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Categories: Fear Aggression , Socializing Dogs

Q. When people get within 3-5 feet of my 7 month old pup she gets worried. She gets behind me, gets her hair up and makes noise. How do I get her to be ok around strangers?
Hello,

I have a quick question. I am taking my 7 month old GSD/Mal mix through your Basic Obedience after completing the traditional classes. She did very well and continues to do very well. The issue I am having is she is very "goosey" (gets behind me, starts jumping around, hair goes up and doesn't really growl, but makes noise to get back) around people when they get within about 3-5 feet of me or her. I tell the people to ignore her, don't come any closer, back up and I put her in either a sit or a down and we just talk until she calms down. Then eventually she will roll around on the ground and she is happy. We also do this in the house with the kennel and if the person ignores her and gives her time, we can let her out and they can treat her and she will even offer them one of her toys. I am training her to be my personal service dog, so I don't want people touching her, so how do I get her to be okay in public around strangers that are close to us?

Please help.
Dayna

A. The key is to teach her to remain focused (or engaged) with you no matter what the environment is offering as a distraction. Instead of putting her in a sit or down I would keep her physically moving and connected with you. Since you know she gets worried with people 3-5 feet away, make sure you keep her farther than that for right now. Distance is your friend!

This is covered in The Power of Training Dogs with Food.

I would also recommend this 3 part video series on fear periods in dogs, it explains how to condition the dog to things that make it nervous.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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