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Discussion Starter #1
my dog, Cole, just turned one.He is very shy,but he warms up quick. If i take him to petco,petsmart,walks whatever he is fine.Will walk up to anyone and loves to be petted.Now if that same person comes down my sidewalk of my house he will snap at them and hair will go up.How do I stop this?I take him out alot but just when he is at home is the problem.After the person goes in my house he is fine just on the first meeting he has the problem.I tell everyone to not look at him and let him smell you but not everyone does it.Any thoughts?I can keep this dog free in my house with 20 plus people walking in it but if one person comes down the sidewalk......
 

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How about handing out REAL treats to everyone that comes into the home. And when your dog, at his own pace, comes up to them they have their hand out and LOW with a huge chunk of chicken/beef/liver/etc in it??????

Every person, all the time?
 

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Originally Posted By: matt1970lemansI tell everyone to not look at him and let him smell you but not everyone does it.
This is good. When a dog is showing some fear and insecurity as Cole is, it's important to not overwhelm the dog and let him meet and greet people on his own terms once he's comfortable. So you're doing the right thing there.

My other advice would be to turn people into treat machines as Maggie mentioned. Help him build a positive association with people coming up to the house, and this will increase his comfort level and decrease his fear aggression. It can take lots of experience (in other words, many many repetitions) to change a dog's outlook, so the more you can practice the better. Maybe ask family, friends, neighbors for help and set up some sessions to practice this specifically.

Do you have Cole in obedience classes? This can really help too. Many dogs are anxious and stressed when they don't know what to expect or what is expected of them. Obedience helps eliminate some of that unknown, and also teaches the dog that he can trust you and rely on you to handle any situation... all he has to do is listen to you and do as you say. Being able to do some obedience with him when people approach the house will distract him from his worry, and also raise his comfort level by eliminating the uncertainty of what to expect.
 

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Having the stranger give out treats when they come in is one way-but for some dogs that places them too close to the stranger too soon. An alternative for shy dogs is to keep them occupied away from the entrance when the stranger comes in. Then YOU give out treats to Cole while he can see or at least hear the stranger. You'll see that he is calm, because dogs aren't supposed to eat and raise hackles at the same time. After the initial entry is OK-then it may be easier for Cole to approach the stranger and happily make a pig of himself.
 

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Originally Posted By: MaryJane Having the stranger give out treats when they come in is one way-but for some dogs that places them too close to the stranger too soon.
Yes, it's important to keep the dog inside his comfort zone and not let the person get too close and stress the dog. The dog needs positive experiences, not bad (stressful) ones.

A good way to deal with that is just have the stranger toss the treat to the dog. The dog knows where it's coming from so the positive association is made. It accomplishes the same thing without letting the stranger too close. Then as time goes on and the dog becomes more comfortable, the distance between dog and stranger can be decreased.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
now if I do feed or reward him when people are over do I have to be careful that when I do this. Only do this when he is calm,submissive etc?I think that if I reward him when he is insecure and on edge isn't that sort of rewarding him for this behavior? Once he smells and walks over to people and allows a petting I feel thats when I treat.Is that right?He has been to classes.He was actually called back to class as a role model for another GS that the trainer had in class.He is great outside of his property just when he is in the front yard and someone walks down the sidewalk.Now if I walk to the end of the sidewalk and that same person walks towards us he is fine.He is off his property.
 

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Yes, you only want to reward him when he's calm and relaxed, or happily excited, but not when he's stressed or insecure.

But if you wait until he's meeting them on his own, it may be too late. Sounds like his typical response is initially insecure, then he warms up and is fine. If what you want to work on is that initial insecurity, than the trick is to catch it before he has a chance to feel insecure in the first place. He'll have a threshold at which point he starts to feel insecure, and you want to make a positive association with that stranger before they cross that threshold. This may mean that initially they have to toss treats to him from a ways away, staying far enough away from him so as to remain outside the threshold that makes him insecure. Then over time, that threshold will diminish and eventually go away.
 

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A few notes. One advisor, whom I respect said don't worry about it. GSD's are not labs and when it comes to strangers they willbe protective on their property.

Others say, you need to teach the dog to recognize whether visitors have good or bad intentions. Frankly, considering I can't just invite strangers in to my house to train the dog I will go with the former.
 

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Originally Posted By: Timber1 One advisor, whom I respect said don't worry about it. GSD's are not labs and when it comes to strangers they willbe protective on their property.
I don't agree with this. I WOULD worry about it, A LOT!!!! I think this is very bad advice. Agressive behaviour towards strangers is never acceptable. It isn't any more acceptable from a "naturally protective GSD" as it would be acceptable for you to run up to every stranger you see and start yelling insults and obscenities at them. And since the world contains a much higher percentage of strangers than personal friends or acquaintances, the onus to ensure that our dogs are well socialized and well behaved in all situations does fall squarely upon our shoulders. Any excuse is a cop out.

Timber1, training and socialization is an ongoing process. In my presence my dog knows that I rule, and I make the decisions, and that includes who is a threat and who isn't. If I welcome (or ignore) someone, it is my dog's job to follow my lead. To dismiss inappropriate behaviour as "GSDs are just naturally protective" is abdicating your responsibility as pack leader. EVERYTHING my dog EVER does, I take personal responsibility for, regardless of the dog's breed or background, so I will ensure that my dog's reactions and behaviours are predictable and under control. It does take time, work, dedication and continuous training, just as Matt is in the process of doing with Cole.

And a one year old, and a shy one at that, is not very likely to even have a single protective bone in his body, so agressive behaviours are most likely fear reactions. And a fearful dog is an unpredictable dog, so Matt is doing the right thing by worrying about it, and finding ways to work on Cole's self-confidence.
Even if it does mean engaging the help of friendly strangers
.
 

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Quote: A few notes. One advisor, whom I respect said don't worry about it. GSD's are not labs and when it comes to strangers they will be protective on their property.
I also don't agree with that statement UNLESS it's about a well adjusted, older, well socialized ADULT dog who's always behaved well with strangers in the home in the past.

Because a well adjusted and socialized dog that is calm is able to possibly realize if someone is acting weird or wrong. More importantly, an adult dog that has common sense and has been out and about with it's owners meeting tons of people in and out of the home KNOWS to look to the owner. If I'm calm and greeting a stranger like normal, my dog knows everything is just fine and acts accordingly.

But, if instead, I'm acting weird. Stressed. My voice isn't normal and I'm spewing out sweat and stressed phermones..........this my dog will pick up immediately FROM ME to realize something is wrong and start NOT acting normal.

Point being, a young and unsocialized dog has no real ability to judge a mass murderer from my mother-in-law. Both may just enter the house for the first time. Both can be equally scaring and intimidating to a dog who doesn't know the difference. But a dog that is older and has learned to look to the TRUSTED people in their lives will make a better judgement.

So all my friends, relatives, and postal delivery workers are welcomed in the house just like they should be. And I don't have a stressed out dog that feels it's THEIR job to keep everyone out, all the time, cause it's just too scary to do otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
he is pretty well socialized.I can trust him out at petco,petsmart etc. He is good with dog,but is alittle uneasy with small ones.He doesn't get nasty just won't go near them.Now big rotties he's fine with.Most people steer clear of him in stores I guess it the image they portray.The ones that do come up to him find he is a big baby and loves kids and gives kisses.Just here at home is the problem.I'm going to take him out more often,it can't hurt only help. I may take him to more classes just to futher are bond and to get him in close with about 10 dogs and owners or so.
 

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Do you guys think crating could help in a situation like this? My dog is pretty good when I've had people over, but I've crated him when having furniture delivered and one time when I had a little lunch party with my friends. He doesn't make one peep from his crate. After my friends were done eating at my lunch party, I let him downstairs and he greeted everyone really nicely. It's as if being in the crate let him "process" what was going on, and we were obviously having fun.

I heard a theory that when dogs are crated, they feel like they can relax and don't have to be "on". I was skeptical until I noticed that mine wouldn't do his usual alert barking from the crate.
 

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i just took his crate down.he is doing great without it.When I did have it up he would freak out in the crate,sound like he wanted to kill someone.I think thats just a bandaid anyway,not fixing the problem just avoiding it. I do think it has to do with the person though.This guy's son was attacked my a GS when he was young,now I think he is scared of him.Cole senses this and gets uneasy himself.Now I know thats not an excuse but it makes sense.I think the key is socialize him more,I have slacked of.I used to make it happen all the time when he was young well a puppy.Now if I need food for him,I'll take him before I would that him just to walk around.
 

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Originally Posted By: matt1970lemansi just took his crate down.he is doing great without it.When I did have it up he would freak out in the crate,sound like he wanted to kill someone.I think thats just a bandaid anyway,not fixing the problem just avoiding it. I do think it has to do with the person though.This guy's son was attacked my a GS when he was young,now I think he is scared of him.Cole senses this and gets uneasy himself.Now I know thats not an excuse but it makes sense.
Is it only the ONE person that Cole tends to have issues with, or is he this way with most visitors? I thought it was more generalized, but if it's really just toward one person and that person is afraid of dogs, that makes a lot of sense. Dogs will *immediately* pick up on a person's fear, and it will make them very uneasy. Honestly, if it's just the one person, if it were me I'd try to avoid contact with that one person. Not likely going to change the person's feelings, and it's tough to teach a dog to not react someway when a human is giving off major anxiety vibes. And it will become a vicious circle... person's fear makes dog react, dog's reaction enhances person's fear, etc...
 

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MRL,

obviously I am still learning but now tend to agree with your comments and the post prior to yours. My GSD gets very excited when visitors come over. If the dog knows them, family and friends, it is never an issue. However, his reaction to strangers is mixed, and I think that depends on whether they just love dogs or are a bit uneasy.

My breeder suggested I do much of what several in this post have recommended, plus cage him until he settles and then do the treat thing.

A few other notes. My dog has been socialized to an extent most of you would not believe. He has been in hugh crowds, several times, met all the neighbors, etc. In those instances he is fine.

When a stranger comes to my house I would use the term excited, rather then stressed, albeit I know your comment referred to the owner. Nonetheless, at times the hair stands up. Timber does get fired up on other occassions, but never in a mean way.

You used the term CALM, if I can ever get this dog to calm down, whether it is time to play, train or a visitor arrives it would be amazing.

Appreciate the comments.
 
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