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Hi everyone. First time poster here. I have a beautiful solid black female Shepherd that's 1 year 6 months. She is an amazing dog and I've worked hard at raising her right. However, one issue she has recently developed is that she is barking at people and acting overly protective in public places sometimes. For example, today at Starbucks a man walked by and spoke to me and she jumped up and barked at him. This has happened several times and I'm started to get concerned. She is not aggressive at all though...she has never biten anyone and is very friendly, but just going through and little stage I believe...

My question is what do you recommend I do in order to get her to stop that behavior? I always respond to it by telling her "down" and getting her to stop, but it's still a problem because it can frighten non-Shepherd people (if you know what I mean). And she shouldn't just lunge out and bark at anyone, obviously.

Do you have any experiences similar? Maybe it's her age and a stage she's going through. Would love your feedback.

Thanks so much!
 

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My 3 year old black female GSD never barks. She's the most quiet dog I've ever had and I've never once seen her bark - either out on walks at other dogs or at home!
 

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I would try talking to/focusing your girl before encounters. Doesn't have to be major, just a phrase or two in a calm voice. I use, "who's that? let's go say hi" as my signal that we are going to have a friendly encounter where I want her to greet. For situations where I want her quietly at my side while I speak to someone, practice the down-stay or sit-stay before you encounter the person. Keep your voice calm and relaxed. Voice and posture (ours) is everything because the dog cues from us.

But, from what you're describing, sounds like a simple untrained greet where she is taking the initiative, instead of following commands.

Also, practice the friendly greet and the quiet down-stay or sit-stay over and over by looking for situation to practice with. I'm always taking Myah out to meet and greet and practice. There is always something to learn and solidify, including ignoring boisterous dogs and their inept owners, which is also a critical skill.

Sounds like you're on your way! Just be proactive and give the command before the encounter, not after. Do it at least 30 times in a row consistently, keep yourself calm and nonchalant, and I bet you see a huge difference.
 

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I also use the " say Hi" with my dogs. It tells them it's okay to move towards a person and accept a pet.

I would add that it is important to set your girl up for success with a friendly stranger that is willing to help with training. So find a friend she does not know, a coworker, someone that you can instruct how to respond to her and understands she may be worked up.

Have them stay at a distance at first, get your girl focused on you and slowly move forward. If she gets barky, step back until she settles and then try again. Once you get her so that she is quiet on the approach, give her the command " say hi" and allow her to approach the person. Have the person remain totally neutral. No talking , no touching. They can drop treats on the ground. Then move away. Rinse repeat!!! Get new people to help.

She is still young and this is not an abnormal behavior. You can work through it.


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Thank you! Also, I would add to make sure you don't start the yank-and-pull on her leash during the encounters. It just amps the dog up, rather than helping them listen. If she's too amped up to listen, do casual circles (very nonchalant), quietly keeping her focus.

If you do everything right, and she's still doing it, keep calmly persisting. Because she's still learning something good in the process: reading YOUR calmness.

Whenever Myah hackles up, we are at the point where she just has to hang out with me and I constantly "vibe" my calmness to her. Takes less than 30 seconds (sometimes only a few) and she's laying down all relaxed, just chilling out. I praise her, then we move on.

The key is never to leave an amped up situation with the dog still amped up (okay, the exception would be for safety, but I'm not talking about those - just the run of the mill encounters). We simply and quietly never move on until she chills. She's got that down.

Make sure the look on your face is calm and pleasant and get her focus. That's where she will cue. When we are worried about the other dog, other owner, what will happen, etc, we cue to our dogs that they should worry, bark, alert, amp up, etc.

On our encounters with boisterous dogs, as long as the other dog has not rushed up to her, I usually say, "we're in training, do you mind if we just sit here for a moment without the dogs approaching?". The response is usually positive, even from inept owners.

If the boisterous dog has rushed up to Myah, she is fearful so far (she's a pup). If the dog is aggressive, I stand between her and the other dog, switching her leash to my left hand (she's on my left, but I usually hold her leash in my right hand, loose), and keep her close (like a traffic lead length) with my left hand/arm "calm", while I give a stern, super confident verbal correction to the other dog. If the dog is just poor mannered and rushing up, I tell Myah "leave it" and we keep walking without skipping a beat (the without skipping a beat part is important - sends the signal that the situation is no big deal).

If you need to treat, then go ahead. Just be super careful you never, ever give her a treat when she's amped. The best treat, in my opinion, is freshly roasted meat (beef, pork, poultry). A $5 dollar roasted chicken from the deli section of the grocery store is my GO-TO treat. You can spend tons of money on stuff from the pet store, and they get tired of them after a while and they lose their effectiveness. Fresh roasted meat? Jackpot. :D

Anyway, just keep taking your dog out everyday and look for situations to practice with. Sooooooo good for her and you! :D
 

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My 3 year old black female GSD never barks. She's the most quiet dog I've ever had and I've never once seen her bark - either out on walks at other dogs or at home!
Bless your heart, but for a first time poster, it probably isn't helpful to say your dog has no problems at all in the area the first time poster solicits help.

Besides, the "problem" isn't a problem at all. It's normal development. ;)
 

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I also use the " say Hi" with my dogs. It tells them it's okay to move towards a person and accept a pet.

I would add that it is important to set your girl up for success with a friendly stranger that is willing to help with training. So find a friend she does not know, a coworker, someone that you can instruct how to respond to her and understands she may be worked up.

Have them stay at a distance at first, get your girl focused on you and slowly move forward. If she gets barky, step back until she settles and then try again. Once you get her so that she is quiet on the approach, give her the command " say hi" and allow her to approach the person. Have the person remain totally neutral. No talking , no touching. They can drop treats on the ground. Then move away. Rinse repeat!!! Get new people to help.

She is still young and this is not an abnormal behavior. You can work through it.


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Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly. :)
 

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My 3 year old black female GSD never barks. She's the most quiet dog I've ever had and I've never once seen her bark - either out on walks at other dogs or at home!
OK....So?

To the OP: You mention that this behavior when meeting people is a relatively recent. How did she behave before? Was there a recent change in her life? Also, is she spayed?
 

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OK....So?

To the OP: You mention that this behavior when meeting people is a relatively recent. How did she behave before? Was there a recent change in her life? Also, is she spayed?
OK so? Did you just really put someone down, because they have a good dog:confused: To the OP, it sounds like its just a training issue. She is at that age where you have to keep moving forward and let her know that you are there to protect her and not vice versa. You want her to be able to know the difference between a threat and non threat. Ideally you don't want her barking at people, but if she does then you know something is not right. Does that make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
To answer the person who asked about my dog's behavior before this situation developed. She has done it a few times before when there was something noticeably different about the person. But lately she has done it a few more times. Not with everyone. It is not aggressive behavior though. Because she will then lick their fingers if they hang around. But it is annoying and at something I am working on getting her to contain. She's a very sweet dog and very sweet to 90 percent of people. I think it's just a stage thing with her. But definitely something that needs to be guided. I have noticed it happens with men and not women. I wok with her every day in order to make sure she is a well balanced dog. And she truly is a good one. I just want to make sure I handle this situation in the way that is best for her development.

Thanks again to everyone for the solid advice. This forum is awesome.


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