My German shepherd puppy is fine in the house and is a friendly happy dog but when I take him out he becomes a nightmare. He barks and lunges at other dogs and chases cars constantly.
How can I stop this behavior or is it to late?
He is a 6 month old male.
This kind of behavior can have different causes but it's never too late to change it. Unfortunately, I cannot diagnose the cause of this behavior remotely and you might not recognize the signs to analyze it. That's why I propose you contact a professional dog trainer (not a puppy school but someone who analyzes dog's behaviors and trains even problematic dogs).
Among possible causes are:
- You don't assert any dominance over the dog. In a pack of dogs there always must be an "alpha" or dominant dog (can be a male or female). If you aren't the alpha, your dog feels the need to fill this role, but is overwhelmed with it in our chaotic human world. He attacks any moving object to ward off danger from his pack.
- He is bored out of his mind and seizes any opportunity to have some mental and physical stimulation. Shepherd dogs are a working breed and need to burn off energy on a daily basis. Chasing dogs or cars satisfies his instinct to hunt and offers some change from the boring indoors.
- He is actually insecure or afraid of these things or may be overwhelmed by the noise (of cars). When dogs don't know how to approach something strange or frightening, they often react with agression. This stems from their evolution from wolves and is a healthy behavior in the wild, but problematic in our civilized world.
Depending on the real cause of the problematic behavior, you need a different approach to correct it. Choosing an approach not appropriate for the cause may even intensify the problem. That's why you should speak to a professional dog trainer.
Before hiring one, you can interview them about their approach. If one proposes to medicate or even punish your dog, walk away and never speak to them again. If they require you to participate in group trainings (like puppy school), they won't have the means and time to correct individual problems. If they answer that they have to observe your dog first, you can assume they are trustworthy.