Dog Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, my mini schnoodle is 14 weeks old (he's small, 6 lbs) and we've been taking him out lots, going to puppy classes 1x a week as well. At the puppy classes he is kind of afraid but getting better. The problem I have is that when strangers want to pet him sometimes he barks and won't let them near (if he's not on leash he'll just stay out of reach). If they ignore him he does nothing, sometimes he wants to follow if they're walking away. I'm concerned about this turning into a big problem like fear aggresion :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
This definitely seems to be an issue specifically with smaller dogs. There are a lot of things that could be triggering the barking. Does he only bark when you are with him? If so- how do you react to him barking?

How does he react if the person he's barking at approaches him? Does he only bark if he's at your house/ somewhere he's familiar with- or will he bark at strangers in any location?

A good thing to keep in mind is that you want to reassure your dog that they are safe- and the strangers will not hurt them. But you also don't want to reward them for the aggressive behavior. Don't offer your dog any kind of actual 'reward' for barking (no snacks, don't give them a toy, don't coddle them). Rather, talk to them gently and reassuringly. Have the person they are barking at slowly approach the dor and allow the dog to smell their hand before they attempt to pet them. Once your dog has quit barking and is okay with the person being present THEN reward them with a treat- showing them that by accepting the stranger (rather than barking at them) they will be rewarded.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. I've only noticed him barking outside our place - maybe he feels it's his territory and thinks he's being a guard dog, and I think part of it is his small size - he's afraid when people he doesn't know just walk up. So far I've mostly ignored the behaviour. Yesterday at puppy class we passed our puppies around to be handled by other people and he was pretty uncomfortable with it but he didn't bark, he just wanted to get away.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,207 Posts
Thanks for the suggestions. I've only noticed him barking outside our place - maybe he feels it's his territory and thinks he's being a guard dog, and I think part of it is his small size - he's afraid when people he doesn't know just walk up. So far I've mostly ignored the behaviour. Yesterday at puppy class we passed our puppies around to be handled by other people and he was pretty uncomfortable with it but he didn't bark, he just wanted to get away.
You are right that this is fear, sometimes caused by dogs being small. You are right to want to nip this behavior in the bud, because it can and will get worse if you don't address it. I suggest you bring this up to the trainer in the puppy class, that your little guy is getting scared and reactive when new people approach them. This is very common.

I have to disagree with what the previous poster did. If you don't distract your dog when he's reacting, he will continue to bark and lose his mind. You need to build his positive associations with humans. Remember he is acting out of fear, not misbehavior. It's the same difference between a child trowing a tantrum because he didn't get what he wanted, and one screaming and crying because he saw something very scary. If you allow someone close enough to let him "sniff" he will react even MORE in fear and possibly bite. Absolutely no petting from strangers. Right now, I don't even think it's a good idea for strangers to directly approach this dog. After discussing it with the leader of the puppy class see if all the other owners can walk by your dog (determine what's his "comfort zone"), not looking at him, and toss him an awesome treat like hot dogs or cheese. That way he can associate new people with really fun things. Do this exercise over and over, with people of both genders and preferably multiple ages and races. After several times (1-2 sessions of this) he should look to new people expecting a treat. Have people just walk by then. If he does well then, have them walk by and look at him, and toss a treat. Then once he's mastered this (no less than 7 times) have the person repeat this exercise while walking a little closer and looking at him. Ultimately the goal will be to work him up to being rewarded when people are close to him and then eventually can touch him. These exercises must be supervised by a trainer (MUST be a positive reinforcement trainer), and will not happen overnight. You will likely need some private sessions to work on him with this. He's still very young so there's lots of hope.

If anyone asks to pet your very cute puppy when you're out in public, just politely say no and that he's nervous. But they can toss him a treat.

Also where did you get your puppy? Early experiences can greatly affect the dog's personality and behavior.
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top