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Barking At Guests/house Protective

Guest Rhea

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My computer's been down so I've been kinda scarce around here lately, but I have a bit of an issue that's been building for awhile now. If you want you can just skip to the end, but otherwise bear with me.


So Dane has become more comfortable here, he's become stupidly protective of the house/his territory. He gets really riled up on our walks around the neighborhood when he sees other dogs (though I don't blame him because a LOT of them are really rude in dog language+the number of "beware of dog" signs around is unreal....). At our training classes and the dog park, he's lovely. Completely calm to indifferent. We even passed the CGC! (Step one in our service dog training).


However, the real concern is that he has taken exception to anyone being around the house. On our way back from a walk the other day, we rounded the corner and Dane started barking his head off at some little old lady. We just passed the CGC, Dane! Come on!! Fortunately he calmed down fairly quickly and she was very patient and understanding.


Inside the house, however, we have a bigger problem. He loves to bark at our guests. I've tried making it very apparent that they are welcome here, by formally shaking their hand or actually inviting them inside at the front door, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. He barks his head off at guests/workmen/deliverymen/family members. Like my aunt and uncle? Who come over on a regular basis? He still barks his head off. (I had them let him out a couple times once, and he barked the whole time apparently. Again, over at their house? He's a total angel.)


A different aunt is staying with us for X-mas, and while the barking has lessened, he still barks at her, and occasionally lets out the strangest growls I've ever heard a dog make. (It's a weird rolling... engine-like sound I guess? Or maybe 'circular throat purring/growling' It's bizzare.) She got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and he barked his head off again.


I guess this isn't "new" new behavior, but he definitely didn't do this a few months ago.


To sum up:


How can I get my dog to relax in our house and realize that the humans are the ones who decide who is and is not welcome in the home?


What's the best way to counter-condition this behavior (humanely) without teaching him to stop communicating at all? I don't want to accidentally train him to be silently aggressive. (Although I don't THINK he'd bite anyone... I don't know. We've got a pretty close bond now, and he's probably also super-protective of me.)


He's so, so, so good away from home.


He's normally such a mellow, calm guy, but we've only been together 5-6 months. What if his behavior gets even more porotective to the point of aggression?


I know this is an unusual problem in greyhounds, but I'm just not sure how to proceed here. When I mentioned it to my trainer some weeks ago, she wasn't too concerned about it, and she thought it was a plus, but now I'm not sure. I think it's gotten more intense. It's definitely more aggravating if nothing else!

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Guest Giselle

If you like it but only sometimes, the solution is to control it by training.


How? Reward him for barking once or twice when someone knocks on your door. Then, immediately recall him and ask him to do a calm behavior. Also, understand why dogs bark and modify it accordingly.


Example: I love Dobermans and similar breeds precisely because I'm a small person who craves the security of a big black dog. I like and need my dog to bark when people knock on the door or otherwise act strange around us. But what goes on in dogs' minds when these things happen? They usually think: "Whoa, that stranger is acting funny. It's making me uncomfortable. Bark bark! Go away!" It's not so much a protective behavior as it is based in fear. Most aggressive acts, like barking, are based in arousal tinged with fear or feeling uncomfortable. So, to modify a dog's barking, allow them to do it once or twice when people knock on the door. Then, say "Yes!" and reward the dog. Then, immediately redirect the dog to do a different behavior, like "Come!" or "Go to Bed!", and reward with a steady stream of treats. I prefer to send my dog to her mat and keep her in a Down-Stay as I greet and welcome whoever is at the door. As people walk into my house, the dog must stay in a Down while receiving a steady stream of treats either from myself or from the guests. This way, you're changing the dog's attitude towards these strangers from that of fear/uncertainty to feeling excited and happy to see them. This will prevent barking episodes when guests are in your house and enjoying your company. But, rest assured, your dog will still bark at people when they knock on the door. It's the win-win solution :)

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Giselle is the pro here, so take her advice. I, too, want my dogs to bark at the door. My wimpy greyhound does, the intimidating-looking airedale will not. I do reward Fenway for barking, but additionally I have (inadvertently) put a verbal queue to let him know if these are people we want in our home. Years ago, when we were expecting company and a car would pull up, I'd say "who's here?" Fenway gets really excited when I say that and knows those people are welcome. I don't know exactly how you'd go about associating "who's here?" with guests aside from treats, but that's an example of what works in my household.

Edited by gracegirl

Tessie, PK's Cat Island 12/9/13
Gabby the Airedale 7/1/18
Forever missing Grace (RT's Grace, 18156/23B), Fenway (not registered, def a greyhound), and Jackson (airedale terrier, honorary greyhound)

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