This is about my almost 3 year old shepherd mix, Roxy.
We took a roadtrip this weekend to visit some of my boyfriends family. We ended up leaving the dogs in the car for a bit while we were visiting one of his relatives. One of his adult cousins went up to the car to look at the dogs and Roxy went CRAZY. She was barking and growling and showing her teeth. As soon as she saw me walking up to the car, she stopped. I opened the door and let her out and there was NO more aggression whatsoever. My bf's cousin was still standing about 2 feet away from the car and roxy just went up to her, tail wagging and all.
Is it ok that she got that worked up from a stranger getting close to the car? I'm sure it's territorial and also protective of our shih-tzu who was also in the car.
This kind of behavior is fairly new for her, she used to be very fearful (she is a rescue and has a bit of a rough past).
She is also becomming very protective with our yard ( the neighbors dogs make their way over sometimes), but once again as soon as she sees me, she stops and when i open the fence she is friendly with them.
She doesn't seem to be out of control though, there was a skunk just on the other side of the fence the other night and she was going nuts, but as soon as i called her she came running back in.
I honestly prefere her to be protective like this, I like that I don't have to worry when i leave them in the car (when the weather is permitting they come pretty much everywhere with me). So basically i would like to know is this amount of aggression/ protectiveness ok? Or does it seem like something that will most likely progress into something dangerous?
I must say I think the car incident was completely normal. Dogs, either out of protection or fear, will bark at a stranger approaching when they are in Their environment and especially when they cannot "escape". So you are correct - protection. And that is a good thing. GS's are protective by nature and you actually want to encourage that. However, as you state, it cannot get out of control because it can lead to abnormal aggression easily.
So, obedience training classes are a MUST. This training establishes you as leader, gives you positive control with the dog, gives the dog confidence and security etc. There is a fine line with praising and encouraging (and controlling) protective behavior and having a dog that could be a problem.
A GOOD trainer will help you with that. DO NOT use a trainer that uses harsh techniques like pinch collars etc. Dog training has evolved into an art and you will be well served to find a trainer that knows the latest thinking in positive reinforcement techniques etc.
I'll also add quickly, when i adopted her i have a very dominant lab mix, when we lost him (when she was about 9 months old) we adopted a great dane a few months later who was VERY dominant and aggressive. They had one serious fight before they ended up being seperated until the dane got tortion and we had to put her down maybe 3 months ago.
Could the fact that she has always been around dominant dogs and now she's not be a factor in this change of behavior?
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