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Hi all,

My wife and I are new GSD owners (pup is now 8 months old) we’ve wanted to make sure he’s a dog that we can take anywhere, so we’ve been making sure that we have been socializing him as much as possible, and he is perfectly fine out in public. However, today we noticed a shortcoming on our end of training, with an interesting dynamic that I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced/has some insight.

We had some friends over today. When they arrived, it was just myself, our shepherd, and our other dogs. They came in with zero incident and the Shepherd (even though extremely excited that people were over) still was obeying my commands, and after a few minutes lost interest in the guests. Once my wife got home, anytime the male friend would stand up he would instantly go into protection mode. Barking, running towards him (thankfully not biting) but was extremely attentive to his every move and was definitely on high alert. He also got to where he was ignoring many of my commands, but would still listen to my wife.

Initially we had chalked this up to us failing to properly socialize him at the house, as well as in public. When my wife, and our female guest left the house for a little bit, his demeanor once again changed. He could’ve cared less about the male friend, was obeying all his commands from me. Once the wife came back, it all repeated.

My general understanding of when a dog becomes very protective of a single person, is usually that they see that person as weaker, and that they need to protect them. However, my wife is definitely seen as the ”pack leader” by our 4 other dogs (she’s had them much longer than we’ve been together) and in the “higher stress situation” he seemed more willing to listen to her than myself.

So I’m trying to make sure I understand what’s behind his behavior. Am I incorrect about the overly protective traits? Is there maybe something about her that puts him on edge, and much more relaxed with me? Is there something more going on that we need to address outside of socializing more at home?

Thanks for any tips or insight!
 

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It's really not possible to diagnose the "why" over the internet.But what you can do is to be proactive and not allow him to practice the behavior in the future.Crate him,have him stay in a 'place' command,gate him off in another area,are all options to consider.Assume it will happen with other male guests and make a plan.
My three get excited when we have visitors so they are kept gated off or kenneled until they are totally chill.The girls calm down quickly but sometimes Samson remains uneasy with certain people so he remains separated.No stress for any of us.
 

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I have no way of knowing if this is happening make sure that your dog isn't inadvertently getting attention/praise for that behavior. Sometimes, people pat their dogs, or talk in a soothing voice when they feel that their dog is "nervous" . This will wildly reinforce the undesirable behavior.
 

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He is taking too much initiative. He needs his cues from you and not acting as he feels like it. Nip it in the bud. Put him on a down stay (make sure he is solid on down stays) at the first sign; staring, ears too focused etc. Or keep him next to you on leash until the little brat is behaving well. He is figuring out what he can and cannot do; it's called 'adolescence'. My breeder calls them (the males mainly) 'knuckle heads'. Stay on top of the boy and you will have a dream dog in two years.
 

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Dog's are protective of their person, especially GSDs. That does not mean he sees your wife as weak by any means. But if she is his person she needs to take the roll of leader with him. Next time put him up away from visitors and work on him listening to your wife.
 
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