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Discussion Starter #1
This is his natural personality, no training whatsoever when it comes to his guarding abilities. My pup will be 10 months in a few days.

My pup doesn't really like anyone but me:wub:, which is fine since I got him primarily to be a guard dog. When people come over, if he is not crated, he will growl and sometimes bark. He doesn't care that I let the person in, only that they are inside.

He barks at everyone and everything, especially if you are anywhere near my property, but only barks when outside. He has growled on occasion, but it is usually when he sees a strange car outside or a teenager walking outside late at night.

Everyone I meet always suggests putting him in a class for socialization(we did this just for a start to basic training, but he was aloof the whole class). He was never aggressive toward the trainers or other dogs, just aloof, to which the trainers kept saying that he would be more playful after a few weeks (yeah, right). For some reason, people think he should just walk up to them and want to be petted. He is okay with females, but with males its not going to happen (he was abused in the shelter).

August used to be a very big fluffy scaredy cat, but he's growing up to be a very confident GSD.
 

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At 10 months it is easy to confuse protectiveness and fearfulness. With the background of abuse, barking at everyone and everything as you said, it does sound like fearfulness. While he has that big boy bark going for him, he's learned he can use it and scare the person/thing away from him.

While he doesn't have to walk up to everyone to be petted, he shouldn't feel the need to growl at everyone as well.

I like the idea of additional classes for socialization, possibly even an evaluation with a behaviorist in real world situations so they can get a full picture of his behavior.
 

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What Twyla said. One of the benefits of having a GSD is the sense of security their presence offers - but protectiveness is a function of mental maturity and does not show itself until 18 to 24 months - that is, if the dog has natural protectiveness inside. Some dogs just don't.

At 10 months, you pup is a baby, and his barking and growling are signs of fear. At this age, it is your job to protect him, and let him grow up in the world feeling safe and secure. Protectiveness comes from a place of inner confidence and calm. Not from a place of fear.

Problem with encouraging fear barking and growling is that fear can turn to unpredictable attacks and bites. The friend you invited into your apartment. A child walking up to pet your dog. A family member reaching out to hug you. A fearful dog sees all this as a potential threat (because they are afraid of everything, and everything is a threat to them), and you never know when instead of just warning barks and growls, they will feel compelled to bite.

I agree that the socialization can help - GSDs are often aloof and not interested in making friends with everyone, and that is fine - if he does not need to be kissy-kissy with everyone he meets, just have the exposure to lots of people and dogs and new situations, and know that they are NOT threats, and he can remain neutral. The more normal situations he is in, the more normal people he comes across in his day-to-day life, the better he will be able to identify non-normal situations that are potential threats, and protect you accordingly.

Don't want to be too hard on you - I'm really happy to hear that he is improving in general and gaining more confidence. Congrats on being a positive influence for him! With time I'm sure he'll be just the dog you want him to be.

The next brag I'd love to see is how he has grown to have confidence in YOU, how he has learned to relax in the presence of friendly, non-threatening strangers, or people that you invited in your home, and how he is in tune with your cues and knows when to just chill, and when to be on guard.

That would show true confidence and appropriate awareness to his surroundings.
 

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hyper alert - is red-button emergency mode all the time .
this is not confidence . You really don't want to stimulate more of this response , because down the line , the button can be pushed - and then kaboom ---

help your dog be comfortable in a wide range of environments and situations and people . He does not have to be forwardly friendly , that's not the breed . Experience will allow for better judgment.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
He only growls when at home and a sranger walks by, or when someone comes over and inside. Outside the house he takes note of his surroundings if we are at someone else's home. If I take him to a store he us fine with females, other dogs (though he tends to ignore small dogs), and children. Its men he has an issue with. I don't encourage his barking in any way, purposefully. I try to change his focus, sometimes, which usually involves food or a toy. I have also collared him on occassion. I want him in training classes, believe me, but my job makes this incredibly hard, which is part of the reason why I am trying to find a new one. I live alone, and I want a good guard dog to protect the house when I'm not here (and when I am). I also want to be able to have August trained for more physical activity like agility or tracking.

I will say that the last time I had people over, he actually relaxed in his crate, and I was able to let him out without him growling or barking, which was good.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
About the behaviorist, I did consider this when he was first brought home, because he was so scared all the time. I will do some research and see what resources are available in my area. I don't want my pup to be afraid, and I don't want him thinking everyone is out to hurt him.
 

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How long have you had him? Sounds like he is settling in nice and getting more confident, which is a great brag. :)

I wouldn't worry about a behaviourist at this point, I would give a few more months. He might end up being a completely different dog by then. If you don't see much improvement, or if he gets worse, then certainly, a behaviourist can help, but so can training classes, which would probably be a lot cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've had him for 7 months now. I did take him to training classes earlier this summer (May - June), but they really didn't impress me at all. I felt the trainers were used to having their regulars, which were competition Labradors. I really felt like they didn't get the GSD breed at all. All they did was show us how to do: sit, down, sit/down combo, leave it, and recall. All of these I had already been doing at home. I'd love to try taking him somewhere else too, but like I said, my job makes things too difficult as I don't work a normal 8-5, M-F, job. I use a lot of YouTube videos and the advice I read on the website to help me out with him. As for socialization, I think I will just start taking him to the pet stores and things when I'm off since they aren't so crowed during the day and gradually work up to more people as he becomes comfortable. I'll update in a few months on the progress.

Thanks everyone for all the advice. :)
 
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