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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all - I have a 14 month GSD who has been a pretty social dog. I’ve started to notice that sometimes, mainly when we step out of routine (walk at a random time) she seems to get anxious or more specifically I notice her hackles will go up when we walk by people. She did growl once at a person as we passed them, otherwise it’s just her hackles all up and down her back. It’s caught me a bit by surprise and I’m wondering if anybody else has experienced this suddenly and/or any thoughts on how I should handle these situations.
Thanks!
 

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Sounds like a mild anxiety reaction. You can counteract it by "watch me!" just before she tenses up so she's focused on you.Reward heavily!!!She'll soon automatically glance at you to calm herself. Continue to reward her at the very least with a Yessss! or Good Girl!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sounds like a mild anxiety reaction. You can counteract it by "watch me!" just before she tenses up so she's focused on you.Reward heavily!!!She'll soon automatically glance at you to calm herself. Continue to reward her at the very least with a Yessss! or Good Girl!
Thank you! I was heading this direction, doing some conditioning. She’s had some anxiety / reactivity around dogs, just really caught me off guard with the hackles around people. I’ve also noticed it happens more in our neighborhood. I often take her to a walking park outside the neighborhood, and she walks side by side with strangers, no issue. Heck, But then in the last week when she does a walk in our neighborhood, the hackles come up
 

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It's actually a fairly common thing with adolescent shepherds. Another interesting thing is a dog is often more reactive when there is only a single dog or person in sight to focus on. In a group there's not the same opportunity to zero in.Here's a video David just posted about the same subject. The dog is way more extreme but the principle is the same - give an alternative behavior.https://www.germanshepherds.com/threads/reactive-dog-training-video.773211/

My current dog was the same way with people at that age.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you! Yes I’ve noticed dog reactivity almost doesn’t exist ( atleast verbally / to the naked eye ) when she’s already with another dog and sees another dog. Almost like being with the dog gives her confidence / occupies her mind so she doesn’t fixate or care about other dogs.
 

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Hi all - I have a 14 month GSD who has been a pretty social dog. I’ve started to notice that sometimes, mainly when we step out of routine (walk at a random time) she seems to get anxious or more specifically I notice her hackles will go up when we walk by people. She did growl once at a person as we passed them, otherwise it’s just her hackles all up and down her back. It’s caught me a bit by surprise and I’m wondering if anybody else has experienced this suddenly and/or any thoughts on how I should handle these situations.
Thanks!
I can't help with the behavior but I can give you a bit of maybe unwanted advice. Out of habit my dogs always walk on my left. I move over and indicate/tell people to pass on my right. This gives me a buffer and space should my dog react. A quick step puts a leg in front of the dog should it make a move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't help with the behavior but I can give you a bit of maybe unwanted advice. Out of habit my dogs always walk on my left. I move over and indicate/tell people to pass on my right. This gives me a buffer and space should my dog react. A quick step puts a leg in front of the dog should it make a move.
thank you! Appreciate the tip. At this point I’m not concerned over her lounging or even biting. So far it’s just hackles (other than 1 incident of growling ) and she moves further away. But I like that technique, especially if her behaviour progresses.
 

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I say good girl when she walks past people with good behaviour and ease so reinforces to her people that just walk by are no threat or danger, if there is a threat or danger I would signal give her command. Lose heel walk is good if you see hackles appearing can always grab attention of gsd by look at me or a click I use clicking sounds because it it s a positive association she has with it grabs her attention quickly
 

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Hi all - I have a 14 month GSD who has been a pretty social dog. I’ve started to notice that sometimes, mainly when we step out of routine (walk at a random time) she seems to get anxious or more specifically I notice her hackles will go up when we walk by people. She did growl once at a person as we passed them, otherwise it’s just her hackles all up and down her back. It’s caught me a bit by surprise and I’m wondering if anybody else has experienced this suddenly and/or any thoughts on how I should handle these situations.
Thanks!
Definitely give her the chance for a different behaviour to her and reward when she behaves how you want. My trainer said not $1 but $500 if she does well! This helps reinforce wanted behaviour. It’s working for us although I’m going through treats like crazy right now. It will slow down as it becomes second nature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Definitely give her the chance for a different behaviour to her and reward when she behaves how you want. My trainer said not $1 but $500 if she does well! This helps reinforce wanted behaviour. It’s working for us although I’m going through treats like crazy right now. It will slow down as it becomes second nature.
thanks! The challenging part for me is other than the 1 incident of a small growl, her behaviour is fine. It’s just the hackles. She will stay in heal most the time, she just gets a bit low and hackles go up. I am starting to wonder if maybe she is going through a adolescence fear stage. On our walk yesterday, she was very curious at people, more than usual, and I let her lead a bit ( given this weird stage ! And she walked towards people on her own, and then would kind of stop, hackles would go up, I’d call her and she’d come back to me. In the past she would of just walked up to someone ( had I let her ) and there would be no second guessing on her part. She just seems like she’s second guessing every stranger and maybe a bit anxious ( the hackles ).
 
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