GSD mix barking, lunging at people

Posted by strider
May 22, 2008
I have a 3 yr old GSD Mix who has been good with people until the last 3 weeks. He has started barking and lunging aggressively at people who he has met before and previously liked. He doesn't seem to want to be touched. The first time he did this it was with a 9 yr old girl - friend of my granddaughter - who was visiting our house for the second time. The first time he liked her quite well - this time he lunged at her twice. The next time he lunged at a preschool girl behind a chain link fence when she approached the fence to be near him. He has been by these children many times in the past and been fine. Then a few days ago my sister in law visited for the 3rd time in a few weeks. He knows her and has sat by her calmly to be petted. This time when she came in the door and offered the back of her hand to him to sniff he lunged at her and aggressively barked at her. It deeply troubles me that these people are not strangers to him, but people he has interacted with well in the past. I know of nothing specific that has been a trigger for this. A dog reaching maturity, perhaps?
He is neutered, was a shelter dog, is in a training class but still needs a lot of work. He is somewhat submissive but not totally. I have had him for 2 1/2 years. I've never had to worry about him with people until now, but he has always been high-strung and has some phobias. So far, no bite - just bark - but I definitely don't want it to escalate!
Could definitely use some advice on how to handle this!!
Posted by Tarnador
May 24, 2008
Hi There,
Sorry can't give any answers as I have exactly the same problem and am hoping to find some - my gsd mix was fine until he reached about age 3 (same age as yours)- although he was always a nervous dog, he never bit, growled or lunged at anyone before. In fact I was going to get another big dog as I wanted a guard dog and thought he was much to soft and soppy! - but he changed

He escaped once and found my kids playing up in the mountains - my 8 year old boy was arguing with another boy and told the other boy to go away - well the dog attacked the boy and bit him on the shoulder, the boy fell and kicked the dog, who then bit him on the leg. My daughter sent my dog home and he obeyed her. My daughter came running home and told me - at first I didn't believe her - I went to the boy's house who lived nearby and I was in shock when I saw the bite marks, luckily they weren't too deep, they were puncture wounds with no blood but I took him to the hospital. Luckily the parents were very understanding about the incident.

anyway since then he has lunged at people who he knows, who have come to our house. Once in a shop a woman was stroking him as he lay relaxed on the floor; she then turned and started talking to another woman - my dog jumped up at her and nipped her chest.

Since then I can't trust him and he has to be muzzled at all times when out in public - I live in fear of him escaping (he can jump up very high) and really hurting someone or someone making a complaint and having to put him down. He is very obedient but very nervous.

the thing is there is no warning - he can be totally relaxed and then suddenly spring up at someone.

I feel I am somehow to blame, I try to assert myself as alpha dog at all times with him and he is a lot better now - but he is absolutely fine when he is with my husband who was in the military and is naturally an assertive leader. My husband knows nothing about training dogs but all our dogs respond well to him as alpha dog and are more obedient, even though they don't see him much as he works abroad. I do think dogs respond to males better than females, I think maybe they sense a vulnerability about females that males just don't have.

I do trust him with the kids as he has never so much as growled at them and adores my daughter and obeys her.

I am hoping someone out there can help us both with this problem.