Office dog now growling and barking at work

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Office dog now growling and barking at work

This is a discussion on Office dog now growling and barking at work within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have been bringing my dog to work with me for a little over a year. He has done well. When visitors come in the ...

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Old 01-08-2018, 12:28 PM
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Question Office dog now growling and barking at work

I have been bringing my dog to work with me for a little over a year.

He has done well. When visitors come in the office he would usually bark one, grab a toy and go say hello. However, recently, the past week or so he has begun growling for no reason and barking, a lot, every time someone comes in the office.

I need to get this under control or I will need to start leaving him at home again.

He is a 4-year-old Goldendoodle, male, altered. He is also a registered therapy dog and we visit local hospitals. He is very friendly and all around good boy.. except for this new issue.

I am working on rewarding him when he is being calm and settled and when he growls or barks telling him to settle and when (if) he does, rewarding his behavior.

Any thoughts or advice?

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Old 01-08-2018, 01:45 PM
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This may or may not work, but if it does it's a quick fix. Have a bowl of high value treats or a stash of long lasting high value chew items (ex. stuffed Kong).

The moment someone is approaching your office, BEFORE your dog starts growling, toss a large handful of treats or give your dog the chew item behind your desk. Basically, you are catching good behavior before your dog gets over threshold, you are distracting your dog during the approach (which is the hard part for many dogs), and you are doing some 'lazy training' (counter conditioning, really) by making a quick and powerful association for your dog: when people approach you get this amazing treat party!

I think it's important to toss the treats behind something like your desk (depending on how your office is structured), so that it will lure your dog away from the entryway and also creates a bit of a barrier for him to feel safer. It's also very important to provide something that will last as long as possible. 2 or 3 treats can be eaten in a couple seconds, which leaves a lot of time for your dog to see and fixate on the approaching stranger. Ideally the treat party lasts 20+ seconds, which is why a large scattering or a Kong are great.

If this works, the whole process can also gradually be faded over time.
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:51 AM
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I'm really familiar with this. It tends to be an issue of the dog deciding that the space is his, and being a bit defensive of it. The telltale is when the dog is fine in the space for a while, then one day just starts being territorial.

If the dog is growling from day one, this is probably something else. Sounds like you haven't really had a problem for about a year, then this started. So, it sounds like what I'm describing.

First, the unhelpful bit. The little bark that he would give was your red flag. It meant that he viewed anyone entering that space as an intruder. He would relax once he realized they were OK, but that initial bark said, "Alert! Incoming stranger!" This would have been easier to fix if you had addressed that right away.

OK, hindsight and all that ...

The basic remedy is the same. You have to convince him that he does not own the space. I have accumulated a few tricks that can help. Not all of them work on all dogs, but usually something works.

What seems to work best is, as soon as someone enters the office, get up and leave immediately (with your dog). You only have to be gone for about 30 seconds, but it seems to work best if you go somewhere clearly away from the office (not just out in the hall). Then, come back in with the dog, but don't take him to his normal spot. Have him lay down some place he doesn't normally.

It is best if you can get up to leave the office before the bark, but if you jump up immediately after, that's OK too. But, if he ever growls or shows the least sign of not being comfortable with the "intruder", get up and leave again. This should be an immediate response. You really want to impress upon him that growling or barking leads to immediate exile. If you delay even a second or two, the lesson is weakened.

It can also help to arrange to have people in your office before you get there. The more people, the better. And, they should stick around for at least a few minutes. That way, he is coming into THEIR space, not the other way around. If you can arrange this every time you walk into the room, that would help.

You should be able to basically fix this within a couple of weeks, but should reinforce the lesson 2-3 times per week for another month or so, or whenever you start to see signs again.

Hope this helps.
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