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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all . . loving this community and hoping for some helpful feedback here. You will likely want to laugh at my naivety but since I can't actually hear you it won't hurt my feelings! I've adopted a beautiful 15 month old GSD (NOT a pedigree, but beautiful and I think he's perfect). His original family was unable to keep him as their baby developed allergy symptoms that were pretty severe. They tried transitioning him to be strictly outdoors, but he was raised in their home since a pup, and he went on a hunger strike. By pictures he lost a fair amount of weight - he is currently 67 lbs and looks slim but not thin, and he's eating just fine for me. Anyway, they brought him over for what was supposed to be a meet and greet and they were very surprised at how well he took to me (and of course I was in love lol) they ended up asking if they could just leave him with me then - not what I was planning, but they were so heartbroken to leave him, and I didn't have the heart to ask them to repeat the process.

He is pretty attached and a perfect gentleman with me, but OMG when someone walks by the house or God forbid comes to the door he is a raging, salivating, bark monster. I'm aware of the guard instinct/ aspect of GSDs, but have not actually lived with one. His appearance in these situations is downright menacing, and I am dreading when my kids and grandkids come to visit; and I'm also actually concerned he may break the window when the mailman comes. Someone suggested one of the air-horns to curb barking? I don't really want to resort to a shock collar though I'm interested in feedback on all ideas. When I'm home I can redirect him into another room for 'training" (sit and treats) but that only works if the people are just on the street and not actually at my door, and obviously if I'm home. I took him to the vet for a well-check a few days ago, and she refused to examine him because he was barking and hackling at her, although he interacted fine with all the reception staff - we even got a weight on him pretty easily. Thanks friends!
 

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Hi, I'm also in the Pacific Northwest and recently adopted Mazzy a female shepherd... she is a horrible guard dog at this point and wants to love on everyone who she is near.. including people she has never met... lol.. I wish I could tell you the correct fix...I am no expert... It is possible he was not socialized very well by previous owners... maybe take him to Lowes or Home Depot and have people give him high value treats so he associates positive with people... but at your house... harder to say... I'm sure someone will answer.. I do know that males tend to guard the premises.. where females guard the person... My shepherd mix was a little bit like that .. Good luck :):smile2:

Also possible he is being over protective since he is in a new environment... have you asked the previous owner if this was his typical behavior with them?
 

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How is the dog around people and kids? Having a large crate is a good idea and bring him out only if he is comfortable around people and kids -when company settles in. I would make sure Gavin is settled in before he meets a onslaught of people let him bond with you first. I never had to encourage barking at the door with max even as a pup. We practiced place commands - practice the place command without distraction first using his dog bed or rug or any rug in the house. When you are both familiar with the place command use it when someone is jogging by the house or in the yard oilman man, delivery man etc. and put him in the crate if they need to come in the home. Muzzle him at the vet and I suggest you find a new vet who is comfortable with german Shepherds.

https://youtu.be/O75dyWITP1s
 

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This is going to sound silly, but it worked, so I'll share. I saw a show on tv, with a GSD that was barking wildly each and every time some one walked by the house. The trainer calmly walked up to the window, looked out and said 'thank you'. If the dog did not calm, he redirected or crated. I did this with my boy and I'll be darned, after a few times, all I have to do is say 'thank you' and he stops, thinking I have it all under control and it's my job to deal with the 'intruders'. Still working on people in his personal space, but that is what kiddie gates are for. Be aware that my guy has some serious fear aggression going on. So people getting within 3 feet of him sends him over the top. Hoping you don't have the same problem, but do know it is manageable.
 

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I've been dealing with something similar in regards to people walking past the house. Especially people walking dogs. My girl was going berserk. So she sits in my office with me during the day, I've got a window next to my desk. When I see someone outside, I make the same warning sound she does before she barks, like this low level cough/huff. She comes to the window, huffs, and I tell her good job, then we go get a "cookie." She's doing less chaos barking and more alerting. I definitely let her bark if a stranger wanders off the sidewalk into the grass, or cuts through the yard.

Side note: I also let her bark at the loud mouth 2am weekend drunks who walk by after leaving the two bars a block away, and I reward for that, too. Nothing like a pissed sounding GSD to ramp up that booze soaked reaction time and put some pep in their step...lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hoping there is hope...

Thank you all.....Previous owner says this is typical for him and if I'm reading the situation right it was likely encouraged a bit? Mixed feelings today as he growled and non stop barked at my former beloved dog walker- he never did warm up to her today and she doesn't have much hope for a normal social life for either of us if I keep him so that was very discouraging...... later in the day I took him to the vet just to weigh and get treats and he couldn't have been more charming if I scripted it lol. Then took him to a friend's house in the country ...He barked at them while he was still in the car and they were in the driveway....but they really wanted to give it a go so they all went inside and I walked him around the yard and they sort of came out one by one.......and he was Mr perfect again. I'm trying to really zero in on his triggers but there seem to be some random people that just set him off , also he does better if he's not approached first?
 

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The most important thing here to me is that you've only had this pup for 2 wks! It's very important to keep the first few weeks uneventful and quiet. Give this pup time to acclimate! Focus on learning the dog, and giving him time to learn you and his new environment. GSDs bond mightily, and they're not quick to change that...give him time.

That being said, it's also important to "teach" him the new rules. It's not a correction kind of situation until you've clearly communicated your expectations! You can't correct a dog that is acting on previous training or norms...first you have to teach him your expectations. So calmly tell him no BEFORE he goes berserk when people walk by or come to your door. Training is communication. If he doesn't get it, you're not "communicating" you're simply nagging. Praise and treat profusely for good behavior, but consistently tell him no for bad behavior. Again though, it's not a shouted command, it's a guide word to help him understand what it is you like and dislike. He's still learning you, and you him. He'll learn, and come around if you're consistent...
 

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Wow, he sounds intense!!
Hopefully he will relax a bit as he gets settled in.

Mine also has issues with visitors, and I have a few strategies that helped to improve things:
- If he barks/growls/alerts, I go the window and look out. I say calmly, "I see him! He's here to fix our air-conditioning." This usually will settle him down and stop the barking.
- When visitors enter and are in the front hall, I greet them in a very friendly manner (I have never been so friendly in my life!!!) and even shake hands (and I'm NOT a touchy person!) but somehow this also calms him down.
- I always put him on a leash (hanging by the door) before I open the door. In case I have to "put him away" because something is going wrong. I have not had to do this yet, but it makes me feel better that I have some physical control if I need it.

I think he may need several calm friendly experiences with you welcoming visitors to the house (spread out over the next few weeks, not every day!). Then maybe he could change to a normal protective reaction instead of going nuts - as the level of excitement/stress goes down....

Yea, "protective" is hard!
At least you must feel Safer!!
 
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