How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Sally G. Your Own Question
Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9449
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
Type Your Dog Training Question Here...
Sally G. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have a 2 and half year old mixed breed dog. She is very

Customer Question

I have a 2 and half year old mixed breed dog. She is very apprehensive and standoffish when she meets strangers. She will not go near them and barks incessantly. Even when the new person comes over and is in the house for a while she will bark at them every time they come into a room or get up etc. It takes a very long time for her to get comfortable with new people multiple visits are the only way she will warm up to new friends, family. Because of her acting this way she has not gotten my younger dog acting the same way but no ware near as bad. My younger dog will go up to people sniff them way her tail.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, thank you for using this site to help you with your problem. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years and am trained in pet first aid for aiding animals in disasters. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

How old is the younger dog?

When anyone approaches do they back off at first and if the person proceeds do they act out?

When did the younger one start doing this?

What have you tried so far?

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

You also have the option of our phone call services which I can offer you from my end for just 5 dollars extra. Just let me know here if you want that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My younger dog is 2 years old she is only a couple months younger than my older dog. Ruby backs off anytime a new person comes anywhere near us/her. Her acting out is barking which she does when new people come into the house. My younger one only barks when she does and Maddy (my younger one) is more inclined to sniff and meet knew people. She isn't the issue Ruby is. All we do is not discourage her from meeting new people and we try to get her to stop barking but that doesn't work. It is obvious that we did not do a good job socializing her when she was a puppy with people. Meeting new dogs she is very good no problems people not so much.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

It sounds like your older pup is fear aggressive since it takes her time to warm up to people. Dogs , like humans are born with certain personalities and it is how the owner handles the dog from birth to 4 years old that will determine how well a dog will handle situations. Dogs go through imprints during certain ages and one of those imprints a fear imprint. This happens at 8 to 12 weeks, again at 4 to 8 months and again 6 to 14 months.

Your younger dog may also have developed fear aggression if her personality was similar to the elder dog, but it may not be to the extent of the elder dogs fears,

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Fearful of Strangers

Copyright Sally G

. Dogs go through certain imprints during their life and one of them is fear. They have that first fear imprint is in 8 to 11 weeks and then again at 6 to 14 months. During the second stage of fear imprints you are likely to see the dog be scared of something that they were not scared of before, and because you did not have the dog during the first fear imprint stage you won't know what happened to him in that stage that may be affecting him now as well.

Dogs are also born with personality just as humans are , sometimes we as the owner can mold that personality only to a certain extent. Much will also be dependent on where the puppy was born. If it was a puppy mill , then the dog never had real contact with people through the neonatal months and thus will be fearful of people maybe for life. Sometimes you can help the dog adapt but for some dogs they will only be comfortable with certain people in their lives.

Unfortunately it is usually the human that is not educated enough about dogs. The person who was reaching out to pet the dog is a no, no. Dogs see that action as a challenge as they do making eye contact with them and talking to them. As a human it is natural to us to do all three of the above to make an acquaintance, but in the dog world it is a threat.

Dogs that are alpha or fearful will take that threat on if the person does not back off.

They actually make leashes and collars with the word caution on them specifically for dogs that are nervous or do not like to be around strangers or other dogs.

What you can do is try to get the dog used to people in the area as being a good thing. Train the dog at a safe distance from where there are people such as a grocery store and praise and reward the dog for keeping its mind on you while obeying commands. Gradually move closer to the action as you see your dog is okay with it.

When people come to you they should not look at , talk to , or try to pet the dog but you can give them a treat to drop on the ground for the dog then have them walk away. This will have the dog begin to see strangers as approaching meaning something good coming its way. You can actually set it up first with friends who will listen to you as to what to do, this way you don’t have to worry about the general public to start with.

Have that person approach without doing any of the three challenges and just talk to you briefly then drop the treat and walk away. You would also do this with people who come into your home if your home is a problem. The dog should be completely ignored, but something dropped on the floor upon entering the home and leaving the home.

It may also benefit the dog to be in an obedience class because there the instructor can have others practice this with you in a controlled environment. Sometimes the local ASPCA gives Reactive Rover classes which deal with dogs that nip or are frightened of people or who lunge at people when walked.

When you are training the dog put it in a down stay at your side when people approach and as long as the dog is acting appropriately ,make sure to praise and reward the dog for that behavior so it understands this is the behavior you want to see.

As for the treats left behind by strangers it should be something the dog will only get from them, such as hot dog slivers or chicken slivers so the dog sees it as special. Keep in mind that the dog may not pick it up at the time the person is there at first but as time goes on the dog probably will once it people they are not there as a challenge .

Below I will include a link that will take you through positive obedience training step by step.

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. We used the clicker training method when we first got her and she well behaved both of them are however the fearfulness is the problem and I wasn't sure how to go about getting her to be less fearful. I have tried having new people give her treats but I will try the dropping it on the floor.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry for the delay, my computer crashed. I am glad I have given you some information you have not tried yet.

It is also very important that you keep up with daily positive training so that the dog always succeeds as this builds up self esteem, even though they may know the commands.

Your guests have to totally ignore the dog when they enter and not challenge them with our cues. By handing the dog treats the person was challenging the dog, the hand was extended, the person was probably looking in the direction of the dog, and more than likely some sounds were being made either by your or the guest to try to make the dog calm a bit, but all of the above will make a dog so much more anxious. I would drop a treat such as a hot dog or chicken piece (small) and have the guest walk directly to where they are going to sit. Keep focused only on you and not the dogs. When leaving they still ignore the dogs and drop the treat just before exiting the door.

Right now your dogs expect you and your guests to act a certain way which is causing them to fail because it is challenging to them. Because it has gone on for so long it is not likely to change overnight , however, If you have friends you can enlist to come at different times during the same day even if it is walking in, dropping the treat , sitting for five minutes then leaving, it may help them get used to it faster. I would take a weekend to do this.

Eventually the dogs will see people are coming and going but not threatening to them and the barking may subside sooner .

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Sally G.

Related Dog Training Questions