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What can I do to help my dog to stop barking at people?

asked 2018-10-19 16:33:30 -0500

My family is having a situation that we would really love some advice on. Recently, my parents moved from a house into a 55+ community of mobile homes. They have dogs that are able to go in and out as they please within a fenced area around their home. Recently, there have been complaints about our large dog pertaining to barking/jumping. Apparently, my parents have a new neighbor who was bit by a dog once and is afraid of all dogs because of this. She had someone helping her this past week who was on her roof and according to the office (not the person themselves), our dog barked at him for an "hour straight" while he was on the roof and it scared them because he is a "pitbull" mix. My parents have prior approval from the office manager to have our dog with them. He's still young at 3 years old and hyper which is why he has another dog, who also barks like mad, to run around with, toys, etc. to get out his energy. However, any time someone walks by their house, BOTH dogs bark (but they only complain about the large one). He also likes to stand on the fence and he's tall on his hind legs. He cannot jump the fencing, however, the manager denied my parents request to put up other fencing that the dogs cannot see through which I think would really have helped solve a lot of the problem. Now we are resorting to bark collars which I do not believe will work. We have had this dog since he was 8 weeks old and he is my emotional support dog for my PTSD, anxiety and depression. We do not want to lose him because we fear he will be abused/killed since he is a pitbull mix.

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answered 2018-10-26 18:45:09 -0500

You can try teaching your dog the 'Leave It' command. In this case, he is barking to tell you there is something new & unusual you need to come see. Acknowledge this, let him know you have it under control & he needs to relinquish any concerns to you by obeying your 'Leave It' & 'Quiet/Settle'. He should then be rewarded if he remains calm & quiet. Another possiblility is to Classically Condition him to view all strangers as good & friendly. You would de-sensitize him by giving him a coveted high value treat or his favorite reward whenever he sees a stranger. The reward should be given while he remains 'Below Threshold'/ non-reactive. Creating some distance between the stimuli and the dog will help him remian calm. As he improves he can get closer. It helps if he gets the treat only under these circumstances. This can be time consuming training & requires lots of patience. You will have to do 100's of repetitions especially if he is being territorial. Classically Conditioning him will help change the way he 'feels' and have lasting results as long as nothing bad occurs that would make him feel differently. His barking should be addressed ASAP before it becomes a habit. Barking is self rewarding and the longer it continues the harder it will be to correct. Negative punishments like electric collars may give short quick results but usually are not lasting especially if the dog is willful. It may also lead to aggression because they will begin to associate pain with whatever they are barking at. To understand his behavior more fully, I would read 'Barking, the Sound of a Language' by Turid Rugaas. It is a short book that's concise, well written & packed full of info. It should be read carefully or more than once to fully absorb the concepts. It is fairly inexpensive paperback available on Amazon. If he is being territorial wtih people walking by, one other thing you could try is to create a neutral zone by using some wire fencing & stake poles to create a double fence.The neutral zone should be at least a few feet wide. If it works & he improves, you can always make it smaller to give him back more yard area to play in. Hope this helps. I have meet many a pitbull mix that were more sweet tempered than a lot of unsocailized Golden Retrievers. If you are interested in more dog training advice, I would sign up for the Dunbar Academy. It is only $8/month cancelable at any time. If you go to dunbar.info/id307, I believe you can still get a free 1 month trial. It gives you access to a plethora of videos, lectures, articles and advice. Let us know how it goes,

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