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I have a yellow lab who is almost 2 years old. He is very well tempered around me and my family. My parents watch him a couple weekends every month when I have to go out of town. Last weekend people came over, and he started barking at them and wouldn't let them in their house. We thought maybe it was just the people, because they were kinda... well yeah... But this weekend he did it again to some other people who we know very well, but the dog has never seen. Started barking at them, with his tail between his legs, when they got close he ran away out the back door barking... I wasn't around to see this since I was out of town.

My question is what would cause a dog to do this, and how can I break him of it? It has me nervous because if he is scared of people, I don't want him to become agressive toward them... And is it possible that the change of him going up to my parents 2 weekends each month is throwing something off... making him unstable so to speak? Just the change of atmosphere? Because he does go up to their house...?
 

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Is this a new behaviour? Have you had this guy since the beginning or did he come to you as an adult? Is the going to the folks place a new thing as well? Has he had any "scares" from anyone who came to the house prior to this behaviour coming up?

If this is new behaviour I highly recommend two things:
A vet check to determine if he has thyroid issues (fear behaviours/anxiety are common in subclinical thyroid cases).
Working on management and training/behaviour modification for when people come over. Visitors should be instructed not to look at or touch the dog for at least the first little while they are there. The dog should be on a leash or in another room, gated with a baby gate so he can see them but not be forced to interact or defend himself and FED when visitors arrive. You want to change how he feels about people coming in...if he gets lots of goodies (very small, high value treats) he will learn people visiting is a precursor to good things happening.

Eventually the dog can be tossed treats by the visitors themselves.
It's classical conditioning at it's best.
 

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It is a new behaviour. I got him when he was 5 months old. Its not real new for him to up there... the freequency of his visits up there are more. I will say last weekend they did have 5 dogs at the time, and 4 visitors already in the house (more of my family, which he was fine with), and 5 new visitors coming in the door. But the weekend before was normal and he still did it... but then, the person he did it to was, well, I wouldn't blame the dog for that one. He has had no scares from visitors that I know about...

I will take him in for a checkup today, and see what the vet thinks. And if he is ok medically, I'll do the treat thing with the baby gate.

I have never seen that behavior in him, and didn't know if something was happening at my parents house, or if just the change of envoirnment that freequently was an issue or what the deal was.
 

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Cracker nailed it again.....as usual. The only thing I can add is that I don't leave the meeting and greeting up to the dog. It's not their job....it's mine and I won't let them make the decision of whether guests should come into the room or not. That training starts as puppies...I say Hello/shake hands while the dogs wait their turn. They learn to follow my direction and it puts them at ease....they don't have to make the decision of how to handle the interactions.
 
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