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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi

I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with our little Bisto, she's been through the mill a little due to being diagnosed with elbow displasia, she had surgery and was given the all clear a few weeks ago. since the surgery we have had to walk her on the lead until we were allowed to let her off(a few weeks ago). whilst on lead, she has been lovely, enjoying her walks and being very calm, apart from when exciting people come along and then it's waggy waggy I love you! (most of the time, occasionally people spook her a bit and then she goes a bit mad!) she's even made some great progress with kids on bikes, who are a particularly spooky occurrance!

She never really had a bark until she was about 6 months, and that was only when she was spooked (we think). she didn't often bark when on a walk, often it was because she was spooked and she backed away. since we have let her off the lead since her op, she has taken to running up to people barking, this can be from from really far away as well and it appears to be really aggressive, especially to those who she is barking at (including families with small children). it's not everyone she does it to, and we can't fathom out a pattern to who she barks at. we have no idea what's caused it, I guess there could be many reasons, but can't pinpoint a specific time when she may have developed this. we're really concerned that this behaviour can't continue as although we're pretty confident she will never do more than bark, you can't trust a dog not to, and to be honest, the people she is barking at can't be too happy about a big(ish) dog running up to them barking!

We want to be able to let her off the lead on the beach when we go on holiday in a few weeks, but at this rate we won't be able to risk it, which will be a real shame as she missed the last one due to being in season! Can anyone think of a potential reason as to why this may have happened, or anything we can do to stop her from doing this.

We don't mind her barking - it's totally natural, and to be honest, she's alerted us to a few unwanted visitors in the night - but it must be so horrible to be on the recieving end! we're thinking of consulting a behaviourist as we don't have a clue where to start and are worried that we have made things worse by doing something without knowing it, just wondered if anyone has any tips in the mean time, or if anyone has experienced this? she's nearly 2 years old at the mo if that helps!?

thanks for looking.
 

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Charlie was very like you describe at that age and it used to really worry me. He too did not do it to everyone, and seemed unpredictable with who he chose.

In hindsight, I think he may have been picking up on nervousness from me, which did nothing to help matters as it definitely made him defensive.

Charlie is a very headstrong and pushy sort of dog, so as a first time owner I really struggled with him. You could call it a baptism of fire! 8O

I found that consulting a behaviourist helped a lot, and would strongly recommend you do the same. That is because these things all too easily become learned behaviour by the dog. By that I mean that the dog runs up barking and the people it was barking at turn around and go away. Therefore, the dog has learned that barking works, and has got the desired result. It therefore repeats the behaviour.

Personally, I found I had to find ways of keeping Charlie's attention on me, via methods such as clicker training and treats (these days I just use treats), and also I had to try and stay relaxed, however difficult that may have been. Also, although he does get quite a bit of off lead exercise, I am quite fussy about where it is.

It was a long and slow process, but at the age of 5 now, Charlie is a lot better and happier. I am not sure he will ever be absolutely 100%, but things are certainly vasty improved.
 

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Hi, I don't know if this would help or maybe you've already done this so sorry if I'm repeating something you already know.

Pippy did this occasionally at about six months too. It was only with certain people, usually men, I've no idea why, as she's around men a lot and never had a bad experience that I'm aware of.

I used to clip her back on the lead, praise her and give her treats when she was quiet. Had to be split second timing with that!" Then if it was ok with whoever she was barking at, we'd go and meet them and I'd ask them to talk to me and not give her any attention until she was calm and quiet. It seemed to help and she hasn't done it for ages now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for both your comments, the thing is, she will race off at a million miles an hour and we just can't stop her, even if we try to pre-empt her, she will just look at us, dive out of hand's reach and then race off anyway. it's the running and barking that's the problem. we shout no to her when she runs away, I'm sure I heard somewhere that doing that can be re-inforcing it - can anyone shed any light on this?

I wondered if we should try something like a muzzle, I know that it can give people a bad impression, but maybe people might feel a bit more comfortable with knowing that she wouldn't be able to bite, even if she is running up at them barking. Has anyone found that a cloth muzzle calms them and stops them from barking anyway?

The behaviourist we used before is on holiday until next week, so we want something as an interim measure. I think she will be able to help us - glad Charlie improved with a behaviourist, good news!

thanks again!
 

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personally a dog running towards me barking, with a muzzle on would be more worrying than one without.

I would maybe try clipping a long line to her... she can still have off lead time but you would be able to stamp on the lead when you see someone and hence stop the running off bit of the behaviour.

Is she doing this to people who appear round corners and spook her when she's out or is it more general like that... as in any approaching people?

Could you ask friends to appear on a walk... you'll know it will happen so you can have control of her and then do as people have said and reward her for good behaviour etc
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
OK, thanks for the insight, it's difficult to know what's best!

The long line sounds like a good idea, as long as we can jump on the lead in time!!!

it does seem to be when she's been spooked - a family appeared from through a hedge, that spooked her we think, and a man yesterday didn't give her a proper chance to sniff him before going to stroke her and I think it took her by surprise (she's not keen on people stroking the top of her head - must be a sign of them showing their dominance to her - but she's ok if they strok the side of her head or under her chin) should we remove her from the situation, rather than let the person walk away, would this still give her the same result - she barks and then she's not near them?

I'm going to get a long line today, think it will be a start!

thanks!
 

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Basil has barked at people a few times and each time it has caught me and them by surprise (as he rarely barks at all).

He has run forward, chest puffed and front legs bouncing up then stood still and given a good 'woo woo' bark. I'm lucky that he will recall back as he's a woos.

The first time we were walking through a car park, at the other end were some steps and people appeared, so to him it looked like they had only heads and shoulders. I called him and explained to them and thankfully he went all waggy and silly.

Then he went through a phase when we came back to the UK of barking at black people, usually when in the safety of the car :oops: . We soon got him over that thankfully.

Once in the scots highlands he barked when some backpackers came in with giant packs bigger than them on their backs.

Then just this morning we were training in the field and a big heavy set man walked in the distance behinf me, due to the long grass it looked like he had only half a body too, though i think it was more than that as Basil seemed to be very interested in the track he left behind.

If this ever happens I always concentrate on getting him under control with a recall or a stay, then I apologise and where i can I try to explain why he's done it as it helps people understand, i always take him over and usually he'll be waggy by then so will meet his fear properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Sarah, that's similar to the experiences we have had, but once she's been spooked by someone, that seems to be it, she's not keen on them at all, she backs away, barks at them, and does all she can to stay less more than 2 metres away! she's such a muppet! When my Aunt came over from the USA, she had a shock first thing in the morning by seeing her where she didn't expect to and that was it, it took her the whole day to get used to her and become friends! she clearly has a long memory - if she gets spooked once on a walk, then it's odds on that she will bark at anyone she meets (even people who aren't in the "I should be wary of them" category i.e. no hat, or sunglasses, or flourescent jacket, or bike the list goes on!!).

I'm sure it's a learned behaviour that we can get over as it's only been since she been back off the lead, the long lead has been purchased, so fingers crossed we can react quick enough to catch the lead in time!!
 

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I wonder how much of her staying wary could be linked to your reaction?
Particularly where you know people like house visitors I would be all cheery and jollyhockeysticks and call her over as soon as she's stopped barking.
Where possible do try to engage in some form of conversation, hanging around the people she's barked at when out, just for a few seconds.....otherwise in her mind it's I bark, mum goes all tense and stressy and then we make a wide berth of the people I warned mum about...well something like that :lol:

I wonder if she's missed out on a bit of socialisation from her op etc and would just benefit from getting out and about in some crowds?
Or could she be due a season?

As for tensing for the remainder of the walk then I think I would definitely clip her on leash for the rest of the walk until she appears at ease again, otherwise this might become a habit.

It must be hard if you can't second guess the people that will spook her, does she give any pre-warning to her barking? Does she stiffen and stare or point almost?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your help Sarah, you've helped us to understand that probably more than 50% of it is us - not feeling confident of her recall in the park (she's fine everywhere but there), and worrying that when she races off barking she's upsetting someone. Even when we go up to chat with the people she's barked at we're very conscious of her barking, and probably giving her too much attention for barking! We both think now that we need to change the way we approach this, by making the coming back to us a massive reward and by showing her that her coming back on the whistle doesn't mean that fun time is over. She is due a season at the end of next month, so that may have a little to do with it, but we're definitely not going to blame it all on that as she does need the socialisation, and we need to make sure that we're not showing her that her reaction is a good one!

We have tried out the long line in the park today and found that she got it caught up round her legs quite a lot - something worrying us is the fact that if she's pelting off at full speed and it's tangled round her legs, it could be very easy to hurt her when you react and stand on the lead - is this something she will get used to having trailing by her legs, or are we thinking of using this the wrong way?
 

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Hi, I'm not sure about the long line as I've only ever used one at the beach to float in the water :?

Basils a bit of a trotter rather than a runner when out, I would imagine if she runs around and you tread on it, it could give a real jolt and that wouldn't be very good on her neck and spine :?

Bumping this up for you.
 

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when ever i've used a long line, it just trails on the floor along side the dog.and hasn't caused problems. I'd be watching her carefully and scanning for possible people, and hopefully before she spots them, you can step in the lead and remind her you are there. call her back in with lots of praise and reward. then she can be close once she's seen the people. My dogs tend to stand and stare for a moment when they spot someone and are unsure. so again you will have time to step on the lead before she races off and therefore the lead around her legs or anything shouldn't be a problem.

Or you could hang on to the other end of the line for the time being... so that she can have a little freedom and a sniff but you still have hold of her.

hope that makes sense?
 
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