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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20220
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi Ive recently rehomed a female 3yr old patterdale terroir/labrador

Customer Question

Hi I've recently rehomed a female 3yr old patterdale terroir/labrador cross. The previous owners had her from a puppy and she is socialised well to cats and children but was not exposed to other dogs. She needed rehoming because they didn't have to tune to walk her and give her attention. She has a strong bond with myself and obeys commands of sit and stay and she has a lovely temperament in general.
However she has a few issues I am really stressed about. On walks she barks when she sees other dogs- particularly if they are walking towards us or off the lead, she has the same reaction with other things that freak her out, like tall men, people carrying fishing rods, loud groups of people, pushchairs. She's very highly strung. She isn't so bothered when the dogs are further away and walking parallel to us. Her bark is VERY loud, she pulls on the lead, sometimes her fur goes up and sometimes it doesn't. She also has a rumbling growl. From an outsiders point of view it's a scary reaction, and it can scare children.
In the house she barks at anyone coming in through the door and only really stops when people make a fuss of her, tall men seem to unsettle her more than others. She also barks at noises like car horns, doors banging, things on the telly etc. the barking is excessive and loud. She has never snapped at anyone or any other animals, but I'm scared she might because of her growling and barking.
So far I try to stop her barking by saying "no" and "quiet" in a firm voice, I hold her and I hold her mouth gently shut, I kneel down next to her on walks and keep her still until she settles down or the threat passes. I have just bought her the pheromone D.A.P. plug in diffuser and collar, and I've changed her dog food to wainrights rather than bakers and Chubb as it's supposed to be more natural- of of this is to try to calm her. Soon I'm hoping to start taking her to dog training classes to help her socialise with other dogs and perhaps introduce her to friends dogs. I've only had her 3 days now so obviously it's still early days but I'm so stressed about the barking that if my efforts don't work I may have to rehome her, but I really don't want it to come to that. I'd be so grateful for some help and support with this. Thanks.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.

Hi JaCustomer,


My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.


Thanks for all that information. It is helpful. Right now your new dog would be uneasy. She has probably been taken out of the only home she remembers. That probably makes her very uncomfortable as she has no other family to help protect her. Things that normally might not cause her to react would now. You are on the right track with obedience training.


Obedience training will help. It will help the dog understand what you expect of her and help her bond with you quicker. It usually takes a dog a couple of weeks to realize that they have a new home. Once she does, she should start seeing you as part of the pack and if she sees you as the boss, it will be your job to protect her from other dogs and people and her reaction shouldn't be as pronounced. Of course, you have to take over that role. You should not let dogs run up on her or let people pet her at this point until she is comfortable around them. Just tell people she is in training. You can have them talk to her and toss her a tiny piece of vienna sausage or liver so he sees them in a positive way. I'd suggest carrying a hooked umbrella on your walks. It can be opened and used as a barrier between dogs and the hooked end can be used to pull a dog off of another one if it should come to that.


There are ways to help dogs that are reactive to other dogs. One method that is relatively new is called BAT. You can read about this method below.


It will be helpful if you can find someone with a dog to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see her fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if she ignores the other dog, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.


This technique can be used for tall men as well though once she is more comfortable around them, you should have them also toss her some tasty treats. The training can also help with visitors coming into the house. You can have her sit and wait for visitors to be seated before giving her a release command. Have visitors give treats as well. When first teaching her to sit, you can keep her leash on and slip it under your foot to keep her in place until she learns. Once she is obeying and staying, reward her with the tasty treats. The treats provide positive reinforcement and is a great positive training method.


You can also teach her not to bark. Your method may help, but it is using a physical reprimand (holding the mouth shut). Physical reprimands can lead to the dog feeling you approve of physical reprimands. This might cause a dog to use a physical reprimand if they feel one is needed and their only physical reprimand is a bite. I recommend teaching the speak and quiet command. Dogs seem to learn quiet quicker if they first learn the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.


If this doesn't work, you may have to try a citronella bark collar or an ultrasonic bark collar. These techniques should help with the issues you are having.


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 .

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Just a quick follow up to see if you had a chance to try any of my suggestions. I hope you found my suggestions helpful.