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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20443
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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why does my border terrier start barking when a person leaves

Customer Question

why does my border terrier start barking when a person leaves us?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.

You state she starts barking when someone leaves.
Where are they leaving from?
Is she lunging for them when she barks?
Does she ever seem like she is timid?
Does she ever try to nip their heels?
How does she act when they come in?
How often do you walk her?
Is she spayed?
Has she had any obedience training?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi Jane Stella tends to lunge at people when we are out on our walk along a country trail. She appears relatively un-concerned when we meet folk but then when I have finished talking and move away she wants to 'have a go' She has bit an old friend of mine on the calf some months ago as he went to jog away. Since then I have always made sure she is restrained whenever we come across someone. It seems to make little difference whether or not the people have dogs with them or not. By the way another man usually joins us on our walk who she has no problem with whatsoever. I also take my German Shep, he is muzzled and on a lead, he is no problem, and my little Jack Russell who is learning Stella's bad habit. I used to take an ESS with us, no problem but she died recently. Stella is a bold and confident bitch, hasn't had puppies but hasn't been spayed. When people visit us at home she doesn't cause a problem when they leave. Our dogs are free to run around our fenced off property, the house is in threequarters of an acre but Stella and Meg are kennelled at night. I haven't taken any of them to dog training Cheers John

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information, it is helpful. i think you have a pretty dominant girl there. This might be a couple of different things. It could be that her instincts for herding might kick in when she sees people leaving. If this is the case, giving her an activity to help run out some of that excess energy might help cut down on the behavior. If she likes balls, you might get a ball throwing machine and teach her to put the balls in to keep it throwing for her. You might get her a little backpack and let her carry a can or two around. That might help as well.

Dogs are aggressive toward people for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of people and thus are aggressive before the person can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the people. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (people). Many smaller dogs while dominant know they are no match for humans or even larger dogs and thus wait for the person to turn their back and then they rush in to nip at heels. This is also a herding action as well. I think it is more likely dominance, but it is hard to say for sure without seeing the behavior.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.

I think you are going to need to have her obedience trained. I suggest that you enroll him in an obedience class at a minimum. Before you can get into classes, I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.
The following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
You will also want to keep a leash on her at all times initially to grab if she should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well she does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.
This training will help you control her easier. It will also establish you as the boss and if you go to group classes, it will socialize her around people and dogs with a trainer present. Once she is trained, you can have her site when you stop to talk. If she knows sit already, have her sit when people are present. Slip the leash under your foot and stand on it. That way if she goes to leap up to lunge at them, she won't be able to. If she barks, list the foot a little and give a short tug on the leash and a firm "no". It is going to take some consistent handling of this from you to see improvement. Someone to help you recreate the situation and repeat it over and over would be helpful.

One she stops lunging and barking, give her a tasty hot dog slice as a special treat. She'll get the message pretty quickly that when she sits and is good, she gets a treat. When she barks and lunges, she can't anymore and gets a correction. After that it is basically practicing over and over until she is good every time. You need to reward each time. After that you have to sometime give treats and sometime not so she doesn't know when it will happen and will continue to behave for the possibility of the treat.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I've provided, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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