You’ve got a big birthday bash coming up, with friends, family and work colleagues attending. Your kids will be there and you’d love it if you could have your canine friend there too. But your dog has developed an unfortunate fear of strangers and will be a nightmare at such an event. It’s the same when you have new guests over to the house. He gets terrified, he barks, he runs to his bed and may even shake.
Getting a handle on this behavior is essential, not just for you, but also for the wellbeing of your dog. Whether he’s had a bad experience in the past or just developed a fear, socializing him with strangers is in the best interest of all involved and may bring back your once happy and care-free dog.
This type of training isn’t always plain sailing, you will need to use obedience commands to incentivize and reinforce positive, calm behavior. You will also need to take steps to gradually introduce him to strangers. As the training must be built up gradually, it can take anywhere from one to eight weeks before your dog will be comfortable around strangers.
You may see quicker results in puppies who aren’t stuck in their ways yet, but older dogs may need considerable time to fully conquer their fears. It is essential you get this training right, as a dog that is terrified of strangers may one day attack them, causing serious injury. It is important then you get a handle on this behavior rapidly. Don’t be put off by the time frame, the results will 100% be worth it!
Before you commence training you will need to get together several things. You will need a long leash so you can secure your dog while strangers are around and still afford him some freedom. You may also want to get your hands on a muzzle until the danger of aggressive behavior has passed.
You will also need your dog’s favorite food or treats. These will be vital for rewarding him and encouraging calm, friendly behavior.
Once you have collected the above, just set aside 20 minutes a day for the next several weeks and come armed with a positive attitude!
my dog is fine with kids and my family but with strangers she will bark growl at them while on leash
Hello Marla, I would suggest using the "Strangers = Treats" method from the article that you commented on in her case. https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-strangers . I also suggest hiring a professional trainer that is part of larger group of trainers, so that different trainers can work with your dog on her issue. Your dog's breed is naturally more protective and distrustful toward strangers. She will likely need a lot of intensive socialization to help her relax more. She will also need a solid foundation of trust and respect toward you, her owner, so that she will let you handle situations more and take her lead from you rather than trying to control situations. Accomplishing this is more complex than what I can answer here. I would highly suggest hiring a trainer. In the mean time, practice "Strangers = Treats" with strangers at a distance, work on her respect and trust toward you by using the steps found in the article I have linked below, and get her used to wearing a soft-silicone-basket muzzle so that she can be socialized safely at closer distances later. Use a basket muzzle because it will be more comfortable and allow you to pass her treats through the holes. Spend time slowly introducing the muzzle to her with lots of treats and gentle touches with the muzzle. Meal times, using her kibble as rewards, is a good time to do this for at least two weeks, and until she is completely relaxed while wearing the muzzle. Here is the link to the article on teaching respect and trust. Pay special attention to the "Obedience" method, in addition to applying some of the principles of the other methods as well. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
I have a real problem when someone comes to the house. Recently he had a vet appt. It didnt go well. It seems to get worse as he gets older. He acts really aggressive towards them and they cant even examine him because he tries to bite them. This last time i got nipped on the hand as i was holding him trying to control the situation. Ultimately it seemed he was scared.
Hello Tammy, If Chewie's only encounters with the vets or someone examining him are during times when shots are being given, blood is being taken, swaps are being done, things are being poked, and other unpleasant experiences are happening, then he will be afraid. Some dogs respond to fear by acting submissive, hiding, urinating, or shaking. Other dogs respond by fighting back. Chewie needs to have regular experiences with people that he does not know while being given tons of rewards. This needs to happen as often as possible, likely for several months. Every week or several times a week would be ideal, but do it as often as you possibly can, even if you can't do it that frequently. Have the stranger come into your home and toss him tons of treats while ignoring him in other ways. Save your dogs entire meal kibble for this if you want to. Practice this with different people until he learns to like it when people come to your door and walk inside. When he will relax when that happens, then have the person toss the treats closer to himself. As Chewie gets more relaxed and is willing to come closer, then have the person toss the treats right by his feet. Next, have the person feed the treats out of his hand, when Chewie is willing to approach the person on his own. Tell the person not to touch Chewie yet. Practice this until Chewie is totally relaxed. You want to recruit people who will remain calm around Chewie and be patient with him. While you are practicing the treat training with other people that Chewie currently barks at, also work on getting him used to being handled by you. Touch an area of his body while you feed him a treat with your other hand. Be gentle and careful. Practice this by touching his ear, his paw, his tail, his belly, his other paw, his other ear, his nose, his mouth (carefully), and every other location. Start slow, and touch the areas that he likes best at first, to show him that you are not going to hurt him. As he begins to relax, then touch the areas he is more resistant to, but feed a treat while you gently touch that area, then remove your hand when the treat is gone. Repeat this over and over again every day, until he enjoys being touched anywhere. You can do this at meal times, and use his entire portion of food, measured out into a baggie, to practice this, rather than giving him a bowl of food. When Chewie is relaxed around visitors and will let you touch him anywhere, then practice having the visitor gentle touch him while he feeds him a treat. Practice the handling exercises with the same person for multiple days, giving a treat for each touch, until Chewie will let that person touch him without getting tense. When that happens, then practice with a new person. Also, have the visitors dress like Vets some of the times when they visit, at this point. You can purchase one white coat or whatever your Vet tends to wear and leave it outside for the guest to put on before they enter. If he is likely to bite the person still at this point, then get him used to wearing a soft silicon basket muzzle ahead of time, so that he can wear the muzzle during the touch training. A basket muzzle will have holes to let the person feed him the treats through it while she touches him. Before you have him wear the muzzle, spend time getting him used to it and have him generally just wear it around the house at times when you are there to supervise him, so that he will not associate the muzzle with a person coming to visit. To introduce the muzzle, feed Chewie a treat every time that you show him the muzzle. Touch it to him gently and then feed him a treat. Practice this until he enjoys the touches because of the treats. Next, progress to holding it against his face while you feed him a treat through the holes. Gradually increase how long you hold it there for and feed treats, one after another, as he becomes more relaxed around it. Finally, put it on him, feed him treats, then take it off after a couple of minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time that he wears it for while you feed him a treats every couple of minutes. Overtime, also space out how often you give him a treat too, until he can simply wear the muzzle around without noticing it. You can also spend time introducing Vet's tools to him, by doing the same gradual introduction process with his food or treats, like you did to introduce the muzzle to him. Make sure you hire a Vet who will take the time to warm him up to her and go slow with him. There are good mobile vets out there who will spend time getting a dog used to them before starting, feeding treats and helping the dog relaxed first. Ask around and read reviews to find someone like that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hi! My border collie mix is okay when people come to my house (takes her a minute but she warms up quickly). But she's fearful of strangers when I take her elsewhere - i.e. shops, parks, etc. People often want to pet her but she cowers behind me. There's no aggression, but I would like her to be more comfortable with others petting her. I've tried having the strangers give her treats but she just grabs the treat and cowers again! How can I get her to be more confident?
Hello Kari, I suggest recruiting friends to meet you publib places while she is with you. Have your friends pretend to be strangers and give her treats, or play fetch with her (if she loves fetch) while she is on a long leash, or play with another favorite toy or game with her...the difference between this and real strangers is you need your friends to spend more time warming her up at her own pace with her favorite treats, games, and toys until she can relax around those people/people (that she thought were strangers), then move onto the next friend next time. Continue to have strangers give her treats also (make sure they know that she is shy and they do not overwhelming her. You want her to willingly take the treat when she is ready to, and not because she is forced to get close with the leash. Something to build her confidence and get her used to people being around while she is having a fantastic time and not thinking about other people might also help. Fly ball, frisbee competitions, agility, or another canine sport that she would love - think about what she loves doing and would be good at and use that thing as your motivator. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
I take my dog to the park multiple times a day and he's pretty good with strangers when we're out. He ignores them for the most part. If someone holds out a hand to pet him, he'll sniff their hand and walk off. He never lets anyone pet him, which can be frustrating but most people understand.
At home and when we're visiting others' homes he's completely different. We don't have many guests, so I have a hard time getting him use to visitors.
He barks at anyone who comes to the door and he's very suspicious of guests – he even growls at them.
I've tried putting him away to calm down when he doesn't stop barking, and only bring him back after he's calmed down.
I've had guests give him treats to gain his trust, but that doesn't make him comfortable enough to allow for pets. He might let them pet him, but then he'll start growling at them again. It all feels very precarious.
How do I help him become more trusting of strangers, especially inside? He's a very friendly, snuggly dog with my husband and I (although he's still known to let out a growl when being pet or moved in a way he doesn't like). And it's really frustrating that no one else gets to see that side of him.
Hello Amanda, Walter needs opportunities to practice guests coming over and simply being around. When he behaves calmly, reward him with treats or favorite toys. If he likes fetch, they can toss a toy for him and play with him to help him warm up...but you be the one to take the toy from him and hand it to them to throw again at first. When he warms up even more, have the person give him a command like "sit" before they throw the toy for him. Getting him to work for them with a command amidst the fun should also help. To see results, he needs opportunities to practice this with a lot of different people, practicing with only one person at a time. Building his respect for you will likely also help. When he is out in public, he is out of his element and in a more submissive position. At home, that is his territory and he feels more confident (although still insecure and afraid) but that fear is expressed more aggressively. That combined with not being used to people coming over, likely results in the aggression. The fact that he is not tolerant to being touched by your family at times is also partially respect based. He needs to be desensitized to being touched also to build not only respect in that area, but also trust. To practice handling exercises you would give a gentle touch with one hand and feed a treat with the other hand at the same time. Practice with each area of his body, starting with the areas he is most tolerant of and working up to other areas carefully. It sounds like working with a trainer who does a combination of private in-home training and can visit your home, work there while you have guest over who are willing to help, and works with other trainers so that they can come to your home for your dog to practice warming up to them also. Plus, practice some more intensive socialization training sessions at their facilities around more people (trainers) who will work with Walter the way that he needs with you also there. A trainer can also help you do the handling exercises, and when Walter is ready the trainer can also practice those with Walter himself and the other Trainers at the facility practice with him, to help Walter overcome his objection to being touched in general. A dog not wanting to be touched by those he does not know is not always an issue, some dogs are simply more reserved and bred to be that way, but a dog reacting aggressively when touched is an issue and a symptom of general anxiety and usually a lack of respect. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hi, my dog is a total sweetheart. The problem is when we are out for short potty breaks or walks, he will growl and ‘boof’ at strangers and will get very riled up if there is another dog. He has never hurt anything besides sticks and he seems playful when at the park (wagging his tail and running around) but he still seems a bit aggressive with other dogs lately. We try and take him out a lot but recently it has gotten harder to take him to a dog park without the owners seeming uneasy about tucker and calling their dog away. He is super sweet and listens well at home and is listening more when walking outside but I can’t seem to get a handle on him when there are strangers and dogs out. I usually turn around and go the other way but I’ve been doing this for a long time. He’s also not very motivated by treats or toys when he sees another dog. It is tiring and I’d love to get him out more without worrying about how others think of tucker and showing that he’s a sweet dog. Thank you in advance!
Hello Chrystal, First, I suggest teaching Tucker a "Say Hi" command and a "Touch" command and a "Quiet" command. You can practice these with treats and rewards when it's just you (so he will take the treats). Doing that will associate the commands with fun (which will be important later when he is tense). When he gets tense or comes across something that would normally make him tense you can use the commands to give him instruction, instead of letting him decide how to feel about it on his own. It sounds like he is getting defensive because he is nervous and needs more structure and direction so that he can depend on you for how to feel and act. The Say Hi command can be practiced with people he knows to help him learn that say hi means that a person is safe. The Touch command teaches him when it's safe to approach a person. The Quiet command tells him to stop acting out. Video of reactive dog being worked with on a walk: https://youtu.be/i8WEi9BfTIc You can use the "Quiet" method to teach Quiet: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog is 10 years old Black labrador and chow chow. He is still stingy around other people and dogs. He's good with my family but everyone else he goes crazy. He starts barking and tries to jump at them and I don't know if he's going to scratch them or just wanting to say hi. Please help.
Hello Leslie, First, I suggest having him evaluated by a professional trainer in person. Whether he is aggressive or just excited changes how you will train. If he is aggressive, he needs to be desensitized to people and be taught respect and trust without a lot of direct confrontation. People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie and line on the ground for safety (those working with the dog should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. I highly suggest hiring a trainer. Aggression is serious https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Beat of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Ferro is very protective and when we are away he would not let anyone near him . We have a friend who is willing to walk him but it’s impossible ! As he’s quite big we don’t want to risk it . How do we get him to be familiar to the walker ?
Hello Niko, First, because this is a potentially dangerous situation, I suggest that you hire a professional private trainer to help you with this. Get Ferro used to wearing a silicone basket muzzle. A basket muzzle will allow him to open his mouth to receive treats through the holes still, and silicone is usually more comfortable. To get him used to wearing a muzzle, place the muzzle on the ground and scatter his meal kibble around it at meals. When he is comfortable with it being near him, hold it up and give him a piece of his dog food whenever he touches it or sniffs it -- grab the food from a bag that you have measured it into; do not reach your hand into his food bowl to do this. Feed him at least one meal a day this way as often as you can. When he is comfortable touching it, hold the treat inside the muzzle through the holes so that he has to poke his face into it to eat the food. When he gets comfortable with that, gradually hold the food further down inside the muzzle so that he has to put his face into the muzzle more to reach the food. When he will put his face all the way into the muzzle and hold it there for ten seconds while you feed him pieces of food through the holes, then practice buckling and unbuckling the muzzle while you give him treats. Gradually work up to leaving it buckled for longer and spacing your treats further apart until he is comfortable wearing the muzzle around without food. When he is used to wearing a muzzle and can relax while wearing it, go on walks with him and have your dog walker walk parallel with you on the other side of the sidewalk. If you are working with a trainer, I suggest you practice this with the trainer before implementing it with your walker under your trainer's assistance also. Put enough distance between you and the other person that Ferro notices her but can still respond to you. Practice a structured heel where he walks with his head behind your leg and has to focus on where you are going (This is important, it will set the tone for aggression vs. responding to you). Interrupt any fixating on the walker, barking, or other tense unwanted behavior he tries to display toward the walker. When he is focusing on you, being calm, or being friendly or relaxed, reward him with treats through the muzzles holes and calm praise. When he is completely comfortable walking with the walker across the street, have her gradually decrease the distance between you. Practice at each distance until he is comfortable with her again at that new distance; do this until she can finally walk with you, and eventually take the leash from you and continue the walk on her own with him. When she can do that work up to her starting with you earlier and earlier in the walk process until she can initiate leashing him up and taking him herself. The days that she is supposed to come walk him, I suggest having him wear a muzzle still. Have a trainer help you with all of this. He needs a lot of structure in general, and his overall aggression also needs to be addressed. A qualified trainer should be able to help you with the walking but also the aggression issues overall as well. You need to work on building his respect for you also, which comes through having boundaries, consistency, and teaching commands. It should be done with a calm but business-like attitude. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog is very sweet to the direct family, but she’s very agressive towards strangers and new people. to the point were its hard to walk her past new people. How do I teach her that people aren’t bad?
Hello Larkin, The answer to your question depends partially on why she is acting aggressive (fear or lack of socialization, protectiveness, possessiveness, genetic predisposition, ect...) For fear based aggression a combination of carefully timed interruptions and then rewards while calm around people. Check out the video linked below. Notice the safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A If the aggression is due to something like possessiveness then he would likely benefit from adding a lot of structure and boundaries in general to build respect for you and his overall confidence and trust. Implement obedience commands into his daily routine. For example, have him sit before you feed him, lay down before you pet him, or "Watch Me" before you take him on a walk. Avoid encouraging any pushy behavior from him. Teach him a Place command and work on him staying on place for up to an hour, even when you walk into the other room for a minute. Practice crate manners. Work on teaching a structured Heel and have him walk with his face behind your leg and not in front - being in the following mode sets the tone for how he will react to people when you pass them. Forget about getting places during a walk for a while right now, instead go somewhere open, like your front yard, a park, or culdesac and practice a heel where his nose does not go past your leg. I also strongly suggest hiring a trainer to help you. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression - many trainers are only experienced with fear-based aggression and there could be something additional going on too. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Lucky--has been with my mother since she got him as a puppy. Mom now lives in an apartment in a retirement community and will start having outside help come in to help her on a daily basis. Lucky barks whenever someone enters the apartment--even at my brother, who walks Lucky twice a day. Lucky eventually calms down and is just fine, but the barking at strangers is a real drag and upsetting to my mother. Is there a way to have him stop this? We are getting ready to start daily care for Mom and the barking is going to be a real drag for both Mom and the caregivers. Lucky doesn't growl and has never bit anyone, but he is a barker! Perhaps that's somewhat inherent to the breed? Please help!! Laura (the daughter)
Hello Laura, Check out the desensitization video linked below. Work on desensitizing him to things associated with people entering like the video demonstrates. Also have visitors reward him for being quiet when he is quiet and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s Also, check out the "Quiet" method from the article linked below. Teach Quiet so that she has a command to tell him to let him know he can calm down. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog will bark and become aggressive with strangers, especially when new people come over to the house. He's nipped a few people before, and I've put him in a room or in his crate to calm down, letting him out after he's stopped barking. I'll keep him on a leash with new people and let him gradually get closer to sniff the person. He usually jumps up to give kisses after that, but sometimes he "randomly" will revert back and try to attack the person after he's decided to enter their space and they pet him. He doesn't have an aversion to pets with people he knows, so it's hard to tell when the person can stop ignoring him and when it's officially safe. When we are taking walks sometimes he is fine with strangers passing, other times he tries to bark and bite at them. I put him on the other side of me and give little yanks on his leash, but that doesn't seem to do much. I would like to be able to bring him to dog parks or to family functions without being worried he will try to bite someone.
Hello Abby, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you. There are several things that need to be shown and worked on in person, in live time. Look for a trainer who uses both positive reinforcement and gentle discipline. He needs a lot of structure and boundaries. He also needs to be rewarded when he does something right to build his trust of other people. Check out Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog Training for more information on aggression. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ElhSrziUvg4FOY4xKou5w Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello,my dog is very afraid of strangers and to have a walk outside.We have triedto make her use of having a walk everyday but she shakes, stay still.When we have families at our place,she hides herself behind the couch and does not come out until everyone has gone.Can you please advice how make her not to be fear of people.Thank you.
Hello Aswina, For the general fearfulness check out the article linked below for information on what to practice with her. Especially read the section "How Do You socialize a Dog with Humans?" https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ To help her gain confidence while leash walking, check out this article linked below. Start by practicing it in calm, less scary locations to simply build her confidence around the leash before tackling the socialization-fearfulness issues also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Finally, I suggest hiring a professional trainer who is very experienced with highly fearful dogs. It sounds like she was either not socialized while young, had a traumatic experience, or is genetically prone toward fearfulness. I would not wait to start resolving these issues. The earlier you deal with fearfulness the better the potential outcome. If genetically prone toward fearfulness she will probably need long-term confidence building and help working through fears, but starting now can still improve the outcome. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello! My dog is scared of strangers, but it seems a bit more than that. She's afraid of: my brother, my cousin, and general strangers (i.e. brother in law, sister, etc.), but not of the people who live in the house with us (my mother, father, sister, and grandmother)and she gets along with the other animals in our house too. When my brother/cousin are not around she comes out more often and socializes and eats lots of food until they come home or a stranger comes by, and she sounds meaner than she is. We got her from a friend when she was 6 months- 1 yr. old, she is fixed, but there is possible inbreeding. The woman we got her from has 4-6 adult dogs, only two of which I believe were female and possibly all related, and raised outside. D.O.G. seems perfectly normal when she's in her safe space (my room) and outside, even very sweet, but when she sees a stranger or anyone mentioned above she barks/growls and hides. She knows some basic commands, but not all of them. Recently she nipped my brother in laws pants leg, no skin, only fabric but it was a wake up call. How do I help my sweet baby? She has NEVER bitten anyone until she nipped him, and she hasn't since. I don't want anything bad to happen to her, but what can I do to help? Should I just go back to the basics, or is she too old for that?
Hello Angel, Working on basic commands again is always good to do. This will help more with management and your relationship with her - but not the aggression directly. Check out the article linked below to learn more about how to socialize shy dogs. Since she has also shown some aggression the training will need to be done with more precautions though. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Because of the aggression, practice training using a back tie so that she cannot get all the way to someone rewarding her - to try to bite them. The person rewarding her should be calm and almost boring - no roughness. Also, notice when they reward. It is never when the dog is acting aggressively but when the dog is being calm. Once she can handle being generally near those she is currently afraid of, then going on a walk with her, you and them can also help (if she relaxes on walks), or them playing a favorite game with her like tug or fetch - just avoid overly rough play that could scare her again - keep things calmer. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Many insecure dogs also benefit from adding to structure to build their confidence and trust and respect for you. Check out the articles and videos linked below for some general obedience you can practice with her to add more structure and routine. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo You can also practice all the basic obedience commands that she knows with her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello! My dog Nelson is very nice to my family and dogs he has known for a long time. But when kids, adults, dogs come over he tries to bite them. He also does this on walks with kids, and dogs, and adults. We want to take him with us places but he just tries to bite and bark at everybody. What should I do? I don’t want any shock collar, or bark collar or muzzle.
Hello Sasha, First, work on building pup's respect and trust for you so that they are more willing to let you handle situations. The following commands can help with that: Place - work up to a 1-2 hour Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heeling article - The turns method and video: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you If he is generally a bit nervous, then some confidence building exercises may also help his overall attitude. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Second, you will need to interrupt the unwanted behavior. This is typically done with some type of corrector - it does not have to be an e-collar though. A Pet Convincer, which is a small canister of pressurized unscented air (not citronella!) is one example of this. It just needs to be something that helps deescalate the dog's aggression, adrenaline, ect...so that they can then be receptive to positive reinforcement while in a calmer state. You do not want to reward a dog in an aggressive state or you are actually teaching the dog to be in that state more often. The rewards need to happen during tolerance, calmness, and good focus on you. Check out the video linked below for an example of using a pet convincer and desensitizing the dog around people using a structured walk - notice the trainer is very calm during all of the training, and not angry, worried sounding, or feeling sorry for the dog. Calm, confidence is generally the best attitude to maintain when dealing with aggression. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ Third, once the dog is in a calmer mindset, then you can work on desensitizing the dog to people by practicing obedience with people in the background, having strangers toss food from a tolerable distance very calmly, doing things like confidence building exercises, and eventually having other people train the dog in a calm way. Safety measures need to be taken to keep others safe around pup while training - as with any aggression case. Anytime you are working with any aggression dog, know that an aggressive dog will some times redirect their aggression toward whoever is closest - such as you. Always be careful and mindful and take precautions to avoid being bitten. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Thanks for the great training tips! Harley does well with visitors coming to the house. She goes "to bed" until she can calm down and interact with guests. I used the Stranger=Treats method for this one.
The problem is once we leave the house. When strangers approach she growls and runs away. If she even hears kids playing she is running for her life. I have tried treat training her outside the house but she gets so worked up she won't even look at the treat. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! She was very friendly as a puppy and taken a lot of places but after she turned 1 she just wasn't having it anymore.
Hello Alexis, I suggest working with a training facility with a lot of different trainers who can take turns doing confidence building exercises with her, such as teaching her agility equipment, tricks, and obedience. I would like to see her working for people, heeling for walks, learning new things, and generally learning how to cope with being handled by others who know how to properly handle a nervous dog. I suggest finding a training group for this because with the right group you will have a large number of people who are able to handle her in the way that she needs to make progress instead of regress. It's important that they do things with her to build confidence and encourage a bond - since she will not take treats that will probably look like walks, agility obstacles, tricks, and obedience. Having difference people practice these things with her should help with the general socialization - the goal is not one trainer doing these things but many different people switching off working with her. At some point you also want part of the training to happen in your home, with someone new coming there regularly. She can be worked with at a training facility first, but you want the training to also happen in other places once she is comfortable at the training facility. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello! I adopted Ellie from a shelter 4 days ago. She has some real abandonment nerves, as being separated from me when not in her crate is difficult. She is a very sweet, calm dog. When she met my 1st roommate, she first growled, but then my roommate left her packages and sat on the ground, offering her hand. Ellie immediately ran over for petting. My 2nd roommate, however, ran over to the dog and immediately attempted petting her. Ellie of course growled quietly, and did so again when the girl repeated this behavior. She also growls quietly if a stranger tries to pet her while on leash. She does not growl when simply passing people, however. How should I best approach this? She does not seem to be aggressive, but is nervous.
Hello Mara, First, respect that she is nervous and be her advocate. Tell people kindly but firmly how to interact with her and don't let people rush her - that will only make her behavior worse and risk them being bitten. Instead, give those who want to interact with her treats to toss at her paws when she is being calm (not while she is growling and acting aggressive though because you don't want to reward that behavior). Have as many cooperative strangers as you can toss treats at her paws while she is calm. Have them give her some space and let her be the one to choose to approach them. If she growls, calmly give a leash tug and tell her no. Praise calmly while she is doing well, and try to keep your own energy confident, pleasant and calm. Work on getting her used to being handled. Use her daily meal kibble. Feed her one piece at a time every time you touch her somewhere. for example, gently touch an ear and give a treat. Touch her muzzle and give a treat. Touch her paw and give a treat. Repeat this with both ears, all four paws, her chest, her collar, her tail, her muzzle, her belly, ect...When she is completely comfortable with you touching her anywhere, have a friend she likes practice the same thing. Rotate having friends or trainers practice that with her - working with just one person at a time ideally - until she is comfortable with that person, then moving onto other people. She needs to have tons of people toss her treats, and several friends desensitize her to being touched. Outside of these treat tossing, calm interactions, and handling by those she is more comfortable with, tell those who can't respond to her well that she is in training and to please not pet. She needs to feel like you are handling situations and to have her trust rebuilt through gentle interactions with lots and lots of people. It is okay to tell her no when she behaves aggressively - she needs to know what not to do too, but focus the most on setting her up for success, gradually asking more of her as she improves, and introducing more exciting but friendly people gradually as she can handle it and is more comfortable with touch because of the other training. Expect this to be a process that takes months not days or weeks. Be sure to give her activities that are mentally stimulating in general. Border Collies need their minds stimulated through training that makes them think and have to focus. Good mental stimulation that is satisfying for her can help take the edge off of nervous energy. For a Border Collie this is super important even if she is pretty calm. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Cooper is well behaved and very smart. We love taking him places but are hesitant when we know kids will be around. As a puppy he was very socialized around strangers at the dog park, at dog friendly stores and places we would take him and there was always kids. However he seems to not like kids now. He’ll growl and stick up his fur when they are near him. And with strangers he seems to not want part of. We are a social couple so we need some help with his behavior because we like taking him places and everyone wants to pet him.
Hello Kady, I suggest hiring a trainer who can help you do the training from the videos linked below. Notice the back tie leashes and safety measures that keep the kids safe, how the kids helping follow instructions well and are very respectful toward the dog, and that the dog is rewarded while calm and not aggressive, and corrected for aggression. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7_0ZqiJ1zE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYs76puesAE Work on those protocols but also be aware that some dogs are not Golden Retriever type personalities and they need their space respected better. Many breeds are reserved by nature, which means that the dog should be tolerant and not aggressive, but a bit stand-off-ish/ignore you and not everyone's best friend. My sister has a German Shepherd Service Dog who will calmly stand there and accept people in his space - even kids accidentally running up and hugging him (which is never a good idea), but he ignores the people and just stands there or walks away and doesn't particularly want to be your best friend; because he is calm and tolerant and not aggressive that is okay - people aren't supposed to be coming up to him to pet him as a Service Dog because he is working anyway. Your goal with your dog should be tolerance, calmness, and the ability to handle unexpected situations with people and especially kids, but don't let everyone overwhelm her and pet her wherever you go. Respect her need for space and communicate to people that she's reserved while at the same time working to change the aggression to tolerance. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog is very territorial and very over protective on walks or just at home. She is calm with cool with me, my dad, mom and siblings. Her ears go back, growling and tail down when strangers walk by. How can i get her to chill out?
Hello Tate, It sounds like she needs a lot of structure and boundaries in general to build respect. Have her work for everything she gets for a while by having her perform a command first. For example, have her sit before you feed her, lay down before you pet her, look at you before you take her outside, ect.. If she nudges you, climbs into your lap uninvited, begs, or does anything else pushy, make her leave the room. Teach her a Place command and work on her staying on place for up to an hour, even when you walk into the other room for a minute. Practice crate manners. Work on teaching a structured Heel. Forget about getting places during a walk for a while right now, instead go somewhere open, like your front yard, a park, or culdesac and practice a heel where her nose does not go past your leg. You need to hire a trainer to help you with the aggression and you need someone who uses a lot of boundaries, positive reinforcement and fair discipline tactfully. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression - many trainers are only experienced with fear based aggression and you likely have some dominance- based or territorial aggression going on too, and they are treated a bit differently than fear. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Aggression is one of the things I often recommend hiring someone to help with. Look for a trainer who works in a training group with several trainers or training staff and has a lot of success working with aggression, reactivity, and fear. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
We own 3 dogs and are getting 2 more and 2 of are dogs went out to a dog park and usally my dog Tyson loves strangers that come to the house but is out of control out the house are other dog that went with him now starts barking REALLY loud at other dogs and people ever since (Tyson a REALLY sweet dog loves everyone inside)
Hello Ava, I had a little trouble reading your paragraph but it sounds like your dog is not barking a lot after spending time with two other dogs that barked a lot. If this is the case, then check out the videos linked below on desensitizing a dog to noises and guests: Barking at guest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s Barking at noises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g More barking videos for specific topics: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello! Since I got Luna, at 2 months, I socialized her practically right away. She would come everywhere with me, the dog park, friends houses, vacations, different destinations. She LOVED people, she wanted everybody to approach her. She began getting skeptical of other dogs fairly quickly after being “ganged up” on by packs of dogs and attacked by another dog. She got to the point where she couldn’t even come close to a dog without snapping at it and continuously trying to bite it. I separated her from other dogs, trying to give her her space to heal from I guess being overwhelmed or what not. Last summer, at 2 years old, she began exhibiting her first signs of being afraid of people. She would run the other way when being approached and be TERRIFIED. Now this was completely new behavior because I am very aware of when she’s upset and anxious and I have never seen that before from her. Currently, she is still scared of strangers. At home she usually just hides under the table as soon as someone new comes in the house. But my sisters boyfriend, who has been around for about 3 months practically everyday, she does not like at all. She has never bitten him but she growls and snaps at him whenever he tries to touch her. Overall she will usually just go in the opposite direction when encountering a new individual but if they reach down at her she gets very upset and has reacted in a range of ways including running away, growling, barking and snapping.
Hello Anna, It does sound like fear aggression. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He has hundreds of videos online and specializes in aggression, fear, and reactivity. Check out his videos about confidence building, structure and boundaries to help nervous and reactive dogs, working dogs through their fears with a small amount of pressure (but still pressure), counter conditioning dogs to the things they are afraid of, and reading body language. Confidence building examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxUXvWawpk Example 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ Example 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Structure and boundaries: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Getting started with structure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAE0jCL9Gbs Day 1 examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8WEi9BfTIc Counter conditioning - always take safety measures for those involved not to risk a bite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYI8vhRLxG8 People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A People aggression protocol for a dog further in the training who is doing better now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sRSu3xFjUw&t=292s Seek professional help if you feel people are in danger, things are getting worse, or you feel overwhelmed. Ask a lot of questions and look for trainer who has a lot of experience working with fear and aggression (many trainers don't have experience with aggression so ask and read reviews or ask for aggressive dog client referrals). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Hello there! I have a question on how to make her more comfortable going out to stores and in public. We go on walks multiple times a day and if others are walking by she notices them but she does not bark or growl at them but if they try to come directly at her and want to pet her, she will bark and run the other way. When there are other dogs however walking with their owners, she starts to bark and growl a little. However, when we go to dog parks, she does not bark or growl at dogs at all and she lets other people standing around pet her. They only time she will bark and growl at people is when we are on our walks and out in stores. I want her to get used to strangers and also visitors that come to the house and I also want to be able to take her to events and public places without her getting upset. As long as people do not come directly at her in public she is fine but I want her to not react if someone comes up to me or if I need to speak to someone while she is by my side. Would a basket muzzle be useful here just in case? She has never nipped at anyone but just to be on the safe side? Any help would be amazing!
Hello Natalie, A basket muzzle would likely be a good training tool while you are in the process of training.I would hire a professional trainer who is very experienced with possessiveness/resource guarding, fear aggression, and other forms of aggression and reactivity to evaluate what's going on. It sounds like she is likely fearful. Some dogs are more reactive on leash because they feel trapped. The dog is likely still anxious at other times if you carefully watched her body language at the dog parks (she can be both happy and unsure at the same time), but she is better able to manage it their while off leash. She could also be possessive of you and having people approach you with her at her side makes her feel uncomfortable - and she is essentially telling someone to leave you alone because she views you as her own; if she views you as hers this can cause a lot of insecurity in a dog that lacks confidence because she feels like no one is handling situations and she has to be possessive of you and guard you like she would a toy. That type of behavior is also often a respect issue. Check out Jeff Gellman from solidK9Training, Sean O Shea from the Good Dog, and Thomas from the Canine Educator on YouTube. They have lots of videos on aggression, fear and reactivity. I suggest having a trainer like that evaluate her reactions to people and other dogs in person to come up with a more specific training plan. Working with a trainer who works with lots of other training staff and has access to calm dogs will be a big help as well - since you will need a safe environment to desensitize her to others, doing things like heeling past others and interrupting poor responses, giving lots of structure, and calmly rewarding calmness in those environments. You want other dogs and people to become boring and not a big deal to her, which takes a lot of repetition around people. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
I just adopted my three year old shepherd mix a few days ago and she is already very attached to me. It is not a problem and I am very happy that she is comfortable with me. The only problem with her is when strangers (friends) come to the house. Outside of the house, like on walks or at the store, she loves going up to everyone she sees. When strangers (friends) come over, she does not act aggressively as I know she must be anxious and scared because someone is in her yard and house that she doesn't know and she wants to protect me from them. Her hair stood up and she lowered her body to the ground while putting the person in between us. I tried to get her to understand that it was okay. I have never experienced something like this. She does not stop barking until I take her away from the situation, which I do.
Hello Maci, First, it sounds like she is actually being possessive of you - which is more related to insecurity and a lack of respect - making her feel like it is her job to be in control of situations, which is really hard on an anxious dog. A truly protective dog usually understands the difference between an actual threat and a normal situation where you are inviting someone in. In her own home she is more likely to act possessive because she views it as her territory. Both her respect for you and the fear of new people need to be addressed. I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer to help with this. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator on YouTube, look for someone who trains like that and is very experienced with aggression. Check out the video linked below - People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest and those working with a dog should never be put at risk -just in case. Notice that the rewards are given during calmness - not all the time because you don't want to reward aggression and encourage it, and corrections are used with good timing and calmness. With reactivity and aggression you want to stop the unwanted behavior, but then once the dog is calmer you want to do a lot of socializing around people to help overcome fear or dislike if that's an issue for the dog also. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Stopping the unwanted behavior also makes it easier to continue to expose your dog to people for ongoing socialization. Another important part is structure. Building a dog's trust and respect for you helps a dog trust you to handle situations, and also deals with possessiveness that many aggressive dogs are displaying - where they basically view you as theirs and are trying to keep others away from you, like a dog would do with a toy they are guarding. This is a respect issue and not true protectiveness - which is more related to genetics and an actual perceived danger they are protecting you from - there can be some cross-over with possessiveness and protectiveness though, especially for naturally stronger driven breeds. A structured heel and a solid - long Place command are probably the two most important commands for you to practice as far as obedience goes right now. Your walk needs to start out super structured. No scanning the horizon for others or checking out from your dog. She needs to be slightly behind you, focused and following you, and working during the walk. Place command is a great impulse control building command, and has the bonus of helping to build respect and calmness, plus helps manage behavior when people come over. Work up to her being able to stay on Place for 1-2 hours. How you teach these commands matters - with reactivity or aggression issues, calmness, business-like attitude, and slightly firm is important - but not anger, yelling, or unnecessarily roughness. Just being consistent about enforcing rules calmly and teaching her mind. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo If she is generally a bit nervous, then some confidence building exercises may also help her overall attitude. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 The trainer in many of the videos above also has other videos on fear aggression and reactivity. An example of a structured walk with a reactive and aggressive dog: Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Aggressive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?