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Old 12-04-2013, 11:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Protective? fearful?! AHH

This is my first time on this forum! And I'd have to say I love it! Down to the issue at hand, I have a 3 year old named Maverick who is what I think is either stranger aggressive, protective, just fearful? Example: He was tied up to the tree in the front yard and me and the kids are out there and the neighbor across the street goes to check his mail (on the curb) he barks and runs toward him with his hawk up from ears to tail! Yesterday this happened before I could correct him to stay. If it's just me walking him I can control him just fine and keep him focused. This is where my problem is, anyone comes to the door crazy barking, so Thanksgiving we had someone come over. Usually with his normal behavior of going nuts when someone he doesn't know comes near the house or near the family one would assume how are you going to have someone over?! I just him on the patio where he could see the guest enter our house. Barking of course the whole time. Then I had the guest go over to the patio door (which isn't glass) just so Mav could get a good whiff of him from under the door. I put a cage muzzle on (just in case), have the guest sit at the table or couch, then bring him in. I tell my guest, don't look at him, touch him or talk to him. Then with surprise Mav just goes over and gives a good smell then in his own way asks to get the muzzle off. I take it off and hes fine (probably don't need it on at all). Once the guest is on our turf because WE invited him in, he seems fine. UGH I don't know what to do about the aggressiveness outside. Someone can walk by the car and he goes nuts. I work him for probably two solid hours, on top of several walks a day. I try to do everything a good pack leader would do, I just think maybe he thinks my kids and husband need protecting? Alone I usually am able to stop the unwanted behavior before it starts...
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Regardless of the origin of the behavior the prescription is more or less the same. You need a good counter conditioning training plan to fix it.

If he is fine out in the world and not reactive around strangers on walks there may be an element of territoriality involved rather than nerves or what have you. It's got to be counter conditioned because the behavior with the barking and lunging is self reinforcing to the point of addiction. Dog sees trigger there's a rush of adrenaline dog gets excited dog gets reactive trigger leaves dog declares victory and a rush of endorphins for the success hits him...the trick is to break that cycle before it starts.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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look up barrier aggression
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Another note, if someone were to approach me for instance, to ask me directions, he would NOT have that. It would take a great deal for me to keep him calm. This is where I'm not sure if its protective or fearful.
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The matter of why is harder to discern through a post than to see it in action. If you want to know the why find a good behaviorist. Either way a good counter conditioning program will fix it.

I'm not sure if there can be protection without an element of fear to a certain extent, either they fear a threat to a resource and/or themselves.

Either way the why doesn't matter.

Last edited by Baillif; 12-04-2013 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Agreed. We want to bring a new puppy to into our pack but I don't want her to learn this undesired behavior. So I'm guessing to wait until I achieve the results I'm looking for 100% of the time?
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That wouldn't be necessary. You would just want to keep the puppy separate from your adult dog in the presence of triggers that would set your older dog off, so that the puppy didn't carry on with him. You would probably want to keep them separated anyway except for brief socialization visits so that the little guys primary bond forms with you and the other humans in your house instead of the older dog.
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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a dog that is barking and lunging for no reason is rarely ever protective. if someone is asking you for directions, what do you need protection from? a dog that huffs and puffs is just trying to scare the "threat" away. a fearful dog thinks anything out of the ordinary is a threat. when you have him on leash he goes even more crazy because he is restricted. he has a fight or flight response and a fearful dog will want to flee but since he's on leash he cant so he freaks out even more to try to scare the threat away.

i'd get a good trainer to help you. this might not be popular but to me i'd use an ecollar on a dog like this. meaning i teach him the sit or down command with an ecollar. once he is solid with the command i then add duration. if he breaks the sit then the shock comes. he has to learn that staying in the sit is his "safe zone". then have someone walk by the house. if he breaks the sit to bark and lunge then the zap automatically comes. once he sits again the zap stops. the dog will eventually learn that the zap comes when he leaves his safe zone aka the sit or down. after awhile he'll learn that when a person walks by and he doesnt break his sit then there is no zap. he'll also realize that hey someone walked by and nothing bad happened. over time he'll learn that people walking by arent threats to him so he doesnt need to huff and puff. i'd recommend a trainer who knows what they're doing to help you though. if done wrong, the dog could associate the shock with the person walking by the house. if this is the case then the dog will go even more insane because they think the person is the cause of the shock.
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Again it's not really important for changing the behavior itself but protection from a threat that isn't classified a threat to us but is to the dog is still protection. It doesn't mean the dog is super fearful per se it just means there is a difference in opinion between what constitutes a threat between you and the dog.

In protection work the dog isn't usually allowed to make that determination on his own, it's instilled in training or put on commands. The dog flipping out or reacting to littler stuff doesn't always mean nervy sometimes it's just boredom and it can be relieved through the addictive reactive process I described above. Sometimes it's mistakes in leash work that build drive and frustration and that becomes misinterpreted. Could be the dogs drives for resource guarding behavior are stronger and you're seeing a reflection of that.

You could be right the dog could be nervy but to just assume so based on what was written by the op is in my opinion jumping to conclusions a bit. Ones that I've seen start fights on here time and time again especially if someone brought into question the value of the dog. Not saying you did that, just saying I see it a lot.

I'd hate to see some of you guys with malinois you'd just go assuming the dog is a bag of nerves because it's reactive. If you had a malinois that isn't leaning on the reactive side you might want to worry a bit.

In short we don't know what we don't know and it doesn't really matter that much. The solution is generally pretty similar if not identical in this situation. Also how do you expect a dog to know what and who is a threat and what isn't without training.

Last edited by Baillif; 12-04-2013 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
Again it's not really important for changing the behavior itself but protection from a threat that isn't classified a threat to us but is to the dog is still protection. It doesn't mean the dog is super fearful per se it just means there is a difference in opinion between what constitutes a threat between you and the dog.

In short we don't know what we don't know and it doesn't really matter that much. The solution is generally pretty similar if not identical in this situation. Also how do you expect a dog to know what and who is a threat and what isn't without training.
well i guess we'll have to agree to disagree but to me you dont need to train a dog what is a threat and what isnt. all dogs arent born barking at everything until they are told otherwise. they are born neutral and only when they are nervous or unsure is when they bark. if a dog barks at everything then it is born nervous and unsure.

also what is a threat to me and what is a threat to a dog can be different but in this case, the dog is barking at every single human that walks past. how can every single human be a threat? and just because a dog see's something as a threat does not mean its protecting. its trying to scare the threat away. protecting means a dog that is willing to stand and fight. there is a big difference between a dog that is sharp/reactive and one that is fearful/reactive. a malinois can be overly sharp but if i see one that barks at everything and cant settle then yeah i'd consider it nervy.
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