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Thread: Brian's barking at son in law. Im now seriously over it.

  1. #1
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    Default Brian's barking at son in law. Im now seriously over it.

    Ever since we got Brian, 7 weeks ago, he has taken a dislike to my future son in law (SIL), that practically is a daily feature in our home. But each and every time Brian see's him, he goes off and runs to hide beside me/behind me and gets brave from back there.

    So we've had SIL hand feeding him treats for being brave and approaching.
    SIL announcing his arrivals with hi Brian, its just me on entering, and ignoring the dog.

    And i swear, i have not changed Brian one iota!
    eg. SIL can have fed him bacon, got a nice cuddle, Brian's gone all floppy from having his head massaged by
    SIL, then SIL goes to kitchen, turns and comes back in room, and Brians off again. And we start all over.

    Never is progress learning, applied to next situation.
    And im getting annnoyed now.

    I want to whack a bucket over his head for gobbing off, throughout the night's visit. each time BIL moves in the house. Its annoying.

    7 weeks of counter training has = no change. Hates him, always has, always will attitude.

    Brian's aggressive barking is instrumental to get the lad to bugger off. (which doesnt work, as i tried it myself in past) When SIL doesnt move away from Brian, Brian runs and hides. He does not confront trouble. He avoids.

    What i would like is:
    Brian to cease barking, growling, staring at SIL, he doesnt have to like him, just show some bloody manners.
    When Brian doesnt back down he gets thrown out by me, every time, for past 7 weeks, and still he does it.

    any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Sorry no advice but I wonder does your SIL have a resemblance to his old owner? or it could be someone that has treated him bad in the past...

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  3. #3
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    I wonder if offering rewards in the exact moments that set him off might make a difference. LAT when SIL enters or re-enters the room. If you can't get his attention like that, you may have to think of a way to make the entry more gradual to keep Brian under threshold. Try and observe the exact trigger that sets him off - SIL appearing in the doorway, or hearing his voice or footsteps approach - and then start from the step that normally comes before that, if that makes sense. Reward for noticing the alarming movement or sound and looking at you and staying calm. Because maybe to Brian SIL coming in and SIL giving him bacon or sitting on the couch are 2 completely separate scenarios and not linked at all in his brain.

    That's what I would try. Our intend to try! Like you, I'd be pretty annoyed about him carrying on like that after all the effort you've already put in.
    Last edited by Beloz; 10-01-2013 at 07:23 PM.

  4. #4
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    It doesn't seem like he dislike SIL in particular because he is happy to have a head rub. I think Jadielee is right and it may be an association with someone from his past.

    I can understand your frustration and I feel for both you and Brian. Hopefully some one has some suggestions that may help.

  5. #5
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    You let him get away with it for too long hence he does it. You don't punish a dog that is uneasy and stressed, it won't decrease the stress. Teach the dog, thank you for your opinion, go to your corner and I'll deal with it from here. This way he has no need to continue the anxiey reactions.

    As soon as SIL come's over, get him to ignore the dog totally and make it meal time. So brian goes outside with a lovely juicy bone to go chew on and he can come inside when he's finished and SIL is gone. Make it happy to try and diffuse his behavior not add to it. The dog is stressing and you're not acknowledging himm hence he keeps going. I wouldn't bother with trying to get Brian to make friends - he needs to learn to see your SIL as neutral, not worth worrying or getting stressed about before you can tip his opinion to positive if at all. Aim for neutrality, you wont put too much pressure on the dog and the dog will learn faster then trying to be pushed to another exciting reaction.

  6. #6
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    Hi Bernie

    every time Brian see's him, he goes off and runs to hide beside me/behind me and gets brave from back there.
    SIL goes to kitchen, turns and comes back in room, and Brians off again
    I like Nekhbet's answer. Can you get video of Brian's reaction to Son in Law? Because from here it's hard to tell if Brian is genuinely upset and anxious about Son in law or - was upset but is now doing the performance he's been rewarded for - like Frosty and her lawn mower man. She LOVES the lawn mower man. But she goes off completely when he shows up. She gets SO excited. The few times she has said hello to him, she's all over him fawning and licking and wiggling and happy excited but if he turns to move away from her or ignores her for a second she turns into a strange ferocious growling animal - especially if he starts pushing the lawnmower around, and if he walks past her too close she will try to jump on him or nip him. Not good at all. Like the classic "invite the burglar in but not let him leave" thing that cattle dogs (and other guard dogs?) do.

    So doesn't really matter if she loves him or hates him or both - it's completely unacceptable. So she's not allowed to say hello to the lawnmower man at all. Mostly because I can't train the lawnmower man not to loom over her with his hat and sunglasses and wind her up more.

    But for a while - this was my mistake - I paired his arrival and lawn mowing activities with the highest bestest treats I had - but I didn't insist on calm behaviour first, I used it more as a distraction and lure attention away, and rewarded (inadvertently) all the bad behaviour I didn't want. LAT fail.

    Now - she's not allowed to say hello to lawn mower man at all, and no treats come out while he's around. I could try a kong full of frozen food while he's here I suppose - because she can't work on that and act excited about him. But she'd still get excited about him showing up.

    She often (but not always) gets a kong or bit of roo jerky when I'm going out, but she's never excited about that. She often gets on the couch and pretends to be asleep when I get my stuff ready to go out, even if she's coming too. Unless I leave the front door open - in which case - she confirms the fact that she's actually hyper vigilant... so I don't leave the front door open any more when I'm packing the car unless she's already harnessed in the car or locked in a crate.

    that was probably too much info.

    Anyway - I would not be letting Brian interact with SIL with food or not, until he can be calm. He's a good guard dog but a bit misguided.

    You could maybe use the fact that Brian forgets who the SIL is the second he leaves the room as a training opportunity - a bit like how I would deal with separation anxiety... ie starting from the happy Brian SIL brain massage... SIL gets up, (takes two steps) towards door, turns around and sits back down and continues brain massage for a few seconds, then repeats escape attempt, until Brian can let him to the door and back again without getting excited and then I would try the briefest SIL out of sight test and return etc.

    If nothing else it would give you a bit of a clue about Brian's level of comfort and the sequence signals he gives before he goes off.

    You could also try a reverse of it where SIL starts at a distance and approaches - obliquely (shoulder towards Brian not chest no direct eye contact and all that) and as soon as Brian so much as flicks an ear or eyeball, then move away, and then repeat, many times, just working the edge of the distraction space. Again pay attention to the signals that Brian gives before he goes nuts.

    Spend no more than maybe 2 minutes of doing this and then put Brian away somewhere he cannot interact with SIL. And then maybe give him a kong (full of frozen dinner) or dinner to eat by himself.

    If it was my dog - I wouldn't use any food reward because that seems to increase this kind of problem when I'm trying to get a calm dog.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys.
    I am not stressed Brian doesn't like SIL, i dont like barking dogs in my home. That is stressing me. I don't need him to be friends, just quiet.
    So, have read all suggestions, and want to implement some of these.

    I am unable to use LAT, as Brian wont look at me yet on command. See how far 'behind' we are. So some of the solutions are not at my disposal right now.

    I like the suggestion of trying to figure out, what Brian's trigger is. As someone suggested, it might not be SIL, might be sound of boots on floor, car parking, could be anything. This makes sense too, as he's fine with SIL when he knows who it is, hence head rubs. Its his entrance that seems to trigger Brian. So another suggestion was videoing SIL arrival. I'll set this up sometime and take a good look at what's happening, when he 'activates' so to speak.

    As SIL hangs around this place, from before i get home from work, till after ive gone to bed most nights, sending Brian out for duration of visit with/without a bone, means i dont get to see Brian in evenings. Just SIL
    What might be an alternative suggestion for this?

    btw Brian going nuts is actually, Brian sat on left of my chair, his 'place' when not 'on your bed'. From this position, he will hypersalivate, growl once triggered (and i'll find out what trigger is, as suspect it might not be SIL per se) then will start barking. At no point will SIL have entered the room, there is frosted glass doors, closed between him and SIL. But he clearly knows he's there.
    If i get up, and abandon him to his fear, he'll become distressed, searching for a bolt hole. But is trapped by SIL as that direction is his exit. (as i type this, im getting light bulb moments of that's dodgy!)

    I clearly have reinforced this unwanted behaviour. Hence no progress at all.
    And i suspect most of his training is going this way too? as he and i are not well matched. But im willing to learn, even if he isnt. Bastard dog!

    Its been a rough settling in phase for me with this dog. He feels like a bottomless pit of needs. With very little other than aesthetics to offer in return.
    Maybe a negative day for Brian and i's relationship. Certainly knows how to keep my glass half empty if you get that.

  8. #8
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    I get your frustration, Bernie. You give so much to your dogs. Training and managing a dog must just seem draining if there is no reward, no matter how small. Humans need positive reinforcement too.

    I wonder if a good behavioural trainer might help you see things a bit clearer? I know when I feel stuck, either with dog or child, I go looking for new sources of knowledge. Often books, but sometimes real life experts. And even if I don't find the techniques they suggest overly helpful, it always seems to help me view things from new angles and think up new strategies.

    Can't really think of any resources to suggest for an unresponsive dog though. Although "Chill out, Fido" has some great information on stress in dogs and a detailed training exercise program to teach a dog to choose calm behaviours. But I've no idea if they would work on a dog like Brian.

    ETA: Can I also say, after reading your other post and how you talk about your rottie (sorry, I forgot her name now!) that I remember it took you a while to bond with her and figure her out too. I remember you referring to her as Bernie's bitch and you finding training with her so very tedious compared to Bernie. But your more recent posts about her show that she has become so much more to you than just a dog to keep Bernie company. Go easy on yourself and Brian. I know you'll get there in the end because you are a dog person through and through and you thrive on challenges.
    Last edited by Beloz; 10-02-2013 at 07:27 PM.

  9. #9
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    What happens if Brian is out the back when you SIL enters the house and then Brian is brought inside? (Sorry if you have already mentioned this! if so ignore :P)

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  10. #10
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    I clearly have reinforced this unwanted behaviour. Hence no progress at all.

    And i suspect most of his training is going this way too? as he and i are not well matched. But im willing to learn, even if he isnt. Bastard dog!
    You get the dog that you need ie the one that will challenge your training abilities. It's strange how writing out your question describing what you've got and what you want, often helps you figure out the answer as if you were looking at someone else's training problem. Video is REALLY helpful in this. Ie you see what's going on more from the outside and objectively.

    Also - while I'd look to the answers in me - I try to avoid (and sometimes fail) feeling crap about training fails. I've learned so much about dog training in the last five years with this dog that I never learned with all the dogs I lived with previously. Some pretty much did their own thing, and a couple were "telepathic", you didn't have to be any good at all at training for them to learn a new trick though mum recently confessed that the smartest one (the heeler x kelpie) never learned to do a proper heel without getting ahead of the correct place.

    It's interesting that Brian goes off before he can see the SIL. So that would have to be sound.

    As best I can tell with my dog she hears stuff, then she sees it, then she runs up and sniffs it and that's when she decides she knows the person or not. If she sees someone she knows and doesn't get close enough to smell them, she may not recognise them if they're not dressed in a familiar way. And then she might just go into "Stand off and bark" mode and never get close enough to smell them. Same if she sees someone she thinks looks like me. A hat will do it. And they don't smell right and they're not me, "stand off and bark" again - until she figures out where I am. She still seems upset that there's someone at the park or on the beach that looks like someone she knows but isn't.

    So Brian being all guard doggy - hears a threat (blokey presence), can't see it or sniff it to confirm who it is, and being a guard dog that yells first and asks questions later... like you'd want if it was a threat (no time for sniff checks first).

    Maybe - just a guess, it would help if you had something that smells like SIL - an old tshirt, and when SIL rocks up and Brian goes into alert mode but before he goes into upset mode, you say that's SIL, and you call out to SIL and he answers - doesn't have to yell - dog can hear, and you shove the SIL tshirt in Brian's face. And if Brian calms down a bit, you tell him good dog.

    Not sure what you do next. If he manages to be "good dog" maybe take him out to confirm what his ears were telling him that it's SIL of the brain massage and then let SIL come in first with Brian going in after... pay attention to Brian - it's supposed to help not wind him up. Any sign of Brian getting more excited and less calm - stop and try something different.

    I'd also consider mat or crate training ie there is Brian's safe spot and if he's calm - you stay close but if he gets excited - maybe you move a little bit further away - which is how I deal with my evil hound barking in her crate. If she barks a lot I cover the crate up and move away. She's managed to connect her barking with boss repellent so she knows the game - she's never getting what she wants unless she shuts up.

    Change the environment, instead of a crate, I'm using the house: she's shut in the house and can't see me but she knows I'm in the back yard - cos she's not deaf - she will squeal almost continuously because I'm outside and she's not. Like a 2yo temper tantrum / melt down. Definitely upset, hard to tell if it's angry or scared. Doesn't really matter to me. I'm not going to reward it, I'm going to ignore it and I'm certainly not going to cave in when I'm putting weed and feed out and she has to stay off the lawn for a day or two. I could have put her in the crate in the house and shut the door of the crate and she may have figured it out a bit quicker but I really need to do the whole thing more often starting with shorter separations. She copes with fairly short ones but not extended ones.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 10-02-2013 at 11:03 PM.

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