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Thread: GSD suddenly aggressive at front gate.

  1. #1

    Default GSD suddenly aggressive at front gate.

    Hi all,

    I am new to this forum so apologies if this question has been asked or answered before.

    I have a very good natured, 14 month old GSD. She is well socialised, trained and exercised regularly. She goes to the dog park regularly (at least 4 times a week) and for long walks, bike rides every day. She has never been aggressive towards humans or other animals.

    At home she is allowed to roam both inside and outside the house. As I work from home, she generally spends the vast majority of time indoors with me just sleeping on the couch . Our front garden is completely fenced off and so visitors press a doorbell to alert me to the fact that I have parcels etc or to let them in. While she has always responded by running out and barking (when she hears the doorbell) - she has always been quite respectful in that once she realises that I know them, she generally lets them in without a fuss.

    Just recently however, I had a friend show up (who was a scared of dogs) and I went to the gate to let him in, and she was snarling quite viciously. I held her by the collar and let him in but she tried to lunge towards him I told her off and left her outside until she had calmed down. He was obviously quite shaken! I let her in the house after about 20 mins and she was fine (with the guest indoors as well). Following this incident I have noticed that she has become very aggressive at the gate. Outside she is fine and super friendly to all, but obviously I want to be able to get mail, talk to tradies etc without my huge dog lunging at the gate.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could train her to stop doing this?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Hi and welcome to the forum. I think this thread about someone with a similar issue may be helpful to you: http://www.dogforum.com.au/dog-training/8948-help.html

  3. #3

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    Thanks for that Beloz!

    Reading that thread has just alerted me to the fact that I should add a few more details as well

    1. Once she goes into this growling stage she completely ignores everything. All her training goes out the window - and she is usually a very well behaved responsive dog.

    2. I have thought about putting her out the in the backyard and then opening the gate to great people, but I am worried it will escalate her 'need' to protect me. I don't want her bashing against the side gate like an out of control psycho!

    Initially I was trying to train her to respect my judgement - ie If I greeted the person and accepted them, she would too. (I previously had 2 other dogs - a GSD and a Rottweiler and this method worked with both of them). I have tried getting her to sit, to calm down etc but nothing seems to work It doesn't help that at 38kgs, she could easily pull me over if she tried.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by annukya View Post
    Thanks for that Beloz!

    Reading that thread has just alerted me to the fact that I should add a few more details as well

    1. Once she goes into this growling stage she completely ignores everything. All her training goes out the window - and she is usually a very well behaved responsive dog.
    I think that is quite normal when they get overexited like that. I can't get my dog's attention when she is jumping all over people to greet them even though she will respond flawlessly to hand signals at other times. That is why it is important that you try and train this gradually and start with people approaching the gate but initially not coming close enough to make her get out of control. That's when you start rewarding her for calm behaviour and then get the person to come slightly closer, etc. It may seem unlikely that this would work, but you would be surprised. I have used a similar method to fix other behaviours that turned my dog selectively deaf. But maddogdodge will hopefully be able to give you more advice on how he did it.

  5. #5
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    I'm no dog behaviour expert but from what I read it sounds like she may have reacted to how you and your friend were acting (If that makes sense). Dogs can sense fear/anxiousness etc and if both you and your friend were displaying these behaviours mixed with you holding her collar and trying to pull the other way could have caused her to react this way.

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  6. #6
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    annukya

    When any dog is really excited for whatever reason (fear/aggression/excitement/pleasure) they generally can't focus on anything else but what is causing the excitement. The way I usually deal with this is to either - block the view with my body - or move the dog further away until she can pay attention to me. And when she does pay attention to me - I shovel her favourite treats into her while asking her to do really simple easy commands she knows well, like sit-drop-touch nose on hand. If she will take a treat or perform a command, I know she's calmed down enough to think straight. And we can try looking at the exciting thing again.

    If I was having a dog phobic person around - I would not let my dog go to the door or gate, I would put her in her crate until my guest calmed down and my dog calmed down (she isn't usually in the crate inside the house - really should practice this more often). And then I would discuss whether or not my guest wanted to meet my dog. I would feed my dog lots of yummy chewy things (like roo jerky) that take a while to eat - while she was in the crate and behaving. If she insists on barking I would cover the crate up (over a piece of cardboard so she couldn't pull the blanket or sheet into the crate and eat it) and I might take my guest into another room or outside.

    There is probably something about the way your guest looked at your dog - eg direct eye contact - that upset her. If your friend could look at you and only watch the dog out of the corner of their eye - that helps the dog calm down. My lawn mower man is quite evil for making direct eye contact and then stirring my dog up. Instead of letting her greet him calmly. I have to hold her collar when he's around. Mostly I don't let her meet him because both of them have trouble doing it politely.

    I would recommend a dvd called "calming signals" by Turid Rugaas - which explains dog body language and what is polite and rude - from a dog's point of view. Very simple things like looking away and yawning can help calm an excited dog down, where as looming over, reaching out a hand, and direct eye contact will excite them.
    http://www.canis.no/rugaas/

    I am also wondering if somebody has been teasing your dog through the front fence. And this has made the situation worse. I would call her away from the front gate and put her on lead (or somewhere safe eg crate or room with door shut) before letting people in the front gate, for a while (a month?), until she can be calm through the whole process. Maybe do some practice with dog friendly friends.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 02-20-2012 at 03:30 PM.

  7. #7

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    Hi Hyacinth and thanks for your reply!

    The problem is that she is often out the front because my front yard is larger than my backyard. When someone presses the doorbell (on the gate) she will usually bark at the gate alerting me that someone is there. With all my previous dogs I have successfully trained them to back off once I get to the gate and ascertain who it is (friend, postman, delivery man etc). The problem I am having with her is that she was fine up to about a month ago and now has suddenly become more aggressive. I used to put her in a sit-stay then open the gate and if she moved, I'd tell her to back up and she would. Then once they were in there was no problem. However now she just refuses to listen I have tried food, but she has never been food motivated. I could throw a steak in front of her and she doesn't care! At the moment I kind of just try to block her or force her into a drop-stay (with hand firmly on lead) and then once the guest is in she is generally fine. However on random occasions she will use all her force and lunge, which I do manage to control but it scares other people understandably!!!

    I've thought about just leaving her out the back however 99% of the time she is fine, and the gate is never left unlocked (so no one can accidently come in) plus I just want to teach her to be more respectful! I feel like she thinks she is protecting me even though I am a very confident dog handler and can almost say that I am not projecting any fear. It just seems like where she used to accept my judgement once the gate was open (and accept guests) now it takes them to get to inside the house before she relaxes.

  8. #8

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    Just to add - I know that no one is teasing her through the fence because I am home with her 99% of the day and live on a super quiet street

  9. #9

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    Thanks Jadielee - I was thinking that too. I'm pretty sure I'm not projecting anything (fear etc) but he definitely was. I'm just at a loss as to what I should do because I can't ask everyone who comes to the gate (postman, delivery people) to all be dog lovers! Its just so unusual that she was fine and now has suddenly become more aggressive!

  10. #10
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    So what do you usually use as a reward for her in training?

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