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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20175
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a 3 year old GSD who is a rescue dog from RSPCA.

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I have a 3 year old GSD bitch who is a rescue dog from RSPCA. I have had her since June last year. She is very well behaved at home and has settled in very well. My problem is she has never been socialised with other dogs and it is impossible to take her any where there might be dogs. I have tried all the dog trainers/behaviourists in this area but we don't seem to be getting any where near being able to lead a normal life.
I took her out to the New Forest yesterday for a run on a training lead. In the car park there were other people and dogs and she became highly excited barking and trying to get out of the car so much so that we had to leave that area and find some where there were no dogs.
It is the same at home when I walk her I try to go when there are few people about but if we see another dog she gets highly excited and lunges and barks.
I am beginning to think that I can't handle this much longer.
Is there any help out there?
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

Since you have already been to many trainers and behaviorists, I really need to know exactly what has been tried with as much detail as possible. This will allow me to present different training methods to help with your situation.

I know you have had her at these trainers, but do you do obedience work with her daily?
She is spayed, correct?
Has she been off lead around other dogs?
If so, what was her reaction?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The trainers I used walked their dogs at a distance gradually getting closer while we walked in another field with fences between us.

Shaddo became excited as soon as she saw the other dog and we never got close enough to meet up.

We have been training like this for months and we don't seem to be improving at all.

She has never to my knowledge been off the lead and allowed to play with other dogs. I have been advised that I should avoid meeting other dogs. She slipped the leash twice in the past and bounded up to the other dog which resulted in the other dog becoming defensive and she turned away. Opinion is that she is not aggresive but desperate to play and socialise.

I train her at home every day to walk to heel,sit, leave, stay and we play hide and seek with her toys and treats. No distractions at home and she is fine.

yours truly

Gill Holling


It may very well be that your dog just wants to play and isn't being aggressive. Let me give you some sites that go over dog body language which will help you determine if your dog is being aggressive or wants to play and also how the other dog is taking your dog's exuberance.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

I want you to also see if you can find a similar sized male dog that is young such as a labrador retriever. They are pretty laid back as a breed and shouldn't be as quick to start a fight if she should get too playful. You will want to find an area like an unused tennis court that is fully contained where the dogs can run and play. Keep leashes on them so they can be separated easily if they do start to fight.

These play dates may help her interactions with other dogs as well as get her excess energy out and calm her down a bit. If she hasn't been spayed, you might consider that as well to help calm her down.

I feel the technique that the trainers are using is a pretty good one but that it needs tweaking a bit. I want you to try a similar one. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see her fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if she ignores the other dog, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs.

The difference is that you will have your dog focused on you due to you having the tasty treats (raw liver slivers) and having a good reason to ignore dogs that are not even coming close but walking past. You will also need to obedience train her so she learns to obey despite distractions.

The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

That can help as you can command her to sit and be rewarding her for that action to help keep her distracted as I mentioned earlier. There is another method that is being tried by trainers called the BAT method. You can read about this here:

Often a combination of methods works best, XXXXX XXXXX the obedience training and finding of a suitable playmate. Often you can find playmates at training classes. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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