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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All!

I have a 1-year old purebred male named Dudley. He is a great pup and listens well, but we are having some issues with him barking when confronted with new people. When new people approach (or when we approach new people) he barks like crazy. The bark does not sound very nice, and people obviously tend to stop approaching when the barking begins. By no means is he a mean dog, and I do not believe he would ever bite. We had a reputable trainer come into our home to assess the issue and help us deal with it. He diagnosed Dudley as being fear aggressive. We have been working with Dudley to sit and remain calm when strangers approach. When we can, we have strangers toss him treats and sometimes have Dudley take them out of strangers' hands. Dudley has handled this well and is making some progress. My husband and I have been tossing around the idea of neutering him. Dudley is starting to mark on walks, and we don't ever want him to bring that behavior inside, as we have heard of other dogs doing. We have had some people tell us that neutering will possibly 'take the edge off' and may help to lessen the intensity of his 'fight or flight' response in instances in which he is fearful. However, we also have heard that it may have negative effects and cause him to be more fearful and make him less confident. Does anyone have any personal experience with this? Have any of you neutered a dog who is fearful when confronted by new people? How did it turn out? Also, have any of you overcome these fear issues? I would love to hear success stories! I also would like to hear any stories that you have to share about what you did with a fearful dog and anything that helped to ease the fear.

Thank you in advance! I look forward to hearing your responses!
 

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Neuter will have no affect on his fear aggression. Having strangers feed him is also a bad idea. He is afraid of strangers and by having strangers feed him you are making a big deal out of it.
 

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Intact dogs marking in the house is almost always a little dog problem and rarely occurs in medium to large breeds.

Can't speak for other people's dogs, but I love the calm, quiet confidence that emerges at maturity in an intact male dog.
 

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Altering a fear aggressive dog can actually make the aggression worse. Many need the testosterone for the confidence. Instead, up your training. Instead of strangers feeding him, have the stranger ignore him and talk to you. If Dudley is calm, allow him to sniff stranger - again with stranger ignoring him. Your goal is to have Dudley's complete attention and stranger being background noise.

If you haven't muzzle trained Dudley yet, I would add that to the list of to-do's. Whether he has bitten anyone yet or not, he is a fearful dog which can mean unpredictable.

Added links that may be of interest:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201805/neutering-causes-behavior-problems-in-male-dogs

The following is the methods I used with my heathen. He is 8 now, has been FA from the beginning. He isn't perfect, but from where he was to what he has progressed to is a huge difference. He doesn't want to tear into everyone now ;)

https://clickerleash.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/look-at-that-a-counterintuitive-approach-to-dealing-with-reactive-dogs/

https://grishastewart.com/bat101/?s2-ssl=yes

BAT 2.0 Overview | Grisha Stewart

There are other methods that are used and successful, these are just what I found to work best with Woolf.
 

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OK here's yet another suggestion --- learn to work under threshold and slowly decrease the distance. That works for all sorts of barking at stuff behavior. Lots on the internet about this, Pam Miller in whole dog journal has several articles, too.
 

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What you want your dog to learn is that these people are no threat and don't matter. I like to use desensitization for this, mainly because you can do it without help. Take your dog to a park, staying back away from any trails or hiking paths far enough that your dog is able to stay calm, and let him just observe people from that comfortable distance. Work on obedience, play with him, dogs typically won't be very engaged at either of these activities if they're feeling stressed. So once he does get comfortable enough to do them, you know he's adjusted his thinking and is relatively calm! From there incrementally move a bit closer and repeat.

It takes time and patience, and it's not something you can rush. But again, it's an easy way to work on the issue without help from others. Once he's a bit more calm around people, take him to home depot or tractor supply and just walk him around the parking lot. There's usually lots of car and pedestrian traffic, so it's a great way to further desensitize him! The main issue I had with my dog in doing this was keeping people away. But it's important to do so. No greetings, no pets, and no treats. Just calmly walking around and ignoring people as the background you want your dog to see them as.
 

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I agree with what has been advised on this thread -people need to be in the background. The focus needs to be on you. Focus exercises starting with treats then balls or toys and obedience exercises are all beneficial. A solid “stay” will let your dog know what he needs to do. I also like the word leave it. Noseworks class or any anything your dog can excel in or practice will build more confidence.

Max was never fond of strange dogs he is not crazy aggressive, he would want to run them off. I did a lot of leave it’s, focus exercises, obedience for him to behave. I choose to have him neutered at two years of age only because he had a retained testicle. It did not change anything when he was neutered.

I enjoyed going To the local beach one side allowed leashes dogs during season and off season either side allowed leashed dogs. During season was more hectic. A favorite place to go that allowed max to have fun while focusing and practice training with me. I was the center of his attention. A good place to go when ready for distractions. A lot of people and dogs, yelling kids , frisbee games,surfers, bikers, joggers,parasailing, horses, many distractions to train around. Max will not ever like hyper focused or charging dogs get in his space but he is now relaxed when passing by. Photo of max when I would work with distractions - there are horses in one photo some horses there was a entire pack neighing to each other- max was like stayed put and minded his business.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

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Discussion Starter #10
konathegsd,
Can you explain why having strangers give him treats is a bad idea? Sorry if this should be obvious, but I just don't understand. This is what our trainer suggested, so we have been doing it. Can you help me understand why this is a bad idea? I just want to do whatever will help him overcome his fears!
Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Twyla,
Thank you for the helpful advise and links! I am happy to hear your dog has improved! I am hoping I can help mine just as much! He is already making progress, but it looks like we may need to change our methods. Thank you for your insight! It is much appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
tim_s_adams,
We have been doing some of the things you suggested. We work on obedience at a distance he is comfortable with and gradually lessen the distance between us and the people. We will keep doing this! Thank you for the idea of taking him to a high pedestrian traffic parking lot to let him see and get comfortable with the commotion! Can I ask why it is so crucial he does not take treats from others? That is one portion I suppose I am not understanding.
Thank you for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jenny720,

Dudley has a pretty solid stay and leave it, but I will continue to work to strengthen them. He took basic obedience this past summer, and we are looking for new classes to get him into. He loves to do nosework practice around the house! Thank you also for your input on neutering; I genuinely don't know what would be best and that is why I turned here. It sounds like you have the perfect place to work with your beautiful boy! We just go to local parks, as there aren't too many high pedestrian traffic areas in our town. I will do some more searching to find more places that are full of distractions for us to practice in. Happy to hear you have made progress, and I am excited to have new ideas to try with my boy!
Thank you!
 
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