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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20218
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My 2 year old cockapoo has started becoming very nervous of

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My 2 year old cockapoo has started becoming very nervous of other dogs and strangers during walks, barking and growling if she's not receiving attention at home and barks constantly at nights when in her cage and will not settle. All of these are changes to her behaviour in her first 18 months. There have been no major changes to the amount we are around her, the location or frequency of her walks or her food.
Any ideas?
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Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
The change in behavior is due to her maturing into an adult dog and deciding that she is her own boss. This is not uncommon in dogs between 12-18 months of age. If they are their own boss, then it is up to them to protect themselves. If you are the boss, it is your job to ensure they are safe from other people and dogs. Your job to ensure people don't lean over them or allow other dogs to get close enough to possible bite her. So she starts growling and barking to keep people and dogs away so they dont' have a chance to do anything to her.
The way to combat this is with obedience training. Start with at home training by yourself and then to a group class to teach her that people and other dogs are ok and not to be feared. Group classes are good because all the dogs are under their owners control (on leashes) and the owners are concentrating on their own dogs so not as likely to focus on her. In addition, a trainer is there to stop owners from letting the dogs interact and to correct any mishandling that an owner may inadvertently do such as pulling back on the leash or keeping it taut.
Often owners will tense up and worry about what their dog is going to do. This transmits down the leash and the dog picks up on the feeling. They think you are worried about the people or other dogs and in turn that makes them think they are right to be worried and actually ends up encouraging the growling and barking at people and other dogs. So it is important that you try and remain calm and not tense and worried.
Let me give you a site that helps teach owners how to teach their dogs. 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.
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.
The Bat method might work as well.
As for her barking, you might teach her a quiet command. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned 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 a shock collar. They make ultrasonic devices but in my opinion they rarely solve the problem for more than a week or so. The citronella bark collar has problems with running out of the spray, but it is pretty effective. Try the training first. I really think that will be your best bet.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your detailed reply, there's some really great advice there. Just to clarify, Holly isn't barking at or being aggressive with other dogs. It's more at home around us that she seems to be very possessive over toys etc. and will bark or growl if she isn't getting constant attention.

Her barking at night is really one of the biggest problems and just seems to have developed recently.

If I understand your reply correctly sounds like we need to work harder with some of the recommended training techniques to re-establish our relationship with her so she knows her place in the family, then these behavioural issues should be possible to manage. Is this correct?

Many thanks for your help so far


Chris that is correct. Since she isn't being aggressive toward other dogs on the walks, just worried, try and keep the leash loose when walking. See if you can find a place to sit where there are lots of dogs and just let her sit there while the dogs go by. Tell owners you would rather there dogs did not approach her so a little off the path would be good. feed her tasty treats when she seems comfortable despite dogs being around. A helper would still be nice with you rewarding the desired behavior.
Working on the training will help the most.
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20218
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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