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The pup's started growling

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Lizz1155, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. Lizz1155

    Lizz1155 PetForums VIP

    Jun 16, 2013
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    For about a week or so now, the pup's been barking at things going on outside the front of the house - people standing and chatting, and dogs walking past. He cannot see these things from where he is, he just woofs at them. Compared to his usual bark, this is a much deeper, more abrupt "ruff, ruff" kind of sound. He's mainly prone to doing this in the evening, which is when he's also the most hyper (despite being walked, trained and entertained during the day). If he's tired he's fine.

    Today, when I was training him on the front driveway (I was training him to pay more attention to me outside the front of the house), a Labrador walked past the far end of the driveway. The pup barked really loudly, then growled at it :eek: . It was really out of character for him - typically, he's really pleased to meet dogs (and still wants to jump on their heads :eek:). It was midday, the pup was sleepy rather than hyper, and the Lab wasn't doing anything other than just walking past.

    Until now, my dog has rarely growled- except for play growling during tug-of-war. He has never growled at a person. He's only ever once growled at a dog, and it was during his puppy classes when a (different) Labrador tried to bounce on him. (He has met Lab's before and since then and has been fine with them. Except for today's Lab. But I'm not sure it's possible for a dog to be breed-prejudice).

    I can't work out if he's becoming territorial, growing up, or just developing some bad habits?
  2. LynnM

    LynnM PetForums Senior

    Feb 21, 2012
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    I can't give any advice as I've luckily never had problems with any dogs I've owned but my youngest dog will do that deep 'ruff' when she's afraid of something she's heard or seen. Even a pile of rubbish filled bin bags that weren't there the previous day. She's fine when she realises it's not a dog eating monster though.:biggrin: Usually the 'ruff' is accompanied by her tail dropping down and a half hearted attempt to run away, albeit it only a few paces, while still looking at the offending object.
    It's the only time she ever barks and can't have done it more than a dozen times in the year and a half that I've had her.
  3. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff PetForums Senior

    Feb 12, 2013
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    Honestly I am not sure it overly matters exactly why the reactive behaviour has started, the important thing to focus on is what you choose to do about it.

    Personally I would try to limit the barking at people passing or outside of the home. When you hear someone or if he starts to alert, I would suggest calling him to you and moving him away from the window or wall closest to the noise. I would then reinforce his returning to you and breaking his focus on the noise with food. If he wont easily call away you have some work to do, and in the meantime have him drag a light house line so you can easily redirect him away from the noise and barking. If you do this repeatedly you often find the dog will give up the barking and instead run straight to you for the treat on hearing a noise. The most important part is to find a way to stop him rehearsing the undesirable barking and the increase in stress hormones that go with it. If you can't cut it out entirely, shutting it down very very quickly before he has a chance to get worked up is the next best option.

    In the outside your house scenario, you can now do some classical conditioning. Have him on a lead, have a treat bag or pocket full of yummy stuff. Wait for a passing dog or person to come into view and open the bar. As the person / dog moves away, close the food bar. You should end up with a dog who feels rather happy when someone passes by rather than worried or threatened.
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