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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been concerned about my 6 month old GSD Shadow showing intermittent barking/aggression, but have been at a loss on how to correct it when the behavior doesn't seem to happen in a consistent manner. I read Elements of Temperament that was posted here by a moderator, but I am still confused about the source of Shadow's behavior.

She's showing some rank drive in that she play-fights a lot with our older Golden, as well as showing excellent prey and pack drives. My concern is whether some of her behavior shows weak nerves or is rooted in her defense drive. While outside on our property or on a lead her hackles rise and she barks at strangers, which the article indicates would be a symptom of weak nerves, but at parks/petstores she is perfectly tolerant of strangers coming up and petting her, and strange noises or animals (like a dressed-up goat that someone had) earns little more than a sniff. She'll avoid other dogs that are aggressively friendly with her, but that's the extent of any avoidance behavior.

I'm having a tough time correcting her barking on walks or at joggers since I live in a rural area and people being outside at all is not very common. She's beautifully behaved otherwise and is perfectly friendly with the neighbors when they're out and about, so it's just strangers. Is this an inherent problem that will get worse and worse in the future, or is she just reacting to strangers being uncommon around 'her' property that any appearance might be a threat?
 

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drive somewhere that's more populated (schools, malls,
play ground, another town, Supermarket, 24 hour store,
jogging trail, invite people to visit, ask someone to jog
pass your house, utilize family, friends and neighbors.

I've been concerned about my 6 month old GSD Shadow showing intermittent barking/aggression, but have been at a loss on how to correct it when the behavior doesn't seem to happen in a consistent manner. I read Elements of Temperament that was posted here by a moderator, but I am still confused about the source of Shadow's behavior.

She's showing some rank drive in that she play-fights a lot with our older Golden, as well as showing excellent prey and pack drives. My concern is whether some of her behavior shows weak nerves or is rooted in her defense drive. While outside on our property or on a lead her hackles rise and she barks at strangers, which the article indicates would be a symptom of weak nerves, but at parks/petstores she is perfectly tolerant of strangers coming up and petting her, and strange noises or animals (like a dressed-up goat that someone had) earns little more than a sniff. She'll avoid other dogs that are aggressively friendly with her, but that's the extent of any avoidance behavior.

>>>>>I'm having a tough time correcting her barking on walks or at joggers since I live in a rural area and people being outside at all is not very common.<<<<<

She's beautifully behaved otherwise and is perfectly friendly with the neighbors when they're out and about, so it's just strangers. Is this an inherent problem that will get worse and worse in the future, or is she just reacting to strangers being uncommon around 'her' property that any appearance might be a threat?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
drive somewhere that's more populated (schools, malls,
play ground, another town, Supermarket, 24 hour store,
jogging trail, invite people to visit, ask someone to jog
pass your house, utilize family, friends and neighbors.
I've taken her out places (park/dogpark/petstore) and she behaves very well with little or none of the barking issues, and I don't know anyone that would be a stranger to her that I could ask to walk by for training :-\

I don't even know why she's doing it when she's so good everywhere else. If it is because she has weak nerves or something then I have the feeling that I'll just have to take her inside if I spot someone walking down the street, but if it's some kind of defensive/protective response then maybe I can do something to soothe the impulse.
 

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I think we humans like to overanalyze our dogs' behavior, lol. My puppy is the same way, very vocal on our rural road but totally quiet in a crowd. I tried to figure out why, but I couldn't. Nervy? Territorial? Huh? The closest I came: one day he was completely exhausted and neglected to bark when he normally would. I'm guessing that his barking is related to how much excitement he's had. Since he likes to bark, and he sees something he feels is worthy of a bark, why not bark? Unless he's just too tired, lol.
 

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I'm interested in hearing other responses to this post. My pup (almost 4 months old) behaves the same way.

I can take him out to the store (such as Home Depot) and he is an angel. I get compliments left & right about how well behaved he is, how calm he is, how friendly he is, how well he listens & walk on the lead... He calmly accepts attention from strangers and for the most part ignores other dogs.

But when I take him for a walk down the path and he sees a walker/jogger or a strange dog, the hackles go up & he barks :confused:

I am working on the "watch" command, to focus his attention onto me when he starts barking.
 

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Just my two cents: I do think that pups regularly sort of test themselves when it comes to how bossy/aggressive they should be. This looks like inconsistency to us, but they are trying to figure out how they should behave in various situations. They don't have any confidence yet because they don't have experience. Should I warn those dogs off? Should I be scared? I don't know! So they try something to see what happens. Jaeger was wildly inconsistent at six months old as he worked out his role in the pack. overprotective one time, friendly baby another time. He's settled down SO much at a year old!
 

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Just my two cents: I do think that pups regularly sort of test themselves when it comes to how bossy/aggressive they should be. This looks like inconsistency to us, but they are trying to figure out how they should behave in various situations. They don't have any confidence yet because they don't have experience. Should I warn those dogs off? Should I be scared? I don't know! So they try something to see what happens. Jaeger was wildly inconsistent at six months old as he worked out his role in the pack. overprotective one time, friendly baby another time. He's settled down SO much at a year old!
I agree with Muneraven. We need to guide and lead our young dogs to show them it's ok and they don't have to decide if people are a threat or not. They should look to me and get guidance from ME! If I am acting normal and say it's ok, then it is!

When out and about it's key that I act OVER JOYED when strangers are coming! Normal and delighted to see everyone.

I know dog classes are a huge help at this time. The weekly structured classes help me get the learning I need, and the weekly homework cements all the learning and training for the dog. More importantly, it put ME in a leadership position for my pup so she DOES learn to look to me and cue her behavior based on my reactions.

:)
 

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It could be her reaching the age of puberty. Hormonal flow starts much earlier than 8 months. Some dark strange feelings overwhelm her, she is on alert, eager to meet THE OBJECT. Ignore her, let her bark if she wants to.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hopefully I'm reading too much into it, then :) I'll just keep trying to distract her and treat her when she's quiet... and I think I'll make a point of being excited about strangers as much as I can without making strangers uncomfortable :p
 

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Lisl has calmed down quite a bit since she was a very young puppy. She is nearly seven months now and doesn't bark at the neighbor any more, and in fact if I don't stop her, she'll wander over to see him when he's in his garage.

They aren't exactly friends yet, but it will come with time.

She doesn't bark at passersby any longer either. Not unless they are acting out of the ordinary like waving their arms, talking or shouting, etc. No interest in bicycles either.

Still a perfect GSD when out in public, but she detests being stared at and I tell people not to do that if I hear her growl. When I do hear her growl I always catch them mezmerized with Lisl and they are staring intently at her.

She still loves everyone at the banks, pharmacy, package store, barber shop, etc.

Just don't stare at her.
 

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This is all super helpful for me! My boy Zar is now 16 weeks old and when I got him at 8 weeks he was bombproof and fearless- never hesitated at anything and not barky. Suddenly at 12 weeks, it was like someone took the cotton out of his ears! Everytime a neighborhood dog barks, he feels there must be something to bark at. He is still great in crowds of people at the local baseball games- super sweet & friendly but if we're walking alone and there's a person in the distance, he is very intent on them and does bark. I thought maybe he's going through a fear period even though he didn't have one at 8 weeks. He even barks at me if he is way back in my yard and I walk out of the house! He quickly sees that it's me but so silly! ;) I worry that he's going to be sharp.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
You've gotten good advice, wanted to add an article on the topic I found to be a good read,

'Fear and Reactivity in Adolescence'

http://www.sdhumane.org/site/DocServer/BT_K9-Fear_and_Reactivity_in_Adolescence.pdf?docID=580
Thanks! I can use all the info I can get :p

Shadow has been getting better about strangers, I think. A kid walked by the other day and she watched him with no barks, and on walks she only seems to bark when strangers have other dogs who are intent on coming up to her to say hello. She's a little afraid of other dogs and raises her hackles as they get closer, especially ones that are aggressively friendly. I've started walking her down busy streets to the local supermarket, too, and she has done well there with us sitting close enough to the doors to watch people coming and going. I'm hoping the improvement continues.
 
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