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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16719
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
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I have been obedience training for six months and recently

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I have been obedience training for six months and recently adopted a 7 mo old Dutch Shepherd mix. He's awesome except that he barks and growls at people he doesn't know and some people that he has met before without problems. I've been correcting him with a choke collar and a stern "No" and making him sit or lie down. When anyone comes to the front door he goes ballistic and now he is so comfortable at work that he is now barking and growling at a few people there. He goes to day camp 5 days a week where I work. We walk daily with long walks on the weekends when he isn't in camp. Although its not escalating its not going away with what I'm doing as correction.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 months ago.
Hi JaCustomer, .My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. ..In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient. .Is the correction and making him sit all you are doing to try and correct the situation?Are the people responding to his barks and growls by moving away?What do you mean by "I have been obedience training for six months"?Were you working with a different dog or is this your profession now?Who monitors his behavior at day camp?What methods do they use with him?Is he neutered?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

The correction and sit are for him to be in the situation and become calm. I also treat him when he becomes calm and give me eye contact. The people do move away. I am working as a dog trainer. It is mostly basic obedience. There is a staff at day camp and I've heard that he has become much happier and at ease. Prefers to hang with the staff than with the dogs but does play. His play is vocal and he herds I'm told. I've not been told that he has needed discipline but have given them permission to tell him no if he is behaving badly, too loud/excitable play. He is neutered.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 months ago.
Dee,
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Thanks for the additional information. It is very helpful. Different places and trainers have different methods of training. Your breed is versatile and should be a pretty high energy dog who needs a lot of exercise. If I'm not mistaken, they are protective as well.
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He is going to need an owner that is very strong willed in order to keep him under control. Dogs are aggressive toward people for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of people and thus are aggressive before the person can be. This doesn't sound likely in this case. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the people (a possible cause). Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (people). I think this may be the cause.

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In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry and feels that he is justified in his aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the people. He doesn't realize that you are worried about his reaction. He just feels that you are worried and assume it is the people. So it is important that you try very hard to keep any tenseness or worry to a minimum.

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For a dog like this, total control is necessary. This means not only physical control but on a mental level, you must be the alpha. I know you are a trainer, so I'm going to recommend working with him daily. The following site is helpful and generally is the methods I use. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

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Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

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My breed is rotties and I work with them, GSD's and Pitbulls on a regular basis. Female owners need to keep on top of their male dogs and be sure that their males don't start feeling like they need to protect them.

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This obedience work establishes you as the alpha member of the pack and as alpha it is your job to protect the dog and not the dogs job to protect you. Now the dog will still protect you if something should happen because you will be protecting yourself and as part of the pack, he will follow your lead and protect as well. But if you are calm around someone, he will see that you are ok and there is no need to help. This is why being the alpha member works well.


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You will also want to keep a leash on him at all times initially to grab if he should disobey. I totally agree with a short tug and firm NO as a correction. However, I would hold off on any treat if he has been barking and growling. At this point I would not even give him a treat for sitting at this point. It isn't working to reduce the growling and barking. Instead, stop asking him to sit. Just give the correction. If he stops and doesn't start back with the behavior, then give him a treat. Additionally, before he starts, give him a treat for the desired behavior.

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Set up the situation where he shows this behavior. Correct him each time he displays the unwanted behavior. Do not allow the helper to leave until the dog is calm, even if you do ask him to sit to get him calm. If you need to make him sit to stop the barking and growling, then do not reward that. Only reward him if he stops the behavior without you telling him to do something else.

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It may take your helper approaching numerous times, but he should eventually not react to the helper. When he does not react, reward him with lots of treats so he sees what behavior you do want to see. Praise him highly but in a calm tone of voice. Right now he thinks he gets treats for sitting which he does. You want him to realize that he is getting treats for not growling and barking at people.

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Now you can help stop barking in other ways as well. As crazy as it seems, you may want to teach the speak command and then the quiet command. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after your dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.

http://www.dogskool.com/web/news/summer2002/page3.html

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You are working as a trainer, so you do need to put in a lot of time on training your own dog and it does sound like you have a pretty strong willed dog, so that will help you in the long run with your profession. I know training rotties definitely helped me though I had owned shepherds and huskies before rotties.

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A trick for the door issue is to have him sit, slip the leash under your foot so he can move away or even stand up easily and then open the door. I thelps if they are restrained when first teaching them to sit and stay at the door. TEaching the speak and quiet will help with that part of training as well.

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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

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If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here http://www.justanswer.com/pet/expert-jane-lefler/ and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

 

Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16719
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 months ago.


Thank you Jane. You rounded out what I was thinking was going on and gave excellent suggestions. I appreciate the websites and will use them. I believe that Maynard has moved from fear to dominate and not necessarily protection. My role needs to be stronger with correction than I have been. I do work with him before day camp and I pull him out for about a half hour daily. He's a smart boy and hopefully he will learn quickly. I appreciate your response and gladly pay for your services. His barking and growling at home when people come in and while walking has now started at where I work. Probably because he's there 5 days a week and has become comfortable so I need to take control. You are right, when I see a situation that has the possibility to amp him up I do tense up and so you are correct that he doesn't know why. I think I know what I need to do now. Thank you for your help.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 months ago.

Dee,.You are very welcome. Sometimes we are too close to the situation when it comes to our own dogs and an outside look can help pinpoint where a little tweaking is needed. I was glad to be of help. You have already rated, so please do not do so again. Thanks for the rating.

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