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Discussion Starter #1
We walk through a wild life reserve near my house. We have never seen anyone back there and it is a great place for her to run off leash. Yesterday we came across an older couple taking pictures, I put her on leash as we approached them and she did a big girl bark with her hackles up. Never seen this before from her. I told her it was OK and she was fine- tail wagging and all friendly.
Do you think this is just the first sign of protective instincts, at 16 weeks? Or could this be related to the unfortunate incident where the lady launched her?
 

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16 week old pups aren't protective.

Growling, barking and hackling are defense displays intended to scare a threat away. They are based in fear. It's probably nothing to be alarmed about and she'll get over that fear as she matures and has more positive experiences with people. But to me it would indicate a need for more socialization.

One thing I would NOT do is coddle the dog. Don't try to soothe, pet, and reassure the dog that everything is fine. All this does is reinforce fearful behavior because the dog can't understand the words you're saying, but does know that she's getting positive attention for you in conjunction with her fearful reaction. Instead, completely ignore any fearful behavior.... absolutely no reaction from you whatsoever. And then when that behavior goes away and she moves forward confidently on her own, THEN you praise and pet her and reinforce the confident behavior.
 

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Hackles = fear not protection. In rare cases dogs can hackle from excitement, but usually it's a different type of hackle. She was not sure about the couple and had a fear response, which is not out of the norm as young dogs go through the maturation process. Be careful with your reaction, because telling her "it's OK" in a nice voice while she does this is telling her that she should be scared and her response was appropriate (which it wasn't). Ignore her when she acts this way, and do not slow down walking or let her avoid. If possible, I'd ask the people if they would mind standing still for 30 seconds while I walked her by 5 or 6 times while not letting her avoid and ignoring skittish behavior and rewarding calm behavior. If a dog has a reaction like this to an inanimate object I'll actually go so far as to pick her up and put her on it or next to it. Message to dog... nothing to fear here!
 

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Thanks- great help you all are. Do you think there's any benefit in reintroducing her to the woman who launched her? She has agreed to help in any way she can to help Lucy undo any damage. Or do you think just handling things correctly with added socialization will take care of things?
 

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this is disconcerting, as my max, 2yrs and 4 months, hackles constantly, especially when people walk in front of the house (not all the time, though, like he 'evaluates' who is worthy of being barked at) - He uses a very deep bark - but the top of his shoulderblades get all raised. How should I handle this with him? I certainly don't want him to be fearful.
 

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you may have to start slow celia. I would go back to doing more socialization work with max. Bring lots of high value treats with you and just sit on your front porch (if you get decent pedestrian volume) or go to a bark and just sit on the bench and "people watch". When he starts to stare down people and fidget before he barks, start asking him simple commands he knows very well. This way your showing him to ignore everyone/everything distracting and focus on you and those amazing treats you have. He is fearful which also means a lack of self confidence, so asking them a simple sit, down, paw, stand, paw, sit (or whatever) he'll be like "sit! I know that one!" and the more you do the more excited he will get and he will feel for confident in himself for knwoing what to do, and all the praise and tasty treats, he will forget the "people" are even there. Once he starts to associate people with good treats and praise, just sit and people watch, if he doesnt fidget or bark, and he just sits and watches them, jackpot him a bunch of treats and praise him for his good behavior. If he starts to bark, do the first step again.

This really helped my fear aggressive girl Mya, but it took a while for her to understand. She would rather bark from a distance to strangers, but duck and cover if they're too close, so doing this activity helped her to realize no one was going to hurt her and "strangers" actually meant yummy treats and kisses from mommy! hope it helps!
 

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Originally Posted By: LucinaThanks- great help you all are. Do you think there's any benefit in reintroducing her to the woman who launched her? She has agreed to help in any way she can to help Lucy undo any damage. Or do you think just handling things correctly with added socialization will take care of things?
As a small part of your overall socialization plan, sure. She needs to go LOTS of places and see LOTS of different people and other stimuli while you handle her calmly and confidently. This is the way to get her through this behavior.
 

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Originally Posted By: celiamariethis is disconcerting, as my max, 2yrs and 4 months, hackles constantly, especially when people walk in front of the house (not all the time, though, like he 'evaluates' who is worthy of being barked at) - He uses a very deep bark - but the top of his shoulderblades get all raised. How should I handle this with him? I certainly don't want him to be fearful.
How does he act towards people when outside of the house? Do you live with him alone, or is there an adult male human in the house?
 

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Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
Originally Posted By: celiamariethis is disconcerting, as my max, 2yrs and 4 months, hackles constantly, especially when people walk in front of the house (not all the time, though, like he 'evaluates' who is worthy of being barked at) - He uses a very deep bark - but the top of his shoulderblades get all raised. How should I handle this with him? I certainly don't want him to be fearful.
How does he act towards people when outside of the house? Do you live with him alone, or is there an adult male human in the house?

He will walk and wag right up to people.. absolutely no fear, very happy to meet everyone, on or off leash. I live by myself, my daughter is up at college.. and I have a boyfriend who comes here a few times/month - and Max is wild for him. It's just that when he barks inside the house, his hair stands on end. After a few minutes, I believe it returns to normal, but the first 'threat' seems to get to him.
 

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Sounds like he's territorial with your home, and that is translating to fear because he's kind of young. I wondered if you lived alone or at least without a male human around, as that can have an impact on his reactions especially if you are not a particularly dominant person (which women can absolutely be - don't get me wrong). I don't see this as a massive problem, especially since he is not fearful all of the time at home and not at all outside the home. I, for one, like when my dogs alert me of someone near my home provided they do not get obsessive about it and leave it alone when I tell them to. The way you can control this is to enforce your rank through NILF on a day to day basis and after he has alerted you someone is close calmly tell him fine, or good (if you want him to keep alerting, if not don't say anything) and then give him a "leave it" or "enough" command.
 

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I give my dogs a "Good Alert" which is thank you for letting me know, now that I know, you don't need to bark any more. If they bark after the "Good Alert" then I as John said "enough or quit" depends on the dog.
 

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wow.. that's exactly what I do.. as soon as I say, 'good dog, enough'... he backs right down and stops barking. He may whine and moan that I've stifled him, but he listens very well..
..and without a doubt, I am alpha. Sometimes I wonder if I've made him too submissive - and him raising hackles is a result of that.
 

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I do that as well, she doesnt really bark much, but when she does, I get up and investigat, I dont say anything to her until I've checked it out, then I will just tell her I didnt see anything. She is happy that I investigate and seems to leave it at that.
 

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Don't think hackles is a sign of fear. In my opinion it could be a combination of things but I often thought of it as a sign of agitation. I have witnesses hackles in all four of my dogs, hackles could also be a sign of aggression so... My Weimaraner would have raised hackles when he was on a hot scent of either a coyote or another wild animal and he go off in hot pursuit. I had a intact Rhodesian Ridgeback who I had to have a leash with me at the dog park for fear that he would get in a tangle with another male. His hackles would raise when he was insight of a male perhaps 25 yards away. Duke would never back down from a confrontation (unfortunately) but I was always close by to get a grip of things. He was later nutured but by then it was so ingrained into him that he still acted like he was intact. Sorry for being so wordy...

I just don't think raising hackles is a sign of fear and fear only... I have seened them displayed in many different type of scenerios...

Dave
 

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I think she ws startled to see other people there and soon as she realized it was OK (probably five seconds or less) she was her normal tail waggin' people lovin' self:) We've met many more new people since then with nothing but unadulterated glee on her part. I'm trying to tone it down a smidge, but I'd much rather have the problem I've got than the alternative.......
 

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Originally Posted By: Cody2 hackles could also be a sign of aggression so

I just don't think raising hackles is a sign of fear and fear only... I have seened them displayed in many different type of scenerios...

Dave
Sure, hackles could equate to aggression... fear aggression. In that situation, it's a dogs way of making themselves look bigger as many other animals in nature do.

With that being said, your Weimaraner hackling while on a scent is an excitement hackle. My female does this while playing two toy and retrieving sometimes. It's a different looking hackle and only a little of her hair towards her tail stands up. Your RR sounds like a fear hackle as well in response to another male.
 

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Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
Originally Posted By: Cody2 hackles could also be a sign of aggression so

I just don't think raising hackles is a sign of fear and fear only... I have seened them displayed in many different type of scenerios...

Dave
Sure, hackles could equate to aggression... fear aggression. In that situation, it's a dogs way of making themselves look bigger as many other animals in nature do.
Correct.

When coupled with aggressive displays, hackles are a sign of fear. Dogs who are aggressive from a state of confidence (true active aggression/fight drive) do not hackle. Dogs who are aggressive because they feel threatened (reactive aggression/defense drive) hackle.

Yes, some dogs are wired a bit different and will hackle out of excitement. We have one of those, who hackles when playing ball. Usually though this excitement hackling is on the dog's butt, not the shoulders.
 
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