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Hi all, I am hoping someone out there might have advice, thank you in advance.

We have a nine year old labrador/curly retriever. She has barked since we had her at 9 weeks old, and always had separation anxiety. Her mother was/is the same. Despite being experienced dog owners we've never had this problem and we've always solved any other behavioural issues that have arisen with the 6 other dogs we've had through our married life. This one has beaten us. The 'being scared of the backyard' problem and her terror of being shut behind a closed door, we can manage with though it can be frustrating as either causes her to bark incessantly. The main problem we can't cope with is her barking at people walking past and anyone coming to the door. She is a very gentle dog, but with those triggers she begins to growl quietly then breaks into a bark and will not stop until the person has disappeared. We have gone through all the tricks in the book but nothing has worked.

When someone comes up the driveway she growls, barks and rushes to the door. She is otherwise impeccably behaved and obedient but loses it completely when anyone comes up the driveway and it is hard to make her even lie on her bed. She doesn't 'rush' the door, she stays firmly behind our legs but even when she eventually goes back to lie on her bed, she keeps up the low rumble or the barking until they have gone. (She still barks and barks when it's me or my husband or one of the children, but obviously that stops once they are in the house). She is never, ever allowed into the front yard, never allowed out of the front door and she doesn't even try. She just acts like the most aggressive dog in the world, which is just not her at all.

Once the person is actually in the house, even if they are strangers, she is fine and lies down quietly!

Now we have a real problem. In a situation of total over-reaction by a lady postwoman who has delivered to our house for at least 5 years without a problem, last week she rudely ordered me outside 'come outside and shut the door.' The dog was by this time back on her bed though still rumbling away. She has never ever rushed the door, nor even come to the door when I've opened it so I can only think she got out of bed the wrong side, because the next thing is that she's reported us for having a dangerous dog! We had another postman at the door the following day informing us that the dog is threatening and dangerous and that he will be recommending that deliveries are ceased to our address! Neither he nor the postwoman has ever even seen the dog because she's always back on her bed by the time I open the door! We tried to get the guy to look at the dog but he refused saying she is dangerous, and they have a right to do their job without being intimidated.

OK, I am terrified of many dogs if I have to go to a door when there is a dog in the yard, but not if I know they are never allowed to roam. So this is a situation that has got totally out of hand. We are very responsible dog owners but this is dreadful.

She's not a barker at any other time, so what can we do? We are at a loss. How on earth do we stop her barking at people who come up the drive? A lot of people suggest getting visitors to offer her treats etc but we aren't talking about people who come into the house, these are people who are delivering something etc and aren't generally even going to come in - and in anycase, when they do come in the dog just lies quietly and goes back to sleep.

Hoping you can advise me, sorry this is so long.
 

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It sounds like a bit of a reactivity issue that she has developed, which is pretty common, especially through see-through barriers (windows, screens, fences). Sometimes it is driven by suspicion and fear of the strange figure on the other side of the window. And just as easily, it can be a product of frustration (she's really excited to have someone at her house, but can't get to them, and starts going nuts).

Either way the solution is more or less the same. You need to treat this as reactivity, and do your BAT/counter-conditioning exercises with strangers at the door.

There are a lot of ways to go about treating dog reactivity. I won't go into that at depth. Here are some good resources:
Fearfuldogs.net
http://www.dogforum.com/training-be...y-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/
Reactivity and Barking | Dogmantics Dog Training

Basically what you need is some good strange volunteers to help you out by hanging around in your driveway or your porch so that you can do the little setups exercises with your dog. You can either enlist the help of a CPDT (probably the fastest way to make progress) or you can take a stab at it on your own with the videos and advice in the links and stickies.
 
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