Our dog we adopted in February was very sick with 3 rare tick diseases (for our area) for months and months, and we were finally able to eradicate the infections after working with a number of professionals.
Our sweet, quiet, subdued girl has become a new dog! LOTS more energy, animated on her walks, starting to play with our other dog, and that has been fantastic! Her newfound health has given her a new confidence, and what appears to be a new desire to be protective. She has become quite the "watch dog" and began acting very protective a few weeks ago.
It started with a loud bark and growling when delivery men or contractors came to our place. Our Jack Russell is very vocal; a great alarm system! For people AND anything moving in our woods! We have a small horse farm, so there is lots of activity. And our new girl has jumped on the barking committee.
However, she has "escalated" somewhat, to running at people who come in, barking and growling. She gets right up to them, has not bit at all, just loud barking and growling, but, I do not want this to escalate.
And, of course, I want her to love our family and friends as we do.
We had an appointment with a trainer who had to cancel due to an emergency in his family. It will actually be session #2, the first one being when she was sick, before we knew she was sick, so he will be seeing a different dog this time. We are scheduled to chat tomorrow, but he is unable to come for a bit.
My urgency is that, I have friends coming to visit this weekend, and I am hoping to get some advice/tools from folks with experience in this genre.
They are dog people, and had a german shepard that was also very protective, so, they are happy to "help us" with her.
So far, I have had treats ready for people when they come in, to give to her. I mostly have them give them, or drop them, and she happily takes them. But, it doesn't seem to really "deter" the strong forward space invading and barking. She will bark at them after taking the treats, and after being quiet for a bot, but, once they start moving around...she's back at it.
Sometimes I put her out when people come in, but, as soon as she comes in, she runs right up/at them, barking and growling.
(Our Jack also runs up to folks, but wagging his tail and happy excited.)
Today, I had a leash on her when the cleaner came in for an appointment. I had the cleaner give her treats. She took them, and was quiet, seemed "happier" to be getting treats and more relaxed with "a stranger". But, after a couple minutes, when she seemed fine, I took the leash off, and she went back to her barking, growling, and going "at" the person. Luckily, that person was also a dog person, and just ignored her. I ended up putting the dogs outside, as I had some things to do at my barn, and that was the plan while the cleaner took care of the job.
I crated her with a chewy while the cleaner vacumed the room she was in, and she was herself, totally fine, no barking or even any obvious "discomfort" with someone she didn't know being in the house near her.
I figure I'll tell the girls and my friend (their mom) just to watch her body language, let her come to them, don't do any "over the head" patting, make her sit, give paw for treats, lots of treats for good behavior.
Also, she has had this behavior lately with our 11 year old grandson. He loves her, and is very forgiving, but, I don't like her barking and growling at him. He said she growled when he was patting her over Labor Day. I watched them from afar when he went over to her, and he was pretty good with body language, did not get in her face, and she rolled and gave him her belly, so I thought all was good. Then I saw her walking away, a couple minutes later, body language was "pulled back", head down, tail down (not tucked) and she came over to me. (she is a momma's girl, follows me around, needs to know where I am, etc.)
I reminded him not to pat her "on the head" but at one point, the next night, he and I were sitting on the couch, and she came barking at him while we were sitting together. I yelled "no" and she stopped. When she was lying quietly, I gave her some love, and she was fine, and, he basically left her alone for the rest of night. We were in the same room, but he just hung with myself and his papa.
She has shown absolutely NONE of this behavior with me or hubby (papa).
We live on a small horse farm in a rural area. She gets lots of outside time as does our other dog, they are together a ton, and do well, and I have just started taking time for both of them separately. She likes to chase him, and it's hard to get her to focus on a toy outside. He, on the other hand, LOVES to play with toys. He will "let her know" when he's had enough. She's "rolled" him a few times, but he's a tough bugger, and pretty good at faking her out to get away. He seeks her out with toys, so, he can't be too bothered by it. They get daily walks, as well. We don't have a lot of visitors really, but there are workmen and people who ride here that the dogs can see from windows.
Sorry so long. Hope I painted a good picture. Would love to hear any suggestions for managing her, and helping her learn to enjoy the people who we love when they do come in the house and for when we do, on the somewhat rare occasion, have visitors. Especially our friends this weekend! thanks!!!