Barking at strangers

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Barking at strangers

Post by Bvaille » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:54 pm

Hi everyone,
I was hoping to get some advice for my recently adopted dog Sequoia. We adopted Sequoia about 6 months ago when he was said to be about 4 months (vet said he was more like 6 months) which would make him close to a year now. We do not know his genetic makeup but he seems to be Shepard, hound, lab, maybe some chow/pitbul mix. Recently within the past couple of months he has been growling and barking at strangers that enter our home. When we first got him he would greet a person by instantly laying on his back wanting belly rubs but now he rushes them and barks as he does it. We had some friends over tonight and as they entered the house he rushed them barking but wiggling his body as if he was happy to see them. His tail was wagging and he ran over to them and allowed them to pat him (and seemed happy). He then walked away from them and when they went to move he ran over again and was nonstop barking. Then he let them pat him and started to bark again. If we enter the house and the people are already in there he doesn't bark and will go and greet each person. I am starting to get anxiety with guests coming over to my house because I cannot tell what his intentions are. It is also worth mentioning that he has also recently started showing some leash reactivity and barrier frustration to dogs and people in our neighborhood which seemed to happen overnight. I am just concerned with not knowing Anything about his past and him starting to show these aggressive tendencies. I would greatly appreciate any advice you have to give :)

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Re: Barking at strangers

Post by JudyN » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:39 am

Can you think of anything at all that might account for his change? Even something that might seem trivial, like changing his food or routine, or any particular incident that upset him?

But it might well be just a case of him maturing into a young adult who thinks he needs to protect his home.

I would create a 'safe place' for him (unless he has one already, of course), and teach him to go there for a reward whenever someone comes to the door. If he has a solid stay, so much the better, and you can ask him to stay (huge reward) while people come into the house until they are all sat down. If he won't stay, or if this is stressful for him, then you want his safe place to be in a crate or behind a stairgate in another room. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's fine if you then let him come and say hello once people are sat down, but you probably need to put him there again (huge reward again) before they get up to leave.

For his leash reactivity, I would avoid as many of these meetings as possible. This could involve going different places, walking at different times, going in the opposite direction if you see a person or dog ahead of you, and so on. And if you're far enough away from the other person/dog that Sequoia is comfortable, give him a treat when he sees them. This isn't a reward for 'being good' - it's building an association between seeing a person/dog and something good, so it becomes a positive experience. My dog looks at me expecting a treat almost every time we pass another dog now even if he never would have had an issue with it anyway - but that's OK, it reinforces that meeting other dogs is good.

If you do this, you should gradually be able to reduce the distance between you and the other dog/person but you need to try to stop them coming right up to Sequoia, and that's easier said than done.

I'm not an expert, so hopefully some others will have some ideas too.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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