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Unexpected growl and bark at strangers

549 Views 8 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  asp1687
Hi guys, I hope everyone is doing well.

1. I have an year old sherperd mix who just starts barking at people in waiting area when we go to pick him up from daycare and also during the walk.

2. He also sometimes goes to people sniffing and in a friendly people like normal dog will do during the walk or at dog park. But suddenly after sniffing , he will growl and bark at them. Mind you if this happens in park then the person was already at park before my dog came in and the person didn’t even pet my dog or anything he is just standing busy on his cellphone but still my dog went to him sniffing and then started barking and also my dog passed by him couple of minutes ago and he passed twice and third time he reacted with this behavior.
Please help if any suggestion or solutions for this kind of behavior.
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At daycare - and perhaps in the dog park too, I wonder if he might have been overstimulated.

I'd ask the daycare how much downtime he gets, and a simple solution would be to avoid the waiting area when you pick him up by using a side door, or waiting until nobody else was in the area before him being brought into it.

Outside, you need to realise some people will find that behaviour frightening. So again, perhaps avoid areas that are busy with people or keep him on leash.
Thank you for ur response will definitely try busy areas . With day care they have already started doing downtime but what can we do when it comes to going for a walk and if someone comes to my place. He goes all in with bark and lunging at people in public place and in the house too when someone comes.
If he is barking and lunging at people on a walk, I think he is trying to make them back off by presenting a loud, scary behaviour. So, that suggests he is too close (or in his view, they are too close to him).

You can work on this by finding out where his boundary is, the point where he is aware but not reacting. At that point, reward, reward, reward his calmness. This will start changing his reaction to people from 'stranger danger' to 'strangers = good things'. Over time, work on reducing the distance, but take it at his pace.

If you see a stranger approaching, cross the road, turn around, or use a barrier like a car or a tree. Advocate for your dog, don't let strangers come and pet him.

It's also possible he is dealing with a build up of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. It has a cumulative effect, so all the excitement at daycare builds it up and up. It can take a few days to dissipate (otherwise it is like a bathtub being constantly topped up with buckets of water at each event - if it doesn't have time to drain away between times, it ends up spilling over ina meltdown). So if you can, have a few quiet days, doing things that are calming - like sniffing games.
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Thank you will surely try these options. I would also like to give some background related to his behavior when it started,
there were 2 incidents
1. During the rainy walk , a lady lost the leash of her dog and her dog came in aggression towards mine. My dog got scared and in that flight response he hurt himself.
2. During another walk, two students were cycling the bike toward us on a sidewalk , he got scared of the bike noise and wanted get away from them. We did get away from them and went into parking lot unfortunately , students were also going in same direction so he got super scared .

since then he has developed these kind of behavior.
That makes sense. Depending on when these things happened, it's also possible he was in a second fear period, which is a development stage and getting a fright then can create a reaction that's out of proportion to the actual event.
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Yes. I think so . Will try the solution you provide above and will observe the progress . Please let me know if anything else I can do along with it.Thank you so much for your guidance .
There's quite a lot of other things. Check out Lesley McDevitt's 'Look at That' game. Also CARE for Reactive Dogs - it's about dog to dog reactivity, but the same principles apply.

You could also teach him to go to a 'safe' place when he is unsure, like between your legs. Couple that with reassuring him that you have got this, so he doesn't have to. Teach some simple obedience tasks, to focus him on something else (provided taking his eye off the perceived threat doesn't worry him more). Kikopup on YouTube is a good source of ideas. Make them simple, to build his confidence (if he can do them successfully it helps do that). Also, pattern games - the pattern makes the routine predictable and therefore reassuring.

Impulse control is useful for pretty much all dogs. I like this video.

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