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I have an Aus Shepherd/Cattle Dog mix and for the most part he is a GREAT dog. He's crate trained and will "go to house" when told, or "go to place" (his Kunga), I've trained him to do several tricks that he will eagerly perform for praise and treats.

But there are two things I just can't figure out how to curb and would love some direction from experienced dog parents/trainers.

The first is that he will randomly and without warning BARK, perhaps once or twice, but very loudly and sharply, and it startles everyone in the room. If it were incessant barking, I would almost feel better, but aside from trying to use a shushing noise, I don't know how to get him to stop. He barks more incessantly when someone is coming up the driveway to the door (that's a secondary issue - I appreciate the warning, but it's also hard for him to stop even when I try to calm him). I am sure he is hearing another dog or a noise outside that he is reacting to, but it literally makes everyone jump and at this point, patience is wearing thin.

The second is trying to keep him calmer when someone arrives home or comes to visit. He is always excited to see everyone, but I don't know what steps to take to make sure he stays sitting and accepts pets and rubs without taking it as a sign to put paws up or jump up.

Can anyone give me some pointers? Would appreciate any advice or links to videos you think would be helpful. Thanks!
 

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My close friends have an ACD mix who does exactly the same thing. Haha. If he stops right away I don't think there's much you can do about it, and he might decrease with time if he figures out what is "normal" noise and what means something is happening. But it's just part of having a dog, especially one who who reacts to his environment on a hair trigger, which most herding dogs do.
 

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I guarantee you, there is a trigger. Perhaps it's a sound you can't hear, a movement he dosn't like or a flash of light.

For my dog isolation worked. I would shut her in the bathroom when she started acting up because she heard people coming. She was released from the bathroom when everyone was already seated and I kept her on a leash until she proved she could be calm. It took about 6 months of this before she got the idea. I also encouraged her to bark and then quiet once she was in this routine. I think it made her feel more vindicated. She got her 2 barks, she protected the house, end of story.

Also, I do have a friend who she STILL behaves badly around, but that's on that friend. He refuses to do anything but coo to her and pat and cuddle which only encourages more bad behavior. I tried to explain how this affects her but I realized it's not her bad behavior, it's his so now I just let them do her thing.
 

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PS: Meant Kuranda bed (not Kunga, no idea where I thought of that and can't seem to edit original post), just wanted to clarify if anyone was confused.

Hmm, so answers are pretty much not much can be done? I do tell him to go to house when I know someone is coming to the door, and I have to stay on top of him staying in there until things settle down a little, but the one loud BARK that makes everyone jump... my mother in law lives with us.... lovely lady and I know it really startles her.
 

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PS: Meant Kuranda bed (not Kunga, no idea where I thought of that and can't seem to edit original post), just wanted to clarify if anyone was confused.

Hmm, so answers are pretty much not much can be done? I do tell him to go to house when I know someone is coming to the door, and I have to stay on top of him staying in there until things settle down a little, but the one loud BARK that makes everyone jump... my mother in law lives with us.... lovely lady and I know it really startles her.
It's not that nothing can be done, it's that you have to let the dog present the behavior in a more helpful way. You can't simply take the bark out of the dog. Training the dog to good bark and rewarding it in certain situations may get your dog to stop being alert 24/7.

Shepards are geared for sleeping with one eye open. You have to understand that the dog thinks that this is really, really serious. She's thinks that she's doing her job. When she does her doggy job and you say "bad" or "no" or "don't bark" she's simply learning that you don't want her to protect you. Being a dog and having instinct she has determined that you're wrong, she needs to protect you. you're reinforcing her behavior.

My dog has turned her bark into a low whine becuase she knows that I take her seriously. "Oh dog, we're good" then I yawn. Dog knows that that sound wasn't a big deal. She still barks ever so often but it's now weeks between and often over something like a desil engine or someone turning around in our driveway. Which, depending on the circumstances I praise. It seems counter intuitive to stop barking by praising it, but in the right situation it allows the dog to know that what it's doign is appropriate and shepards, bread for watching a flock, need to know that their observations are helpful.

Again, for me, isolation and tethering worked when greeting people. These are two separate behaviors you've identified. That is something you can work with a trainer on.
 

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Ok, I hear you - thanks for explaining it in dog language :)

I'll work on minimizing the "threat" and praise her for the alert, hopefully it will wind down to a smaller bark. That's the biggest thing, I don't mind her alerting us to someone at the door, it's the random BARK! that sets our teeth on edge.

I'll try some more isolation and tethering for the over-excitedness at visitors - thank you :)
 

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ACD's do often have strong and stubborn personalities, so this is perfectly normal. I would suggest better socializing him with people, and slowly introducing him to other dogs. To stop him from barking, correct him with a loud "Ah!" He might have dominance issues, which often leads to odd barking and growling. ACD's are incredibly smart, and need lots of mental stimulation. Take him for daily half hour walks to alleviate some of that energy. Agility is also a great way to tire your pup out.
 

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He used to be GREAT around other dogs, but one walk in the neighborhood we passed another dog that lunged at him. It's taken months to get him to stop lunging at every other dog we see (plus one fractured pinkie when the leash got wrapped around - sigh). At our previous place, I would bring him to our next door neighbors' fenced yard and our dogs would play and run very happily, but our new place is not fenced in and no neighbors with a playful dog to make friends with.

Another question - I am always trying new techniques to help get him to loose-leash walk, but inevitably he "patrols" and will pull, and seeing other dogs gets him alternately excited/tense. I have one of those head leads, but it's still very difficult to command attention once he is in full on pull-mode. Thoughts?
 

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He used to be GREAT around other dogs, but one walk in the neighborhood we passed another dog that lunged at him. It's taken months to get him to stop lunging at every other dog we see (plus one fractured pinkie when the leash got wrapped around - sigh). At our previous place, I would bring him to our next door neighbors' fenced yard and our dogs would play and run very happily, but our new place is not fenced in and no neighbors with a playful dog to make friends with.



Another question - I am always trying new techniques to help get him to loose-leash walk, but inevitably he "patrols" and will pull, and seeing other dogs gets him alternately excited/tense. I have one of those head leads, but it's still very difficult to command attention once he is in full on pull-mode. Thoughts?

Instead of the head collars, have you tried the harnesses where the leashes attach to the front? Basically if they pull, it turns them around towards you. So they can't go anywhere, and possibly drag you with them. They get the picture pretty quickly. Our Pittie puppy LOVES other dogs and often lunges at other dogs to play and those harnesses are the only thing that slow him down from taking our arm off to get to the other dogs. I believe the one we have now is an Easy Walk? Hope this helps.


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Another question - I am always trying new techniques to help get him to loose-leash walk, but inevitably he "patrols" and will pull, and seeing other dogs gets him alternately excited/tense. I have one of those head leads, but it's still very difficult to command attention once he is in full on pull-mode. Thoughts?
Instead of the head collars, have you tried the harnesses where the leashes attach to the front? Basically if they pull, it turns them around towards you. So they can't go anywhere, and possibly drag you with them. They get the picture pretty quickly. Our Pittie puppy LOVES other dogs and often lunges at other dogs to play and those harnesses are the only thing that slow him down from taking our arm off to get to the other dogs. I believe the one we have now is an Easy Walk? Hope this helps.
Yes, the EasyWalk is also great for my AmStaff/Pit Mix. No pulling what so ever.
But: This is not a wonder healer and he will still pull when without the EasyWalk, so loose leash training is still necessary, but it makes the walks so much more enjoyable (as long as loose leash walking is still an "in training").
Also, it doesn't help with getting attention. We're still working on the "look" command and while it does help directing the dog to you (since the harness turns him), that doesn't mean that the head is turned to you as well :D

Anyways, I like (no experience, just my general opinion) the harnesses better than the head leads.
 

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Ok, next question (thanks to everyone who has answered so far, very helpful!)...

Been taking Gibbs out for walks and it seems like EVERY time, we pass the same dog and they lunge and bark at each other. Not ferociously, but enough to be loud and obnoxious and I can't find any way to break my dog's concentration - he zeroes in and no amount of diversion seems to work (I tried literally spinning myself in place so he was forced to walk around me in circles and that only calmed him down when the other dog was far enough away).

I took him to the pet store and he made friends with a lab pup (not tiny, probably 30 pounds to mine's 55) with no lunging or barking, but a bulldog that was leaving the store barked and moved quickly enough at him to get mine going a bit.

I have been trying to get through some of the stickied videos, but wasn't sure which would be the best for my situation. Suggestions?
 
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