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Reactive dog with visitors

(21 Posts)
Blackfellpony Mon 26-Sep-16 19:42:12

We have a very reactive and fear aggressive dog. She is an actual nightmare but we have been dealing with her along with a trainer and many many hours of training, behavioural adjustment and socialisation clubs etc.

She is very much better and I have a handle on what to do with her now for the most part even though she is pretty evil. The last thing I can't seem to get a grip on though is visitors to our home.

She flies at them barking, hackles up, tail between legs. She won't settle and barks constantly and will go flying at them if they dare move etc. She is literally terrified of them.

For this reason she is always locked outside but it's difficult on nights like tonight when we have visitors but it's cold and raining and she's sat in the dark.

Ideally I would like to get her to the point she can sit quietly, perhaps in another room, but how?!

I don't have anyone with balls of steel who would sit there long enough for her to accept them and I can't ask random people to spend hours at my home either. These were the trainers suggestions but practically they are hard to implement. She will not accept a treat from a stranger because she's too scared and if they throw them at her she takes it and runs then comes back full of hell once she's eaten it.
The only people I could ask are family, but she already knows them so it's not really a true training exercise.

Should I lock her away or try and battle through with it? Is it worth the hassle and is she likely to ever improve with this sort of thing or do I just need to accept she needs locking behind bars every time someone comes?

winwhizzer Mon 26-Sep-16 20:51:16

Sorry in a rush but you need to condition her to a calm area without any visitors around to start with.

When she is happy in the area you can then introduce people into another area or room well away from her calm area. Over time (a long time) you may be able to bring people to nearer rooms.


Blackfellpony Mon 26-Sep-16 21:06:56

Thanks win.

One of the problems is our house. It's tiny and I can hear someone talking from every single room just about.

The whole of downstairs is open plan except the kitchen so that's the only option but it has glass doors so she can see to the front door/sofas from there. She headbutts the glass and barks constantly.

She can go in a bedroom but she hears talking and flips out barking and scratching the doors. The landing is also directly above the front door so she hears people coming in and out.

She also can't be crated. It's one of her fear triggers as she had lots of bad experiences in cages/crates as a puppy and she literally wees herself in fear if she's put in one. We have spent hours of conditioning but the behaviourist advised us to stop as she was so distressed and so we got her used to being in a room instead.

She's just so restricting. Walks are awful, we can't go away, we can't go on day trips and now I can't even have people round. It's like being in a prison ran by a dog at times as much as we love her sad

tabulahrasa Mon 26-Sep-16 22:55:29

I wouldn't worry about training her to accept visitors, as in, you can come back to it at any point - just now, it's a stress you don't need.

My nightmare dog is crated, I know you've said that's not an option, but would a soft crate or a playpen be one?

Or a kennel?

Mine has a shed in the garden, it's warmer than just being outside, full of beds so it's comfy...

If you're going to use a different room then it's just a case of getting her used to it, a Kong with something she really likes in it, gradually build up the time, then add a visitor once she's happy in there.

Blackfellpony Tue 27-Sep-16 07:46:51

Thank you for the advice!

She hates being confined more than anything and it sends her into a panic. She's the same on lead too, much more aggressive than off as she can run!

We tried a baby gate but she is 30kg and tall so she scaled it, she can easily jump 6ft if she wanted and she is loud so a conversation is impossible to maintain with her kicking off.

We are going to look at something in the garden for her, she does destroy the garden in protest when locked out but it's better than the house!

I feel like I should be trying to deal with the issue rather than shutting her away and masking it, but then again it seems like a lot of stress for the sake of removing her from the situation?

tabulahrasa Tue 27-Sep-16 08:22:01

There's nothing wrong with just managing the situation rather than working on it, especially because it's something you can come back to in a year or two when you're better placed to deal with it if you want to.

fuzzyfozzy Tue 27-Sep-16 12:04:44

One of mine is horrendous with visitors and the door bell.
We also don't have that many visitors that we can make a dint in the behaviour.
I put them away for a few minutes then show them the high value food I have for them, then sit there with a piece of food in my hand. If they sit nicely then they get it, on repeat, for about an hour...

frumpet Sun 02-Oct-16 19:02:17

Where are you ? are there any hard as nails Mumsnetters who can be won over with unlimited tea/coffee and biscuits ?

frumpet Sun 02-Oct-16 19:03:39

30kg ? what is she ? might need to up the anti to cake smile

Blackfellpony Sun 02-Oct-16 20:17:19

We are in the north east grin

Honestly she does look very scary. She is a working line GSD, almost maliniois looking but bigger. She takes no prisoners and proberbly would bite someone, she barks inches from them as if hoping to catch someone with her teeth. Hence why she has never been around people after the second time it happened (first time I thought it was just the person but it's everyone)
If someone walks in the door she flies at them barking.

Luckily with us she is a soft as muck and loves nothing more than cuddles and kisses, but add a stranger in the mix and she's a different dog!

Outside she is similar, barks and is very wary but she will accept someone if given space and they don't touch her. In the house she won't calm down and just barks until they eventually leave!

kenicka Sun 02-Oct-16 20:26:10

Could she be muzzled while training?

Blackfellpony Sun 02-Oct-16 20:49:01

She is muzzled already Kenicka, she wears it at training as she does agility and also a socialisation class and she wears it on walks incase someone touches her (again!) despite her being on lead hmm

She's so scared though when people come in the house, she will literally wee everywhere while barking and throwing herself about and I don't want to frighten her more, poor thing!

MrsWooster Sun 02-Oct-16 21:00:46

I know nothing about this so may beway off but can dogs have tranquillisers so she could getused to someone / peolpe while sedated and gradually reduce?

frumpet Mon 03-Oct-16 08:00:59

This is just an idea and not one coming from anyone of expertise ! Could visitors ring before arriving and meet you and your dog at the end of the road , walk round the block together and then enter the house together , so the dog gets chance to suss them out before the scary intruder appears in her home ?

PikachuSayBoo Mon 03-Oct-16 08:09:09

Keep her in the house but on a short/tight lead?

That's what I used to do with my fear aggressive dog but he only weighed 4 kg so I appreciate it was easier.

Blackfellpony Mon 03-Oct-16 08:34:50

Thanks to all of you!

I've tried the lead thing and it helps as she can't get to the person but she barks so much I can't actually see or hear the visitor at all hmm

She can't have sedatives as she has a heart condition but I had considered it before!

I think I could try meeting them outside. She's not keen on people walking with us either but she does get used to them eventually.

Sugarpiehoneyeye Mon 03-Oct-16 09:07:34

Hello Blackfell, I had a very large GSD girl, just like you, she was incredibly difficult, through nervous and fear related aggression.
She was like this from a puppy, and throughout her life.
I had two excellent behaviourists, who did help the situation minimally.
I decided to manage her myself, instead of subjecting her to more trauma.
Could you allow your girl the same privilege ?
I found that she began to relax more, which was nice to see.
Here's how I did it.
I took her for a long walk, very early morning, whilst no one was around.
Fed her a good diet, Arden Grange (large kibble).
Initially she was muzzled, just incase !
No shop bought treats, she loved toys, and Stag bars.
We had a strong routine.
Early walk, rest, feed, sleep, play out in garden, never shut out, door always open.
Late walk before bed, muzzled.
She loved to look out of the window, watch the world go by, this also helped her to stop seeing everyone and everything as a threat.
She was a raging beast, and very perceptive, she was never wrong.
I lost her 18 months ago, my home is empty without her.
I know that she was very happy, being the Queen in her castle.
She did eventually relax enough, to allow certain people into our home, That was enough for me.
I wish with all my heart, that she was still here with me , she was amazing, my beautiful girl ❤️🌈 🎾😢
She was so worth it, the bond we had was incredible.
Good luck OP, just a different way of handling a difficult situation.

Branleuse Mon 03-Oct-16 09:16:34

if your dog is that scared and aggressive and you already think she would bite, then I think youre going to have a hard decision to make sooner or later, and hopefully that will be before she bites someone. That is not a happy dog

tabulahrasa Mon 03-Oct-16 10:57:05

Ah, it's a pity you're not a bit further up, I'd totally come and be a stooge visitor for you, except I'm in Scotland.

Blackfellpony Mon 03-Oct-16 11:41:41

Yes thanks Bran, she is managed well actually and is already making massive improvements and we have already discussed euthaniasia on many occasions. She is under a veterinary behaviourist who does not think she is a lost cause and has seen far worse.

She is never in a position where she would bite someone hence why she is locked away from visitors and muzzled.

She is a very happy playful dog at home, she goes to agility and socialises there, she has a group of dogs she plays with twice a week, she is lovely and gentle once she knows someone won't hurt her. We walk her and she walks past people with no reaction, it's just when she thinks they might touch her she barks. In the house i think it's because there's nowhere to run too.

She is just terrified of strangers. She's had a hard life and I don't think it's that unreasonable considering sad

Scarlet6 Mon 03-Oct-16 11:54:48

Oh my god, I have the exact same problem! I have a 10 month old american staffordshire, who hates being confined. I can't have visitors because of her. I have to put her on a tight leash. If someone walks by our house, she starts barking and growling. Outside, she's fine with people as long as they don't get too close. She looks at them, I give her treats because she is calm and I distract her away by going off to the opposite direction.

She is very loving and cuddly at home with just us, but becomes a monster if someone dares to come in the house. I've had her for a week. She's also a bit dog aggressive.
I don't know what to do. If she was a bit calmer my life would be so much easier.

I have yet to try to look for an alternative other than a crate ... maybe a gate or play pen or something.

Her daily routine goes like this;
I feed her then we go walking for about an hour. She naps for a while, I may take her out in the yard to see if she poops/pees. I feed her again at 5pm and spend the day playing, napping and going out for occasional potty trips.

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