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Ok, as some will remember we have a 2 3/4 yo male GSD. Usually very friendly and outgoing, he most of the time will try to go up to people that we see in stores and even when we are walking down the street or in a park.

BUT, sometimes he seems to take an instant dislike to a few people and will bark - no snap (yet!) but just barking.

I had him at Howarth Park (local state park)this morning and we were walking around doing some obedience work when two women walked by. They commented on how pretty he was (I agree!) and also if he were friendly. So when I looked at him he had his normal friendly body language so I told him to "go say Hi". He went over to them and the first one petted him a little and he was all friendly with her. He did however refuse a little treat that I gave her to give him. Then the second lady petted him when he went over to her. But then he started looking at her a little strange and then barked at her. I think (hard to remember everything exactly) he sort of tightened up a little while he was looking at her just before he barked.

My question is of course why would he react like this? The second woman sounded just as friendly and did not make any wild gestures or anything like that or any threatening ones either. At least I didn't notice any. The only thing that I could notice about the second woman was that she had a big wide brimmed hat on. And she stood there looking at Baron but I didn't notice any real overt staring or anything like that.

Any thoughts on why and how i can prevent a recurrence as I don't want him to get in the habit of barking at people once we have gone up to meet them. I realize that I have to read him better but unsure about what to do.
 

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Zoe barks at people inside my house all the time, but barks in public rarely. Just like you said she seems to decide some people are not for her and barks. I always socialize her daily, always have treats for strangers to give though she won't eat them, and encourage and praise her when she is engaging nicely with strangers. Wish I had advice but I share the same issue:(
 

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Could have been the hat. When I was getting Arwen her CD, The judge was a very nice lady with a big wide black hat and an black eye patch. Arwen I did not think would have a problem, but Tori who was in Rally, I thought it would freak her out.

Both of my girls did just fine -- I was shocked about Tori to tell you the truth. She had NQd the day before -- the male judge spooked her.

Anyhow, a guy with some type of dog would not stand for the exam with her at all. The lady was very nice and removed her hat and tried again. An obedience judge does not have to do this. The dog still failed the test. But the point is that sometimes hats do make a difference and other people have found this to be the case.

Maybe you and your family members should take turns wearing different types of hats for a couple of hours each day. It might help.

The only other thing is the possibility that this lady was not showing it, but had an serious fear of the dog, and the dog sensed it from her breath, stiffened and alerted because they will alert when people are scared.
 

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My sister had a large Lab / Dane cross, and he loved EVERYONE, except this one man that they'd see on their walks. When he'd see the man, he'd bark, the hair on his back went up, he bared his teeth, it was freaky. No explanation, he just didn't take kindly to the man. Then, we figured out it was because he had sort of fluffy, light gray/white hair. It must have scared her dog.
 
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