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Barking at strangers on walks

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Ianh, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. Ianh

    Ianh New Member Registered

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    Hi all,
    Hope you can help me in some way. I'm a bit new to this sort of thing so please forgive me if I go on. We have two dogs - both rescues, one a Border Collie cross and one a terrier cross. Our older dog Mango the border collie is super chilled out, we have had her since Oct 2017. We got Marmalade our terrier cross as a companion last October and they get on famously. The only trouble is Marmalade is quite a nervous dog. We have no problems in the house but when we walk them Marmalade will occassionally bark at passers by, and is scared of bikes as well. She seems to be getting a little bit worse and the trouble is super chilled Mango now is occassionally copying her - she never barked at anyone before we got Marmalade. I am hoping that someone could offer any top tips - best books to read, videos on You Tube or personal experiences that they could possibly share. It would be great if someone could help. This is her only issue so if we could solve this it would be great
     
  2. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Im no expert but I do have a dog who barks at strangers or more to the point people who invade his space or behave strangely ..The ones who creep up behind us, fiddle in pockets , flap brollies , or have screaming kids...

    The best thing for Murphy is not to try dragging him away I put him in a sit tell him 'leave it' and reward like mad if he stays calm. We are now doing one walk per day past the local school and down past the shops though we do stay on the quieter side of the road hes seeing all sorts on a daily basis and it seems to be calming him down no end
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    As far as possible, try to avoid walks where you're likely to see passers-by and bikes - is that possible? Some people with reactive dogs walk them at silly o'clock purely to avoid their triggers. The more Marmalade can have calm walks, the sooner her stress levels will drop - stress/arousal builds up quickly but drops very slowly (even over days), so it's easy to end up with a dog who is constantly stressed and easily triggered.

    Then, when you do see a 'trigger', try to pair it with a treat. This isn't a 'reward for being good', it's simply 'every time I see a person I get a treat - woo hoo, I love seeing people!' You have to start this with people/bikes far enough away that she's not stressed (or not enough to bark), and then having treated her, you can move away. Veeeery gradually, you should be able to spot triggers from closer up and rather than barking, she'll turn to you and say 'Where's my treat then?'

    More on this approach here: B.A.T. Proactive Training Gives Dogs The Tools They Need To Succeed
     
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  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    It's possible she wasn't socialised to these as positive things in the critical period when she was a puppy.

    I read a good article the other day - along the lines that if an axe-brandishing mad person (or, in other words, something that makes you anxious) was walking on the other side of the street from you; no amount of reassurance would help - you would just want to get away. While drafting this @JudyN replied (yep, we did it again - we have a pattern!) so I won't repeat her advice, but maybe just add to be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close the next day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

    Also trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance (the further the threat, the safer she feels) Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction (how distracting the stimulus is; a calm person or slow bike might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a big, bolshy, bouncy or fast one might).
     
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  5. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    I like the 3 D approach but avoiding things altogether only works if you can be in a place all alone.

    This is most likely what happened with Murphy. We dont know many people or children so we relied on seeing people while out and about. The problem was by the time he was old enough to be out and about it was winter and people were in short supply. He loves the pet shop (one place we could take him) and he is crazy about our neighbours and our postman Ed (who always comes bearing gifts ie dog biscuits).
    But he didnt see many other people or funny situations while he was very young and by the time he met them he was nervous of them.

    Most of the times we walk on nature reserves as well so we dont bump into folk that often.

    Im finding that slow drip feeding of new places/people/situations is working and as @JoanneF mentions distance is a great help. Viewing things from the other side of the road or across a large gap is much different to having it go past your ear at a matter of inches. Gradually closing the gap/ adding to the triggers and allowing Murphy to say No at any point is key to building trust.
     
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  6. Janer

    Janer Active Member Registered

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    The only thing that worked with my terrier was her love of squeaky balls. This was a great distraction, if while walking we came across anyone or anything she didn’t like and I could see she was going to kick off about I would have the ball in my pocket and give it a squeeze for the squeak, she would immediately turn to me so then she would have a ‘good girl’ and a treat. Sometimes this would be repeated over and over especially passing football games. Also used it for when she would pick up things off the floor ie twigs, but it worked to the extent that eventually she would ‘pretend’ to pick up a stick to get a treat. You gotta love terriers!
     
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  7. Ianh

    Ianh New Member Registered

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    Some really great advice here - thank you so much for all of your help
     
  8. Barleybedlington

    Barleybedlington New Member Registered

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    My bedlington use to be like this , I would have him to sit between my legs , and constantly reassure him , talking to him in a calm voice stroking him , he's fine now .
     
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  9. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    OK so we have been working on the drip feed approach keeping the 3D's in mind.
    In the last few days we have seen big changes and last night a dog that has always been a huge trigger for Murphy even if he saw it from a distance crossed the road just in front of us and Murphys reaction was to sit down and look up as if to say 'ok now wheres my treat'..

    It takes time but in the end it is worth it.
     
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  10. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Well done Murphy - and you of course!
     
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  11. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I would be wary of any trainer who refers to your dog as 'dominant' and advises 'corrections' - 'dominance' is an outdated concept in the way it has been applied to dogs.

    Generally, when a dog barks at other dogs/people it is out of insecurity. A dog who is confident with his status doesn't need to shout at others, he will either interact politely or ignore them. So when you correct a dog for barking at another, you may succeed in suppressing the behaviour, but you are not changing the anxiety. In fact, with a sensitive dog (which insecure dogs often are, even if they don't appear to be), you are adding to the stress. First, the other dog was scary, now their owner is being scary too.

    I'm not an expert, and this is just my opinion. And I do agree that there's a place for telling your dog firmly to keep his cool, as you lead him away from the situation - thus showing him that you are in control, and will keep him safe. But it's easy to unintentionally suppress behaviours without addressing the underlying cause of those behaviours.
     
  12. SullyM

    SullyM New Member Registered

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    Yea, I do agree with a lot of what you are saying. There is so much conflicting information out there it makes me confused and all the while my dog is dizzy watching me. I just know that he needs some guidance and I try to do what I can. The barking came out of the blue once he was fit enough to walk after an operation. After all the conflicts I've come across I had to take the plunge and just make a choice. I hope it's the right one but I believe with the training tips plus my own influence we are doing ok so far.
     
  13. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Absolutely - you need to do what works with the dog in front of you, and there are times I will 'pull rank' with my dog and times I know it won't go well. I really just wanted anyone else reading to realise the pitfalls to be aware of when using 'corrections', particularly with a recent dog who might not yet be revealing any insecurities so be harder to read.
     
  14. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Well-Known Member Registered

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    Having a dog that is terrified of men in hi viz clothing i tried all the old fashioned ways mainly the dominance theory:emoji_angry::emoji_angry::emoji_anguished::emoji_anguished:it nearly destroyed my boy ....
    Patience and positive reinforcement with him is the only way as he is truly frightened. ..
    I changed my life to suit him and walk at 430am every morn so he can have 90min off lead walk every day. ...this means he has a wonderful life and he doesn't have to come in contact with strangers ....its not for everyone and he is about 12 this year but not matter what we did he was so frightened it wasnt worth it ....
    Good luck and i hope she settles again :emoji_blush:
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
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  15. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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  16. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Well-Known Member Registered

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    Thank you ...;)
     

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