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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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