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Categories: Behavioral Problems

Q. Our GSD has always barked when he hears noises outside but now when he hears something he quickly goes after our other dog as if she were the threat. How can I get him to stop associating our other dog with noises he hears outside?
Hi Cindy! Thanks so much for all the helpful info you've shared.

We have a 2.5-year-old male GSD who has always been a major barker when he hears someone outside our house – especially other dogs. We and our trainer have been trying to train him out of it and thought we were seeing progress up until recently. He developed a scary habit where upon hearing someone outside, he not only barks but quickly goes after our other dog (a 3-year-old malinois) as if she were the threat, even if she is several feet away from him. This only happens in the house.

It hasn't resulted in any actual bites or bloodshed, but he certainly charges her and I'm sure things would escalate if we didn't intervene.

How can I get him to stop associating our other dog with noises he hears outside?

They are in separate kennels when unsupervised and we're keeping him leashed in the house at all other times. He also wears an Educator e-collar, but so far using it when this happens seems to escalate his reaction.

A. Some dogs are just this way, they become over stimulated and will channel their excitement/aggression into who ever is close by (dog or human).

If this was my dog he would not be allowed the opportunity to redirect into the other dog and I would do as you have been and keep him leashed 100% of the time when he's not kenneled. Have you used a no bark collar for him when he's kenneled so he's corrected anytime he barks (while being safely confined so he can't redirect)?

How long have you been working with the trainer and what techniques have you been trying? If he's always been a major barker it may be a lifelong exercise in management and you may never be able to completely stop this behavior without direct supervision.

  Response:

Cindy, thank you so much for the quick and thoughtful reply! I intended to respond immediately but am jumping back in much later than I meant to. This dog has been working with our trainer since early puppyhood, even before being rehomed with us (born into an animal hoarding situation, unbeknownst to the trainer) and the barking will definitely be a lifelong exercise in management — but the tips in Tyler Muto's "Leash Reactivity" video have proven to be a HUGE help with his reacitvity inside the house as well as on the sidewalk.

Honestly, I can't thank you all enough for the difference that video has made. His exercises have helped us keep Xorro (the reactive/redirecting GSD) focused on us rather than our other dog, and his stress level has decreased significantly. Since we were keeping him him on-leash inside the house anyway, we started applying Tyler's leash pressure, "place," and "look" exercises as if Xorro was encountering another dog on the sidewalk. He still barks when he hears another dog outside our house, but he's noticeably less stressed out about it – and redirecting towards our other dog FAR less!

We'll keep working on it and keep you posted. Thank you for the immeasurable help you provide!
  
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