issues with strangers

(9 Posts)
moogalicious Thu 11-Oct-12 11:10:41

My collie/staffie cross is nearly a year old and is great in almost every way. His recall is good, he is well socialised with other dogs in and out of the house, not aggressive to people outside of the house, learns commands well. He's amazing with our children too, really gentle.

BUT adult visitors to the house are a big issue, especially men for some reason. He barks quite aggressively at them. I tell visitors to ignore him and particularly do not bend down to play with him as we've had a couple of growling incidents - I understand it's my dog warning them to back off. I also tell visiting children that he doesn't know to leave him alone, just in case.

However, even if ignored my dog will settle down but with one ear on the visitor, like a radar. If the person gets up to go to the loo, the pup is barking again, albeit not as aggressively as when they first come in.

I want to stress that it's adults he doesn't know. Visitors he knows like my parents, ILs and friends who come over regularly are fine.

I've tried getting visitors to give him a treat. I've also put him outside but he just barks like mad plus I only want to banish him as a last resort.

Does anyone have an insight as to why he may be like this and any training ideas?

TIA

Elibean Thu 11-Oct-12 11:40:27

See my post about behaviourists and 18 month old rescue pup!

Our boy began barking at strangers, not when they came in to the house but if they went into the garden, or anywhere near him - he is really scared of them. In his case, we have been told to a) tell visitors not to pet or look straight at him, just ignore till he gets used to them and b) take a little bag of treats we are using regularly with him (ie he knows it) and throw him a treat occasionally, then get up and walk around the room chucking treats towards him whenever within chucking distance.

She said it was very important to decrease the stress/threat when he's barking/growling, by increasing distance - his or the visitor's. She gave us a light house lead to put on him when lots of kids visit, so we can gently get up and walk him to his bed, treat him for being there - gentler than ordering/dragging by the collar etc.

But she also said it was ok to invite him into his 'safe space' (our front room!), shut the door (which is glass - dog gates even better as dog not excluded and can still sniff etc) and only let him out when he wanted to come, for a sniff, just so he knows he can retreat at will. If he feels safe, he will calm down.

It would be better to know whats upsetting your dog specifically, which only a trained behaviourist would know, but I would imagine he's nervous.....

moogalicious Thu 11-Oct-12 12:16:01

Yes he is nervous.

Do you give him the treat?

moogalicious Thu 11-Oct-12 12:24:30

Read your post Elibean, very useful. I need to be firmer with visitors and tell them to ignore him. And plenty of treats when he does finally relax - after a while he lies down and goes to sleep. Apart from one ear cocked!

He has such a loud bark and it frightens people!

Loobylou222 Thu 11-Oct-12 12:29:29

My 3 yr old ship tzu is exactly the same she even barks at strangers when out walking, when at home I give her a jumbone or a carrot that seems to keep her occupied, it's so embarrassing though, she bit someone once but we told him not to pick her up, he was adamant she would be ok, and she bit him, but it was his own fault!

moogalicious Thu 11-Oct-12 12:47:34

Yes he's barked at strangers a couple of times when on the lead!

Distraction also sounds good.

I wish people wouldn't bend down or pet strange dogs. Mine was tied up outside school (away from the parents and children) and a mum was letting her 3 year old pet my dog! I'd be mortified if something happened. It never has, but given his nervousness of strangers I wouldn't be putting my tots face in his.

Elibean Thu 11-Oct-12 17:03:27

Our nice behaviourist said she'd recently been to see someone who was told not to pet a dog. He did. Dog ran and hid under sofa. Man went up to sofa. Dog growled. Man lay down and went under sofa to pet dog shock

Dog - surprise! - bit man.

Honestly, I think people feel rejected or something, and then have to prove to themselves or someone else that they are really ok hmm

Behaviourist also told ds not to leave Mouse tied up outside shops for now - he always has done, and its been fine, but a few people have stopped to pet him (I know) and he's barked at them. One woman was about to try again, when dh stopped her. So safer not to leave him there - however tempting <sigh>

Loobylou222 Thu 11-Oct-12 17:12:07

People always think they know best! The amount of times I have told ppl just to leave her when they come in but they always think they will be the one the dog likes! I have given up now my dog is very small with a very sweet face she looks so cute ppl ask to stroke I just no she isn't friendly lol. She is a lovely dog once she gets to know you though.

moogalicious Thu 11-Oct-12 20:26:41

Same as my dog Looby, he's lovely once he knows you, so gentle!

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