This is the situation you find yourself in on walks, because your Cocker spaniel has a bad habit of barking at joggers. You know your dog and understand that it's just because seeing a stranger running towards him makes the dog feel anxious. The dog's natural reaction is then to bark at the jogger, to make him go away. This is unfortunate because to strangers it appears that the dog wants to do them harm, whereas you know nothing is further from the truth and he's just frightened. You've tried reassuring the dog and telling him there's no need to bark. Sadly, not only does this not seem to help, but joggers think you are praising and encouraging the unwanted behavior.
Nobody likes to be misunderstood, but it's even worse when it's the dog.
Most dogs will bark at a jogger because they either feel threatened as a stranger runs towards them, or because the dog becomes over-excited by the idea of a chase. Unfortunately, the fact that the jogger goes away accidentally rewards the dog, who then thinks that barking is a great strategy for getting rid of a threat.
Instead of getting frustrated with the dog, use obedience training so that the dog concentrates on you and is less likely to feel threatened by the jogger. This will also give the dog a greater feeling of security because he's aware you are in control of the situation.
Since I adopted Kona at 3 months of age, I’ve noticed that he gets agitated around young children. I’m aware that this is not an uncommon issue, however I have a lot of people in my life with young children and I would love to figure out a way to have Kona in the same room as kids without the threat of something going wrong. He has never bitten a child, but he growls and barks when children are approaching him and becomes visibly agitated when they’re in close proximity. I would love to get this issue sorted out.
Hello Tami, First, this is definitely something I recommend hiring professional help with and not doing alone for safety reasons. Using measures like crating and desensitizing her to the muzzle are important first steps - the kids are first priority and need to be kept safe, and being allowed to act aggressive toward them will make the behavior in her worse, so don't feel bad about doing those things. Those are responsible first steps. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Check out the videos linked below on desensitizing aggressive dogs to kids. Notice the safety measures always taken though and be sure to implement similar measures - crates, back tie leash, lines for the kids not to cross, constant adult supervision anytime there is an interaction between the kids and dog, and a basket muzzle. You can work on teaching pup to respect the kids and be more comfortable around them via desensitizing and their respect for you and your rules. Once pup is doing well, I still would not allow her to be around the kids without a lot of structure and precautions in case since pup does have a history - but training needs to be in place to desensitize pup so she can better handle kids being in the area and be less of a risk for biting. Explanation of why dogs often bite kids (the dog in this video who is closer to the kids doesn't have aggression issues - which is why you don't see the extra precautions taken, like in the rest of the videos I have linked - extra safety measures will be needed when practicing with a known biter - such as a muzzle, back tie leash, crate, and greater distance between pup and kid): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7_0ZqiJ1zE&t=122s Use of crate, Place and tether leash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n0_27XY3z4 The dog is attached to the pole with a secure leash while on Place - notice the tape on the ground the kid knows not to cross - to keep the kid out of the dog's reach in case the dog lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gblDgIkyAKU Teaching dog to move away from kids when uncomfortable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYs76puesAE Later stage, up close desensitization - even though kids are close, there is still a line and pup is still on a back-tie leash so that pup can't actually get to kids to bite if they tried...This is a later stage exercise for pup once they can do well with the other above scenarios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Again, these are the types of things to be done only under the guidance of a professional trainer who is very experienced in this area, and with the proper safety measures. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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