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~*Regina*~

Is she becoming over protective?

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I have always grown up with labs and retrievers, they almost never barked even if there was a stranger at the house. Now Willow on the other hand will bark at people passing by the house if we are outside or strangers coming into the house or will sometimes bark at people passing us on a walk. She gets so fixated that sometimes it's hard for me to get her attention. She isn't aggressive thankfully but I'm worried that someday it could lead to it?

She still is nervous around new people but it's getting a little better. She still hides from my roomate unless he is laying or sitting on the ground with her.

Am I over reacting with the protecting and barking, is it normal or should I be concerned?

Thank you!

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I think others are better at explaining what may be happening, but IMO I think that she may be showing fearful behavior, not protective behavior.

 

I see your post says that your dog is almost 9 months old. (Is that correct?) She may be going through her adolescent fear period.

 

I will be interested to read any advice you get.

 

Jovi

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I would most definitely say that it is a fear response rather than a protective, or even possessive, one, and, no, you are not overreacting because it can lead to more serious problems down the road.

 

From her point of view, she's enacting a sort of self protection toward strangers that walk by her home, and it seems to be working. She barks when she sees the stranger, and, wouldn't you know it, they go away. You and I know that the person on the street is just going about their business, but, from her perspective, she's making them leave because she barks at them.

 

I would continue the socialization efforts, but watch her closely for signs that she's had enough. If she gets too stressed, then she's not learning anything new and it could actually hinder your efforts. Try doing it in short sessions throughout the day, no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, or possibly less. I would also make arrangements with other people to help you with the process. In fact, this is probably how I would go about it:

 

  • Enlist your helpers and arm them with very high value treats
  • Have one helper stand far enough away that Willow doesn't feel threatened
  • Have the helper take a few steps forward, say "Willow!" in a happy voice, and toss a treat
  • As Willow goes for the treat, the helper steps back (thereby removing the pressure on Willow)
  • Repeat up to 5 times, and then give Willow a break.

Your only responsibility during this is to remain calm and hold the end of the leash. Do not put any pressure on the leash at all, meaning don't gather or tighten it. The goal in this exercise if for Willow to realize that people are pretty awesome and there's no reason to fear them. For that reason, make sure that she only gets those high value treats from your helpers when you're out, not you.

 

Granted, aside from your roommate, you really can't do that procedure inside the house. A few alarm barks are okay, but she should learn to back off and settle down when you tell her to. How focused is she on you in the house? Does she respond to toys or treats or body blocking? Have you tried teaching her a "quiet" cue? What is your response when she starts barking at the window? How is her body set? (Ears, Eyes, Tail, body forward/back)

 

Right now, I would deny her access to the window if you can, even if it means you have to tether her to you. There are a lot of different things you could try, from redirecting her attention to instituting an "emergency down," but I know I would like more specifics before recommending to try this or that or something in between. IME, if you don't correctly address the actual emotion with this type of conditioning, then you're just putting a band-aide on the problem and it could crop up again 10 times worse than before.

 

I think it's definitely fear, but I would like to be sure, and know what you've done so far, before recommending a plan of action.

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You are all right, it must be fear, I never put the barking and shying away together.

 

KelliePup: For example, we are walking and she sees someone across the street. She will stare at them and bark, I try to take control and just say lets go and keep walking. I do not let her sit there and continue to bark, I try to focus her on moving ahead.

Now I also bring her out side to go pee on the front lawn and she is on the retractable leash, she will see someone walk by and bark with her back hair up until they pass, then she will wait until the people are out of sight before she moves. I try to call her or give a little tug on the leash to get her attention but it doesnt work.

She doesnt do this all the time... we can go for walks without her barking at someone. Like this morning for example, we walked by a bunch of people waiting at the bus stop. She wanted to sniff and say hello to all of them. But every once and a while there is someone that makes her start and barking at them. We go to agaily classes every week, the dog park and pet store with no problem.

When people approach to pet her she sometimes does shy away (20% of the time), this is a new thing that she has never done before. For example the lady that lives down stairs from us, Willow use to go right up to now the past couple weeks she runs away from her.

 

gcv-border: Yup, she is going to be 9 months old

 

brady's mom: Thank you for the link, I will take a look :)

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Willow really got upset yesterday when my roommate came home. She was barking uncontolably at him with her fur up and then went and hid behind me once he (Rob) started to walk towards me. I didnt know what to do but try to get her to stop barking by saying enough and then I would move so she couldnt hide behind me. Of course the minute I moved she was right there by my side again still barking.

After a while if Rob is laying down on the couch or something she will walk over to him with a little hesitation but will sometimes play or lay with him.

 

Willow seems to be scared of Rob the most but Willow will do this anytime someone comes into the house now. How can I get her to accept that people coming into the house is ok and not scary? I wish I knew where this all came from, she was such an out going dog and loved everyone before.

 

Thank you

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Please re-read Kellie Pups post. Your roommate should arm himself with good treats and throw them to Willow whenever he moves, comes home or whatever until she is comfortable with him.

 

Jovi

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Does she have a safe space? Like a kennel?

 

Instead of forcing her hand to accept what she isn't ready for. If she starts barking in the house at people have her go to her kennel till she is ready to greet nice. If my dogs gets too worked up or are fixated on something I normally use my body to push them away or just pick them up. I prefer to push then away to a distance they can start to settle and then I leave them alone till they are calm. Once calm I invite them back to join the pack.

 

When Troy got fixated on my roommates dog. He has a hard time letting go the grudge. I had to push him out of the room, across the hallway to an open bathroom and leave him with the door open. It took him 5-10min to calm down to the point of sleeping. Then I allowed him to join the pack again in the living room. If Cressa gets really freaked out about something I just remove her from the situation and I have no qualms about picking her up to get her out of the situation to a safe zone.

 

When I say push I mean just use your body pressure to move the dog not to literally push them!

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I did leave a bag of treats for Rob to give Willow when he enters but of course he forgot again!! I seriously think he just doesnt want to do it, kind of pissing me off because I need his help.

 

She seems fine if we come home and Rob is already home, she will actually go in Rob's room but the minute he put his hand out she backs off. She did that alot yesterday when I brought her to the pet store, she would take a treat from the person but the minut they would try to pet her she would back off.

 

Yes, she just started going in the crate while no one is home since she does chew things. She will run right into it when I open the treat jar (sometimes I just need to say crate). So im guessing she likes the crate?

 

If I cant get this under contol soon I may think of getting a trainer just so I can nip it in the butt before it gets to bad but of course I want to try myself first.

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Regina,

 

Stop taking your girl to the pet store for a while. It's too much for her right now. She needs to get solidly comfortable at home before you take her out into the world for socialization.

 

Leave a bag of treats on the front step or porch, somewhere other critters can't get to it. Put a sign on the front door, asking Rob to grab a few treats before he comes in. Make those treats really really special - dried liver, salmon, etc. Any treats you give her for a while should be pretty boring. You want Rob to be the Only Giver of Salmon, or whatever it is.

 

It sounds like Willow is afraid of Sudden Environmental Change, (SEC). Someone coming in the door counts as SEC. You can reassure Rob that he won't have to keep tossing treats to Willow forever, probably just for a couple weeks. You might ask him to practice a few times in a row, like this:

 

Rob comes in the door, tosses treats, ignores Willow. He sits down for a minute, has a glass of water, or just putters for a few minutes. He goes back out, closes door behind him, counts to 10, comes right back in, tosses treats to Willow. Repeat once or twice. Do this routine a couple times a day for a few days, and Willow is going to LOVE the sight of Rob coming into the house.

 

Check out Control Unleashed, if somebody hasn't suggested it already. Keep track of when she's stressed out. Dogs are a lot like humans. Most of us can take a little stress here and there just fine, but if I have to go to the dentist AND get a speeding ticket on the same day, I'm not very pleasant to be around for a while. If Willow is getting stressed out over and over in the same day, or big stressors over a couple of days, she's not getting time to fully relax, and will react more quickly.

 

Ask Rob to ignore Willow for a while, except when he's tossing her treats. She sounds like a very confused dog right now. She wants some socializing and fun, yet she's scared of changes, of strange occurences, etc. Seriously, ask him not to pet her or talk to her for a couple days, even if she approaches him. If Willow can take things at her own pace, at least in your home, she's likely to relax more quickly and consistently than if she's being approached and stressed.

 

Try 'rewarding' Rob for his help in training your dog. Do some extra something, (do the dishes when it's his turn? make him dinner?) to let him know you appreciate him going out of his way. You need him, as you said, and it's easier to live with a roommate who feels appreciated.

 

Willow is doing pretty normal scaredy-dog stuff. It may just be that fear period, it may be more permanent. Do some reading, minimize her stresses as best you can, learn to read her body language so you can head off scary things, and take a few deep breaths yourself.

 

Good luck!

 

Ruth

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Regina-

Keep trying. Ruth also has some good ideas.

 

As Ruth said, find a place near the door so Rob can't forget to grab a couple of treats when he comes home. Hang them in a bag off the doorknob?? I like the idea of making them special, super tasty treats.

 

And is Rob tossing the treats to Willow so she doesn't have to approach him at first? It sounds like she is scared of hands so making her accept a treat from a hand is not going to be much fun at first. She has to get used to liking the person/people first (toss treats and gradually reduce length of toss until the person is just dropping them at his feet). Then they can work on her accepting treats from the hand.

 

Also, I would ask that Rob refrain from just randomly reaching out to touch/pet Willow. It sounds like that stresses her out since she still isn't entirely sure about him. For now, EVERY time Rob interacts with Willow, he may want to start with a treat.

 

Jovi

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She loves walking around the pet store, her tail is always wagging. I usually just bring her to socialize and not to buy anything. But I will stop for a couple weeks and see if that helps.

 

I will leave treats on the door for everyone who enters (soft duck treats which she LOVES). Hopefully Rob will remember and toss her a treat when he enters.

 

I clean all the time, he never does!! I shouldnt have to do anything for him, lol. If he follows the plan I guess I can make him dinner :P

 

Thank you All!

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She loves walking around the pet store, her tail is always wagging.

 

I will leave treats on the door for everyone who enters (soft duck treats which she LOVES). Hopefully Rob will remember and toss her a treat when he enters.

 

I shouldnt have to do anything for him, lol. If he follows the plan I guess I can make him dinner :P

 

 

Regina, my Gibbs wags his tail and approaches people all the time. He gets really nervous and backs off if they try to touch him, and then barks if they're insistent. I don't let it get that far anymore. I ask people to not look at him, just let him sniff their hands. Most people are okay with this. If they're not, I move away and jolly-talk Gibbs as we go. The folks who ignore him and let him sniff their hands, he gets more and more calm around them. The folks, (one guy will not be invited to our home again!) who 'pursue' him make him more and more anxious.

 

Now that you know that Willow, (very pretty name, btw) is socially confused and can get anxious in the blink of an eye, it's your job to act as her gatekeeper, because she can't figure it out on her own.

 

Roommates - sigh. I had a roommate who I could NOT get to stop giving my dog treats and people food. I mean lots of people food. He shared a whole box of Ritz crackers with Tillie one day. I soooo understand your irritation with your roomie. Think of it this way - you're leading the way in better behavior for Rob! You can try basic behavior modification principles with humans as well as dogs.

 

DH is a confirmed slob. However, he washes dishes without me asking him. When I used to ask him to clean up the kitchen, he'd do it. I ALWAYS thanked him and told him how nice the kitchen looked, even if it wasn't a particularly good cleaning job. Now he cleans up 3 or 4 times a week.

 

The principle is: Reward/encourage the behavior you want, discourage/ignore the behavior you don't want. Is it Jack Knox who puts it so easily and eloquently? Make the right way easy and the wrong way difficult, I think he says. Try it with Rob, you might be pleasantly surprised.

 

Ruth

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I ask my Rob again yesterday to PLEASE toss her a treat when he comes in and then do not pay attention to her. He said he didnt want to but I tried to explain to him why I need him to do this and it hopefully is only for a couple of weeks.

I left a bag of yummy treats hanging on the door anyways hoping he would do it and he did! He grabbed a treat when he came home, tossed it to Willow and kept walking. Willow stoped barking and relaxed the minute he threw the treat. I was very happy! Now let just see if Rob does it every time, that will be the test.

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I left a bag of yummy treats hanging on the door anyways hoping he would do it and he did! He grabbed a treat when he came home, tossed it to Willow and kept walking. Willow stoped barking and relaxed the minute he threw the treat. I was very happy! Now let just see if Rob does it every time, that will be the test.

 

Wouldn't it be nice if humans were as smart easy to train as dogs? I hope that Rob was reinforced by the fact the throwing the yummy treat meant that Willow stopped barking at him. If he appreciates that she no longer barks at him, let's hope that he continues treating.

 

Would it help you get your point across to Rob if you were to print out a few selected posts within this topic and give them to him to read? Maybe he will better understand the importance of his behavior in helping train Willow.

 

Jovi

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I left a bag of yummy treats hanging on the door anyways hoping he would do it and he did! He grabbed a treat when he came home, tossed it to Willow and kept walking. Willow stoped barking and relaxed the minute he threw the treat. I was very happy! Now let just see if Rob does it every time, that will be the test.

Good luck! DH has been harder to train than either one of our dogs! ;):D

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I dont have a border collie but had a very simular problem with my dobe,Kyrah. She liked people then around 15 weeks she just didnt want them reaching for her and would back up and bark. Geez...lets not even talk about someone trying to come inside. I started by trial and error and my worst error was trying to go too fast. I started by putting her in her crate when people came over which was in the dinning room. That way she could smell them for a bit before I let her out and I could give our guests the rules. When she was let out she came and sat by my side and I would tell her "greet." Which meant she would go and sniff the person and the person would ignore her totally. That meant no looking down at her, talking to her or reaching for her. Ugh...cant people follow simple instructions? Most cant. The house is still somewhat a work in progress. I wish I could get her barking to minimum or none. I taught her to down stay on a dog pillow in the living room. She is to stay there while I invite our guests in. She still barks and I allow about 2-3 and then tell her "enough." I do not release her to "greet" until she is calm. That could be a minute, 15 minutes, longer or maybe never when they are in the house. It just depends. This has worked very well for us. There is an occasional person like my daughters ex-boyfriend who she just didnt like. She would bark and bark at him. I finally had to play what I know now as "look at that game" basically I had to bribe her to give him some peace. I am sure she knew something we didnt. :) I also agree with what another poster said. There is a person who is no longer welcome at my house!

 

While out and about I was very adamant about keeping distances and not letting anyone approach her directly from the front or come at her. I then started treating her for looking at people. The employees at Petco were a tremendous help. I then up'd the criteria to her touching the person with her nose and treated. Then I up'd it to her basically putting her head under their hand and treated. My girl is very food motivated so it was a great response. Durning this process I purchased the book Control Unleashed. Ah..the game "look at that!" I clicker trained "look" and the game took a new meaning once I knew how to play it. I learned not to care what people thought I would cut them off in a heart beat, walk directly in front of them as they approached and tell them she doesnt like to be petted. She is much better and its not the issue it used to be. I still do not let people just randomly approach her it is on our terms or not at all.

 

Most people when we are out are shocked when I tell them she can be/was reactive. She is very well behaved and when we go to busy places she doesnt mind so much about people touching her. I assume she is focusing on so many things.

 

One thing that most people dont understand when I try to tell them about this whole process is that it took a long time to accomplish. It wasnt a week, a month or 6 months. It was closer to a year or more. So IMO just go slow and dont expect miracles to happen over night. Also remember the more she reacts the more the behavior is enforced so try to keep it to minimum.

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