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  #1  
Old 02-23-2007, 08:46 PM
Hoover Hoover is offline
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Default Fear of People

We adopted our 7-9 mth-old schnauzer/collie mix, Hoover, 10 days ago. He came from the animal controller's house with a bunch of dogs which were close to Death Row (the animal controller saw hope in him - and so did we...). He has become a lovely family dog already but is showing great fear at strangers outside the house (barking and hackles near tail and shoulders up from the moment he sees a person; he growled at someone ONCE- she was warily trying to approach him). He generally doesn't seem like an aggressive dog (my 3 & 5 year old can attest to that) but the hair standing up freaks ME out!!). I want to know the best most effective way to quash the fear. My immediate instinct is to muzzle his mouth and say "No!" but, as I've read, its giving him attention which may re-inforce the behaviour. Ignoring doesn't seem to be helping yet. As with my children, I feel like the way in which we respond to behaviours now, will influence his lifelong personality....I want to do this right!! Apart from more socialization, which I know he really needs, how should we respond to the barking? Any advice or success stories are welcome!!
Thnk-you,
Sheryl
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  #2  
Old 02-23-2007, 09:18 PM
lookin4afurbaby lookin4afurbaby is offline
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Try taking him to a dog park.. or have a few people over every few days.. also I have a friend who taught her dog to stop growling by holding her mouth shut and restraining the dog while saying no.. But its not like being extremely mean just enough to show him that its wrong. It worked for her but its kind of an extreme.
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:24 PM
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Spiritus Spiritus is offline
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Correcting for this type of fear aggression can be dangerous. For some dogs, it can remove the warning signs of bark/growl, and can create a dog who just snaps at people with no warning. Most times with aggression, when we hear someone say "He just snapped without warning", if you do a background on the animal you will likely find that at some point he did show signs of aggression (barking/growling), but they "fixed" that with corrections. They fixed it alright. The dog knew that barking/growling would get it corrected, so progressed immediately to snapping/biting.

The best thing you can do is train your dog. You have only had him 10 days. You don't know his background, and really, it doesn't matter. What you need to do now is build a working relationship with him. He needs to trust you and see you as his leader. The more confidence he has in you as his leader, the more confidence he will have in himself. He may always be worried about strangers, but he can learn that when he's uncomfortable, you will take care of him, either by making him work (redirecting his attention to something he knows), or by removing him from the situation.

10 days is not a fair amount of time to judge his temperament. You will not truly know who he is for at least three weeks. Right now I recommend registering him for classes with a positive motivational trainer. No correction, only positive/praise training. If you have people over and he is obviously uncomfortable with the situation, remove him, either by putting him outside, in his crate, or another room. Don't make him sit there being afraid. It's not fair to him, and it isn't fair to your company whom he might end up biting if he is afraid enough.

And the hair standing up isn't that big a deal. It is a sign. A sign that he is upset, in a heightened state of arousal, that arousal being either fear or aggression. Some dogs raise their hackles quicker than others. Take it as a sign that you must remove him from his uncomfortable area. Do not do this in a corrective manner, but rather with a "don't be silly, let's go over here!" in a happy voice. Redirect, redirect, redirect.
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:28 PM
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Keep working with him . When I got Ollie he was this way with people on the street . I'd check the situation .... pat him and thank him for the warning....saying " It's OK " ....he seems to have gotten the idea ...that it's good to bark until I check .
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  #5  
Old 02-24-2007, 05:19 PM
Hoover Hoover is offline
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Default Thank-you

Appreciate the advice so much - thank-you. I feel as though he may improve the more we expose him to non-thrreatening situations. And a training class is in the plans.
Thanks!
Sheryl
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