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Today was the first day I met my neighbor's dog across the street. I was getting the mail, and as soon as I stepped out, he was growling and barking from a distance.

When I turned around from getting my mail, he was crossing the street and growling and barking. I was sure he'd bite me if I confronted him. I knew running wasn't an option, so I ignored him as calmly as I could and slowly walked away.

The dog eventually ceased growling and barking, but silently followed me halfway up my driveway. His owner kept calling him back, but he ignored it and kept following me for awhile, and seemed torn between returning to his owner or continuing to follow me [/go after me].

I have no experience with dogs and am curious as to what this behavior means. Does this mean I will have to stand my ground next time to make it clear that it's my territory, not his? Was I unknowingly establishing ALPHA by walking away and letting him follow?

What happened??
 

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Read up on the dominance theory. There's no alpha :)
 

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My best guess is that he was escorting you off of what he perceived as his territory. If you would have confronted him he may, or may not, have attacked.

Generally when I come across a dog acting like that. If it's far enough away I will step towards it while standing to my full height and making myself seem as big as possible. I usually tell it "NO!" in a loud deep voice, if it stops I start slowly walking backwards. If it comes towards me again I repeat telling it no. My goal is to get it to stay back while I slowly walk backwards out of it's territory.

If the dog is too close to make doing the above a good idea I talk calmly to it while trying to walk backwards out of it's territory. I walk backwards because I do not want to lose sight of it, or give it the idea that a sneak attack is a good idea. I'm also praying that it does not decide that I'm a threat and should be attacked.

So far I've avoided getting bitten, but I did come close at least once. That one time I would have been bitten if I had not been swinging the umbrella, I had with me, at the dog. I did not hit the dog, but did tell the kids who owned it that they better come get it or I was going to kick the hell out of it.

I can guarantee you that the dog does still consider the territory his. If he's usually out you could try making friends with him by dropping some really tasty treats when you see him. A time or two of that and the dog will probably be your buddy for life and more then happy that you are in his territory. Hot dogs, chopped into small pieces, is usually a huge hit with most dogs.
 

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I don't have treats for dogs as it's not as if I have any dogs of my own.

If I do get treats, I will have to buy it from the store. Petty cash for me, is like $62 a month, and I honestly want to spend it on other things. If the neighbor would prefer I was friendly with the dog than aggressive, maybe he can give me the dog's treats and distribute it as necessary.

But I really don't want to form a relationship with the dog. I want to get my mail in peace, without being heckled.

I will stand my ground next time and tell the dog to go home. Maybe I'll bring an umbrella with me to surprise him with if he gets too close; I'll just pop it open at him or something...

I'm glad there aren't any small children in the neighborhood (that I know of), or that dog would have to go.
 

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Speak to your neighbor and ask that you be introduced to the dog.
Yep, talk to your neighbor and meet the dog. The neighbor can at least settle any fears you have.

Unknown dog, growling, territorial... Yelling at this dog, confronting it or smacking it with an umbrella will likely result in you getting bit.
 

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I don't have treats for dogs as it's not as if I have any dogs of my own.

If I do get treats, I will have to buy it from the store. Petty cash for me, is like $62 a month, and I honestly want to spend it on other things. If the neighbor would prefer I was friendly with the dog than aggressive, maybe he can give me the dog's treats and distribute it as necessary.

But I really don't want to form a relationship with the dog. I want to get my mail in peace, without being heckled.

I will stand my ground next time and tell the dog to go home. Maybe I'll bring an umbrella with me to surprise him with if he gets too close; I'll just pop it open at him or something...

I'm glad there aren't any small children in the neighborhood (that I know of), or that dog would have to go.
Whatever.
 

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Purple,

Here's my opinion on "what happened". Many dogs exhibit this type of behavior and much of it can be due to " territorial tough dog" behavior. Your choice to " I ignored him as calmly as I could and slowly walked away" was a good choice. But here's the problem with this type of behavior, it's self reinforcing for the dog because the dog starts its posturing as you begin to encroach upon the dog's territory. As the perceived threat turns away from the dog's territory, the dog believes it has won hence the self reinforcement of the dog's behavior.

The old " mailman axiom" is a great example. The mailman comes to the house to deliver the mail on a regular basis, the dog lights up and does its barking routine and of course the mailman leaves after delivering the mail. The dog believes the mailman left because of the dog's posturing and continues the behavior as it is strengthened every time the dog thinks it has driven the mailman away. So your "walking away" most likely reinforced the dog's behavior as the dog believes it drove away the "threat". But, by being calm, you did not escalate the dog's behavior at that moment.

The solution is incumbent on the owner, as the owner could obviously have more command and control over their dog. However, in the absence of your neighbor taking charge and obviously lacking any command of the dog, your choice to calmly and with assertiveness just go about your business is a good choice rather than freaking out and ramping the dog up even more.

Another thought, maybe take a piece of scrap food with you next time and toss it toward the dog's intended path toward you and then go about your business. If the dog continues in your direction as you return to your house and finds the scrap, you could change the entire dynamic in the dog's brain. This method could be argued by some as also reinforcing the dog's undesirable behavior but that's for another thread someday.

Bottom line however is your neighbor either needs to have much more off leash command/control of his dog or have it restrained in one form or another.
 

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In most states there are leash laws and dogs are required by law to stay on their own property......If your city has leash laws, that dog's owner is breaking the law by allowing the dog off his property and if after speaking to your neighbor, the dog continues to behave this way, I'd let the owner know you will report him to Animal Control. Territorial dogs can be dangerous so be careful!
 

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I agree with the comment about leash laws. Your neighbor clearly did not have control of his dog. If you think you can instill some responsible behavior in your neighbor by talking to him, that's a good start. Failing that there is animal control and the authorities to help, and, well defense devices you could use, should that become necessary. Lets hope your neighbor is reasonable.
 

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If he's usually out you could try making friends with him by dropping some really tasty treats when you see him. A time or two of that and the dog will probably be your buddy for life and more then happy that you are in his territory. Hot dogs, chopped into small pieces, is usually a huge hit with most dogs.
I would not do that while he's making a display of protecting his territory. Sure, you're buddies (for now), but you also taught him he gets rewarded for aggressive behavior. What happens the next time when you don't have treats, or, what happens to the next poor soul who happens to come by without treats? Reward positive behavior. Only. When he's done something to show you he wants your friendship and not just the loot you bring.

This is the part that I find nonsensical about positive reinforcement training: the idea that you can distract or redirect bad behavior by offering treats in the middle of said bad behavior. All you've done is mask it--with treats. Better pack a full supply 24-7.
 

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I would not do that while he's making a display of protecting his territory. Sure, you're buddies (for now), but you also taught him he gets rewarded for aggressive behavior. What happens the next time when you don't have treats, or, what happens to the next poor soul who happens to come by without treats? Reward positive behavior. Only. When he's done something to show you he wants your friendship and not just the loot you bring.

This is the part that I find nonsensical about positive reinforcement training: the idea that you can distract or redirect bad behavior by offering treats in the middle of said bad behavior. All you've done is mask it--with treats. Better pack a full supply 24-7.
I figured someone would bite. A couple of distinctions need to be made regarding your comments. First, the object of the dog's arousal into a seemingly aggressive posture is NOT the handler it's just some human encroaching on the dog's territory which is a big difference versus the owner. You ever wonder why mail carriers, delivery people etc. carry dog treats with them? You ever wonder why many vets dish out the treats when their patients visit? The dynamic of these specific situations can be altered to a more positive nature by taking advantage of a dog's food drive, nothing more, nothing less.

The OP is not interested in training the dog, so there's no need to balance behavior with reward. The idea is, having the dog associate the particular human with a pleasurable experience hence the food scrap appearing every time a specific human appears. I've dealt with enough fence "tough dogs" which now come to the fence with an entirely different behavior than their previous territorial fence barking baloney. It's easy enough to do.

Yes, if the OP was the owner, I would completely agree that rewarding the dog for its unacceptable behavior would be the wrong path to take.

Positive reinforcement training has its place and works wonderfully when the situation dictates. I've never known any handler worth their salt who didn't incorporate R+ in their overall training methods. Do you know of any?
 

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I don't have treats for dogs as it's not as if I have any dogs of my own.

If I do get treats, I will have to buy it from the store. Petty cash for me, is like $62 a month, and I honestly want to spend it on other things. If the neighbor would prefer I was friendly with the dog than aggressive, maybe he can give me the dog's treats and distribute it as necessary.

But I really don't want to form a relationship with the dog. I want to get my mail in peace, without being heckled.

I will stand my ground next time and tell the dog to go home. Maybe I'll bring an umbrella with me to surprise him with if he gets too close; I'll just pop it open at him or something...

I'm glad there aren't any small children in the neighborhood (that I know of), or that dog would have to go.
No need to buy dog treats, you can use any type of meat you have on hand, or you can use something like cheese. In the view of most dogs people food is much better then dog treats.

If you don't want to be bothered making friends with the dog then you need to talk with your neighbor about keeping the dog confined. You can mention that you check the mailbox between, for example, 3 an 4 pm, would he please keep the dog confined during that hour. Another route would be to exchange phone numbers and give him a call when you go to check your mail, it all depends on how close you are to the neighbor.

Not all parts of my county have leash laws, when I lived in the country there was none, but if the owner simply refuses to confine the dog then I agree it's worth a call to animal control to see what they have to say.

If the dog is close to you do NOT confront it, that's a bad idea and may cause it to escalate it's behavior as it will think you are challenging it. The only time I ever try to bluff a dog is if I have a good 50 yards or more between them and I. I have also looked around and figured out the best escape route should the dog decide to charge.
 

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I would not do that while he's making a display of protecting his territory. Sure, you're buddies (for now), but you also taught him he gets rewarded for aggressive behavior. What happens the next time when you don't have treats, or, what happens to the next poor soul who happens to come by without treats? Reward positive behavior. Only. When he's done something to show you he wants your friendship and not just the loot you bring.

This is the part that I find nonsensical about positive reinforcement training: the idea that you can distract or redirect bad behavior by offering treats in the middle of said bad behavior. All you've done is mask it--with treats. Better pack a full supply 24-7.

Nope wrong, I've had more then one person make friends with my fear aggressive dog by using a food reward. They can now approach and pet him minus the food rewards, he views them as a friend, a good person, rather then a threat he needs to scare away. I have not masked anything, I've taught him that the person causes good things to happen and he does not need to try and scare him or her away. That's what the aggressive dog with the OP will learn. The OP is a source of good things, the dog will be happy to see him or her.

I can guarantee that once the dog views the OP as a source of good things it will cease to act aggressively, it will not see him or her as a threat and so will have no need to try and chase him or her off. Nothing will be masked, since the mind set of the dog will be changed.

No other person will be affected by the OP making friends with the dog. The dog will simply learn that the OP is a friend. It will most likely continue it's aggression towards all other people.
 
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I figured someone would bite. A couple of distinctions need to be made regarding your comments. First, the object of the dog's arousal into a seemingly aggressive posture is NOT the handler it's just some human encroaching on the dog's territory which is a big difference versus the owner. You ever wonder why mail carriers, delivery people etc. carry dog treats with them?
Should we also wonder why they carry pepper spray? I'm afraid that doesn't help your argument any more than it doesn't show you are not rewarding the aggressive/protective behavior. Good on the mail carrier for not getting bitten, but that doesn't mean he hasn't reinforced the behavior.

You ever wonder why many vets dish out the treats when their patients visit?
And now... non-sequitur flag thrown. The vet's office is his territory, not the dog's. And there, the dog is therefore not engaging in territorial protective displays, but rather, fear from a strange environment, anxiety, etc. Throw the conflation logical fallacy flag while we're at it.

Now... am I saying that using treats to establish a friendship link with a dog is an invalid approach? Not at all. I do it all the time. But on neutral ground and never in close immediacy to the undesired behavior.
 

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Nope wrong, I've had more then one person make friends with my fear aggressive dog by using a food reward. They can now approach and pet him minus the food rewards, he views them as a friend, a good person, rather then a threat he needs to scare away. I have not masked anything, I've taught him that the person causes good things to happen and he does not need to try and scare him or her away. That's what the aggressive dog with the OP will learn. The OP is a source of good things, the dog will be happy to see him or her.

I can guarantee that once the dog views the OP as a source of good things it will cease to act aggressively, it will not see him or her as a threat and so will have no need to try and chase him or her off. Nothing will be masked, since the mind set of the dog will be changed.

No other person will be affected by the OP making friends with the dog. The dog will simply learn that the OP is a friend. It will most likely continue it's aggression towards all other people.
That's great. Maybe you haven't solved the problem, though? I mean, unless you do want to let the dog intimidate all passerby except those thoughtful enough to bring treats.
 

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I don't have treats for dogs as it's not as if I have any dogs of my own.

If I do get treats, I will have to buy it from the store. Petty cash for me, is like $62 a month, and I honestly want to spend it on other things. If the neighbor would prefer I was friendly with the dog than aggressive, maybe he can give me the dog's treats and distribute it as necessary.

But I really don't want to form a relationship with the dog. I want to get my mail in peace, without being heckled.

I will stand my ground next time and tell the dog to go home. Maybe I'll bring an umbrella with me to surprise him with if he gets too close; I'll just pop it open at him or something...

I'm glad there aren't any small children in the neighborhood (that I know of), or that dog would have to go.
Whatever.
That's so rude. Why respond at all?
 

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That's great. Maybe you haven't solved the problem, though? I mean, unless you do want to let the dog intimidate all passerby except those thoughtful enough to bring treats.

I do something quite different for his reaction to the general public. I do not expect him to let every body who passes pet and handle him, I don't like strangers coming up and hugging me or grabbing my arm, I don't expect him to. I just want him to pass by people without reacting and we have come a long way from when I first got him in that endeavor. Most people we can now pass by and he will look at me for his treat rather then hit the end of the leash barking and growling. Here's the site with the instructions I use to work with him Care for Reactive Dogs . Again that's for his reaction to the general public since I do not expect him to be a social butterfly.

I care if he let's my close friends, family, and some of my neighbors pet him, and those are the ones I encourage to give him treats, and play with him, they are the ones he's made friends with, and I supplied the treats.
 

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Should we also wonder why they carry pepper spray? I'm afraid that doesn't help your argument any more than it doesn't show you are not rewarding the aggressive/protective behavior. Good on the mail carrier for not getting bitten, but that doesn't mean he hasn't reinforced the behavior.



And now... non-sequitur flag thrown. The vet's office is his territory, not the dog's. And there, the dog is therefore not engaging in territorial protective displays, but rather, fear from a strange environment, anxiety, etc. Throw the conflation logical fallacy flag while we're at it.

Now... am I saying that using treats to establish a friendship link with a dog is an invalid approach? Not at all. I do it all the time. But on neutral ground and never in close immediacy to the undesired behavior.
I'll give you the vet office response, yes it is neutral territory at the least but the mailman/delivery person is encroaching on the dog's territory and triggers the behavior being described in this thread.

However, the changes I have created with the fence charging posturing dogs in my neighborhood has occurred while the dog is in it's realm, hardly neutral in nature. I suppose one could argue the safety of the fence allows many a dog to enhance its aggressive behavior because the dog knows what the fence represents. Most of these dogs are not going to bite me anyway, it's just a display, all bark no bite. BUT, I have still changed many of these dogs without ever being able to make a correction because I am on the wrong side of the fence. The reason I changed these dog's behavior with me is I changed the dynamic by putting the dog off balance. I walk by the fence, dog charges with all the barking and posturing, I flip a food scrap over the fence, dog eats it, I continue on my way. By repeating this process, eventually these dogs when they see me, hear me or scent me, they are at the fence with an entirely different demeanor one which is a far cry from all the feigned aggressive crap they previously exhibited. At this point, I take additional liberties with the dog and usually make physical contact and seal the deal. ALL of this started by the simple process of flipping a piece of food over the fence whenever the encounter took place. So, please tell me how I rewarded the undesirable behavior? You are suggesting that my method should have increased the dog's tenacity and territorial aggressiveness but in fact has done exactly the opposite. I just used the dog's food drive along with consistency of probable outcome that every time I passed by, a pleasurable event would occur. The dog's food drive outweighed the dog's territorial posturing drug fix.

Let's be honest with each other, the majority of dogs displaying territorial posturing are all show. Chances are I could enter into the home of these dogs uninvited and flip a t-bone steak to them and they would discontinue their bluffs.

Oh, yes, carrying pepper spray comes along with the treats as it would be unwise to assume giving a dog a treat will cure the problem but that doesn't mean it will not work in many situations.
 
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