When you’ve taken your dog for a quick stroll in the evening and you see a loud and slightly intimidating group across the road, having your protective dog at your side can certainly put you at ease. As soon as someone comes within 10 feet of you he starts to growl and stares menacingly. He’s also the same when someone comes to the door. The postman must dread having to approach the steps, knowing there’s a fierce guard dog on the other side of the door.
Whilst this protective nature can come in handy at times, it also prevents you being able to embrace friends and family. If you can train your dog to stop being so protective you’ll no longer be known as the ‘neighbor with the terrifying dog.’ You also won’t have to worry about him going too far one day and biting somebody.
Training will be a gradual process where you socialize your dog with other people and pets. You’ll need to gradually bring his guard down and show him that it isn’t his responsibility to protect you. You will need to alter his position in the perceived pack so he won’t always leap to your defense. If he’s a puppy and the protective nature is only a recent development then it may take just a couple of weeks to tackle. If this protective aggression has been going on for years then you may need up to 6 weeks to stamp it out entirely.
Getting this training right is essential if you want to avoid an accident one day. All it takes is a one-off when somebody accidentally gets too close and your dog bites them in a panic. That could result in serious injury or even a court order to have him put down.
Before you can get going, you’ll need to gather a few things. A secure leash and a body harness will be needed to ensure you retain control and to reduce strain on his neck. A muzzle will also be needed during training to prevent any accidents.
His favorite food or some tasty treats will also play a vital role. These will be used to motivate and reward him throughout training. You’ll also need to set aside 10 minutes each day for training in a quiet space, away from distractions.
Once you’ve got all of that, you’re ready to get to work!
Hello, my puppy turns 7 months next week. She has started this barking behavior. She barks at anything in the yard even if she hears the slightest noise. If we see people while walking she will bark, I can get her to calm down eventually. She also barks at scooters, skateboards, strollers. It is hard to calm her down when she sees those objects.
Apart from that she is a great dog. I feel like she is trying to protect me from everything.
I take her for walks and dog parks. She does very well with other dogs and people inside the dog park. But if she sees somebody outside the park or walking around she goes nuts.
We are enrolling her in an obidenamce class next month. I am hoping maybe that will help her.
Hello Jennifer, It sounds like Stella is in need of a lot of socialization. She is likely barking at things because she feels suspicious and insecure about those things. If it is happening when things are at a distance and when you are not right beside her, then it is likely not protectiveness but insecurity. To help her, load up your pockets with treats and take her everywhere with you. If she is over-reacting and barking and growling whenever she sees people and you cannot get close, then start this exercise at a distance from people and whenever she sees a person, have her "Heel" very attentively. Move quickly and turn very frequently so that she does not have time to focus on anything other than staying with you. When she is focused on you and not reacting to the people or dogs, then reward her. As she improves, then get closer to the people and dogs and reward her for focusing on you and remaining calm. Be firm and work on her respect toward you in general, so that she will depend on you to handle situations instead of trying to handle them for herself. Check out this Wag! article to teach respect. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you When she can get close to other people and dogs in the environments where she tends to struggle, then recruit lots of friends to pose as strangers, and when they approach tell her to "Say Hi", and have them toss her treats. At first when they toss her treats, have them ignore her afterwards. When she begins to want to go say hi, then have them feed her the treats directly out of their hands. If he reacts aggressively toward them, then correct her. She needs to learn what is not acceptable behavior but she also needs the root fear behind the behavior addressed with socialization and rewards for her calm behavior. If you feel unsure about how to deal with any of this on your own, then look into hiring a Private Trainer to help you. If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, that type of class for reactive dogs would be very helpful for her too. A class environment with the right trainer would be great for her in general if the class is setup to accommodate her reactions. Some classes will be and some will not be. You will simply need to ask the trainer to find out. She may also have protective tendencies that need to be addressed also, but the current issues sound mostly like fear aggression. Throughout the first eighteen months of their lives dogs go through multiple fear periods, where they are learning new things and are extra insecure and suspicious of things. This period helps them to learn what is safe and what is not safe among other things, and many need help learning what to accept as normal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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