When company comes over, does your dog lose control, jumping, barking, running around in circles, and otherwise making a nuisance of himself? When you are on a walk and encounter a stranger, does your dog act aggressive, lunge, pull, bark and growl? Unless you live under a rock, you and your dog are going to encounter other people, people your dog doesn't know, and your dog needs to know how to behave when this occurs. A dog that reacts aggressively to the presence of strangers can end up lashing out and biting. Even a dog that does not show overt aggression but gets overexcited is usually reacting from anxiety, which can eventually manifest in aggression. If you have a particularly large dog, his excitement around strangers can send someone flying if he jumps up, or result in a scratch to a face, especially with children or seniors.
Chica is training to be a service dog. She heels. However she refuses to sit on command in places she is new to. And when she meets new people she tends to pup on the leash and tries to jump up to their knees.
How do I fix these problems?
Hello Aracelie, There are many skill levels when it comes to sit and other obedience commands. Chica has likely mastered beginners level, and she can do the sit without distractions around but needs more practice in the presence of distractions for it to be reliable. Begin taking her places with a little bit more distractions, such as in a calmer part of your neighborhood. Bring some treats or favorite toys along with you. Command her to sit while on a walk in your neighborhood, if she does, great! Give her a treat and be sure to praise her right when her bottom hits the ground. If she refuses, then step in front of her, blocking her view with the leash tight enough that she cannot leave you but not so tight that it hurts her at all. Now Wait. Give her time to get bored and think about what you have asked her. If she attempts to get around you to sniff or look at something, step in front of her again to block her view. If you think she did not hear the original command or if fifteen or more second have gone by, you can repeat the command once more, but do not repeat the command over and over. Wait until it has been at least fifteen seconds between sit commands before repeating it each time. You want her to learn to do it the first time that she is told to sit. This exercise can take some especially stubborn dogs as long as fifteen minutes to complete the first time you practice this, so be patient. Most dogs will get bored and will sit in less than five minutes, but give her time to think about what she was told and to choose to do it. If she is really struggling, then you may need to choose somewhere slightly less distracting, such as your own yard to practice this in first. Once she can sit in one location quickly, move onto a slightly harder location and repeat the process again. Her sitting skills need to gradually develop, just like a person who is practicing a new skill needs time to get better in harder and harder situations. Does Chica seem excited and happy to see people when she is jumping and pulling? If she is jumping and pulling out of excitement then what you can do is to recruit various family members and friends that she is likely to jump on to help you mimic a stranger approaching her. Give these volunteers treats for them to hide in their hands behind their backs or in their pockets. When they approach Chica, have them command her to sit or down. If she does so, have them give her a treat from under her chin, if sitting, or between her front paws, if lying down. Giving the treats this way will keep her head down and make her less likely to jump up. If she pulls while they are approaching or if she tries to jump, have the person immediately turn around and walk away or leave the house. When she has calmed back down, repeat the approach and have them instruct her to sit or down again. This will likely take many attempts at first, so be patient. The more times that they approach, the less excited that she will be and the easier this will be for her to do, and the more she will understand what she is supposed to do and not supposed to do. When the person can approach her without her pulling and without her jumping. You can choose to have them give her a treat here as well, before they command the sit or down, if you would like to make this sightly easier. Then once she has that step mastered add in the sit or down step. When she will reliably sit or down when that person approaches, and she no longer jumps on them or pulls towards them, practice the whole thing again with a different friend or family member. It will take practicing this with multiple new people before she will be able to handle doing this around real strangers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! I read this article, and while I found some aspects informational, I still have a few questions. Kiwi is a very protective girl, and has people that she easily likes/ wont bark at, but also has people (this is the usual, anyone she has never met basically) that she goes crazy over. We are very family orientated people, and love taking kiwi with us. However, when Kiwi is ALWAYS barking around new people, it gets hard. Most of these tips went for when you're in home. How will these hold over for when we go different places? Do you find the 'quiet' method to be useful? Such as when she barks, I just gently hold her mouth closed, and say quiet. I am just confused on how to specifically train her, as we still want her to protect us if in danger, but she has to learn how to stay calm when we say it's okay, no matter where we are.
Hello Abigail, I would recommend having a few different friends that Kiwi is not familiar with help you practice the training methods described in the article first in an non-intimidating environment, such as a calm park, your home, your yard, or your neighborhood. Somewhere without too many extra people around . I would recommend also teaching Kiwi the Quiet command and the "Say Hi" command. You can utilize your friends for teaching the "Say Hi" command. Practice having a friend ignore Kiwi, and when Kiwi chooses to approach them quietly even slightly, tell her "Say Hi" and have the friend drop several treats on the floor towards her without looking at Kiwi. Repeat this ever time Kiwi approaches them. After she is comfortable then command her to "Say Hi" BEFORE she begins to approach them, and when subsequently she approaches them when told to then reward her. If she does not approach them then go back a step and wait until she offers the approach herself before giving her the command, then once she makes the connection between the approach and the command you can continue forward again. Once she can approach that person on command then introduce new friends that she does not know and practice doing it with them while they ignore them. As she improves make things harder by having them interact with her more by smiling, talking, and making normal friendly eye contact. After she knows the Quiet command and the Say Hi command you can then practice having her Say Hi and be Quiet around real strangers and give her rewards when she does so. I would also recommend bringing treats or favorite toys with you when you go out in public and rewarding and praising her whenever she looks at someone and remains calm, especially if she looks back to you after looking at the person. You may need to keep a lot of distance between you and strangers at first, in order for her to feel calm enough to not react negatively while learning, and then very gradually decrease the distance as she improves. Doing these things will not only improve your communication with her so that she understands clearly what she is supposed to be doing when told in each situation, but it should also help her to associate people with food and rewards and decrease her tendency be suspicious and fearful. I would not worry about her becoming too friendly and not protective enough. A well socialized dog is more likely to protect you when needed because they better understand when a person is acting normal verses not normal. Protectiveness is more of a temperament trait and will not likely be lost by increasing friendliness towards average people. Friendliness will however allow you to bring her with you more places. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We adopted a dog from a shelter who only had her for two weeks if that. They found her and her sister abandoned near a zoo. She's very scared of strangers and took her a little bit to get use to us even but she doesn't seem to want to get use to others.. She still barks growls and lunges or runs from anyone that's not us. She even growls and barks at us if startled and takes her a minute to realize it's us. How do we help her build her confidence in others while not knowing her past
Hello Tielle, If she is food motivated I would work on pairing the presence of people with food rewards. If she is not food motivated you can use a favorite toy and a game of tug or fetch as a reward in place of the treats. First, experiment with different types of kibble or treats to find out which ones she loves. Something small and soft will be the easiest to use. Liver or real chicken are a favorite for many dogs. Second, take her somewhere where she is likely to see people, but where she does not have to be close to people until you are ready to introduce her. A large quieter park could work for this. Make sure that the harness or collar that use on her is secure so that she will not be able to wiggle out of it if she becomes frightened. Third, walk her past a stranger, close enough that she notices them but far enough away that she is able to remain calm and still look at you when you try to get her attention. Whenever she looks at the stranger or whenever she looks at the stranger and then back at you, praise her happily and offer her a reward. Always remain upbeat and happy sounding. You are trying to build her confidence and not pity her or worry her. Continue to reward her at that distance until she seems completely relaxed and happy at that distance. Once she has reached that point then decrease the distance by a couple of feet. Repeat this process, decreasing the distance very slowly over time, until she is able to walk right past someone and still remain calm. Once she is able to remain calm even while next to someone, teach her to "Say Hi" to them. Have a friend that she does not know help you with this part. Give your friend several treats to hide in her pockets. At a calm location, such as the park, practice walking past your friend like you did before with strangers. Walk past your friend without stopping and without saying hi several times, like you did before with the other strangers, until your dog seems relaxed. Once your dog seems relaxed, then walk by again, but this time when you pass by, stop a couple of feet away from your friend and tell Rispah to "Say Hi". When you do this have your friend toss out several tasty treats while at the same time ignoring your dog. Practice this until Rispah will walk up to your friend willingly in order to sniff her and receive treats from her. Once Rispah is comfortable with your friend, your friend can gradually begin to talk to her more and more and to touch her gently. Practice this with many different friends until Rispah begins to do better with people. Once she does well during the structured training sessions you can practice this with calm people out in public, one at a time. Be sure to only let people whom you feel will be gentle and patient meet her, and when they meet her instruct the person to take things slow with her and allow her to warm up to them. Because she may have been traumatized by people before she came to you, or she simply was not exposed to enough people while young, this process will take a lot of time and patience on your part. Keep up the good work. It sounds like she has found a great home with you. Best of luck in training, Caitlin Crittenden
Ok thanks. We are trying the treats trick and she refuses to accept from one friend today Mom said she wouldn’t eat them till after he left. I guess we have to try it with the ignore part tho like you said. She’s so scared. I hate to think what happened before the shelter found her. She’s definitely happy here tho. Just taking a while getting her acclimated to others.
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Smokey gets extremely excited around strangers.
Hello Ray, Because Smokey is young, part of his excitement is probably due to age. Young dogs need to be taught self-control. To teach Smokey self-control work on obedience commands with him. Teach him how to "Heel", and then how to "Heel" around distractions, such as strangers. Teach him how to do a "Place" command, and then how to do it for long periods of time and around distractions. Teach him how to "Sit" and "Down" and "Stay" in both of those positions, and then practice those in public around distractions. Once he understands what the commands mean, teaching him how to do each of those commands for long periods of time and around distractions is accomplished through practicing each command in gradually harder and harder settings. For instance, teach Smokey to Sit, then how to Sit and Stay, then how to Sit and Stay for ten minutes in your home without distractions. Once he can do that, practice having him Sit and Stay in your front yard, then Sit and Stay in your neighborhood, then Sit and Stay in a pet store, then Sit and Stay in a park, then Sit and Stay outside of a Dog Park. You can gradually increase the difficulty level by practicing in a new location once he has mastered the Sit and Stay at the current location. You can also work on teaching an automatic response to the presence of people by heavily rewarding him whenever a certain situation occurs. For instance, you can teach him to automatically lay down whenever someone approaches you by recruiting friends to help you. You can teach Smokey how to do a down, and then whenever your friend approaches, tell him to do a "Down" and have the friend wait to come over until Smokey complies. Every time that Smokey gets up, have the friend walk away a little bit, and every time that Smokey lays down, have the friend come closer. While he is doing this, place treats between his feet while he is in the "Down" position to make the "Down" position more rewarding and desirable. This will take time to teach, but when he learns that someone will only come over to see him if he lays down, then the presence of a stranger approaching will always be both his cue to lay down and his reward for doing it. You can teach the same thing with Sit instead of Down also. Work on rewarding calm behavior throughout the day as well. If you see him laying down calmly without having to be told, quietly walk over to him and place a treat between his front feet, and then walk away. At first he may jump up excitedly, but he should gradually begin to realize that laying down is rewarding and begin to do it more often on his own. Also if you are out in public and you see a stranger at a distance and he is remains calm, even if the reason is because the person is far away, then reward that calm behavior by softly praising him and offering him a treat. The more you do this, the more he will begin to associate calm behavior with rewards and offer it on his on, and the more that he will begin to realize that staying calm around people equals rewards. Doing all of these things will teach him better self-control in general. Even though some of the training may not seem connected to the excitability, he will have an easier time responding to you during times of excitement if he has developed good self-control. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We recently adopted Duke and he is a wonderful guy, however we are having problems with barking at basically anyone. He does great with me but barks at my husband anytime he enters the room where I am, I have been removing Duke from the area when he starts this behavior and only allow him back in once he has calmed himself, however he is still doing this over and over. Duke doesn't mind my children but does whine when they become close to my area. Duke also tends to whine after being brought back into the area if I am touching my husband or not paying him attention. I have been ignoring the behavior but can't seem to get him to stop. Duke gets tons of exercise and has been vet checked with no underlying issues. We are hoping to start training Duke as a service dog but fist need him to be able to socialize and not bark at people or other animals. (Currently he has not shown interest in other animals, there are many dogs in our area and he does not bark back when other dogs are barking.)
Hello Paula, It sounds like Duke might be possessive of you, in additional to lacking social skills around others. German Shepherds are naturally protective dogs, and can be strong willed and will try to lead, if they lack respect for those in charge. I would work on teaching Duke a "Quiet" command, an "Out" command, which means leave the area, a structured "Heel" command, the type where the dog walks right by you and looks at you often, and a "Place" command, which means stay in a specific spot for a long period of time, such as staying on a dog bed for one or two hours. After you have taught him these commands, if he is barking, command him to be "Quiet". If he is trying to get between you and your husband or children, command him to "Out". In general when you are hanging out with family, have him practice staying in his "Place", so that he can practice self-control, have something concrete to do other than act possessive, and learn how to be OK when not right with you. While he is in his Place, you can give him a stuffed Kong or something else to occupy himself with, so that he will not be bored, but simply have boundaries. When he walks with you, make him walk in the "Heel" position, and do not let him pull ahead. Also make him work for everything that he gets. Possessive behavior means that he lacks respect for you, and is trying to be in charge of who is allowed to come near you. He is trying to "Claim" you essentially. This is not something you want to encourage, especially if he lacks social skills and is fearful, so it is important that he learns that you are in charge, and one of the best ways to do that is to teach him to respect you by having him work for you. Have him sit for you before you feed him for example. Have him do a "Down" every time you are about to pet him, and do not pet him unless you initiate it. Have him "Watch" you before you take him outside, and when you walk him, have him walk in the Heel position, and not pulling ahead or ignoring you. Work on having him earn things from your children and husband too, but when they work with him make it lots of fun. Have them give him commands and feed him pieces of his meal kibble for every command that he obeys. If he is scared of your husband, then anytime that he is calm around your husband, have your husband praise him and toss him treats, even if that means tossing him a treat from the other side of the room. Let Duke initiate any physical interaction with him though, to prevent more even fear. The softer and higher pitched your husband's voice is, the less likely Duke is to react, but your husband obviously can't talk like that forever. After he is comfortable around family, take him places and let him view people from a distance. Any time that he remains calm, or looks at you after looking at the stranger, praise him and offer him a treat. Expect this to take time, so be patient with him. If you friends are willing to help, have them come to your home or meet you somewhere out in public, and anytime that he acts calmly toward them, even for a second, have them toss him a treat. Let him choose when to approach them though. When he finally approaches them to sniff them, instruct your friends to just ignore him, except to toss out treats. Do this with each person until he is completely comfortable. When he is completely comfortable, and showing no signs of fear, then they can interact with him more. The more people you practice this with, one at a time, the better he will probably do around strangers in general. If at any point you see any signs of aggression, do not wait to contact a trainer in your area who has a good tract record of success working with aggressive, fearful, and reactive dogs. The earlier you deal with the aggression, the more likely you will be to overcome it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Tipper does not like her nails trimmed and she gets aggresive when I try to do it. I don’t force anything because I want it to be comfortable for her. And nobody has ever been mean or aggressive towards her. I would like a solution that will make her comfortable when her nails are being trimmed.
Hello Abby, First begin by getting her used to wearing a basket muzzle. Make sure that it is a basket muzzle and not another type, so that she will be able to open her mouth while wearing it, and receive treats through it. To get her used to the muzzle, show it to her, and when she touches it, give her a treat. Practice that until she is relaxed around it, then touch it to her face briefly, and give her a treat every time you do that. Practice that until she is comfortable with it, then hold it on her face for a couple of seconds, and reward her for that. Continue to place it more and more onto her face, for longer and longer periods of time, and reward her whenever she cooperates, so that she will like wearing the muzzle. When you have reached the point where she is ready to wear it, then put the muzzle on her and buckle it, and either slip treats through the muzzle to reward her for it, or get a drinking straw, and dip the straw into peanut butter or squeeze cheese, and poke the straw through the muzzle for her to lick as a reward. Start by having her wear it for only a couple of seconds, and gradually increase the amount of time that you leave the muzzle on her, rewarding her for tolerating it for longer and longer. Do this until she looks forward to wearing the muzzle for up to thirty minutes. Once your dog is used to the muzzle, then have her wear the muzzle, and practice briefly touching her foot with your hand, and then giving her a treat. Gradually increase how much you touch it, and how long you touch it for, rewarding her for every touch and for longer and longer touches. Do this until you can hold her paw in your hand and place a little bit of pressure on her paw, and she likes it because she expects to be rewarded for it. After you have done this with one of her paws, then move onto the others, working on one at a time, until she will let you touch any of them. When she is used to having her paws touched, then introduce the nail clippers. Just like you did with the muzzle, reward her for touching it and sniffing it when you show it to her. Do this until she is comfortable, and then briefly touch it to her paw and reward her also. When she is used to that, begin to hold it to her paw and nail for longer and longer, while rewarding her. When she will let you both hold her paw and hold the clippers to her nail for several seconds, then gently clip off just a tiny bit of nail and reward her. Continue this process until you can clip the nail shorter. When you can clip the nail shorter and she will tolerate it, then gradually work up to adding more nails, and then work up to clipping more than one nail in a row. Do this until you can clip all of her nails, while giving her treats, and she will let you. After Tipper is used to having her nails clipped, then continue to make nail clipping fun by always including treats in the process. When she is used to it, continue clip her nails like normal, but every couple of nail clips, offer her a treat. Do this for the entire grooming session every time you do her nails. If you are using a nail dremel instead of the clippers, then you will need to spend extra time getting her used to the sound of the dremel, with treats, before touching it to her, and you will need to spend more time on each step, since the dremel will vibrate and feel funny when you touch it to her nail. Dremels are great tools for grooming, but expect that process to take longer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Because she has shown willingness to bite when she is afraid, you will probably need to have her always wear the muzzle for nail clipping, just in case you were to accidentally cut her quick. If you were to cut her quick by accident, then your face would be very close to hers already, and she might react by biting. If you continue to keep the muzzle positive and rewarding, then she should be fine wearing it.
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Henley is a 4 month sold Giant Schnauzer. we have had her since she was 11 weeks old. she’s always been a little skeptical of new people but lately it’s gotten worse. we try to take her out as much as possible but she has now started barking at new people or even when people open the door and enter my room. she is fine with people after she meets them but is still skeptical about letting them pet her. she is terrified during initial meetings. she is going to be 90lbs+ and i do not want this to turn into anger. i’m feeling helpless.
Hello Dalila, Between the time that a puppy is born and twelve weeks of age most puppies are accepting of all people and animals, after twelve weeks of age puppies begin to realize that not all people are safe, and this is when signs of fear and aggression can creep up. It sounds like Henley desperately needs to be socialized starting absolutely as soon as possible. Have as many people as possible feed Henley treats or kibble. Make your goal at least a hundred different people. Take her all types of places and do this as often as possible. Two or three times a day would not be too much, but do as much as you can. Take her to the pet store and recruit people to toss her or hand feed her treats, especially when she is being calm for even a second. Take her to local outdoor sporting games, to parks, to playgrounds, to outdoor shopping areas, and anywhere else you can. Have all different types of people feed her treats, including kids, men, and people who look different than you and your family. Sign up for a puppy class that works on getting puppies used to being handled by others, by trading puppies during the class and touching them while giving them treats. If money is an issue, then look for other puppy owners to do this with for free. Throw "Puppy" Parties" and invite your friends to come over and give Henley treats. If they have their own puppies to bring, even better! Right now her behavior is probably due to fear, so you want to make her think that all strangers are fun and rewarding. If you do not see results quickly, then do not wait to contact a trainer with experience with aggression, fear, and reactivity. Many temperament problems can be overcome if you start to work on them early, but they become much harder the longer that you wait. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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he's amazing dog, well socialised in every aspect dog proof and v obedient ,lately getting reactive in home to the odd person ,just not relaxed and over interested, doesnt bark or growl,just alert
am doing on your bed,its instant,and people throwing treats when calm,if he barks one command and he stops
anything else to make him relaxed and disintereted as im concerned it could elevate thank you
Hello Sophie, It sounds like Rocky might be suspicious of new people or acting protective in your home. Does he act like that when he meets strangers in public? If the problem is specific to guests in your home then you will need to really focus on changing how he perceives guests. The safest way to do this is to purchase a basket muzzle for him, that allows him to still open his mouth while wearing it. Get him used to wearing it ahead of time by making it a fun game. Feed him his entire meal, giving him one piece at a time every time you show him the muzzle, touch the muzzle to him, put the muzzle on, and take it off. Do this for at least a week as often as possible, until he gets excited whenever you bring out the muzzle. While he is wearing the muzzle, get a long straw and a container with peanut butter, squeeze cheese, or one of those Kong spray treat cans, filled with peanut butter like cream. Dip the straw into the peanut butter, cheese, or spray treat and poke the straw though the muzzle to let him lick the food off the treat as a reward. Do this to encourage him to like wearing the muzzle. Once he is used to that, then invite as many different people over as possible, one person at a time, explain to the person what you are doing, and that your dog is afraid and needs help learning to like new people, but that he has never bitten anyone and will be wearing a muzzle just in case, to make everyone feel safe. Get that person to reward him over and over again with the straw dipped in food, until he is completely comfortable with that person and happy about her being there. Ideally he needs a hundred different people to practice this with, one at a time, but recruit as many as possible. The more people he meets the better this will work. This also needs to happen frequently, so that he does not forget about the interactions between people. Multiple times a week would be ideal, but do it as frequently as you can. Another option is to safely restrain your dog by tethering him to something secure in your house with a leash and a secure harness that he cannot slip out of or break. Have the guest come inside and toss him treats over and over again until he becomes relaxed. Ideally this would happen with one hundred different people over the course of two or three months. One person occasionally will not help as much, but I realize one hundred people is very difficult so try to have as many people as possible come every week. Do not let any of your guests rough house with him, scare him, yell at him, or act scary or rough with him in anyway. That will only make it worse. Another option is to take him to a training facility that has experience dealing with fearful, aggressive, and reactive dogs. Look for somewhere that has lots of different, experienced trainers, who can all practice with him, one at a time, so that he thinks they are strangers who are friendly. This approach is likely to be the fastest one. If the problem is only at your home, you would need the different trainers to all come to your home, one at a time, for lots of sessions at your home. To encourage calm behavior, you can also work on teaching him the place command, and have him go to "Place" whenever someone is over and is not interacting with him. When he is in place have everyone leave him alone, so that that can be a safe place for him, and so that he learns to control himself and act calmer. That command will help him learn how to manage his outward behavior having guests reward him when not in his Place, like I mentioned above, will also need to be done, in order to address the root cause of the behavior, fear. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I left him with house sitter while traveling 3 weeks...now when walking he can be greeted with strangers but will on two occasions once initially greeted will snip at the persons hand
Hello Chris, Recruit as many people as you can and have those people walk near you, one at a time, while you are on walks. Stop to your friend, as if she is a stranger, and have the person toss lots of treats to your dog when he is being calm. Do this as often and with as many people as possible, to teach Fum that people are friendly and not scary again. Also work on handling him yourself by touching different parts of his body gently. Touch an area, such as his ear, and then give him a treat. Repeat this often with every part of his body, always giving him a treat when you touch an area. Do this until he loves being touched everywhere. Once he will tolerate your touch, if he is doing better with other people again, then have someone he likes but does not live with him, practice the touches with treats also. If you believe he will bite the person still, even after practicing greeting people with treats and handling himself yourself, then get him comfortable wearing a basket muzzle and practice this while he is wearing that. Get him used to wearing a muzzle by giving him lots of treats every time that he sniffs the muzzle, touches the muzzle, and allows you to place the muzzle on him. When he is comfortable wearing the muzzle, then while he is wearing the muzzle dip a straw in peanut butter or soft cheese and have your friend touch him and then poke the straw through the muzzle's hole for him to lick. Have her repeat the touches and straw rewards many times, during multiple different training sessions. Do this until he enjoys being touched by your friend also. Once he is comfortable with your friend then you can practice this with another friend too if needed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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So when my dog is around new people she gets over excited and jumps on people and no matter how much I try to get her to stop she won't. I've tried the ignore tactic and all the other ones but nothing seems to be working. She doesn't seem scared she seems more like she's just super excited. And she also pee's when she is jumping up on them. I was just wondering if you have any other ways of how to go about this?
Hello Nikki, It sounds like Desiree is simply over excited about visitors. The peeing in that type of situation and at her age is typically excited peeing. I suggest working on her self-control and calmness in general by practicing the "Down-Stay", "Sit-Stay", "Place", "Wait", and "Leave-It" commands. Once she learns these commands and can perform them while her environment is calm, then practice them in everyday life. For example, have her wait before exiting her crate or going outside, have her leave tempting items that you have placed on the floor ahead of time and then reward her with a treat when she does so, have her do a "Down-Stay" and a "Sit-Stay" in the middle of a walk in your neighborhood, in the middle of a game of fetch, or while you are at the pet store, and have her stay in her "Place" while you watch a thirty minute TV show or fixing dinner. At seven months of age puppies need to be taught self-control. They need to practice it often and work up to distractions. You can help her learn how to control herself during times of excitement by doing fifteen to forty minute training sessions with her every day and practicing her training in day to day interactions. Doing that will have the added benefit of wearing her out since mental stimulation that requires concentration has been shown to be even more tiring that physical exercise for a pup. Teach her to sit for you whenever you greet her and if she jumps up on you take a step toward her. Do not worry about throwing her off balance. She needs to learn to respect your space and you are communicating to her that that is your space by stepping toward her. While you are first practicing this, tell her to sit whenever she goes to greet you, and overtime if you simply stand still like a statue or step toward her when she jumps up, she should start to sit down on her own in order to get a treat or be petted. Practice all of the above first so that she understands what to do instead of jumping up, which is sit, and so that she has the mental capacity and self-control to do that behavior while excited. If she continues to jump after working on those things, then purchase the appropriately sized prong collar and fit it so that it sits high on her neck, right behind her ears, without sliding down. Make it tight enough for it not to slide down but keep it loose enough for the prongs to simply touch her skin but not press in at all unless she is being corrected. If you are between width sizes then go down in size and purchase extra segments to lengthen the collar if needed. Attach a six or eight foot leash to her prong collar and loop the leash underneath your foot, so that you are stepping on it but not pulling it tight. Remind her to "Sit" when someone goes to greet her. If she chooses to disobey your command and jumps up instead, then let her correct herself with the prong collar and leash. Because the leash is looped under your foot, it should catch while she is mid jump and will tighten the prong collar and correct her. Do not worry about it hurting her. An appropriately sized prong collar, that is fitted correctly and used in that way is not a high correction and she can control whether or not she is corrected but not jumping. When she stops jumping after being corrected, then remind her to sit if she does not do it automatically, and have the person feed her a treat underneath her chin while she is being calm. Always reward her with treats underneath her chin or dropped on the floor rather, opposed to above her head, so that she will be encouraged to lay down or remain seated and not to jump up in order to get the treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our labradoodle Boo just turned 1 year old. We adopted him when he was 6 months old. He took a few days to warm up to us, especially my husband. He's a really friendly dog once he warms up to people, but it can take a while with friends and strangers. We've discovered that he is reactive on the leash. When he is on the leash he'll pull and bark when he sees other dogs and sometimes people. He's getting much better with not pulling and barking, but recently he's having a hard time with people coming up to him in public. Sometimes he becomes aggressive and will lash out and attempt to nip. It's difficult when strangers just walk up to him with their hand out wanting to pet him. Off the leash he is completely different dog. He'll run up to strangers at the dog park and gets along great with all dogs big or small. He is super smart and does well following commands at home from us and friends. Could definitely use some advice on helping him to trust strangers, especially in public places when he is on the leash.
Hello Emily, First of all, look into purchasing a vest or harness for Boo that says "In Training Please Do Not Touch" or something similar, to stop people from walking up to him without your permission. You want to be able to control his interactions with strangers. Second, recruit as many volunteers as you can, to one at a time meet Boo out in public at various locations, like your neighborhood, a park, or the pet store. Have your volunteer stand a few feet away from him and calmly toss him treats whenever he is being calm, without paying a lot of attention to him. Let him decide when he wants to approach the person, and instruct the person to interact with him very calmly when he is ready to interact. If he starts to lash out at any point, then correct him, and then have the person resume the treats as soon as he calms back down after being corrected. If he is having several outbursts, then have the person toss treats from further away until he can handle her being closer. Any of your family's friends or family that he does not already know, who will follow your instructions, will work for this. Recruit as many different people over the next six months. You can also recruit other dog lovers to help you. You want him to learn that barking and nipping are unacceptable, which is why you should correct the behavior. Even more important though, you want him to overcome his fear of being approached by someone, which is causing the aggression. That is why you should recruit people to toss treats to him. You also want him to relax when he is around people, and not expect every person to walk up to him until he is ready for it. That is why you need the vest. This training will only work if you recruit people to help you. Having people leave him alone in public will not solve the underlying issue alone. It might even decrease his socialization if done by itself, so recruit people! If you cannot find people to help you, then contact a training group that has multiple trainers and see if you can do this exercise with him with all of the various trainers there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is way too hyperactive around strangers, he’s a big dog and he pulls me or pushes me and when I try to hold him he bites me when he sees someone. It’s super embarrassing and it makes it look like my dog can’t be tamed. He’s not used to so many people since I live in a quiet neighborhood and I live with just 3 other people and he’s only really used to me and my boyfriend. He sees people or animals and immediately whines, pulls, tries to jump on them, or stands on his hind legs and looks super big, and people get scared. He knows his commands like sit, stop, no, lay down, paw, he knows most basics and although he gets hyper around people he’ll get comfortable within a few minutes and calm down but I’d really want him to not get hyper to begin with :/ , is there anything I can do? I’m trying to have my parents around him more so he can get more comfortable but they’re always working, I don’t have him walking freely around the house either since we have cats and he can walk right by them if I say no leave them alone but the people part is a big problem and would love for him to get to be around my family because he can be a good dog.
Hello Briana, It sounds like Rocky needs to learn respect. Check out the article that I am linking below. You can use more than on method from that article. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who can get you started on socialization, building trust and respect, curbing rude behaviors, and teaching obedience. It's great that he knows Basic Obedience but he needs further training to be able to do those commands during times of distraction. He needs a lot of practice doing obedience with distractions around, starting with easy distractions and working up to harder ones as he improves. The over-excitement and acting out is probably related to a lack of socialization, lack of respect for you and others, and a lack of impulse control. All of which need to be addressed for him to be calm. Jeff Gelhman from SolidK9Training has a lot of free videos on teaching respect and impulse control. Ian Dunbar from dogstardaily has a lot of resources for socializing dogs. Look into their stuff online. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I am training my dog to be a medical alert service dog for my disabilities does tasks and know many commands but everytime we go out she sees a person or a dog she starts to stare at them and often barks at them. I dont know how to get rid of this kind of behaviour. I am also owner training her.
Hello Emilia, I would highly recommend joining a Canine Good Citizen class or Intermediate or Advanced Obedience classes at your local dog club or qualified training location. Lunar is likely barking because she needs more socialization around other dogs and people, but also because she needs to practice her obedience with people and dogs in the background in a structured environment, so that the other dogs and people will become boring and she will get more comfortable around them. A Canine Good Citizen class or Intermediate or Advanced class that works on obedience around distractions like other dogs and strangers should help. You can also take her to a lot of public locations with other dogs and people present and work on her obedience there while the people and dogs are at a distance. As she improves at focusing on you and not the distractions, gradually move closer to the people and dogs. Reward her for her obedience, for focusing on you, for being calm around the distractions, for looking at the dogs and then back at you instead of barking, and for completely ignoring the dogs and people. Her age is critical in-terms of socialization, so I would recommend attending a class and working on her focus on you around distractions at the same time that you work on her obedience around distractions by yourself, to ensure that she receives the socialization she needs at this age. The class will provide up-close interactions and opportunities to work through her issues while providing her with something else to do-obey your commands. Six months is a common age for this type of behavior to crop up. She is likely entering a phase where she is more suspicious and nervous around new things. Young puppies tend to accept everyone and be friendly. As puppies mature, they become more aware of their surroundings and realize that not everyone is a friend, and a lack of socialization can make puppies overly suspicious if they do not know what is and is not normal from experience. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi! My puppy gets really excited around other dogs, she lays down at first and then starts jumping on them and i can't control her,if i try to pull her to walk away she will lay down and won't come.She won't hear me at all, won't care about any treats. it's really frustrating, she doesn't know how to play nicely, she just jumps on them and they get angry :( what can i do about it?
Hello Christine, First, Mira needs to be socialized with other puppies to learn how to play properly. Look for a puppy class that includes puppy play time, where the puppies get to be off leash with one another under supervision. Start this as soon as possible because she will not be able to attend off leash after six months of age. When puppies play they give each other feedback about what is acceptable or too rough. They also teach each other to be gentler with their mouths. A puppy class should also help her to learn to listen better. A class would give you opportunities to practice her obedience around other dogs, which should help. She needs to practice commands with you when there are no distractions around and gradually work up to distractions through practice. Other dogs are extremely distracting and if she has not worked up to those types of distractions, it is normal for her to be unresponsive. Working on the obedience commands you have learned in class during the week between classes will help with that part. If you have a SIRIUS Puppy class in your area, those types of classes typically incorporate off leash obedience and socialization well. Most obedience you can teach on your own, but socialization can be even more important than obedience and the window for it closes quickly. Even as a trainer, I attend puppy classes with my own puppy just for the socialization opportunity from being around the other owners and playing with the other puppies. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi, I recently became disabled and when Memphis and i are out in the front yard or at the store he has started barking and growling at people and dogs. He’s never been aggressive before and I’m not sure how to stop the anger toward others. I don’t know if he’s protecting me or what. Thank you for your advice.
Hello Kimberly, Memphis might be responding to your disability by trying to be in control of situations rather than looking to your leadership. He likely feels the need to control situations but due to his own insecurity and inability to lead properly, which most dogs do not do well with people, he is probably reacting suspiciously toward people and getting defensive to try to control how close other people get to you and generally just to control his own environment. He is likely insecure and needs leadership unless something negative happened to him to cause fear aggression recently. As dogs approach a year and two years of age, temperamental behavior problems like fear and aggression also tend to crop up more due to hormonal and mental changes. Often dogs will display very subtle signs of a problem and it will become noticeable once the dog turns into an adult. That might also be going on here, but the treatment is the same with both. Work on reestablishing his respect for you first of all. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the methods that you are best able to. You can even implement all three for a more structured approach. Pay attention to your own consistency and making him work for what he gets right now especially. The goal is not to physically dominate him most of the time but to mentally challenge him more and gain his respect through making him work for you and following through on your commands that you give him. To correct him in the moment you may need a more physical but fair correction but overall you also want to gain his general respect for you mentally. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, correct the aggression. I would suggest hiring a trainer who is able to do this properly and show you how. The best type of correction for him will depend his response and body language and what you are able to implement consistency. After you correct him and tell him "Ah Ah" or "No" to communicate to him that he is behaving poorly, then you must show him what to do instead of acting aggressively by rewarding his calm behavior, his attention on you, and his calm glances at people. Essentially look for calm behavior of any form and reward him for that with an upbeat happy tone. When you correct him be firm and business-like. You do not have to yell or get excited, a firm no non-sense attitude with patience and a bit of stubbornness on your end will be more effective than high emotions. Once he learns to react properly to people in public, then get him used to wearing a soft-silicone-basket muzzle and recruit friends that he does not know to practice greeting you and tossing him lots of treats whenever he calms down for a second or stays calm for several seconds. The more people you practice with the quicker this will likely work. Practice anywhere and everywhere, but especially in places where he tends to struggle the most with people now. Have a friend pretend to be a treat tossing stranger at the store and at your front yard. When a person with treats starts to approach tell Memphis to "Say Hi", to train him that people are safe to approach when you give that command and for him to learn to expect a pleasant interaction when you tell him to "Say Hi". This should help him feel less defensive. Use a soft silicone basket muzzle for the training because a basket muzzle will let you pass treats to him through the hole and he will be able to open his mouth while wearing it. It will also be more comfortable being made out of silicone. To get him used to wearing it show it to him while you hand feed him his kibble, one piece at a time. Every time you show it to him, give him a piece of dog food. When he becomes comfortable with it, then gradually practice touching it to him more and more while you feed treats, and eventually put it on him while you pass treats through the muzzle's holes for him to eat. Increase how long he wears it for overtime, starting with just a few seconds at first. Expect this to take a couple of weeks and only move onto move touch and longer times wearing or touching the muzzle when he is completely comfortable with the current amount of muzzle touch. To reward him while he is wearing the muzzle, if he is not able to get the tossed treats, then you can feed him treats also and when he is ready for the person to get close, then that person can get a long straw or thin stick and dip it in a bit of peanut butter or squeeze cheese and gently poke it through the muzzle's holes for him to lick off. Have them bring a little container to keep dipping the straw into to refill it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I was fostering a dog who is very fearful of strangers. He is great with "his people" who are in "his home", sex or age doesn't matter. He is an anxious dog who high energy spurts for his age. His new home is having issues that he is scared of the boyfriend. The boyfriend does not live in the home they visit each other and bring the dogs, so Charles does not consider him "his people". His fear of strangers turns into non-stop barking and he will get snappy if they try to pet him. For some reason there have been certain individuals that he does seem like without any reason and will let them pet him. The new home is considering returning him and I would like to see what we can try in his new home to acclimate him better to strangers and if he is returned what we can try and recommend to his new home.
Hello Michelle, First, have the boyfriend spend time feeding Charles his entire meal by tossing the pieces to him while standing far enough away for Charles to relax a little bit more. Have the boyfriend ignore him while he does this and practice this in different positions, like sitting, standing, and laying down, once Charles gets comfortable with one position. As Charles relaxes more, then have the boyfriend toss the treats a bit closer to himself, so that Charles have to come closer to get them. Don't decrease the distance until he is relaxed. Overtime, toss the treats closer and closer, until Charles will take them out of his hand. When he will do this, then add gentle touch. Do this by feeding him several treats in one hand while he gentle touches him below the head with the other. As soon as he finishes the treat remove the hand, so that hand equals treats. Charles probably warms up to certain people quicker than others because of the way those people handle themselves. Dogs respond a lot to body language. If someone's body language is confident, relaxed, and friendly, then dogs can since that. If someone is nervous around a dog, stressed out and tense, or has a more aggressive, dominating demeanor, dogs sense that through body language and respond to it. Quick movements, loud noises, and deep voices can also make a person more scary, in addition to any strange clothing or objects, like wheel chairs or glasses. Anything that the dog is not familiar with essentially. When that scary object is added to a already slightly scary person, it can cause reactions. Charles needs to have the feeding protocol done with a whole lot of strangers, one person at a time, with the person ignoring him and acting calm from a distance to start with. His anxiety could be genetic though, which means he may not be able to overcome his tendency towards timidity, but with training and confidence building he should be able to improve and should be able to learn how to manage it better, like going to the owner for security rather than biting. I would encourage the family to practice the feeding with the boyfriend for two weeks if he is willing, if that is the only reason that they are considering re-homing him. Regular practice consistently over the next two weeks should give them an idea of what to expect or Charles with the boyfriend in the future. Whether he can quickly get over his fear or it will take a lot more time and work. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I have two chihuahuas. Max & Rocco from the same litter. They are both 2 years old. When people pass by my outdoor balcony Rocco often barks excessively and becomes aggressive with Max. The same behavior occurs when I take them for walks. Max is calm while Rocco barks at people eventually turning on Max. How can I get both of them to live in the same space without being aggressive with each other?
Hello Melanie, Rocco is displacing his aggression and arousal toward people toward Max in this situation. To deal with the two dogs' interactions with one another you need to deal with Rocco's reaction toward people. Recruit friends, neighbors, and family members to walk past your house at a distance. Keep Max confined in another room during training sessions to keep Rocco from reacting towards him. Whenever Rocco sees someone walk past at a distance. Before he reacts negatively, give him a treat. Have the person walk into view, give a treat, then have the person leave. Repeat this over and over again until Rocco stops reacting toward that person from that distance. When Rocco is not reacting poorly anymore, then have the person repeat the same thing but at a closer distance. Do this over and over again, having the person get closer as Rocco is improving, until the person can walk right past the window and Rocco can remain calm. This will take several training sessions most likely. When Rocco can handle that person walking by, then have a different volunteer repeat the same thing. While Rocco is in training keep Rocco away from the balcony and from seeing and reacting towards people when you are not able to work with him on it. You want his reactions toward people to switch from being reactive to positive only, while his training is still in process. At home limit his view out and keep treats handy. For the walking, do the same type of method. Walk Rocco and Max separately right now, or if you live with another person, have that person walk Max with you where Rocco cannot reach him. Walk Rocco somewhere where you can control how far away people are from him in general. Whenever you see another person approaching, feed Rocco his favorite treats as the person comes into view, before he has the chance to react. Feed him one treat at a time, one treat after another. Stay far enough away from people for him to notice people but still be interested in the food. Experiment to find what entices him even around strangers. Liver paste, a small amount of peanut butter, real chicken, or soft cheese are good options to try in small amounts if he does not respond to regular dog food or treats. When Rocco can handle walkers passing by, then working on decreasing the distance between him and other people while you reward him, before he has the chance to react negatively. When people can walk close enough by him for them to toss him a treat, then recruit people you know to pretend to be strangers walking past. Whenever they pass him, have them toss him several treats and then keep walking. Eventually, you can let him approach the person if he is calm and he chooses to do so, but if you think he will bite, do not let the person pet him unless he is wearing a basket muzzle, initiates the interaction, and is calm. The entire goal is to pair his experience of strangers with pleasant things to change his emotional and mental response towards them. If you can change his emotional and mental response toward the people he sees, then he should not get so aroused on the balcony or on walks, and then will not take his frustrations out on Max. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi, I have a 5 month old Australian Shepherd who just gets WAY too excited around strangers....especially outside. He pulls, barks, whines, jumps close to 4 feet in the air, and stops paying attention to me. I’ve tried the ignore method and some other things, but it’s really frustrating when strangers continue to call to him and then pet him without asking me. I want to be able to calm him down around strangers, so that it’s a more pleasant experience out in public and so that strangers don’t think that it’s okay to pet him. (They think it’s okay now because he looks so excited).
Hello Meghan, First, you can get better control of when and who pets him by telling people who start to approach, "Sorry, he's in training right now", and by putting a vest on him that says "In Training" or "In Training please don't pet". You don't want to stop everyone from petting him because the fact that he is so friendly is great for socialization. You just want to control the situation better so that he is not being constantly rewarded with pets and attention for his bad behavior. Saying that phrase or putting on a vest lets people know that he is not vicious but that they need to ask permission or give more space. Also, recruit friends who will follow a couple of simply instructions to help you. Check out the methods from the article that I have linked below. These methods are for teaching a dog to calmly greet other dogs, but you can practice the same steps with Byron and people you know that he is excited about seeing...Essentially he doesn't get to meet the person until he is being calm. Don't expect him to get all the way to the person each time that you practice this -especially at first. He will have to gradually work up to being closer to the person and that requires him learning self-control overtime through practicing these steps. Be patient. End the training session on a good note if you are starting to get frustrated and try it again later. Any progress is a good thing so celebrate you and his success along the way. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Since he will be greeting people and not other dogs, when he gets within two feet of the person and is behaving himself, have the person toss a couple of treats on the floor. After he eats the treats, which will get him used to looking down when he meets someone, rather than going straight to jumping, then have the person tell him to "Sit". Loop the leash under your foot so that if he tries to jump, the leash catches him and keeps him on the ground. You don't want it to be tight enough for him to feel it while he is standing or sitting nicely, but you want it to catch him as soon as he starts to jump up. If he sits when the person tells him to, then have the person hold her hand underneath his chin and feed him treats from it. Under the chin will also encourage him to look down which helps with the jumping. Practice this with different people until he is calmer and will automatically sit when he meets someone. When he can do that, then add in people touching him when they meet by having your friend feed him treats below his chin from one hand while she pets him gently with the other while he eats. This will help him stay focused on the treats instead of jumping when he is touched - because being touched is very exciting. He is young so expect this to take practice over the next six-months. If you are very consistent with it, so that he is not being petted by those who encourage poor behavior and is being told to sit and is rewarded only for calm behavior by other people, then he should continue to love people but should learn that the only way to receive attention from them is by behaving. If he jumps on you when you get home, then also practice "sit" and reward him when he does so. If he disobeys and jumps on you, then step toward him, throwing him off-balance. You are not kneeing him in the chest or hurting him, but stepping toward him communicates that that is your personal space and he needs to respect it. It's a way of asking for more respect without causing any harm. Do that to help him calm down, then reward him for sitting instead of jumping or being rough. You can have guests do that too if they will not knee him, but it is usually easier for you if the guest simply tell him to "sit" and feed him the treats under his chin for his good behavior while you gentle correct any jumping attempts by standing on his leash with one foot-while holding onto the end of it still. Finally, I suggest enrolling in a Basic or Intermediate Obedience class that practicing greetings, calm behaviors, and obedience around distractions. Not all classes set up scenarios that help with those things so read reviews and talk to instructors about the issues he is having and what type of class you are looking for to find a good one. Look for a trainer who has a lot of experience and has worked with dogs in areas besides just basic obedience and intermediate obedience - even if those are the only classes that are offered you want an instructor who is skilled enough to teach advanced or canine good citizenship or deal with behavior issues too...That level of skill will help a trainer foresee early problems in your dog that can be addressed and will help her teach the class with the big picture of what your dog will need later in life in mind. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is turning 2. She stay with me at home along with my dad and sister. She's super friendly. Let's them feed her. But the only issue is she doesn't let them touch her. Part of the fault would be because she's not around people a lot and is mostly at home. How do I get her friendly and let her to allow people to pet her. Please help
Hello Santana, Have your Dad and sister toss her treats calmly whenever she is being calm and nice. Have them toss the treats far enough away at first for her to be willing to get closer and eat them. Instruct them to be calm and not try to touch her yet. As she improves they can throw the treats less far. Over time, is she seems relaxed, they can eventually just set the treats next to themselves and let her come over to eat them and sniff them if she wishes. They shouldn't try to pet her just yet though. Next, have them feed her the treats out of their hand. When she is completely relaxed around that, have them feed her several treats one at a time from one hand and gently touch her on the chest just while she is eating the treat from the other hand. As soon as the treat is gone, they should stop touching her. They should practice this until she is relaxed about being touched on the front of her chest while being given a treat. When she can handle that, then they should touch her on the shoulder they they feed her, until she is okay with being touched there. Next, the other shoulder. Next her side, her other side. Her ear (very gently). Reaching over her head or under her should come last because those are more intimidating even though most people tend to pet a dog over their head. Practice touching her gently in different spots and giving a piece of food each time yourself too, so that that practice will be familiar to her and she will learn to like touch a bit more in general. You can use her own dog food kibble at meal times to do this each day. For other people, you will either need to recruit other people to help you socialize her, after she is comfortable with your dad and sister, or you will need to take her to a training facility for private lessons where the trainers practice desensitizing her one person at a time. Look for a trainer who has done a lot of work with fearful dogs and has multiple trainers or assistants on sight so that lots of different people can practice with her, one at a time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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