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sometimes uncontrollable

Beetlecat
April 9th, 2005, 05:11 PM
My dog is somewhat wary of strangers. I don't mind this as I got him partially as a warning/deterent system to protect my house and (more importantly) myself.

The problem comes in when we're out walking. Generally times he's fine when we walk by people (though I don't let him sniff since some take offense to that) but he seems to dislike it when they appraoch from the side (ie they're walking across the street) or approach from behind.

He'll usually start barking a them and keeping his body turned towards them. When they're behind us, this means he keep turning around to look at them and dancing around in front and behind me. Obviously this is annoying when I'm trying to walk.

He is a fairly submissive dog and somewhat lacking in confidence so the hope is as he gets older, he will trust me and himself more and stop worrying about things so much. I was told that ignoring something upsetting behind him is a pretty big step.

I don't want him to stop sounding the alarm, but I do want him to stop when I tell him to (and to cut out the dancing). Right now I have to lead him off the path and let the other person walk ahead of us.

I'd like to teach him the command 'enough' meaning 'fine, I see the problem and it's okay. You can settle down now.' Any ideas of how to teach this? I'd like a better method than waiting around until someone upsets him on a walk, since it doesn't really happen all that often. Eventually, I just want it to not happen at all.

Eleni
April 9th, 2005, 09:39 PM
im not sure, but I think its probably difficult to teach a dog to bark for strangers when they come to your home, and not bark at strangers out on walks.

Id almost expect that if my dog is a protection type pet that I would expect him to bark at anything that could possibly be a threat, anything out of the ordinary or new.

so to expect a dog to decipher when its ok and when its not id think would be confusing.

however I have never had a dog in this situation so i could be WAY off base.


Eleni

Prin
April 9th, 2005, 10:51 PM
I would teach it in the house first. Teach the dog to stop barking at home and then when the command is mastered there, move it out to the street.

My big Boo was terrible at walking in the beginning. He got distracted so easily. What I taught him was "Walk properly". I physically turn his head to face foreward and start walking. If he turns around again I just hold on to his head from the side (like a hug with one arm) and walk. I also throw in a couple of "Cut it out"s and "That's enough"s. Obviously this would be weird with a little dog...

How old is this dog? My doggies have always refined their instincts as they got older and only bark at really threatening people now. (REALLY SCARY when they bark now...) One time a guy snuck up behind me on Mount Royal in the middle of the day and Jemma was off leash and (luckily) I hadn't unhooked Boo. Jemma went insane. She growled and barked so hard she was jumping with every bark and the man ended up in a little ball on the ground. Yey Superdogs...

Beetlecat
April 10th, 2005, 12:15 AM
He's 9 months, so his protective instinct is really just rearing its head right now. It really wasn't that long ago that instead of barking at strangers, he wanted to jump on them and lick them. lol.

He's good at barking in the house. I let him get away with a few barks to alert me and then, as I walk to the door, tell him to be 'quiet'. He generally stops. He might bark a couple more times as I'm greeting the person if he's not convinced, but he's not obnoxious about it. He's not the yap yap yap yap type.

The 'quiet' and 'settle' commands don't work when someone's walking behind us because he's so focused on looking behind and keeping them in sight, that he's not listening to me. I have lots more control if they're walking in front or passing us.

And just to be clear, I do want him to bark at strangers (be then human or animal) when we're walking but what I am looking for is a way to make him stop when I tell him to. He can bark at anything under the sun for all I care as long as he listens to me when I tell him 'enough'.

Problem is, I don't want to train him into listening to me rather than his own instincts either. Maybe occational agitation from him is better than having him blindly trust his owner. It's not like I'm never wrong (just almost never lol.)

tenderfoot
April 10th, 2005, 03:31 PM
Your pup is a teenager and you need to decide if you are going to be the leader or is he? He will help you out (providing it's in his nature) no matter what when you really need it - the pack always pitches in. But it is up to you to teach him good social manners and provide good leadership.
He is behaving aggressively out of insecurity - this shows a lack of confidence in his pack leader. I am not trying to insult your skills or relationship with him, but it shows that he needs you to step up to the plate better and more often. If you are shakey about what you want from him then that instantly translates to him that you lack confidence - which places him in an insecure world. He needs a strong, confident leader to get confidence in the world.
Ideally when he has a question about anything he is unsure of he should look to the leader for the answer - this solves almost all of your problems. "mom, I am not sure about the person behind us, are you going to do something or should I start protecting us?" You recognize the look, give him a job and take care of it. The job could be keep healing or sit/stay - regardless you took charge. Right now he doesn't have confidence that you are as aware of dangers as he is and he is acting independently - he is taking charge of the situation without regard for you.
The more work you do with him the more confidence he will gain. Correct the bad choices and reward the good ones. This helps create a very black & white world for him and he will be able to relax there and thrive. A gray world is full of unanswered questions and he will always be wondering and be hindered.

Beetlecat
April 10th, 2005, 07:04 PM
Exactly, Tenderfoot, which is why I wanted a method to teaching him a command that lets him know I have it under control. I know that will come in time, but I'd rather take steps towards it now.

dogmelissa
April 10th, 2005, 11:14 PM
If it's a medium to large-sized dog (which I would assume since you want it for protection), consider a head-collar, gentle leader, whatever you want to call it. They are non-painful, will still allow the dog to bark, drink, or bite, if needed, but they give you a TON of control over where the dog is looking. If someone is approaching from behind, you might let him turn his head and check it out, and then if you're comfortable with the person NOT being a threat, you can direct his head back to where you want him to be. It'll be impossible for him to "dance", walk sideways or really misbehave when you have control of his head. Also it gives you the added benefit of being able to reinforce your dominance, since it exerts pressure on the top of the snout, which in a dog's world, is a place where only a dominant animal gets to touch them.
You can ask at your local pet store for help in fitting one, and you can either read on the internet, in books or find a trainer to help you in the proper use of one. Having only ever had a small dog, I can't speak from experience, but I know people who had dogs that would walk them--across rivers, up trees, etc etc, and in a matter of a few days with one of these, the dogs behaved like angels on leash. It shouldn't interfere with your dog's ability to tell you something is wrong--and a good dog will still likely growl if he's unhappy about a person--but it should give you a lot more control and make your walks much more pleasant.

Here is a link for the Gentle Leader: http://www.gentleleader.com/pages.cfm?ID=29
And one for Halti (who also have a no-pull harness)
http://www.companyofanimals.co.uk/halti.php

Good luck,
Melissa