HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
morganelyse92
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:17 am

HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by morganelyse92 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:23 am

Hi! I have a 7 month old Australian Shepherd and every single time someone comes to the house he barks, growls, and goes crazy. I take him in the car with me a lot and if I go through a drive-thru he non stop barks at the person giving me my food, when I walk him I actually have to pick him up when we walk by people because hes so aggressive. If ANYBODY is around my fiance, mom, or me he just absolutely goes crazy. When he was a puppy we would take him to Petco and walk him and he had no problems until a couple of months ago. I REALLY need help!! I don't want this getting out of hand and him actually biting people. :(

Fundog
Posts: 3874
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:31 am
Location: A little gambling town in the high desert

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by Fundog » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:47 am

This is the age and phase of "stranger danger." Ironically, human infants go through the same phase at the same age!

When my Annie went through this phase, I actually encouraged it, since I am female and walk after dark. However, over the years I have learned to read her well enough, and she to read me, that we have developed some sort of communication, a "code" if you will, for determining when a stranger needs to be warned away, and when he does not.

Just to get you started...

If I want to introduce Annie to a male friend she has never met before, I first secure her-- like tethered to the car, or behind the screen door-- and then I go greet my friend in an exaggeratedly friendly manner. I will take his hand, or his arm, and lead him over to Annie. She may not let him pet her, but at least she won't growl at him either.

If it is a stranger on the street, and I do not necessarily want to "meet" him, I will cross to the opposite side of the street, and pass the man at a "safe" distance. Annie will quite often take an alert stance, glancing at the man warily. I will reassure her, "He's okay, leave him, c'mon." And though I actually WANT her to be "on guard," she does not need to shout at the man, either, and this method works. If a strange man does approach me, or try to talk to me or the dogs, they will tell him in no uncertain terms to go jump off a cliff! :lol: :lol:

Here's another interesting scenario: If we are at the park, and we stop at the children's play area to let the children meet the dogs (Annie adores small children), the father of the children can approach and somehow Annie is able to match him up to his children, so she will not take offense. In fact, just recently this happened, and the father of the children walked directly in front of Annie's nose on his way to his children, and as he passed her, he extended his hand to ruffle the top of her head lightly with his fingertips. I was stunned to see that she actually allowed this, and even extended her nose to smell his hand, and did not even so much as "chuff" at him! Seriously, for a second there I thought there was going to be a serious incident right before my eyes!

With other dogs: I and the owner of the other dog immediately cross the street and pass at a distance. Or, one of us will turn and start moving determinedly in another direction. Or I will put my dogs into a "wait," and encourage the other dog owner to please hurry on past. Or... I might holler out and ask if we can meet (Annie does like other dogs, Dottie is nervous)

If someone comes over to the house, and up to the door, I want the dogs to bark and go crazy. That's their job. But then, when I answer the door, that means I have the situation under control, and I want them to be quiet now. I will thank them, tell them they did a good job, and tell them "that's enough. Shsh..." It works just fine. We admit our guests, and the dogs come inside and lay down quietly at my feet. If there is someone at the door I do not appreciate bothering me (Solicitors, Church Proseletyzers), I do not ask the dogs to be quiet and stop barking. I want them to continue barking-- AGGRESSIVELY-- because I want those people to go away and leave me alone. :evil: I have to say, it works. :twisted:
If an opportunity comes to you in life, say yes first, even if you don't know how to do it.

morganelyse92
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:17 am

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by morganelyse92 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:26 pm

Lol. Yeah I totally understand because I am a female and I want my dog to protect me I just dont need to have everyone barked at all the time. I have a really hard time letting him know the situation is okay and Im not in danger. I cant even really distract him with a toy or treat. I will keep trying I just hope he calms down.

Thanks for responding :)

Emily0115
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:28 pm

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by Emily0115 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:40 pm

We had problems with our dog also. He used to bark and chew shoes, table etc when we were not at home. Both my husband and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care (he is always surrounded by dogs) what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer. I love this trainer http://bit.ly/2s3XuQF
It helped us a lot, and I strongly recommend it for you.

jacksdad
Posts: 4879
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by jacksdad » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:53 pm

morganelyse92 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:26 pm
Lol. Yeah I totally understand because I am a female and I want my dog to protect me....
Please be open to the possibility your dog won't be this dog.
morganelyse92 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:26 pm
I have a really hard time letting him know the situation is okay and Im not in danger.
There are two common reasons for this. first, he isn't actually concerned about your safety, rather he is afraid and worried about his. hence he mayb not be the ideal candidate for protecting you. Fearful dogs generally are pretty poor at working out friend from foe due to their bias that all strangers are foe.

The second, fear may not be an issue, but over excitement is. in both cases he is not in a state to take direction. in the first possibility his body is all "ramped" up and prepared for fight or flight and has tunnel "vision" on the perceived threat. In the second, think over excited child that isn't able to listen. even when not in fight or flight, our bodies can enter a state due to excitement that is very similar to fight or flight, just without the fear, making it hard to hear direction, assess situations and such.
morganelyse92 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:26 pm
I cant even really distract him with a toy or treat.
While in situations where you are surprised, didn't see it coming etc...distract and retreat out of the area is good management/Plan B type stuff. But as a plan A, it won't get you anywhere.
morganelyse92 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:26 pm
I will keep trying I just hope he calms down.
just hoping...with respect, not such a good plan either.

Soooo. what is a good plan. Well first we need to try and figure out if this is fear. I always tell my clients, IF in doubt assume fear until we figure it/get more info. This helps us make better choices, take smarter action.

Fundog is right, there is a window after 6 months where the dogs go through a development period where they become fearful of things they didn't before. Another possibility is he is resource guarding you. resource guarding can be seen at any age, but typically shows up as the dogs move into adult years. 7 months is the beginning of moving into adult years.


IF fear is the issue, then often a plan based on Desensitization and Counter Conditioning is often a good place to start. Desensitization is simply the process of being "near" the thing that scares you, but not so near you are actually scared. you are aware of scary, your body has a mild "hark, there be danger....over there" response, but all the mechanisms triggered by fear have not yet kicked in. Often with dogs in this less than relaxed, but pre fear response you will see them orientate their body to "scary". their ears will REALLY perk up, tail will most likely stand up. Their body gets a little stiff, they freeze. they might flick their tongue a little "snake" like. forehead might wrinkle a bit. they might hold their breath or appear to. Mouth closes a little. To desensitize you want the mildest, smallest presentation of these "tells" as possible. For this to work, the MUST show awareness of scary, BUT be far enough away from scary to NOT enter a fear state.

We may never know why a dog become fearful. Sometimes it is due to something happening to them. other times it is more genetic. but somewhere along the line, for some reason a dog may become fearful of people, or other dogs, or cars or whatever. The dog has come to associate dogs/people/car/a noise with a scary event/experience. there are "tells" that predict scary is close. with dogs it might be their bark, or sound of nails on the pavement, jingle of collar/leash/tags. the learning principle behind this is Classical Conditioning. Remember Pavlov's dog? ring the bell, dog salivates?

When we want to change an existing association or what something predicts, we use Classical Conditioning, but it is often referred to as "counter conditioning". because you are changing an existing conditioning. Turns out Classical Conditioning works GREAT with emotional states such as fear. Where as Operant Conditioning (what we use to teach sit, down, come, roll over etc) does not work as well to change an emotional association.

The way you put the two together is when you have your dog at their safe distance, and they give off one of their "tells" that indicate awareness of scary, you start giving a bit of SUPER YUMMY food. food continues until "scary" disappears, dog looses interest, you lead dog away for even greater distance. IF you do not work at this safe distance where they only give off the smallest, mildest "tell" they KNOW scary is around, it won't work. It will NOT work if you try to apply this in the middle of a "freak out".

If the issue is resource guarding, same principles of Desensitization and Classical Conditioning work great, but are applied a little different.

If the issue is over excitement, aggression can develop out of this due to frustration. If your dog actually LOVES!!!! and I mean really and truly LOVES!! people, if by the nature of being on leash is preventing from getting to all those fun, cool, exciting, OMG there is another one they are everywhere I did I get so lucky to be near these people let me say HI!!!! frustration can set in, and frustration can lead to aggression.

With this issue, typically teaching an alternate behavior to perform when it's not appropriate to go up to a person, and you reinforce the heck of out it. I have have had great success with this approach with dogs that LOVE other dogs, but then start to develop some aggression because they can't at will just go running over to every dog they see.

I typically start with simple behaviors such as "look at me" and "heel". with this you do NOT have to wait for them to KNOW the person/dog is "over there". in this case you ask for "look at me" and "heel" before your dog notices the thing they LOVE.

Look at me is great because it gives them something to do, AND it breaks that visual "lock" on the thing that excites them. Heel is fairly self explanatory...stay close to you, not pulling, lunging etc. Again, giving something to do.

When starting you train these without the "fun thing" even being around. lay the foundation. then use someone they don't get over excited to see. then you practice passing. ask your dog to "look at me" and "heel", then start the "flow" of treats one after the other to make it MORE rewarding by volume to look at you and heel rather than go over to supper fun/exciting person or dog.

getting to say hi to person or dog might be like winning $100. each hot dog for "look at me" and "heel" might be $5. But if every time they perform these they earn $25, 30 "dollars", it will add up quickly and be MORE rewarding to stick with you vs bark, lunge etc. now because you report barking you do need to start out at a distance that doesn't trigger any of the unwanted behaviors. From barking to pulling to whatever. then you shrink the distance so that you are walking past "exciting" a normal every day go down the street, take a walk through the park distances.

ONLY once you are at "normal" distances and you are willing to bet a real $100 that your dog will "look at you" and "heel" while passing "exciting" vs bark, lung, pull etc then and only then do you start developing a plan that would reduce the volume of reinforcement for passing "exciting". you might start with "exciting" has to get closer. then start when "exciting" is even with you" then the treat happens. finally treat happens after "exciting" passes.

There is one more part to this, and this is why it is important to have a decent idea of why your dog is lunging, barking etc and why it is safer to assume fear if you don't know for sure. BECAUSE your dog NEEDs that social contact with people or other dogs, IF you end all interactions and only ever train to pass people, then there is a risk this will all backfire. you have to work in a couple "go say hi's during outings. you would need to do this in a way that does not reinforce unwanted behavior such as jumping on people, running up to dogs etc. BUT you will need to give your dog an opportunity to say hi to people/dogs. This is NOT something you would EVER do to a dog that fearful. teaching a fearful dog to go up to other people or dogs can be a goal, but it also may not be realistic or ever possible. And that is ok. simple being able to deal with "scary" near by, walk past it etc is really all the fearful dog needs to be able to do. If they could handle more, they wouldn't be fearful. On the other hand the "social butterfly" that is frustrated does NEED some social contact with people/dogs. But they need to learn to be calm, walk past, not this time, and how to approach when it is ok.


without assessing your dog, there is no way for me to say which plan is best for you. But this should give you an idea of what is possible, what can be done to help your dog. that you aren't left with "hoping it goes away". you can take proactive action to work with your dog.

Shalista
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by Shalista » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:32 am

Holy Necro batman! This is an ollld thread
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

Suzette
Posts: 1512
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:45 am

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by Suzette » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:01 am

The original post is older, but Jacksdad's response is going to be very helpful to folks who come across it who have the same issue. :)
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

jacksdad
Posts: 4879
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by jacksdad » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:48 pm

I debated to respond or not, but it is such a common issue that I went ahead and posted as if this was a current thread. I wanted people to know there is things you can do.

Dibbythedog
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:08 pm
Location: Middlesex West London

Re: HELP! My dog barks at EVERYONE!

Post by Dibbythedog » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:59 pm

jacksdad wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:48 pm
I debated to respond or not, but it is such a common issue that I went ahead and posted as if this was a current thread. I wanted people to know there is things you can do.
Its a very good answer . I'm glad you're still posting here :)

Post Reply