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Thread: How to Stop Him Lunge at Someone

  1. #1
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    Default How to Stop Him Lunge at Someone

    Hi everyone,

    I basically have got a big black scaredy cat, who is slowly gaining confidence. Nero is a lab cross and bit over year now. He still scared of strangers although it is nowhere as bad anymore as it used to be. He doesn't growl at strangers anymore and while he still doesn't like being touched he shows curiosity towards other people. Having said that, I would not guarantee for him if he feels cornered or threatened - bearing in mind that his perception of 'thread' might well differ from everyone elses.

    We have put up a clearly visible 'beware of the dog' sign on the gate to alert people, however, I'm quite baffled by the number of people completely ignoring this sign and just walking in. This frequently results in a completely frantic dog barking and lungeing at people and myself dropping everything and running out like a madwoman.

    Nero has never bitten anyone, but recently I notice that he is getting closer to people. He used to bark frantically, but keeping at least a 2m distance. Meanwhile he is getting braver though and sometimes he actually lunges (just threatening - not even touching) at people.

    This is only if strangers are walking in our yard and he settles as soon as I start talking with whoever has walked in. I tend to ignore him barking and would just call him back or say calmly something like 'enough'. I find the most effective though to just ignore him and act calm and normal, i.e. just talking with the people.

    Am I doing the right thing? I would like him to stop behaving like a dangerous monster and just calm down. I don't mind him barking to alert me someone is actually at the door - but I don't want him to get too close to people or even lunge at them! Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Hi Margoo

    If you want to protect your dog, you may need to change your fencing so he can't get into the front yard. I think it's the law that people (eg police) should be able to knock on your front door without being harrassed or risking being bitten by a dog. Just the harrasment alone can get you into trouble with your council - ie your dog declared dangerous and you required to keep it in a secure run where it cannot run up to people and bark at them in a scary threatening manner.

    If people are wandering into your back yard where the dog is secure, you may need to put a lock on that gate so they cannot.

    "Beware of the dog" - is not a warning that your dog may harass or bite. I understand it to mean that there is a dog, and please shut the gate so it can't escape. And you definitely don't want to put a "dangerous dog" sign up if you don't have to.

    Acting calm and normal and just talking is a good way to signal to your dog that the stranger is of no concern. Screaming and yelling at the dog to shut up, just sounds like you barking too - ie encouraging to the dog. So I think you are doing the right thing there.

    But ignoring the dog - is probably not safe for your dog or your guests. Ie this behaviour will continue to get worse if you do not actually STOP it and prevent it.

    The best way to do this - in my opinion is to train the dog to do something else. Eg put the dog on lead before it is allowed anywhere near anyone new, and make it sit. If it can't do this, then put it out the back or in a room where it cannot get to the new person and continue to make a fuss.

    Lots of really yummy treats and some co-operative new people who will keep their distance or back off as you request so you can keep your dog calm and work on the safe approach will help.

  3. #3
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    Hi Hyacinth,

    No way to change our fencing. The house is on the very back of the property, i.e. we have no back- but only a frontyard

    I didn't know about this legislation. I thought if I have a sign up it should be enough to keep people out *sigh*

    Thanks for the tips. Putting him on a lead is a really good idea. I have tried to make him sit but he completely ignores me when he is busy barking at someone and jumping up and down. But I can only do this if I know someone is coming. I'm rather worried about people just randomly wondering in (like the Jehovas witness the other day) I don't really want to put him on a chain?!

    A few times I have actually put him in the bathroom to get him out of the way. Since then he doesn't come anymore when I call him in these situations.

    I never yell at him simply because it's completely ineffective. And I should say that he was dead scared of strangers when we got him. He is getting so much better now - it's only when they enter his territory that he misbehaves.

    Just a thought... how about we put up a bell on the front gate? So people don't need to come in to get our attention?

  4. #4
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    Hi Margoo

    You can put a bell on your front gate that rings in your house. Excellent. I also know that some people put a sensor on their front gate, that lets them know if someone is coming that way. Ie it beeps in the house when people walk past or open the gate. They don't actually have to press the button.

    There are also intercom and camera systems ie then you can lock the gate. You might want to discuss requirements with your local police neighbourhood liaison person to find out what works for them eg for fire brigade - a lock or latch they can easily break if they need to but will discourage jehovahs from coming uninvited. I swear those people think that God will save them from aggressive dogs.

    Can you fence off the path or driveway so that the dog has room to run but it keeps unexpected visitors separate?

    And you really need to work on your recall - do this when there are no distracting visitors around and that will build the understanding (or automatic response) with your dog. Three times a day, every day, call your dog and give him a really really yummy treat and coo over how clever he is for about 30 seconds (seems like ages). Beginner level - call once - when he is already coming to you, and from quite close in the house, when you're serving dog dinner etc. Once he's come, and you've done your 30 seconds, let him go again, ie avoid calling him when you need to put him on lead at first.

    As part of your recall practice, don't give him a treat unless he lets you grab his collar. This game you can practice in front of the telly or with kids, hubby or friends (if available). Ie call once, grab collar, give treat, then get someone else to call him, do five or six of these together - once a day.

    The more you call him and show him a good time - yummy treat or game - and then release him to do his own thing (go play) the more likely he is to come when you need him no matter what else is going on.

  5. #5
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    Oh, there is nothing wrong with his recall. It's just that his hearing is slightly... selective. He is by my side in an instant when I call him - given there is nothing better to do of course. But it's really hard for me to compete with a) interesting smells, b) roos/rabbits to chase, c) other dogs to play, and d) strangers to bark at. I do work on it and hope it'll improve over time.

  6. #6
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    LOL Margoo.

    "When I feel like it" recall is not as usefull as a classically conditioned recall - when they come back to you before they even have time to think about whether what they're doing is more fun.

    You really need the classically conditioned recall. And it is achieveable. By the method I described. Or you can get Lesley Nelson's DVD called "really reliable recall". She trained afghan hounds to come when called.

  7. #7
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    You've got a point there
    I just ordered the DVD (rather pricey)...

  8. #8
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    Hi Margoo

    it's not as pricey as it was a couple of years ago when our $ was 80cents of theirs...

    And I think if you follow the instructions and get your recall happenning it will save your dog's live and your sanity. Totally worth it. Cheap even compared to vet and shrink fees.

  9. #9

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    I also agree with Hya on the recall. YOu can't say your dog has recall if they don't come back all the time

    We are currently going through our recall class with our trainers and what Hya has outlined above is what we are doing. At random times during the day in a very happy voice I call out to Phoenix (I actually use Phiiiiii as her recall name, because I can get it high pitched which sounds happy) and then give her lots of yummy treats and praise, I can already see it working so definitely do it!

    My trainers recommend if you have used your dogs name to call them for "bad" things, ie come inside, leave the dog park, putting on leash after being off leash, bath time etc and they are not responding to it every time due to this then to actually make up a recall name usually something that ends in a high pitched note is good. It can just be a variant of your dogs name (I can't think of something for Nero haha).

    Good luck.

  10. #10
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    I've heard of people using "free beer" as their new dog recall. If it reminds you that you have to keep it happy and never ever scold your dog when it comes - it's a good choice.

    I use "C'mon" like Leyton Hewitt says it when he's firing up - because I can make it carry a long way. And if she doesn't come when I say that once - I hide...

    I often hide or change directions when we're out walking just to ensure she pays attention to where I'm at and which way I'm going.

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