Wondering if this blog post from trainer (and Canadian schutzhund team member) Monique Anstee might help. This behaviour does need to be corrected:
The Naughty Dogge
18 hrs ·
Dog Training teaches you to never say 'never'. I think I might be training one of those dogs.
He arrived on Monday, wound tighter than a spring. While he is of a sweet breed, I was cautious around him as it seemed that another stimulus added to his already over-loaded day might just make him go postal. I was glad not to be in his head – it didn't seem like a very fun place. For one of a handful of times in my long career, I thought he would benefit from medication. He truly appeared anxious.
Anxious is a word that is starting to irritate me. It's like the cool buzz-word of 2018, used as an unquestionable excuse for poor behaviour and lack of effort. Most dogs on medication need off the medication and instead require training that is right for them, and some rules that are not negotiable. I didn't think this guy would improve a whole lot without medication - his issues were deeper rooted. For him, I would have guessed medication was more important than training. Normally it is the opposite.
He barked his way through the whole of Monday, with his dilated pupils, puddles of drool, while I prayed for silence. Tuesday, I looked at him more closely. There started to be short moments of silence, making it easier to look at his barking. Yes, his barking was anxious, but it was angry too. When I closed the crate door on him, he moved his head towards my fingers as he barked. That looked like the threat of a bite. Next time I put him away, as he did that, I opened up the door, flicked him on the nose and told him not to be a jerk. He pulled his nose away from my hand and had his first moment of clarity. Then barked again.
Next time, I saw more of a snarly bark as I closed the door. I opened up the door, slammed it closed quickly while telling him what I thought, and walked off. No barking. That was the last time he barked as I was closing his door. And from that moment, his barking has been dramatically reduced. As I write currently, it is silent.
But. The on-going anxiety is leaving. He's happy now, for a big portion of his day. He has wound up moments, but there are no more puddles of drool, the dilated pupils are not as prevalent, and he seems happier living in his own head.
Which then leads me to my question. Is a lot of the anxiety that we see in dogs all coming from lack of rules? Was it the stress of him thinking that he needed to bite me if I closed a door on him that ruined his entire days? Once he realized that he couldn't, did I lift a giant burden off him?
Maybe I was seeing true anxiety. True anxiety about what he perceived his role was in this world. And now he has relief knowing that today, he is not required to do that.
Only time will tell. But for now, I'm enjoying the silence. And so are all of my other dogs.