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Zoe has never liked strangers especially inside the house, but always has calmed down after awhile and been polite. My nephew is in town for Christmas and is spending the day with us. He has no pets of any kind and is terrified of dogs. I put Zoe in her crate when they came and she has spent the day in there to help him be more comfortable around dogs....plus she has been known to bark and lunge when any rough housing occurs.

I took both dogs for a walk with the kids and Zoe was fine- she completely ignored my nephew Luke and ran and played as usual with my lab. We came in and the boys went upstairs to play while Zoe and me lounged on the couch. I know Zoe is extra protective of the upstairs and it did occur to me maybe I should put her away before they came down in case she reacted, but I stupidly didn't- my mistake. While she is good with people downstairs usually for some reason she does not want anyone who does not live here upstairs.

So the boys came halfway down the stairs and she began to grumble. I told her no and my son came over petting her. She licked him tail wagging and happy. Luke stood paralyzed on the stairs afraid of Zoe and again I knew I should just put her back in the crate, but I didn't. Before I knew it she ran over to him still on the stairs barking and lunging though not biting at all. He of course flailed, screamed, flapped his arms, and cried. She scared the pee put of him literally:( I called her off and gave the crate command and she obediently went to the crate, but I can't just keep her crated every time we have company for the day- it's mean:(

Why is she such a psycho when people come over? We've had her since she was 10 weeks and have always had people in and out of the house. Early on we knew she didn't want guests to touch her so we told them to ignore her. A few of our most frequent guests have become her friend, but anyone else walking in needs a bite suit if I'm not right there. Lately, I just keep her in the crate as soon as someone pulls up before they can even get to the door, but I need a better solution here. When she barks and lunges she gets a firm no and the crate command- she listens, but it doesn't deter her from doing it again and again. How do I get her to stop trying to eat my guests?
 

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what if your guests gave her treats?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
She will not take a treat from a stranger...we've tried. She loves my brother in-law, mom, and dad because they come here often. She is even okay with DH's parents though they haven't tried to go upstairs. Outside she ignores people as long as they ignore her, but the moment someone tries to come in the house she is on the alert and not friendly at all. My nephew is spending the night so Zoe will remain in the crate till whenever he leaves tomorrow which has me feeling guilty for her, but my nephews safety is more important here.

I just don't know why she has such an issue with people inside our home- she's been like this from birth literally. My breeder happens to be my neighbor. Both dogs were health and hip tested, and have great dispositions though her father was door aggressive. As long as he is put in a stay BEFORE someone just walks in he is fine and a big old lush the moment they sit down. He licks strangers, is friendly, and wants to plop down in their laps. However, Zoe from the moment she could walk would retreat away from visitors and do her own thing- when picked up by a potential buyer she would nip and growl as young as 6 weeks. This is part of the reason we have her in the first place- she always loved me from the start:)

I knew we would have some issues so she has been socialized from the start- I take her everywhere with me, but always tell people to not try to touch her and I do steer away from kids since many will try and run up to say hi. She used to bark at people on our walks, but now ignores them as long as they keep their distance- 6ft. seems to be her threshold outdoors. We use the watch command to get past people and it works like a charm every time without her barking at all. We even take her to our friends homes and while she ignores them and follows me everywhere she plays great with their dogs, and never ever has barked or growled off her turf- this behavior seems to only occur in the home or when a stranger outside is too pushy about wanting to say hi. Part of me realizes this is just her personality- she is flawed and can not be trusted, but there has to be a way to circumvent her reactivity inside some way. Any suggestions?
 

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Onyx is the same way with small children. It is her genetics/nerves that make her this way(fear aggressive)
She is fine with teenagers and adults.
I just crate her because I can't "use the kids" for desensitization. I think it is because the kids are unpredictable and the dog is fearful, and that age is hardly ever around her. They look at the dogs in they eye and show "bad manners" as far as body language because they don't know better. And the level they are(eye) is another "threat" to dogs with issues.

If you do want Zoe to get over this, then she needs to know the kids won't cause her to be corrected, she'll associate the correction as coming from the kid not what she did as far as her reaction to him.
Treats are good, if the child will be willing to help with it-just have him toss Zoe a treat without making eye contact or anything else.
Play the LAT game with her w/ kids, keep the tone upbeat and happy so she associates kids with positivity.
Because she did react this way, I would be on guard though(try not to let her feel your tension)
 

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How old is Zoe? My Zoe is 11 months old and we have been dealing with her fear aggression/protectiveness for awhile. It's gradually getting better, but still an issue for us. I've started having our friends and family give her ham, turkey, or whatever kind of sandwich meat we have at the time- because like your girl...she won't take just normal treats from anyone...but super special ones she will. Someone may have better advice than me, but one thing I know for sure...it takes time. My Zoe has her good days and bad- on the worst, she goes to her crate if she won't settle down.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What is the LAT game? Zoe will not and never has taken ANY treats from anyone but me, my kids, and my DH. Anyone else with treats is ignored not even if tossed on the ground- she won't even sniff at it. If I pick it up and offer it to her she still will not eat it either. I have to pick up a new treat and then she will eat that one. We've even tried tricking her but she knows when they don't smell like her family. She is almost 14 months old now and really a great dog though from this post it doesn't show,lol She just is not trustworthy with anyone new in the home adult or child. I have a double gate system in my kitchen that screws into the wall and is too tall to jump over so she is in there now eating safely. The boys are up here with me, but my poor nephew will not even go downstairs right now. I calmed him down and told him she didn't mean to scare him and wouldn't hurt him though I believe she would have hurt him had I not been there. The thing is she is golden with my own kids and her breeders 4 small children. They hug and kiss her, lay with her, and half the time she chooses to sleep in my youngest sons room. She absolutely loves my children, me, and DH but no one else.

I had called a few behaviorists in my area after she went after my BIL, but 2 out of the 4 places recommended euthanasia and the other 2 didn't feel comfortable evaluating her- does that make sense? What is a behaviorist for?
 

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I don't want to make anyone angry or defensive, but this is one reason that I am afraid my wonderful GSD was a fluke of nature:wub:, especially since my vet liked him so much, saying that he was the most peaceful sweet natured GSD he had ever seen. He said 99% of the GSD he examines or treats have to be muzzled. When we bought our pup, it was really neat, because the breeder welcomed us into a large chain-link fenced area, where her GSDs were running about wagging tails with tongues hanging out with big doggy smiles. It was obvious that these were fantastic, balanced animals. No dogs rushed at us or made us nervous in any way, as they had at a couple other breeders' kennels we had visited! I am wondering from all you GSD experts on the forum if it makes a difference if your dog is from American or German lines? And can a breeder accurately assess a pup's temperament or prey drive by age 10-14 weeks when they are placed? In the area of PA where I used to live, I do have to say, on the behalf of GOOD GSD breeders out there, that many of the GSDs my vet saw were probably BYB & not from a well-researched breeder! These aggression & unpredictability issues:( are the main reason I will also explore the Shiloh Shepherd further with all the great info on this site. I know that they are giant sized & that this would impair their working ability/agility, but we will first & foremost be looking for a PET & possible pet therapy dog that will be sweet but protective. If I were looking for a working dog that would be a different situation. I am very eager to learn:help:, so I hope some honest discussions will be welcomed & not anger anyone. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Temperament has a lot to do with genetics yes but I think defining temperament by just American or German lines is a little broad. The Shiloh Shepherd is not a purebred german shepherd to begin with so they aren't exactly a good measure of temperament for the breed. Zoe's mom is from East German working lines and dad from West German working lines both grandparents on each side titled though her parents were not. I really just need a contact for a good behaviorist or trainer people here know- I've talked to a lot of whack jobs that call themselves behaviorists or trainers but haven't let them near my dog after talking to them at length about her issues. I get euthanasia, electronic collar, or just keep her crated as my answers and none of these are feasible long term nor do anything to solve the problem.

I want to know first why she does this in the home and how to manage it without forever having her locked up. My kids often have sleep over because they can not sleep out yet so right now on those nights she is gated in the kitchen separated from us which makes her soooooo sad:(
 

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Zoey's Mom, I think you need to make a mental adjustment about crating Zoe. When you put her in the crate, you're not only protecting guests in your home, you're protecting her from herself. There's no reason you should feel bad about that in any way.

If Zoe were to hurt a guest in your home, obviously that would be a horrible and traumtic experience for all the people involved but the aftermath could be disastrous for Zoe. She needs you to make sure she doesn't end up in that situation.
 

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Pat Miller's training facility, Peaceable Paws, is just over an hour from you in Fairplay, MD. Peaceable Paws

I would give them a call tomorrow.

I agree that keeping her in her crate is not only fair but until you are able to counter-condition her, it is the only way to set her up for success. For now she should get something super yummy and special in her crate every time someone comes to your house.

And to the person whose vet said that 99% of gsds have to be muzzled: there must be some very poor owners in your area or your vet is prejudiced against gsds. I have never had to muzzle a foster or any of of my own gsds at the vet and don't know anyone who has had to either.
 

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I also say crate for now. You knew you should have as she was giving you the signals. So now you know :)


as for the muzzling? i've had 5, none ever needed to be muzzled to go the vet or anywhere else, and all of them would bite when told to :) There are lots of good dogs out there, just gotta find them
 

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I agree with all suggestions given, and wanted to add, she very well could have picked up on your nephew's fear and maybe others?? Not to say that is her 'reason', but it could add to it.

I highly recommend Pat Miller if you can get into that:)

And Ruth,,my vet has said the SAME thing,,Masi is my 6th gsd, all previous gsds and the aussies, never ever had to be muzzled at the vets, my vet used to tell me all the time, my dogs were the easiest to work with but the majority of gsd's they get in have to be muzzled:( And yes, I do muzzle masi at the vets, she unfortunately, is absolutely petrified of my vet, has never tried to bite her, but to keep all safe, I do muzzle her..It actually seems to 'calm' her if that makes sense, like the decision to 'do' anything is taken out of her hands.. sorry to go a little OT..
 

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Even though it is not ok, your nephew's behavior and fear is probably something your dog keyed on.

Dogs do not think the way we do. They are not thinking, he is on the steps let's get him. I think they are thinking, I smell fear, what is there to be afraid of? Why should I be afraid? Why is that person smelling so bad of that fear smell. Something is wrong with that person.

I think criminals exhude a similar smell when they are doing something that they are fearful of getting caught, etc. If that was a yayhoo carrying a tv out from the upstairs to steal it and your dog did exactly what it did, you would have this in the braggs section.

I think you have to especially evaluate your company, and yes protect them, your dog, and yourself by providing her with a place she is safe. If she is an only dog, than a kennel in the yard would just mean she would bark and be lonely and make you feel worse.

How about a kennel in a garage if you have one. Maybe an inny outty with a dog door to the outside. If the garage is nice and heated. Move the cars outside, put a few chairs in there and a big screen tv, then people can hang out with the dog safely kenneled in the same area.

I am thinking a 10 x 6 foot kennel pannels using the garage wall as part of the kennel, so a 20' x 6' area, where you can have a nice dog bed, toys, water bucket, cot, doggy door to the outside kennel, etc.

Boy would I know what to do with a two car, heated garage.

Sigh....
 

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Zoe will not and never has taken ANY treats from anyone but me, my kids, and my DH.
That's okay - rather than having the treats come FROM the other person, they can just happen when other people are around. That's counter-conditioning, as Ruth mentioned.

If you have ANY concern with her around a particular person (and now you know she has a problem with Luke, quite possibly because she reads his fear of her loud and clear), I agree with crating her. With people that you think she might be okay around, especially at a slight distance vs up close and personal (have them completely ignore her, just be maybe somewhere in the same room, or at least within sight), then you or anyone else she trusts feed her treats, super high value ones. Small doses of this, short sessions with her on leash so you can control her, over and over again with a variety of different people. Keep your demeanor light and happy - "Yay, how wonderful it is that so and so came over", and end the session before she starts to stress.

Eventually she'll start to associate people over with good things happening for her, and should start to relax around them and actually look forward to them being around. It can take time though, and you don't want to rush it. And with kids, or anyone who is afraid of or does not like dogs, I'd skip it and crate her until they're gone.
 

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I'll have to call peaceable paws thats one I've never heard of- do they make house calls,lol? I don't feel bad when she's in there for a few hours when we have guests, but she's been in there minus 2 walks since 11 am, and will in there minus another two walks till around 11 am tomorrow. Technically she's gated in the kitchen now, but she is a snuggly dog and hates being away from the family:(

She's in heat, we just got our first cat, and my nephew definitely gives off the you scare me vibes- he won't even go downstairs without coaxing even though she's locked up:(
 

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I wish we had a garage but we live in a townhouse. Our kitchen and dining room are connected so she has a 20x20 place to hang locked up....I know it's not that bad, but all the same she looks pathetic in there. The thing is we have been giving her treats when we have company from day one, and yet anyone going upstairs is a threat to her. She seems fine with dog people downstairs, but yes anyone afraid of her gets snarling, lunging, and barking. Hubby just got home and is hanging with her now and the boys are in the next room being boys- she is quiet and sleeping in her crate with the door open though both gates locked- I wish the boys would quiet down;)
 

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Just wondering here...was your nephew frozen in place and staring at her? What might seem unprovoked to you, might actually be a trigger. If someone stares at Jax for to long she'll lunge at them.
 
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