Teaching to NOT guard in certain situations?
Liza's coming up to 5 years old now. One thing she's always done naturally (ever since maturing) is guarding her territory. At home this shows itself in semi-muffled barks at noises by the door, and the occasional growl at a random dog passing by the window. I'm okay with this.
Zero problems being outside with those same dogs, or having them come into the condo. No real behavioural issues (doesn't share toys with other dogs, but that's easily managed). Excellent general obedience (not titled, but can easily pass Sch BH).
We spend a lot of time camping: hiking and backpacking, road-trips, off-road-trips, etc. Planning to do a 7-week stretch of road-trip camping in the autumn. These trips is when the guarding starts getting annoying, especially at night. During the day, I don't mind the guarding at all. In fact, it has come in handy several times: just this past summer she warned me of a very large, approaching grizzly that was coming to investigate the camp. I wouldn't have seen that bear as it was coming up from behind me and I was seated. This warning (and the severity of that "warning" had me jumping up from the chair and reaching for the bear spray before I even turned around) was very welcome, and averted an otherwise possibly serious incident.
At night, it's a different story. I do want her to bark/growl/whatever, but only if there is something large (ie. her size, human, etc.), and it is close. As it is, she'll bark at a chipmunk that's a hundred metres away and not only wake me up a half dozen times every night, but also get me paranoid and worried for no reason. Further, most nights she borderline doesn't sleep, but rather sits and looks out the tent's window. If windows are closed and there's no visibility, she'll lay down, but keep her head raised, ears alert.
And even if she's not barking, she'll stand up and move around, trying to look in different directions, reposition her body to hear better, etc. - when we're sleeping in the truck (and this will be the standard sleeping arrangement going forward), this weight transfer rocks the suspension and wakes me up. Not ideal.
I've noticed she's less prone to guarding at night if we are camping with a group of people, but nine times out of ten, we're alone and very far away from civilization.
I've no idea how to approach teaching her to "not guard" on command. Perhaps the better solution is to teach her to go to rest/sleep on command? We have a "place" command, and I can use this anywhere, just point to a spot (usually with a dog bed, towel, whatever for her to lay on), give the command, and she'll lay down and stay there, and will instantly associate "place" with that spot for further "place" commands without needing to point to the location. But even with this, she'll stay awake and guard.
To complicate this further, I obviously cannot be camping 24/7 with the sole purpose of training the dog. The vast majority of the training has to happen in a normal, day to day environment.
Last edited by yuriy; 04-11-2017 at 05:20 PM.