Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I need some advice!

When Sadie and I lived in Boston, she would sometimes bark at certain dogs during our walks. One in particular she really hated. (All the dogs in the neighborhood barked at him though.) Usually she would just bark at them if they were across the street. If they were on our side of the street, she would cry and want to say hello. I got her to stop barking for the most part by making her sit down when she started freaking out.

Since moving to NY, this has gotten worse. Especially after she was attacked at the dog park. Now, she barks at pretty much EVERY dog in our neighborhood. And she doesn’t just bark, she freaks out. She sounds REALLY vicious, too. I think most people assume she is mean and wants to attack their dog (which I really don’t think she ever would do). Her bark is truly bigger than her bite. One time she actually got loose and ran up to one dog, but didn’t do anything. She just ran around the poor dog, barking at him haha. There are still a few dogs she that she doesn’t bark at; she’ll just cry, which means she wants to say hello. I just don’t get it.

I have a few theories. She is maybe just traumatized from the attack. And just extra defensive now. She’s not aggressive at the dog park. I keep her in the small dog area now, though. So that might be why. She tends to only bark at bigger dogs. I’m not quite sure what she would do on the big dog side anymore, and I don’t want to find out.

Or, she feels like she needs to protect more people now, as we live with my aunt and uncle. Before it was just Sadie and maybe now that she has more humans to protect, she’s just doing her job?? We also live in a house now, as opposed to an apartment building. So that might have something to do with it??

I don’t know...but if you have any thoughts or suggestions on how to make her stop barking like this, I would appreciate it!


  1. I would go w/the protection theory.. Gibson does this too, but it's only inside the house (he loves meeting new dogs).. and when there are more people over, the more he barks at every weird sound or person walking by. If it's just me and my husband, he barks, but it's like he knows by now that we are ok. New people tend to react to his barking and we just ignore it.

    Do you tense up when you are near other dogs? If so, she could be sensing that and feel the need to protect you.

    I would practice socializing her and maybe act normal when another owner and dog come your way/maybe strike up some small talk w/them and act happy?

  2. Hmmmm good point. I might be tensing up, just because I am anticipating her freaking out. I will try being calmer...Usually people don't want to talk to me because they think Sadie is going to kill their dog lol. Even though their dog is like 4 times the size of Sadie. Ugh. Frustrating. I will see if this works...Thanks!

  3. This might be a good time to take Sadie to beginner obedience so she can be around other dogs with an instructor there to help in her socialization. These are usually non-threatening experiences with a lot of treats involved.

    The other thing I did with Dozer was that when we saw approaching dogs (he hated a local bulldog with a passion for reasons we have never discovered) I would tighten up his leash and we picked up the clip of our pace so he had to trot to keep up. If he started growling or barking, the leash got shorter and the pace got quicker. He then started to associate growling/barking with having to move forward quickly and his barking died down. We also gave Dozer treats when he did not bark or growl - used with clicker training.

    Personally if it was me, I would consult with a dog expert/trainer and get this nipped in the bud.

  4. Yeah, it's weird because she's perfectly fine when she comes in close contact with other dogs, and she is definitely socialized. She's fine at the dog park or other places like that...but in our neighborhood, she's on full alert. Which is what makes me think it's more about protecting her humans than not liking other dogs. I also can't even get her to walk because she will pull and start to choke herself. It's a mess. I will see what kind of classes might be offered around here. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Koda is the same way; he's been like this though since he was 5 months old, pre-neutered, and it never changed after being neutered. I think it is, for him, because he likes to the alpha dog, but it is very frustrating to have the type of behavior for sure


  6. Hey Laurie!

    Finn barks a lot at passing dogs when she is at home or in a yard, and the woman I just started getting puppy training from told me not to do what I was doing-- which was saying NO and shooing her away and sounding upset/frustrated (b/c owww, her bark is so painful and it seems so rude).

    Now, I'm not sure if this will work, I am still trying it out myself, b/c this trainer is great but she takes a very positive approach to EVERYTHING, and very rarely uses "no", which I think has a good purpose. BUT, she said not to do the yank and "no" with the leash and/or voice, b/c Finley is trying to alert me to some danger, to something she perceives as needing the alarm raised, and if I respond with negative body language and voice, then she doesn't realize it's directed at her barking, she just thinks that I am now worried about whatever she is worried about, too, which means hot damn, she must really need to posture and be clear to this dog that they'd better not come closer!

    Soo, I think it make sense, and I thought I'd throw it out there in case it works. What she has me do is tell Finley "good girl! yes, good eyes" or something in normal voice, and then try to distract her, with a toy or a game or even picking her up, just to break the focus and make her notice that things are okay.

    Anyway, i thought you could add it to your file of ideas! :)


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