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My dog was very worried about people and new things in general as a pup. We slowly introduced him to people with positive reinforcement (treats during introductions and pats). He has gotten better, but it takes him a while to fully warm up to people.
Once he is comfortable he will be all over you trying to get pats and affection.

We find that when he is unsure about a noise, object or person he will bark and growl. Most commonly this happens when he is in a house or building and someone approaches him. He will bark and growl, but not bare teeth. Most of the time he is wagging his tail and running towards the person. He only seems to back away if the person bends down too quickly to pat him without letting him get a good sniff of them. The problem is that his barking and growling tends to scare most people so I think they get nervous which in turn makes him a little nervous.

Am I reading the situation right? We try to encourage people to stand still and let him sniff them and if they want to pat him to avoid his head as that is what he prefers. What else can I do to help prevent/reduce the barking/growling?
 

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I don't know how you should approach this, but for me being protective like barking at people he isn't familiar no matter how long they have been with him, since he is territorial and is willing to protect his family. So for me is that you just have to ease him until he gets used to it.
 

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My dog is exactly like that. Her bark scares people, they start screaming and that scares my dog more and everything escalates pretty fast. The best way i know how to handle the situation is to avoid running into strangers. When we are walking ( and i walk her really early and really late) i try to distract her by something else. Like a toy or a treat. I know that holding something in her mouth helps. Rope toy for example. Avoid strangers. I switch lanes often so our sidewalk stays people free. I also crouch down and talk to her in soothing manner. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn't. If we come face to face with a stranger when we are exitting the block it's a full on growling and barking and lunging. Best of luck.
 

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We had a little of this after I got my rescue home. Not helped by the fact that he is almost blind and anxious about unexpected approaches.
I did what you did - asked people to let him approach them first. But also I ramped up the training and I took charge of the toys. Instead of leaving them around and waiting to be approached by him with a toy, I put most away and play was initiated by me. I avoided strangers for a while but when we did meet up with someone I put myself in front between him and them. What all this did was reassure him that I was in charge and the protector and that he didn't need to fear for himself or us. We've relaxed the toy thing now but he became much more confident and not fearful or defensive when out.
The other ploy was to keep a squeaky ball in my pocket. He loves things that squeak. :rolleyes: One squeak from that and he is totally focussed on me and the ball. All the strangers in the world wouldn't take his attention.
I think you should however discourage him from running towards people. I used to have the most friendly dog ever who just wanted to say hello to everyone. But not everyone appreciates this!
 
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