Those with territorial/guard-y dogs...

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by *blackrose, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    2 dogs (and 3 half dogs and a half cat)
    Location:
    Mississippi
    How do you handle them when introducing new visitors?

    Chloe thinks she is an Ovcharka, even though she is all of 45 pounds and looks like a fuzzy puppy that would be the sweetest thing on earth. I can take her out in public and she is sociable with almost everyone we meet, but at the house she turns into a different dog. She accepts all kids into the house without any issue and she welcomes frequent visitors with equal enthusiasm. But there are times, obviously, that we have people come over that she has never met before. (Aka, they are "strangers", even though they are invited strangers.)

    She reacts to all strangers on our property the same way: aggressively and with intent to drive away using whatever means neccessary. We actually had an incident a few months ago when my older brother was throwing a pool party. Chloe didn't know there was a group of people outside, so when one of the girls walked inside to go to the bathroom Chloe immediately launched herself at the girl (please note, I say girl and I mean 21 year old woman, not a child). Had we not had a baby gate up blocking off the hallway leading towards the door Chloe would have bit her. As it was, my mom was able to get Chloe under control (via a sit) and after reassuring Chloe it was okay (no nonsense voice saying, "Chloe, it's fine", not coddling) and showing her that there were people outside Chloe calmed down and went back to sleep.

    We typically just put her in another room if we have "a stranger" coming to visit that won't be around for very long, but it gets dicey when that "stranger" is going to stay for the day, or longer.

    What is the best way to work with her so she'll great and accept strangers without all of the barking/growling/posturing? I really don't mind having a territorial dog, but I also don't want her to bite someone. I don't neccessarly want to make her accept everyone with open arms, but I do want her to tolorate visitors once they are welcomed.
     
  2. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    13,402
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Kennel Manager
    Location:
    Guelph, Ontario
    Never really had to deal with the issue, but try associating "strangers" with good things? Stranger comes in, and right away starts tossing treats, and/or you (general you, people who live in the house) give treats. Maybe have a bowl of treats right by the door, so when they come in, they can just grab a handful.
     
  3. Maura

    Maura New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    9
    Location:
    The Mitten State
    Home Page:
    I don't see the problem. Your dog will guard the house and people from anyone outside the family circle.

    What you need is a cue that will let her know, "this stranger is okay". I've used "friend", or "say hello". Bring Chloe up to family and friends, say, "Chloe, friend". The person lures Chloe into a sit using a treat. As she is chewing her treat, the friend pets Chloe. Repeat over and over so that Chloe knows "friend" means sit in front of that person. Then, have a friend (someone Chloe accepts) come to the house and knock on the door. Have Chloe sit, say, "Chloe, friend" as you open the door. Repeat a few times.

    Take it on the road, since she is friendly with people outside the house, this shouldn't be a problem.

    Now, when you are allowing a stranger into the house, "friend" will mean "chill out Chloe, we can accept this person. Do not use the friend cue with someone who has not been invited or who may possibly be a threat. It's perfectly alright for you to answer the door with Chloe sitting/stay beside you. This is very intimidating to someone who would do you harm. Anyone who does not need to come into the house does not need to be a "friend".
     
  4. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    2 dogs (and 3 half dogs and a half cat)
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Thanks, this is what I was looking for. I really do not want to her accept everyone and everybody - I like her being protective. What I don't want is for her to be acting out when I have accepted the person. It is really annoying to have a close friend stop by - whom Chloe may not have met - and have her need to be leashed in a down/stay the entire time we're chatting or in another room because she'll start acting up if the person makes a sudden movement or comes too close. She's better with females than with men on the property, and if she meets someone off the property and then they later come onto the property she's fine as well (but we live out on ten acres, so having her do a meet and greet away from her territory is nigh impossible).

    I think she'll get the hang of it rather quickly - we sort of do the same thing when we introduce her to new cats. One of her jobs is to chase barn/feral cats off the property as we don't want our neighbor's bazillion cats coming down to our house. We just put her chasing a cat on command ("Chloe, kitty," or, "Go get that cat") and she'll chase it, but if we clip a leash on her and say, "Easy, Chloe, this is a nice kitty" and we let her sniff the cat over she accepts it as her own and won't chase it anymore. We can get her to chase a cat she used to accept or accept a cat she used to chase with relative ease.

    So, sort of the same concept, only with people. I don't know why I didn't think of that. :eek:
     
  5. Kayla

    Kayla New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Northern Alberta
    Great description of what's going on! (As opposde to "she goes nuts")

    I think you've been doing some good managment idea's for example:

    -Putting her away in another room when people initially come inside
    -Using babygates

    I think however that this is a fairly serious reaction that would benefit from a lot of positive counter-conditioning, in combination with your management tools you've been using.

    Duke deffiently puts on a large threat display when visitors arrive at our house, so I can at least tell you what's been working for me, and hopefully someone else can give you some additional advice.

    I live in a basement apartment, so on one positive note, I can get visitors in my house and especially if they are new people duke has not met, I can brief them on what I'm going to do to introduce Duke to them.

    Typically I give everyone some cookies, and then bring Duke up out of his living area, to the main floor on lead with his head halter and just c/t him for looking at the guests. Keeping in mind that with male visitors, he will usually bark regardless, and I just feed regardless. I know this feels soo counter-intuitive for us humans, but at this point I'm not worried about training a behaviour, I'm just pairing the stimulus of "evil man in house= super high end treats".

    Once Duke has been successful at stopping all barking (In the case of men where he has been barking I just feed until he stops) and then I ask everyone to not stare at Duke and turn slightly sideways while I bring him over and have everyone give him a cookie.

    At this point Duke will be ok with 99% of visitiors, the 1% I continue to supervise carefully with, are any guys that might have a tendency to be loud, as they tend to make Duke uncomfortable. If these types were going to be staying at my house for a few days, and Duke still seemed uncomfortable, I'd probably keep him in my room, seperate from the inidividual and try and do lots of unleash, halti on click and treat exercises around this person. Most importantly though I'd make sure Duke had plenty of "safe" time away from this person to keep Duke from feeling overwhelemed.

    The last situation where I use management strictly with Duke is with anyone I'm dating, as Duke gets very agitated very quickly if we are physically in contact, so I simply set him up for success by having him in another room with a chew, and am slowly working on this area in baby steps.

    I just wanted to say that with Chloe for now, unless you have Chloe on leash with a halti on, I wouldnt have her loose around geusts (to prevent any bad associations happening for her as people really don't get that all dogs don't like to be wrestled with and pet enthusastically right over the head). She can get an nice long walk before someone comes over and then once you've done the introductions, she'd probably benefit from feeling safe away from the action.

    Maura had some great idea's too, but I just can't overemphasis, that unless you can control the conditioning going on with visitors by never allowing Chloe to feel overwhelemed to a point where she lashes out then the process of re-conditioning visitors as AWSOME will not take place and while she will certainly benefit from the exercises described, the underlying fear will likely still be present.

    Cheers
    Kayla
     

Share This Page