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Poppet is now 4.5 months. She is affectionate and obedient at home. Certainly mischevious, but a good dog.

We have been taking her to puppy classes and she loves the other dogs there. We've generally not had a problem with dogs, except for large ones, but she is getting less scared of them now.

My concern is with people. We have started socializing her, taking her on walks and stopping to talk to people who are interested, taking her to the local pet store, introducing her to friends and colleagues, walking her to our son's school and waiting outside (lots of people around coming and going).

The people we let into the house are generally greeted with a bark, but she soon simmers down. With both adults and young children (around 10) she is happy to play with them, and quickly warms up to them in about 10 minutes or so.

The problem is when we are out and about. She barks a lot at strangers, and has definitely been known to lunge for them. What should we do when she barks at someone and has her hackles up? Today we bumped into a biker type guy - he was pretty big, and not at all afraid or phased by her, kept talking to her calmly, offered the back of his hand to smell, was relaxed and friendly. She barked at him for about 5 minutes before we finally moved on!

What should we do when she does this? Should we let her bark? Should we try and quiet her? Typically I will try and corect her on the leash as soon as she turns towards a stranger, and I will try and position myself between her and the stranger so she doesn't have a direct line of attack. Is this the right thing to do? I have thought about trying to put her on her back when she is in this frame of mind, but I don't think that is a good idea.

What should I be doing to stop her from behaving this way when we are out and about?

Thanks,
Jon.
 

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Quote: I have thought about trying to put her on her back when she is in this frame of mind, but I don't think that is a good idea
You're right - <u>not a good idea</u>!

Teach her an informal type heel command, like "let's go" and ignore her bark but turn and go the other way with a "let's go." In other words, do not let her stand there and bark.

Or, have a treat in you pocket and ask helpful strangers to offer it to her.

She needs positive exchanges.
 

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I'd try to find a place where you and she can sit and see strangers from a distance--but not so close that she reacts.

Example--perhaps there's a bench in a park where you could sit with her that overlooks a ball field. She could sit quietly with you there, while strangers come and go--but at a safe distance. In this scenario you should be chatting the whole time..."oh, look , Poppet--see, there's another man. He looks nice. That must be his wife. They sure look like nice people. You see all kinds of strangers here, don't you?..." and just keep up the happy chatter.

As long as Poppet is calm and quiet, keep stroking her and giving her treats.

When you're sure she is comfortable with this level of interaction with strangers, then it's time to move closer. Same routine. Perhaps this time it's the parking lot of a store. You can stand at the edge of the lot, and see people walking in and out of the store.

The idea is to set her up to succeed. Only push her as far as you can where you are comfortable that she will react correctly...then push her just a teeny bit beyond. Master that much, then move closer.

Right now, meeting strangers directly on the street is more than she can handle. Pushing her into that situation and letting her bark her head off is just reinforcement of the wrong kind.
 
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