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Sookie 05-29-2014 05:21 AM

Increased barking & sounds aggressive after incident
I haven't been on here in awhile as I've been really busy with work but I need advice regarding a bit of an issue with Sookie, my 17 month old gsd mix. A few months ago we had an encounter in town at night when we were visiting a friend - I took her outside for a quick bathroom break and a group of 4 or 5 guys started shouting/talking loudly at me from across the street. Long story short, we crossed the street twice to get away from the abuse but they followed me back to the apartment door being loud perverts and when they got within 10 feet Sookie turned on them, charging to the end of her leash, barking and growling with hackles up. It was the first time she had ever growled at a person.

Now she seems to be barking more in general. I dont know if its related to this incident or not, but she seems more prone to barking at strangers who approach us. And she barks more and takes longer to relax when people come to the door. I feel really frustrated with, in particular, the barking when people knock on the door. I want her to alert, thats fine, but it's incredibly hard to deal with deliveries or whatever and try to remember all the advice to get her to settle.

Should I try to have a friend knock repeatedly at the door and practice in this way? Are there better ways to cope when someone comes to the door unexpectedly in addition to the 'practice with a friend plan' that I can put into practice immediately (at the moment I shut her in the lounge so i can deal with the door while she continues to bark which is helping nothing, I know). And does this increased door barking have anything to do with the barking more at strangers who approach us? As in, can I apply the same techniques to both situations?

(And I suppose I am also worried it is a sign of worse things to come).

Any help very much appreciated!

Mary Beth 05-29-2014 09:40 PM

Yes, I certainly agree that her increased barking is due to the incident. She was protective and did scare them off. But now she is on the alert and is hyper vigilant. So I suggest you start with showing her that you are in charge and she can relax. The door barking is the first issue to work with. And once you get that resolved, I suspect you will find that she is noticeably calmer. You own the door not her. So it is great that you have a volunteer. When the person rings the door bell or knocks on the door, and Sookie- starts her act. Go to the door -stand in front of it - back to Sookie. Then have her sit she will still bark - giving her a toy to mouth with help - also put you hand gently over the top of her nose. Do not open the door until she is quiet - the second she is - open the door - if she barks shut it again. it will help if you have her on a leash and do not let her charge out the door. It will take time but if you are consistent she will learn. There also is the issue of the stress energy that she has stored up and the rush that she probably got when she did scare off the punks. So play tug with her - she can bite and have a release. Make it a good fight but be sure she ends up winning - that will satisfy that prey drive and also calm her.

blackshep 05-30-2014 08:24 AM

I'm sorry you both had that awful experience, but I'm glad she protected you! She sounds like a good dog. :) She is also getting older, so there's more of a natural suspicion of strangers/aloofness that starts to creep in as they mature.

I agree with Mary Beth, I'd just work with a friend on the door issue for a bit. Once that is under control, then maybe start taking her outside and doing some obedience in a lightly populated area, so she learns to relax, and follow your direction with the odd stranger walking about.

Sookie 06-01-2014 08:04 AM

Thanks very much, we have started door training - will let you know how we get on :)

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