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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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Dog Dancer Dog Dancer is offline
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sublime, Tenderfoot is a wonderful source and I would urge you to take her advice. I really agree with her comment about keeping the dog tied to you at all times even in the house. This method helps with house training and correction of bad behaviours. You never need to chase down a bad puppy this way. Glad you are seeing some improvements, I agree, a bit more time may be in order.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:12 PM
sublime sublime is offline
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We are going to the vet tomorrow morning.

I have noticed now, after we have been working with him extensively, that 95% of the bad behavior is only exhibited when I am around. Especially when he has had alone time with me. What should my corrective actions be when he growls at the girls in my presence?

I agree, keeping him tied to us is helping. I should give Tenderfoot a call maybe to get more detailed advice.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 11:39 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Honestly I would be surprised if this is a health issue. It seems to be circumstantial.

You need to put a bubble of respect around the children. Through the dog's respect for you he needs to respect the kids. By putting a bubble of respect around the kids you are keeping the kids safe and helping the dog feel safe. You are taking charge.

As the dog becomes more comfortable around the children, then you can make the bubble smaller as the dog starts to calm down. Right now that bubble should be at least a few feet from the children.

If the dog growls at the kids in your presence (and the dog should only be with the kids if you are present), then you give a firm "no", use your leash to remove him from the kids and the area in general. He is not permitted to claim the space or aggress towards the children. You claim both the space and the kids. Let him know with your energy, eyes and attitude that you are not happy. You might even have to shuffle towards him as you back him out of the area.

But then you have to recreate the situation until he learns to remain calm in their presence. Don't push his comfort level too far or he will get snarky again. Stay at sub-threshold with the kids. Do not expect him to get too close at first. You just want him to feel comfortable within a reasonable range of the children. Let him stay there, pet him, reward him and wait until he takes a deep breath. Signs of acceptance and relaxation are sighing, sitting voluntarily, or laying down voluntarily. When he is relaxed let him know that is the answer with your warm tone, soft touch and relaxed smile. This is a good time to end this session.

This is a system of pressure and release. Pressure for the wrong choice and release the pressure & reward for the good choice. Dogs understand this naturally as it is how they communicate with each other. Though the truth is dogs don't really reward each other - they don't go out and grab a mouse to hand to the other dog. The simple release of pressure and returning to good times is sufficient. The key is to always end on a positive note. A common mistake is the dog makes a bad choice, the person corrects the bad choice and they quit, and the dog never learns what the acceptable choice is. They end on failure. In this case success is no growling or snapping, and a relaxed, calm attitude.
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
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Old August 14th, 2012, 11:55 AM
sublime sublime is offline
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Thank you for the information. I will try this and be diligent.

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Old January 2nd, 2013, 09:58 PM
sublime sublime is offline
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I just thought I should update this thread with results.

It appears that we have been able to get this dog to understand that people and kids are okay. He loves our kids now and only barks when he doesn't know who is there. When he sees them he becomes happy.

He seems to just be overly protective of the house in general. When he thinks he hears something at the door he barks or growls. We have gotten him to shush up quickly though and if we tell him its okay, he generally quits immediately. What we haven't been able to do is get him to stop barking all together. There are some neighbor dogs that bark so he joins in. I try to catch him and bring him inside as soon as he starts to minimize the behavior.

As for aggressiveness in general, he is not. He is just protective. He doesn't bite and doesn't mind kids. He doesn't like people to come to him, he wants to come them first to check them out, then he is fine. I feel safe with him and our children.

What we did to correct any behavior is not very cut and dry. We did a lot of socialization in many different settings. We also made it clear that the children were more important that him and that it was unacceptable to growl at them. He still growls at dumb times sometimes but we realized that there is nothing to it really. It is like it is an instinctive growl and then he comes to his senses when he sees them and wants to play.

Hope this helps someone else make decisions.

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