New dog is usually sweet but sometimes gets oddly aggressive

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We got a new dog last week, a (probably not purebred) German Shepherd. We were warned that she didn't do well with other dogs (we don't have any) and this was why her previous owner (who found her as a stray) returned her to the shelter, as well as that she was nervous around strangers. Fair enough, and they gave us good advice about helping her deal with it.

She's been quite sweet – a bit nervous and sometimes hyperactive, perhaps, but quickly made friends with us and was quite affectionate. Tonight we decided to introduce her to the extended family, and if she just didn't get along with them I could deal with that – but it was more complicated and IMHO just plain odd.

My brother and father arrived at the door, and she started barking – no real shock. My brother saw I was holding her by the collar (though I was just doing it so she wouldn't get out the door) and, despite being warned, just decided to squeeze around her and head for the kitchen. This was very much not the right reaction apparently, and she went pretty crazy – followed after him while jumping up and down while growling and barking like crazy, but no biting or attempts to bite as much as she acted like she might.

He quickly stopped and froze, and she continued until we grabbed her collar, ordered her to sit (she did), and went back to the original plan of introducing her to everyone. She quickly became friendly and didn't growl, allowed herself to be petted, etc. We moved on to dinner. The second incident happened when my father got up to go into the kitchen for something; as soon as she turned his back to her she went off again, and it was the same thing – growling and barking like she was going to attack, jumping up and down just inches (if that) behind him, but no actual contact or biting. It was my father this time and not my brother, and she'd been friendly enough moments before. Again, I was able to pull her away. I had already finished dinner so I took her to another room and kept a hold of her.

Afterwards they were willing to try again, and she was once again all smiles. We played fetch with a tennis ball and she was well behaved, bringing the ball back and dropping it to be thrown again. But when we finished up and they were going to leave, the same thing happened again, an exact replay – as soon as my father turned and started walking away, she was berserk. This time when I grabbed her I noticed she seemed to have a laser-like focus on the back of his belt (though again, she never touched him).

That was what got me started wondering, could she have had some sort of police dog training (or possibly more likely, flunked it)? I know (or at least, am unreliably informed by tv shows) that they can be trained to grab people trying to run by their clothes, and that almost seemed to me to be what she was doing – not biting, and in every case where she started growling the target immediately froze in place. And she is a German Shepherd. OTOH, she was a stray and I would expect even a police training candidate to have been chipped.

Even if that's not the case, though, I'm curious for advice for how to prevent this kind of behavior in the future. If it were just general hostility I'd know where to start, but she really was normally friendly until it was like someone flipped a switch.

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