Question for other trainers

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Member Since
Barked: Fri Sep 7, '12 7:43am PST 
Hi, I am new to this site and thrilled there is one for service dogs!! I ran into a problem that is a first. My GSD service dog, Skylar, has been attacked a couple time by Golden Retrievers that are out of control. Yesterday we were at Costco and a lady was there with what she called a service dog. It was not wearing a vest, just had a bandana on. No id of any sort. The dog was fairly well behaved but the woman was very anxious. Sky saw the dog and let out one woof. She was corrected on the spot but the woman went all nutty and ran to complain that my "mean" dog was barking at her!!! Sky is well known there and loved and she has never barked at another dog. We were also more than 50 feet away from her. Not sure what set Sky off but I don't need her to do this. After all, she is a shepherd and people act like they are one step above pit bulls. I removed her immediately from the store. The woman was making a fuss but was unaware that my son was behind her with his GSD service dog in training. Once she turned and saw that dog, she really went nutty. That one, Willow, totally ignored her and her dog. Am I over reacting and what do I do to make sure Sky does not repeat this? As she is getting older, she is more protective of me. Not sure why this dog set her off though....

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Fri Sep 7, '12 9:51am PST 
First off welcome to the forums from myself and Happy.

To address your question about Skylar becoming more protective it would help to know how old she is, she might just be settling into maturity, shepherds do tend to be a much more defensive breed which can be problematic in service dogs and service dog candidates. It's important to get a pup from a good breeder who knows what your purpose is.

I would recommend you have her looked at by a reputable behaviorist, even professional trainers need second opinions at some times, and this would be one of those times that it would be better to not have to use your energy to evaluate what's going on, and just handle her.

It may be a number of things that are causing the issue from the reported attacks to just something she didn't care for about the other dog. It's not something I can analyze over the computer really well.

As for the woman freaking out about the bark... as you've mentioned you've had your service dog attacked before... and she might very well have had it happen also. I know from personal experience that having a service dog, especially one that has Already been attacked tends to make you more defensive. I know I am far more defensive of other dogs than I was 5+ years ago. The spike in fakers can be felt Most by legit service dog users. As for the bandanna in warm months many of us go to options that aren't as warm as a full vest, I'm not sure what part of the country you're in but I know here it still get's quite warm and that might have been the reason for the bandanna rather than a vest or harness.

Barked: Sat Sep 8, '12 7:28pm PST 
Thanks so much for your insights! They are very helpful indeed. I guess here, no matter how warm it gets, the bandanas are not considered acceptable. But then also too often people simply say their dog is a service dog and have nothing at all to identify them. So a bandana is better than nothing. I guess I had not stopped to really think about her dog maybe having a problem. I was being very quick to take offense because there is a lot of very negative attitude in this area towards German Shepherds! Both Skylar and I will be going for a refresher course shortly and that should put us both back online!!