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Barking Problems

April 1st, 2009, 05:24 PM
I am having problems with my 4 year old lab mix when it comes to the problem of barking and lunging. She's a sweet girl, but when we have her on her leash, she will bark and lunge at any large, nosiy trucks,cats, rabbits, joggers, bicyclists (young or old) or other dogs on leashes or dogs in their own backyards.
She becomes frenzied, and I'm getting to the point where I'm afraid she will hurt someone, although she's so gentle at home and at the dog park.
I'm thinking about a shock collar, even though I'm scared it will hurt her. Does anyone have any suggestions or can you tell me a little more about shock collars?
Thank you for your help.

April 1st, 2009, 07:22 PM
I would consider the shock collar last. And before you are going to use it, think about it first. As in really think hard if you want to use that. There must be something that you can do first. How much exercise is your dog getting? It could mean that your dog just lacks exercise.

April 2nd, 2009, 09:25 AM
Hello Doggrrl :). Is this fairly recent behavior? Would you have access to a behaviorist to help find a cause for it? I'm afraid that a shock collar in the hands of an inexperienced owner may just serve to make the situation worse. There's a good chance that your Lab may associate the pain with the object/objects of her aggression which will only increase her anxiety. Yes, a shock collar may stop the behavior temporarily but will not address the reasons why she's behaving the way she is. And dog forbid she begins to associate all dogs with pain...especially that she's doing so good at the dog park.

I would recommend that for now, she can get her exercise at the dog park and in your yard...don't forget that games and training also exercise your dog. In the meantime, you can acquire the help of a behaviorist to properly assess your dog's behavior and the underlying reasons for it. There's a wonderful, easy to read book that you will find most helpful, I'm sure... Feisty Fido, Help For The Leash Aggressive Dog by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. and Karen London, Ph.D.. In it you will find steps and exercises to help desensitize your dog to the stressors that set her does take time, there is no easy fix....but with understanding, perseverence, patience, and practice practice practice, in time your dog will feel comfortable enough to remain politely next to your side during your walks.

April 2nd, 2009, 02:00 PM
Hi DogGrrl,

Sorry to hear about the situation you're in with your dog. I agree with the above comments: A shock collar should be your LAST, LAST, LAST option - and only then, would I ever expect anyone to use it under the guidance of a trained profesional. Just because they're available for the public at your local petstore, doesn't mean they should be.

As LuckyPenny said, if you can find a behaviorist in your area, that's your best bet.
It's impossible to tell you without meeting your dog if this is aggression, or if it's just frustration.

Leash aggression builds out of a form of frustration, not being able to say 'hello' to dogs or passing people the way she wants. A behaviorist will be able to really see your dog in action and tell you if she is in an aggressive state or if this behavior is simply frustration.

If she's good at home and at the dog park, but bad onleash, then you don't have a wellbehaved dog. I always tell my clients that if their dog is not behaving ON leash, why would they ever let it off? The dog park should not be her main form of excercise but rather a REWARD, and can actually encourage this bad on-leash behavior to continue if she's going to the park a lot and allowed to be off-leash, without addressing this on-leash behavior first.

Seek the council of a behavioral trainer in your area; that's your best bet. They can come to your home and help you understand what your dog is trying to tell you when she's on the leash, and show you how to handle that behavior, while giving her great on-leash excercises that work her mind and body rather than just letting her off leash.

Good luck!