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Hello everyone, my GSD puppy is now 17 weeks (4 months). He gradually started barking at people a few weeks ago but it was manageable and not frequently. However, right after he turned 4 months, he started to bark at every dog and everyone. Note that we have been taking him almost everywhere with us to socialize him since he was a young puppy.

1) We have been to the vet for shots before but just the other day at the vet, he saw other dogs there and started barking at them and at the staff as well. The staff there thought he was being protective over my hubby but I've read that puppies don't know protective yet.

2) We have been attending PetSmart puppy classes for the past 5 weeks and periodically he'll bark at other dogs in the class but more of the friendly excited bark (according to the trainer) but just earlier today, he was there and was barking the deeper GSD bark at all the dogs there especially the dogs outside of the class. There was another 8 month old GSD at the next class so I was trying to introduce them but they were both barking nonstop. Once the other GSD got close and smelled him, she at least stopped, but my dog was still barking but at the same time backing up with hackle up. I noticed that when he's barking and the other dogs approach him, he'll actually back down even though he continues to bark.

3) We have been taking him to the same store since he was young and people would approach him and he would be fine with it, but just recently he started barking if people got too close and even barked at a kid that got scared of him or at another kid that was just in front of him.

4) We have been taking him in car rides since he was young. He has never barked at anyone or any dog while in the car. However, this week, he started barking at other people that was walking down the street, on their bikes, or at another dog passing by.

5) He would also bark at anyone that passes by our fence at home and the delivery guys but I guess this is forgivable since he's just trying to protect his territory I guess.

I would try to stop his barking behavior by telling him to sit/down and he'll stop for a treat for a short while. I'll also try to stand in front of him to block his vision of the other dogs but of course he's still barking. I seriously ran out of ideas on how to stop him because he's getting worse and worse. His barking at everything/everyone is stressing me out because it is very embarrassing. I see other GSDs that are so calm in public and never bark, so I'm very disappointed and sad thinking I'm doing something wrong here. I also noticed that his hackles go up when he sees other dogs or sometimes other people. He also seems more alert compared to when he was younger.

Please let me know your inputs and experience on how to stop this behavior and if this is normal. Thank you so much!
 

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Most puppies i've seen doing this just need a correction and/or told to KNOCK IT OFF. Bratty teenager stage has begun and just testing out their voice. Just let them know that that isn't needed or acceptable.
 

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Most puppies i've seen doing this just need a correction and/or told to KNOCK IT OFF. Bratty teenager stage has begun and just testing out their voice. Just let them know that that isn't needed or acceptable.
Thank you for your input! I'll do my best to correct this behavior.

Define how you've socialized him?
Letting a puppy play with everyone and every dog can be counterproductive.
I'd slow down. Hes still young and not necessarily being protective.
We would take him to places that allow dogs in carts and people would pet him. This happens about twice a week. We also bring him to PetSmart for classes once a week and let people pet him. There are about 2 other dogs in class and occasionally other dogs there too. He used to be fine with people petting him and he would just sniff their hands but gradually barking more and more and seem less social. I guess one person that petted him was right, he has a GSD and said GSDs are more friendly when they're younger and won't really let strangers touch him as they get older. Maybe my puppy wants his space now that he thinks he's older now. Thank you for your input!
 

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We would take him to places that allow dogs in carts and people would pet him. This happens about twice a week. We also bring him to PetSmart for classes once a week and let people pet him. There are about 2 other dogs in class and occasionally other dogs there too. He used to be fine with people petting him and he would just sniff their hands but gradually barking more and more and seem less social. I guess one person that petted him was right, he has a GSD and said GSDs are more friendly when they're younger and won't really let strangers touch him as they get older. Maybe my puppy wants his space now that he thinks he's older now. Thank you for your input!
In general, going around letting everyone pet your dog can be counterproductive and create reactive dogs. The dogs learn that other people/strangers are a source of fun or that they should be meeting them, so it creates lunging or frustrated barking.

On another point, I know someone who brought their antisocial malinois to work every day, seeing people constantly, and the mal became reactive and irritated at socializing. Then when she stopped bringing her mal to work so that he sees people only every once in awhile, he became more chill with people. Maybe you are letting TOO many people into his space too often, in his opinion. Or he's overwhelmed by all the petting all the time and has been spooked at some point, creating fearful reactivity, which is most likely.

Proper socialization should be bringing your dog to new places and being around people, but having your dog interact and focus on you, the owner. So dog should learn that strangers are neutral background noise, and not something to focus on, for good or bad.
 

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I'm with Fiaonapup on this one. Some dogs need space. They need to deal with people in their own time. Telling people to ignore my dog made a huge difference on how she deals with folks. She is much less likely to bark "just stay back for a minute" because she knows I have it covered. I suspect the issue with people started partly because she is naturally more cautious and partly from getting her into IPO protection when she was entering a second fear stage...ooops. Even though the training director and helper seemed to do everything right, it took a long time for my gal to even begin to trust them again. She thought they had lost their minds because she didn't under stand what they wanted of her.

I've moved her form IPO to SAR type training. Knowing the "game" makes a difference, knowing the correct expectations helps. Going to a place where you and the pup can just watch without being expected to interact helps. That also gives you a chance to show the pup what you don't like with a fair consequence. Just make sure that a while later you also reward good behavior.
 

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" I would try to stop his barking behavior by telling him to sit/down and he'll stop for a treat for a short while."

Barks> Gets treat. You get what you pet. You are rewarding him for barking in the mind of the puppy.
 

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It’s leash frustration because he wants to get to people and dogs. When he can’t, it will eventually lead to reactivity. Mine did that at the same age because I could not get him out enough due to pano. He was so young, I didn’t want to correct, thought it would make it worse. Then I decided it needed to stop and I stopped letting other dogs get too close, stopped letting him run up to people, and let him observe from a distance. For a year, I made vet appointments during their quiet time where there were fewer dogs or no other dogs in the office. He has no reaction to cats, so I only asked about dogs.

2 years later and working with a good trainer, he is over it. It doesn’t get him anywhere, so it's not fun anymore. I don’t use a prong for regular training, but I keep one on him when we go to places with strange dogs. For some reason, it calms him down. If he was reactive, he would get a quick pop and be told to sit quietly. I used to walk away but that made it worse. Our current trainer said leave him in the situation and make him behave. I also spent a lot of time, over a year, on focus. Now, my goal is to get him out of the prong all the time.
 

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Another thing that feeds into it is not getting enough exercise. My dog had pano and when he was unable to run a lot and explore, he got more frustrated. I forgot to mention, don’t use a training collar on a young puppy.
 

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Another thing that feeds into it is not getting enough exercise. My dog had pano and when he was unable to run a lot and explore, he got more frustrated. I forgot to mention, don’t use a training collar on a young puppy.
I'll second the needing enough exercise comment. Still a puppy so don't go crazy, but it takes the edge off the crazy puppy excited energy and was an absolute MUST before we took our pup into new situations. Or we exercised him just to calm him down enough to work with him.

By 4 months old we DID use a pinch collar and got walking on heel down pretty good before too much socializing with other dogs/people. (Sit and Down are pretty important too)

in puppy class when my boy got to barking I'd put him in sit facing the wall, not allowing him to look at the dog he was barking at. (playfully)

We still put a pinch collar on him for walks, training, and when he will be meeting others. He's happy to put it on because he knows he's going to get to do something FUN!

If actually meeting people is too much right now, walk in less busy areas and change your route to avoid meeting people if possible. I would put my boy in Heel when I saw something that he might react too. if he started LOOKING I'd tell him "LEAVE IT!" and give him a correction. Then sometimes a completely unnecessary turn to my right just to insure he remembers that he is on heel and he needs to be paying attention to what WE are doing. Today we walk past yappy dogs in their yards and he can ignore them.. he gets a TON of praise and treats (if I have them) when he does that.

Don't get frustrated, you have a puppy acting like a puppy. If you're sure your puppy is just excited and playful you can also tell people, "he's just an x month old puppy who wants to play, he's still learning proper manners". Most people see BIG DOG and assume he's an adult.

the Clamer GSD you're looking for is 12-18 months away if you continue working with him properly. My Boy is 13 months and we noticed he is A LOT more clam now. (also gets plenty of exercise daily)
 

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A prong collar is an easy fix but if it takes the place of training and exposure, the dog will never be able to be walked on a leash without it in places where the dog might react. They are not recommended for young puppies. I know people use them but I would not put one on a dog that young.
 

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A prong collar is an easy fix but if it takes the place of training and exposure, the dog will never be able to be walked on a leash without it in places where the dog might react. They are not recommended for young puppies. I know people use them but I would not put one on a dog that young.
To each his own. We used prong collar at 4 months old, the GSD club that we trained with used them at 4 months old. I understand and agree with the idea of training to the point that it's not needed anymore, but my 13 month old GSD isn't there yet. Sounds like you are further along with your training and will be eliminating the use of your prong collar soon. That should be the goal for anyone who uses this training tool.
 

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Usually it’s not recommended because it can damage the puppy. I know someone whose GSD had a serious injury as a result of a prong used too early and had to have it fixed surgically. But it’s your choice. I wrote another post on training in another thread. A puppy trainer should teach you alternatives so you don’t have to use tools like that on a very young dog.
 

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It sounded like leash frustration to me as well, but the OP said the dog backs up with its hackles raised.
Sounds like fear reaction to me. I had the same issue with kona as a puppy at one point.
 
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