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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I am wondering if anyone has similar experience and advice. I have a 6 month old GSD puppy who is really calm and an angel inside however once outside is a very different dog. In our yard she is very calm, but once she goes on a walk or in another environment she gets so stimulated and becomes reactive to everything. More specifically she will bark and lounge at other dogs (the concern at the moment). She isn't aggressive, it's very much the "frustrated greeter" reactivity. Once she is allowed (isn't anymore) to greet the other dog the barking immediately stops. She can also get like this with people, if she is not allowed to greet someone. Although the people reactivity has largely decreased. She has been this way since we got her at 8 weeks. Even when attempting to socialize her when she was younger, every person or dog she saw led immediately to barking and lounging. We have been working with a trainer on the reactivity, specifically the trainer has us working on general obedience and engagement, but haven't seen much success once we add on distractions ( leaving the yard). Her excitement levels are just off the charts when she is outside. Other people with GSDs we talk to say they have had the opposite, calm outside but a nightmare inside... and we have the opposite. I know part of this could be puppyhood, but it does seem intense even for a GSD. She does get a lot of physical and mental exercise. Wondering if anyone else has similar experience and/or success stories.
 

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Have you tried a good game of fetch before walks?
Bringing a toy or treats and redirecting her attention on you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you tried a good game of fetch before walks?
Bringing a toy or treats and redirecting her attention on you?
Thanks for the reply! We have tried playing with her before walks, it seems to only get her more excited once we start the walk. But maybe we need to play with her longer before walks. We also do bring treats and reward when she is walking good (in heel) and calm, but once she sees a distraction (person or dog) all treats go out the window, she will stay focused and bark until the distraction is well out of view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I should also note, it seems to very well be tied to the leash. Even when we have dog playdates in our yard, once the leash goes on (for a break) the barking begins. If she meets a dog off or person off-leash there is no barking. Seems to be tied to the barrier and her not having freedom to do as she wants.
 

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Dogs are very cognizant of patterns and routines. If every time or most of the time your dog sees another dog she goes to meet them, that becomes the expectation every time. That expectation will lead to excitement building in anticipation. Once that excitement hits a certain threshold, it will become frustration. That frustration will lead to barking. If barking leads to meeting the other dog, it becomes self rewarding. While I would give my dogs a correction and tell them to keep walking, the first step in my opinion is to stop letting your dog meet most of the dogs you see.
 

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I agree with your trainer, obedience and engagement are where your focus should be! How is her obedience and engagement at home? What, if any, training tools are you using?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dogs are very cognizant of patterns and routines. If every time or most of the time your dog sees another dog she goes to meet them, that becomes the expectation every time. That expectation will lead to excitement building in anticipation. Once that excitement hits a certain threshold, it will become frustration. That frustration will lead to barking. If barking leads to meeting the other dog, it becomes self rewarding. While I would give my dogs a correction and tell them to keep walking, the first step in my opinion is to stop letting your dog meet most of the dogs you see.
thanks! We’ve actually taken that exact approach. She hasn’t met a dog on a walk ( on leash ) in months. We knew that the barking would be self rewarding so pretty well since day 1 she’s been limited from meeting dogs. She’s met only a small handful on leash. Largely because those were off leash dogs that ran up to her. Only one we let her greet because miraculously she wasn’t barking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with your trainer, obedience and engagement are where your focus should be! How is her obedience and engagement at home? What, if any, training tools are you using?
At home engagement is great. We can call her from any room, or away from the cat and she returns immediately. Also doesn’t bark at the door when we have visitors, or delivery ( this one surprised me ). She doesn’t chew or get into anything other than her own toys. In terms of training tools we have largely been using high value treats and toys as rewards.
 

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So she is on a flat collar, or a harness? Does she know how to heel? Does she hold a down for long periods of time? Does she sit or down at any distance? Do you train at home on or off leash?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So she is on a flat collar, or a harness? Does she know how to heel? Does she hold a down for long periods of time? Does she sit or down at any distance? Do you train at home on or off leash?
She is on a martingale collar. Heel yes, but only without distractions. So at home when we practice she’s great, but if she sees a person or dog while walking she will be too focused on the distraction and won’t respond to the heal. We train at home on and off leash.
 

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Okay, if your dog "knows" a command like heel, and she doesn't comply, what do you do? That's essentially where a correction to regain her attention is required! It's really hard to train around reactivity without corrections to let the dog know that she still needs to pay attention! Consistent application of that sequence will help her get over her reactivity. Of course, it's still critical to take small steps so that she's able to remain under threshold. You need to get her attention refocused on the task she's been given.

So use distance, and give her a leash pop when she starts focusing on a distant distraction, changing directions helps too.

Walking a dog daily is really not necessary; exercise, both physical and mental, is. My advice would be to give going on walks, where she's frequently acting nutty, a break for a bit and work on slowly, slowly introducing distractions at a distance.

Six months is also a pretty typical butthead period for puppies, so you're dealing with a bit of that as well. Just be consistent and stick with it and she'll come around!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, if your dog "knows" a command like heel, and she doesn't comply, what do you do? That's essentially where a correction to regain her attention is required! It's really hard to train around reactivity without corrections to let the dog know that she still needs to pay attention! Consistent application of that sequence will help her get over her reactivity. Of course, it's still critical to take small steps so that she's able to remain under threshold. You need to get her attention refocused on the task she's been given.

So use distance, and give her a leash pop when she starts focusing on a distant distraction, changing directions helps too.

Walking a dog daily is really not necessary; exercise, both physical and mental, is. My advice would be to give going on walks, where she's frequently acting nutty, a break for a bit and work on slowly, slowly introducing distractions at a distance.

Six months is also a pretty typical butthead period for puppies, so you're dealing with a bit of that as well. Just be consistent and stick with it and she'll come around!
thanks! I do give leash corrections, but they seem ineffective.She still fights through them and continues barking. That said, there could be something wrong with my technique on leash correcting. I will look into proper techniques! And yeah good advice on the taking a break on the walks. Appreciate the advice!
 

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You can also try getting into walks that are short or routes where you aren't likely to see dogs. Set her up for success.
Then, research how to approach her threshold and reward. You might find she grows out of this as you don't reward frustration.
 

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thanks! I do give leash corrections, but they seem ineffective.She still fights through them and continues barking. That said, there could be something wrong with my technique on leash correcting. I will look into proper techniques! And yeah good advice on the taking a break on the walks. Appreciate the advice!
To be effective you have to catch her before she's barking and lunging! Catch her when she'd loading up, change direction and remind her she's healing. Give her a quick pop on the leash anytime you see her beginning to drift or fixate on another dog or person or whatever.

It takes practice, and it's important to get the timing right. The leash pop is just a reminder, not a punishment really, just a "hey you, pay attention" type thing. But it has to be firm enough that it gets her attention!

Once she's barking and lunging it's too late! But you can still change direction and urge her to come away with you.
 

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What Tim mentions about getting them before they load is key. I get our girl when her eyes lock on. I use look at me or ignore as commands and if the eyes stay locked instead of looking at me or forward she gets the correction.

We are getting pretty good, most times now just the verbal Ignore works. Plus it's kind of fun and rewarding when another dog is pulling and barking to just say ignore and walk on by.

Or if they are at distance like in a yard or across the street its a great time to work on commands with distractions, like a sit when we stop while heeling, down stay, etc.
 

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My GSD was initially dog reactive when on leash. When he was just old enough to go to the park, (at 4 months) he would pull and lunge and bark at every dog. My method was, a quick leash pop, then call him to me, and give him a treat when he complied and was focusing on me. IMHO, Punish the behaviour you don't want and reward the behaviour you do want.
In a few days, he started looking at me when we would see another dog. I would ask him to come and sit and give him a treat.
It really didn't take very long for him to understand not to react and to look to me for direction. This morphed into a rock solid heel with no reaction at all to other dogs.
 
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