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Our 4 yo, female, AKC GSD is highly socialized and interacts with people of all ages without incident. She generally trots up to visitors sniffs around, then carries on with her own interests (chasing frisbee, etc), and otherwise acts aloof. So, yesterday she and I were coming in from the backyard towards the house when we both saw the UPS delivery man walking down the entryway steps after dropping off a package at the door. She raced ahead (despite my commands to her to do otherwise) and approached the delivery man who smartly didn't panic, but instead stood still and made the back of his hand available to her as a gesture of greeting. She took up a position about 4 feet from him, remained on all fours, and barked as if alerting on him and letting him know that he did not have her permission to leave. She did not jump or lunge, show her teeth or growl. Her tail was up in the air wagging, back and forth like a happy / excited wag but she wasn't budging and neither was he. I'm sure I didn't handle this correctly as I gave her a lot of loud, stiff "No's" (to no avail). It wasn't until I caught up to the two of them (standing on the terrace) that I was able to apologize to the driver, and engage her directly and re-direct her to relax and continue our game of frisbee.

So what did I observe? Is this normal? Is it aggression? Why in this circumstance and not in response to other delivery drivers?, postal jeep in driveway. etc; as in these cases she generally trots out to see the person, allows a little engagement and carries on with her (other) interests. The only thing I can figure is that in this case the person was at our door, so in a sense he had "possession" of her house, as opposed to her coming out of her (our) house to meet him.

Thoughts, comments and feedback welcome.
 

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Yea I agree that maybe it seemed like he was claiming the "territory" of the house, since he was between her and the house.
Or maybe she felt that it was "not right" because it was unusual, not the way things usually are.

I dunno, it seems like normal Shepherdy behavior to me! They tend to be alert, and protective of their home.

( When we had our roof assessed, there were insurance guys outside climbing up ladders. My shep/husky mix stood at the window growling and barking at them...he REALLY did not like that, and felt that this was "not right" and threatening and unusual. I agreed with him - who wants to see a guy on a ladder outside their window! Maybe your dog was feeling something like that...I think it's good that they assess things and know when something is out of the ordinary.)

As far as Training...if it happens a lot (but it sounds like it doesn't) you might want to think about something besides "No". Maybe call your dog to you and clip on a leash? I'm sure the UPS guy felt a bit nervous. A lot of postal workers and UPS guys carry HALT dog repellent spray...dogs give them a lot of grief, I think!!
 

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I thin you dodged a bullet. Could be literally. Up the training. Until your dog follows voice commands with distractions, the dog should not be off lead with free access to visitors and delivery men.
 

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Good point. She responds to voice commands like "come", "leave it", "no" , "sit", wait" and "stay" reliably .... except in a few certain situations and this is one of them. What advice can you give me as to how to take her training to the next level?
 

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I think it's a good thing that delivery man had some sense, because who knows what could have happened if he had taken off towards his truck or something. Not all delivery people will do the same thing, so I think you should be careful now that she has exhibited that behavior, especially if she hasn't done it before.
 

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Did he make eye contact? My very sweet but reserved female went crazy on a man who came in to give us an estimate on some work. I couldn’t figure out why she was acting so hostile until he said he made full eye contact. She was crated so I wasn’t too worried. Just make sure your dog doesn’t come in contact with strangers on your property anymore. I purposely keep the entry to the backyard blocked to through traffic so we don’t have any unexpected encounters.
 

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Good point. She responds to voice commands like "come", "leave it", "no" , "sit", wait" and "stay" reliably .... except in a few certain situations and this is one of them. What advice can you give me as to how to take her training to the next level?
I'd get her into classes and talk to a trainer saying you want to practice having her work through distractions. Other owners with dogs are often great distractions. Until that situation becomes normal, then you may have to set up some other distractions.

Training the Come, Leave It, No, SIT Wait, and Stay, have life-saving possibilities. Often times, we can use one of those to tell the dog what TO do, before we have to try to tell the dog what NOT TO do. For example, if you are approaching another person waking toward you, your dog goes in front and jumps up on the lady. You would need to tell your dog, "No, OFF!" and get the dog off the woman. That's a lot harder than seeing the lady approaching, and saying to your dog SIT, and the dog is no longer thinking about jumping on the woman he is thinking about the SIT Command and is doing it. It takes the question out of the what the dog should do. Should he attack or should he be friendly. But no, you said SIT, now he knows that what he should be doing is sitting. And he is good at sitting.

Distractions should be trained like everything else. Begin with something in the distance and Sit your dog, and praise your dog for sitting. Give your dog distance/space and time. I mean, you do not tell your dog to SIT and then walk 20 feet away, and turn and face it, and then wait a minute. No, you tell the dog to stay and you pivot in front, and then you pivot back and praise. With distractions, of course, you start with distance, and over time, remove the distance.
 

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I thin you dodged a bullet. Could be literally. Up the training. Until your dog follows voice commands with distractions, the dog should not be off lead with free access to visitors and delivery men.
Where i agree to this to a point, if you are in your own yard, and not expecting someone to show up, how does one prevent something like this?

We have a clicker that i keep with me and use from time to time. Karma responds fairly well to voice commands (she's almost 8 months now), but one thing that ALWAYS gets her attention is the double click on that clicker. Maybe something to check out?

I must have an odd ball GSD then. We have a fenced in back yard (chain link), and outside of a few neighbor's dogs i haven't heard Karma bark one bit. Even when we have had family friends come over to let the dogs out to go the bathroom, we have never had a problem with her being protective to this point?

We are still getting used to having a 'protective' breed ourselves. We have two english bulldogs, whom at one point, broke out of our backyard and ran along with our mailman to deliver mail to a couple houses before he brought them back to our house lol.
 

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I'd get her into classes and talk to a trainer saying you want to practice having her work through distractions. Other owners with dogs are often great distractions. Until that situation becomes normal, then you may have to set up some other distractions.

Training the Come, Leave It, No, SIT Wait, and Stay, have life-saving possibilities. Often times, we can use one of those to tell the dog what TO do, before we have to try to tell the dog what NOT TO do. For example, if you are approaching another person waking toward you, your dog goes in front and jumps up on the lady. You would need to tell your dog, "No, OFF!" and get the dog off the woman. That's a lot harder than seeing the lady approaching, and saying to your dog SIT, and the dog is no longer thinking about jumping on the woman he is thinking about the SIT Command and is doing it. It takes the question out of the what the dog should do. Should he attack or should he be friendly. But no, you said SIT, now he knows that what he should be doing is sitting. And he is good at sitting.

Distractions should be trained like everything else. Begin with something in the distance and Sit your dog, and praise your dog for sitting. Give your dog distance/space and time. I mean, you do not tell your dog to SIT and then walk 20 feet away, and turn and face it, and then wait a minute. No, you tell the dog to stay and you pivot in front, and then you pivot back and praise. With distractions, of course, you start with distance, and over time, remove the distance.
 

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Thanks! This is very helpful and on point. I have already started to introduce the command, “stop” in our morning and evening frisbee games . I’m starting with very close distances, and heavily rewarding her (remarkable) ability to over-ride her urge to tear off after the frisbee. I’m also pairing “sit” and “wait” with this command. We will be practicing daily. She has an invisible boundary fence on our 4 acre property, and she is kenneled in a 12 x 12 enclosure when I’m not outside with her. She sleeps in our house with us at night. Normally, when she is out on the property with me she hardly gives delivery drivers, grass cutting guys, visitors anything more than a trot up, tail wagging, “hello” and then moves on.There was something about this particular situation that triggered her and revealed to me that we need to do more work; I know it could happen again and I have to be able to get her under control before she engages the visitor.
 

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Where i agree to this to a point, if you are in your own yard, and not expecting someone to show up, how does one prevent something like this?
.....

I must have an odd ball GSD then. We have a fenced in back yard (chain link), and outside of a few neighbor's dogs i haven't heard Karma bark one bit. Even when we have had family friends come over to let the dogs out to go the bathroom, we have never had a problem with her being protective to this point?
You should be proactive and anticipate. We almost never see a stranger walking into our backyard. It is flagged so utilities call or knock before they enter. Even so, I caught a utility worker trying to defeat our gate lock because he was impatient and didn’t want to wait for us. Fortunately I was home, went out and asked if he wanted to come face to face with a protective German Shepherd? He didn’t. He said usually the alerts are for small dogs people don’t want to escape. I told him believe the warnings. Then I told him my dogs were both secured inside and he was free to go in. So, yes, we always anticipate the worst and plan for it.

You may have a very calm, social and non aggressive German Shepherd and never have an issue with her. I had one like that. My male WL now is very social in most situations but he is also very protective of our house and yard, and even our neighbor’s yards.
 

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Where i agree to this to a point, if you are in your own yard, and not expecting someone to show up, how does one prevent something like this?
There should never be a time when you aren't ready to deal with an unexpected situation. Until Karma is perfectly behaved and predictable, she should be on the leash everywhere.
 

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We have two english bulldogs, whom at one point, broke out of our backyard and ran along with our mailman to deliver mail to a couple houses before he brought them back to our house lol.
ha ha, yes, this was our Great Dane. Big (literally big) lover of all other living beings. :)

So, also, I think you have to "know" your dog. For instance, you may see mine standing and saying "Growl...bark! bark! Growl...bark! bark!" in a deep voice with head and tail up. It means he is suspicious and alert and unhappy about the situation. However if we walk up to him or shush him, he can be called off and will turn away. Because he 'listens' and his behavior (so far) is predictable, I don't worry so much.

Also, he is usually loose offleash in fenced backyard, inside the house, or if I'm doing yardwork in the front, he is tethered near me. The reason I'm cautious is that we often have little kids scootering around and playing in the street in front of our yard, and cars go by pretty often too.
 

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Where i agree to this to a point, if you are in your own yard, and not expecting someone to show up, how does one prevent something like this?

We have a clicker that i keep with me and use from time to time. Karma responds fairly well to voice commands (she's almost 8 months now), but one thing that ALWAYS gets her attention is the double click on that clicker. Maybe something to check out?

I must have an odd ball GSD then. We have a fenced in back yard (chain link), and outside of a few neighbor's dogs i haven't heard Karma bark one bit. Even when we have had family friends come over to let the dogs out to go the bathroom, we have never had a problem with her being protective to this point?

We are still getting used to having a 'protective' breed ourselves. We have two english bulldogs, whom at one point, broke out of our backyard and ran along with our mailman to deliver mail to a couple houses before he brought them back to our house lol.
The problem is that if there is access to delivery or utility people, and your dog bites them, then your home-owner's insurance will take a big hit, and you may have to give up the dog to satisfy the requirement to have home-owner's insurance (like, if you have a mortgage). So, your fenced back yard is fine, so long as the dog cannot get out of it, and no one else has any business going into it. Or you keep it padlocked. It is sad that we should have to padlock our gates, but there are folks out there that will open your gate, do what they need to do, and walk away without bothering to latch the gate. You get up the next morning, let your dog out your back door and ten minutes later you hear screeching wheels in the road and look out of the window to see someone speeding away, and a form in the road.

There are just too many bad scenarios when it comes to loose dogs. We all grew up with Timmy and Lassie, and the idea of having a dog running free by our side everywhere we go, is just so endearing. But unless that dog is rock solid in obedience, it can turn out really messy. Once again, Hollywood is not reality. You can't have a pit bull dog and let it run with a gang of neighborhood brats. That isn't going to fly. Poor Pete.

I actually had a dog like Lassie. I could take her anywhere without a leash. She had an RN, and then an RA, and then a CD. I took her to work with me every day for over a year in downtown Cleveland, and did not use a leash. First you have to let the dog grow up a little, but Babsy was excellent in obedience before she was a year old. In fact, we ran one of our Rally runs with the leash looped around her ear, the whole course, talk about a loose leash. Well, it is not something you just do with your dog. It's a commitment. And number one is protecting your dog from the stupidity the dog may show at any point that endangers his life, by what he might do to someone else.
 

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The problem is that if there is access to delivery or utility people, and your dog bites them, then your home-owner's insurance will take a big hit, and you may have to give up the dog to satisfy the requirement to have home-owner's insurance (like, if you have a mortgage). So, your fenced back yard is fine, so long as the dog cannot get out of it, and no one else has any business going into it. Or you keep it padlocked. It is sad that we should have to padlock our gates, but there are folks out there that will open your gate, do what they need to do, and walk away without bothering to latch the gate. You get up the next morning, let your dog out your back door and ten minutes later you hear screeching wheels in the road and look out of the window to see someone speeding away, and a form in the road.

There are just too many bad scenarios when it comes to loose dogs. We all grew up with Timmy and Lassie, and the idea of having a dog running free by our side everywhere we go, is just so endearing. But unless that dog is rock solid in obedience, it can turn out really messy. Once again, Hollywood is not reality. You can't have a pit bull dog and let it run with a gang of neighborhood brats. That isn't going to fly. Poor Pete.

I actually had a dog like Lassie. I could take her anywhere without a leash. She had an RN, and then an RA, and then a CD. I took her to work with me every day for over a year in downtown Cleveland, and did not use a leash. First you have to let the dog grow up a little, but Babsy was excellent in obedience before she was a year old. In fact, we ran one of our Rally runs with the leash looped around her ear, the whole course, talk about a loose leash. Well, it is not something you just do with your dog. It's a commitment. And number one is protecting your dog from the stupidity the dog may show at any point that endangers his life, by what he might do to someone else.
Agreed this is how i grew up around dogs. All labs, all listened very well, and were never on a leash (my bio dad raced horses across the state of michigan). The only time Oscar was ever on a leash, was when my dad was racing, and he couldn't be near the track. So he would be on a lead attached to the truck/trailer.

I'm still getting used to owning an 'aggressive' breed. Always had big lovable dunder heads (Labs, English Bullies, and Mastiffs). Which could possibly be where Karma gets it from? not sure.

You should be proactive and anticipate. We almost never see a stranger walking into our backyard. It is flagged so utilities call or knock before they enter. Even so, I caught a utility worker trying to defeat our gate lock because he was impatient and didn’t want to wait for us. Fortunately I was home, went out and asked if he wanted to come face to face with a protective German Shepherd? He didn’t. He said usually the alerts are for small dogs people don’t want to escape. I told him believe the warnings. Then I told him my dogs were both secured inside and he was free to go in. So, yes, we always anticipate the worst and plan for it.

You may have a very calm, social and non aggressive German Shepherd and never have an issue with her. I had one like that. My male WL now is very social in most situations but he is also very protective of our house and yard, and even our neighbor’s yards.
I forgot about the utilities since mine are all located on the side of the house outside of our gated/fenced in area.

There should never be a time when you aren't ready to deal with an unexpected situation. Until Karma is perfectly behaved and predictable, she should be on the leash everywhere.
I haven't heard Karma bark a whole lot outside of those pesky squirrels who taunt from tree branches, or the random stray cat thinking it's safe to cut across our back yard. I have watched her sprint over when my neighbor comes home from work (live in town on small lots), but that's because from time to time he'll pet her.

I haven't heard her growl at all either.. Even with me playing and rough housing her. Heck i can't even get her to bite down to play tug!!! In public i'm not 100% sure with her off leash, not certain of her running off and biting someone, but more so her running off and not stopping, or running over a small child. She has done well outside of the fenced in area so far, but that was when she was a younger pup
 
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