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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. :)

I'm a first time dog owner with an 8 month old German Shepherd Dog, and I'm having a difficult time figuring out how to teach her to not bark at other dogs. I just don't understand the motivation for her behaviour and I'm posting here to see if you more experienced dog folks can point me in the right direction...

Cathy, my dog, was purchased at 4 months old from a CKC reg. breeder. She lived on a farm with many other dogs, a small family and also horses. At home she lives with a cat, and though there are no other dogs in the home, several of our neighbors also have dogs. So we do encounter them from time to time during our daily outdoor activities.

At first she had no trouble at all with other dogs.. she was a bit shy but could be brought out of her shell with a little patience. Then around her 5th month we were harassed by one of the neighbor's dogs.. a little cute little white fluff ball who loves to bark, and who was not being walked on a leash. The tiny terror shot right at us and spooked Cathy badly.

I suspect that's when she began barking at other dogs, when we're out and she's on a leash.

I have been trying to socialize her with other dogs, and people, in a relaxed environment. I've taken her to our local PetSmart's dog socialization sessions, where people bring in their pooches and let them loose together in a walled off training area. She was nervous at first, but has relaxed and enjoys spending time around the other dogs.. except when she's on a leash. Once she's on a leash and we're on the way out of the store she turns into a bark machine again, sounding off at every dog that she sees.

I've tried commanding her to "Leave It" along with checks such as snapping "No", sharp tugs on her collar, squirting with a water bottle and shaking a can with coins in it behind her head. These seem to work once or twice but then she starts ignoring them.. and me. If anything I think they may make her even more excited and prone to barking.

Any suggestions?

Thank you. :)
 

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It's called leash reactivity or barrier aggression. Basically, the dog isn't so much afraid or angry at other dogs, it's that he's held back by the leash and that frustrates or scares him.

You need to find out how far you have to be from another dog so that he doesn't react. Stay that far away, treat and praise calm behavior. Move closer, treat calm behavior. If he won't stay calm, move back. This takes a long, long time. You must go very slowly. As in over the course of weeks or months.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Oh, yes, that does sound like what is going on. I'll see if one of my neighbors will help me out with the training.

Thank you. :)
 

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I would also suggest not using the squirt bottle or the can with the coins in it. If Caeda is already wound up (though she's usually just excited to go play), loud noises tend to get her even more riled up and more excitable, not helping the situation. For you it may actually be scaring or frustrating her more, making matters worse.
Just my thoughts though, Amaryllis has the best suggestion!
 
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