendously, but she still stares daggers at other dogs if they take notice of her at all. Do you correct for staring? We practice "watch me" and she can do this in obedience class but not with dogs on the street moving unpredictably. A different trainer told me to keep feeding her so long as she was below threshold because it would serve as classical conditioning.


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I have always done look at that training in these cases, and have gotten numerous dogs over reactivity/fixating this way. Dogs become the cue to look to you in the long run, so it completely changes the association for the dog.
 

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To the O,P why are you putting this dog (who obviously does not like strangers out there to be touched?) You are endangering the public and hurting the dog, And GSD's as a breed take a hit everytime you have a bad encounter!

"I'd rather you don't touch my dog...he's in training" (if you must say something )is perfectly acceptable while you stand between yourself and the dog. Don't know how reactive your dog is now so maybe that boat has sailed?

I allowed no one to touch my dog for years, I simple stepped between them and him and said I'd rather you didn't. Finally a GSD guy was persistent,I was between him and Roc, I looked at Rocky, he was fine and that's when I knew my job was done!

But while I was working with him no corrections no forced meetings I protected him if people got close or stepped aside to keep them from getting close and moved on.

I'd ditch your trainer and look for somebody new. It sounds like if your dog had no problems to start with he does have problems now!
 

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Oh I'll add that if he's fine when people come over? You did something right! That's where I had more work to do with Roc!

He's good with company but not exactly warm and welcoming, more like well behaved and observant!
 

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So I have a question about the sitting to the side thing. I have been doing something similar with my dog for the past 7 mos, it has helped tremendously, but she still stares daggers at other dogs if they take notice of her at all. Do you correct for staring? We practice "watch me" and she can do this in obedience class but not with dogs on the street moving unpredictably. A different trainer told me to keep feeding her so long as she was below threshold because it would serve as classical conditioning.


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That's where I reinforced ignore, not a correction, I would say ignore, touch them to get their attention and focus back on me. Sometimes I made them face the other way. I always talked to them and praised them while they sat. Sometimes I would squat down beside them, sometimes I would lean my knee against them. I always speak to people too, if I walk by someone, typically I say hello. I force myself to always smile, to the point I may look like a grinning idiot most of the time and I always speak pleasantly whether it's just a "hello", to whomever I pass, with or without the dogs.
I always reminded them I was still there and their stare/attention needed to be redirected. Praise when they did. Both my dogs do know, I am pretty quick, before we got the ignore command down with the Saint, she thought she would head towards an open gate in our yard during a potty break, it was winter, so weather like this and I dove on her, grabbed her collar and stopped her, getting dragged by a 168lb (she's gained and grown since we got her) dog, is not fun, but she figured out I meant business. All that went through my mind, was growing up on a farm, with horses, my father's rule, never drop the lead shank, no matter what, never let that animal away from you, I've been dragged through my fair share of manure piles, so snow wasn't as bad.

I spend a lot of time walking, exercising and reading my dogs, so I can tell, are we going to sit and all will be good, do we need to turn around, do we need to cross the street. I keep the focus on me, a tap on the head, my voice speaking to them, pressure from my knee, nothing painful or really corrective, more modification to get the desired result, just a hey, I am here and I am watching you, so you know what to do, you better do it.
 

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I have always done look at that training in these cases, and have gotten numerous dogs over reactivity/fixating this way. Dogs become the cue to look to you in the long run, so it completely changes the association for the dog.
That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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That is what we do, but it only works with dogs behind fences because she knows they won't come after her. We have had some bad experiences with loose dogs charging/chasing us so when we see one on our side of the street she will NOT turn away. The problem seems to be with dogs walking towards is head on. Dogs on leash walking parallel or across the street are fine.


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:) Not really seeing the problem here if there charging/chasing she should be watching them!
 
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