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Old 08-24-2014, 07:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My dog barks when he's startled by neighbors

I live in an apartment building, and normally I am able to take Archer out for walks with minimal to no issue. However, if I am taking him down the stairs and he sees somebody come around the corner or a neighbor on the porch, he starts barking with the hair up on his back. This is the second time it's happened and other than pulling him along, I have no idea how to fix the issue. Normally when I see somebody coming towards us, I can usually swing him around or otherwise distract him, but these are cases where the people have surprised both of us. I am pretty sure it's fear aggression from his being startled but it definitely can look scary to the other person. And I don't want these people to complain to the landlord, even though both of them have little tiny dogs that are consistently off-leash with them (so while they are far "worse" than me, I'm the one with a bigger dog so naturally it would be my fault).

He doesn't have an issue if he sees people across the street (occasionally he might growl but that's quiet and they never notice, and I can keep walking with him). And he's even fine in puppy class being around lots of other people and dogs. But if he's startled by a neighbor in close proximity, he starts barking at them. I'm going to have to put the prong collar on him every time we just go out to the bathroom so I can immediately correct and get him back, but then I don't want him to associate neighbors with correction. I haven't had this issue with any of my other dogs because they weren't constantly being surprised by neighbors (always lived in a house with a backyard), so I have no idea how to quickly fix this behavior without him getting a more negative view of strangers.

Edit: Also I had talked to the trainer about this earlier today and she gave good tips about talking him through a walk so his focus is on me, but I did not expect another "surprise barking" so I have no idea how to fix this part.

Last edited by sterlingmaloryarcher; 08-24-2014 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hard as it is, try relax and try not grip the leash tightly as tension travels down the leash to Archer. Greet the person in a friendly manner that will show Archer that you are in charge and not afraid of the person. Have Archer sit if there is room - put your hand on the top of his nose to quiet him. Also putting your hand on his chest will calm him and restrict his forward motion. I would ask your trainer to set up sessions in the apt. building going up and down the steps where she is the stranger so you can both practice.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mary Beth View Post
Hard as it is, try relax and try not grip the leash tightly as tension travels down the leash to Archer. Greet the person in a friendly manner that will show Archer that you are in charge and not afraid of the person. Have Archer sit if there is room - put your hand on the top of his nose to quiet him. Also putting your hand on his chest will calm him and restrict his forward motion. I would ask your trainer to set up sessions in the apt. building going up and down the steps where she is the stranger so you can both practice.
Agree!
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This is what has worked for me: As soon as he sees anyone, give him treat after treat until the person is out of sight. When he relaxes, space out the treats. My new girl used to do this too and while I fed her treats I told her "It's OK". Now, 2 weeks later it is over. Last night she encountered someone in the dark who immediately petted her before I had a chance to oversee the situation. Nothing happened and she greeted the person! The "it's OK" is now all I need for her.
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