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Hello, we recently (on march 1st) adopted a rescue dog who we and several others believe is a shih tzu and terrier (Border or Jack Russell) mix. He is great with us but is a bit overly protective. For example my husband gave my daughter a hug and he started to growl and bark. He also is not doing to well with guests who come to the house. When we first got him he would not aggressively bark at guests or would stop after the guest gave him a treat. Now, however, I assume that because he has got very attached, he feels that house guests are trying to hurt us. He barks and growls at any new people and we are worried it might escalate to biting. We also took him to the vet where he squirmed a lot when they were trying to microchip him and the vet told us he might have been abused in the past because he is scared of restraints. Any tips or advice on how we get him to not be so aggressive with our house guests and be less protective of us?
 

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First it will take time to see what comes out of your dog. Right now he is a mystery. You can not ask him what happened and so you need to be patient and try to learn who he is. We had a rescue dog, who we slowly learned was hit and never trained, not even by here name or come. It takes time and trust on both ends. The dog needs to trust not only you but the world around him. Lots of love is my suggestion. Watch when he gets scared and find out his triggers. It sounds like he is scared and dosen't trust people. I am sure some others will pop up here and give you some great advice. Good luck
 

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I think you got off to a false start at first: In addition to becoming more attached to you, it is probably only now sinking in that this strange building he's been hanging around in is actually his new turf!

You will probably need some volunteers; you will have to be patient about accustoming him to guests. Your current tactic will work just fine. If he's too afraid to approach them for a treat, just have them toss the treats to him. If he doesn't go for them… get something tastier! And smellier… hot-dog bits, semi-soft treats, dog jerky, etc.
 

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He might not be protective and perhaps was never abused, he may just be scared and may have missed out on socialization during his first few weeks.=. A few ideas to help him get more comfortable with people

- don't force anything, allow the pup to get comfortable with them in his own time frame
- make sure he knows he can escape - have a crate or safe spot for him available, perhaps have him meet new guests after they've come into the house and aren't moving around as much (keep him in a separate room until guests have removed coats and sat down)
- when guests are close to him, have them drop treats nearby or drop treats as they walk past him; don't have them give him treats at first as that might be too overwhelming
- play open bar/closed bar: pup is in a room with "safe" person, stranger walks in, safe person feeds him treats, stranger walks out, treats stop
- check out Debbie Jacob's fearful dog site and Ali Brown's scaredy dog site, lots of good info from both trainers
 

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I've also recently adopted a rescue and she does the same thing. It's been about 3 months since we adopted her, but the barking/growling began earlier.
At the beginning, she would bark even before the person came to our door, and I would tell her a firm 'no'. Since then, she has developed this 'controlled bark' that's more like a huff of air.
She mixes that up with proper barking (but only once or twice; she's a quiet girl) that we don't discourage because we feel it's quite reasonable for her to inform us of a potential threat.
However, once someone has gone to check out the door and/or receive the guest into the house, any growling/barking/snapping is met with a firm 'no'. We will let her sniff the newcomer(with permission of course) wherein if she tries to snap (by snap I mean the harmless air-snaps that don't touch skin) she receives a stern 'no'. After a few minutes of sniffing, she will generally just go back to her bed to sleep. So that works for us, not so sure for you.
BUT please be sure to keep an eye on your dog whenever that visitor is about and doing something new - aka entering another room, picking/touching something etc - to ensure nothing happens. Again, this is only because all our dog does is air-snaps, if your dog does anything more dangerous then muzzling/CC might be in order.
We would do CC too, but we generally don't have many visitors and our dog has other, more important concerns at the moment *faints*
Hope this helps!
 

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I've also recently adopted a rescue and she does the same thing. It's been about 3 months since we adopted her, but the barking/growling began earlier.
At the beginning, she would bark even before the person came to our door, and I would tell her a firm 'no'. Since then, she has developed this 'controlled bark' that's more like a huff of air.
She mixes that up with proper barking (but only once or twice; she's a quiet girl) that we don't discourage because we feel it's quite reasonable for her to inform us of a potential threat.
However, once someone has gone to check out the door and/or receive the guest into the house, any growling/barking/snapping is met with a firm 'no'. We will let her sniff the newcomer(with permission of course) wherein if she tries to snap (by snap I mean the harmless air-snaps that don't touch skin) she receives a stern 'no'. After a few minutes of sniffing, she will generally just go back to her bed to sleep. So that works for us, not so sure for you.
BUT please be sure to keep an eye on your dog whenever that visitor is about and doing something new - aka entering another room, picking/touching something etc - to ensure nothing happens. Again, this is only because all our dog does is air-snaps, if your dog does anything more dangerous then muzzling/CC might be in order.
We would do CC too, but we generally don't have many visitors and our dog has other, more important concerns at the moment *faints*
Hope this helps!
Honestly, this isn't the approach I'd use. It has the potential to increase the problem as the dog is not only scared of the guests, but also learning that her person becomes scary when guests are present.

Definitely keep an eye on the pup to prevent escalation and don't push too hard, but scolding can just increase fear.
 

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I disagree with you. How is the dog scared of the guests? She'll smell the guest, and then return to her bed(or wherever) to sleep. Nothing there spells 'scared' to me.
And her person doesn't become 'scary' when guests are around. Her person becomes scary only when she tries to snap at people. Regardless if its a guest or somebody at home. And after that 3-5 seconds or so, everything returns to normal.
Dogs aren't that sensitive imo, i think they're pretty thick-skinned. Otherwise, they wouldn't repeat whatever action they got a 'no' for.
Well, that's what I think anyway. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
 

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I disagree with you. How is the dog scared of the guests? She'll smell the guest, and then return to her bed(or wherever) to sleep. Nothing there spells 'scared' to me.
And her person doesn't become 'scary' when guests are around. Her person becomes scary only when she tries to snap at people. Regardless if its a guest or somebody at home. And after that 3-5 seconds or so, everything returns to normal.
Dogs aren't that sensitive imo, i think they're pretty thick-skinned. Otherwise, they wouldn't repeat whatever action they got a 'no' for.
Well, that's what I think anyway. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Growling, snapping, and barking generally means that the dog isn't comfortable with whatever is happening. Your dog might not be scared (but she's likely not overjoyed by guests), but OP's dog might be. You want the dog to associate guests with good things, not firm "nos." And yes, the dog's person gets scary when guests are around if that's the only time she growls and snaps.

Imagine you're uncomfortable around snakes and jump when they're near you. Would having someone say a firm "no" every time you see a snake and jump help you overcome your discomfort? What if someone gave you your favorite candy when snakes were around? Or $20? After a few trials, you'd start to feel better about snakes.

Some dogs are harder than others. They can take a firm no or shouting or even physical corrections without much obvious fallout. A dog who is already uncomfortable, bordering on scared, might be completely shut down by a stern voice.

As far as repeating whatever action they got a 'no' for, if that continues, "no" isn't a very effective punishment, is it? It hasn't worked to change long-term behaviors.
 

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Hmm, sure I guess, if you do want the dog to associate the guests with good things. For us, our visitors are mostly tutors so it's not very possible of us to request they spend 15min just interacting/getting used to our dog. We only have 1 regular guest-guest, which I would have him do the treats thing with Delilah but he isn't too keen to. Like I said, I do think CC is the best method and addresses the root of the problem etc, but should OP or anybody else reading this not be able to do so, I thought I would just offer my alternative given my circumstances as mentioned in original post: We would do CC too, but we generally don't have many visitors and our dog has other, more important concerns at the moment *faints*

I offered my alternative because in my case, I would actually have been unable to do most of your solutions:
- don't force anything, allow the pup to get comfortable with them in his own time frame My dog would directly go to the guest, and that's when the sniffing+snapping happens. Other than that, my dog isn't actually interested in getting to know the guests at all.
- make sure he knows he can escape - have a crate or safe spot for him available, perhaps have him meet new guests after they've come into the house and aren't moving around as much (keep him in a separate room until guests have removed coats and sat down) Our dog already goes to her bed when she feels like it. She already knows she has an escape.
- when guests are close to him, have them drop treats nearby or drop treats as they walk past him; don't have them give him treats at first as that might be too overwhelming Our guests usually stay in a single spot as they chat/etc, so they don't really 'walk past' the dog. And again, not all visitors can/will spare the time to help the dog like that.
- play open bar/closed bar: pup is in a room with "safe" person, stranger walks in, safe person feeds him treats, stranger walks out, treats stop Same as above.

So to me yes, CC would be better, but I think we are providing an alternative that isn't bad either. I'm not sure if OP's dog really is scared, just working with whatever he has told us - overly-protective, aggressive. Of course, if OP's dog is the fear-aggressive kind, then I would assume OP would know and know which advice to discard and which to take, haha.
'No' has worked for us in cases like no entering certain rooms, no putting her paws up on the table etc.
 

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Hmm, sure I guess, if you do want the dog to associate the guests with good things. For us, our visitors are mostly tutors so it's not very possible of us to request they spend 15min just interacting/getting used to our dog. We only have 1 regular guest-guest, which I would have him do the treats thing with Delilah but he isn't too keen to. Like I said, I do think CC is the best method and addresses the root of the problem etc, but should OP or anybody else reading this not be able to do so, I thought I would just offer my alternative given my circumstances as mentioned in original post: We would do CC too, but we generally don't have many visitors and our dog has other, more important concerns at the moment *faints*

I offered my alternative because in my case, I would actually have been unable to do most of your solutions:
- don't force anything, allow the pup to get comfortable with them in his own time frame My dog would directly go to the guest, and that's when the sniffing+snapping happens. Other than that, my dog isn't actually interested in getting to know the guests at all.
- make sure he knows he can escape - have a crate or safe spot for him available, perhaps have him meet new guests after they've come into the house and aren't moving around as much (keep him in a separate room until guests have removed coats and sat down) Our dog already goes to her bed when she feels like it. She already knows she has an escape.
- when guests are close to him, have them drop treats nearby or drop treats as they walk past him; don't have them give him treats at first as that might be too overwhelming Our guests usually stay in a single spot as they chat/etc, so they don't really 'walk past' the dog. And again, not all visitors can/will spare the time to help the dog like that.
- play open bar/closed bar: pup is in a room with "safe" person, stranger walks in, safe person feeds him treats, stranger walks out, treats stop Same as above.

So to me yes, CC would be better, but I think we are providing an alternative that isn't bad either. I'm not sure if OP's dog really is scared, just working with whatever he has told us - overly-protective, aggressive. Of course, if OP's dog is the fear-aggressive kind, then I would assume OP would know and know which advice to discard and which to take, haha.
'No' has worked for us in cases like no entering certain rooms, no putting her paws up on the table etc.
I guess I don't understand the problem. It sounds as though your dog is fine with guests (unlike in your previous post). And I'd much rather have my dog associate guests with good things than bad things. In a previous post, you described your dog as, "Frightened very easily. We're talking wind and rocks here." A stern or firm voice could certainly cause an easily frightened dog to become more frightened. Again, if she's displaying fear or anxiety by growling and snapping, being stern has the potential to make things worse.

Guests don't really have to do anything except ignore the dog - you or another person in the house can (and in many cases should) give treats or pets or play games (whatever reinforcement the dog enjoys most and is feasible for the situation). If your guests don't want to participate, that's fine. If they do, there are options for them.

If you're using "no" repeatedly, you might look into Kikopup's positive interrupter and start to work on teaching behaviors you want. Dog don't really understand "no." They may stop what they are doing (not because no has meaning, but because they're responding to your voice and/or tone), but they don't know 1) what it is you don't want them to do and 2) what you'd prefer them to do.
 

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She's fearful of things outside the house and things she doesn't understand like big objects or strange noises, but with things she knows she's not like that anymore.
Thing is, I don't think she's being fearful or anxious when faced with guests. In general she is a scared dog yes, but she displays no fear I can see when it comes to guests.
Which is basically the same issue I think OP is facing, since he described his dog as overprotective and aggressive, not scared and anxious.
Again, of course there is a better alternative like what you're saying, which makes the whole issue into something positive, but I think what I'm doing is more neutral - not negative. (For a non-scared, over-protective dog - which is what I think both OP and I deal with in this particular issue)
 

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She's fearful of things outside the house and things she doesn't understand like big objects or strange noises, but with things she knows she's not like that anymore.
Thing is, I don't think she's being fearful or anxious when faced with guests. In general she is a scared dog yes, but she displays no fear I can see when it comes to guests.
Which is basically the same issue I think OP is facing, since he described his dog as overprotective and aggressive, not scared and anxious.
Again, of course there is a better alternative like what you're saying, which makes the whole issue into something positive, but I think what I'm doing is more neutral - not negative. (For a non-scared, over-protective dog - which is what I think both OP and I deal with in this particular issue)
Most people misinterpret scared as protective or aggressive. If your dog is snapping at guests, she's frightened. It doesn't matter what she does after the snap, she's snapping and she's scared. The fact that she's scared, or was scared, of wind and rocks tells me you have a very anxious, soft dog. "No" isn't the answer here. It might shut her down enough to stop acting out her fear, but it's not dealing with the root cause. And it's not working, since you need to keep doing it over and over and over again.

If you are unwilling to try effective training for this issue, put her away somewhere before the tutors come over. It's unfair to allow her to be afraid and it's unfair to expect the tutors to take being snapped at.
 

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I would say she is wary and uncomfortable and dislikes the presence of the stranger. I disagree that she's scared. I think it's a bit too sweeping a statement, to just assume every dog that snaps is scared. Dogs like people are all different.
As I said, it would be ideal if she does learn to see visitors in a positive light.however, we cannot do that.
Next best thing, neutrality. What i'm doing. I think putting her away is the worse and is negative as her freedom is always restricted when visitors come into the house and she also cannot investigate them. That message is very clear: visitors mean restriction of freedom. Of course if the visitor is disturbed we will bring her away, but that's a separate issue. With what I'm doing, she is uncomfortabe for a few seconds yes but once she investigates she has a piece of mind and goes to relax and do her thing.
I've seen her being scared of guests before and I can draw a comparison. What I'm talking about here, she isn't scared. Wary, yes. Fearful, no.

It doesn't have to work in the sense that it stops her from forever snapping at people because obviously that's not going to happen until she stops being uncomfortable. The goal is to let her be comfortable (ie smelling) without being dangerous, at the same time not being able to counter-condition. It works fine for us; she is uncomfortable for 20 seconds and fine for the next few hours, as compared to specially arranging for visitors who are willing to help do CC come over several times for the sole purpose of helping our dog get over a little discomfort. I'd rather spend the time on other worthier issues instead.

I think we will just have to disagree on what my dog is feeling but as I feel I've done adequate research and can actually see my dog in the act I would prefer to trust my own judgement on this issue.
I'm not going to assume what OP's dog feels (it may very well be fear) but I was just providing an alternative as not everyone has the time or ability to carry out the ideal. And now that you bring it up I feel that shutting the dog awayshould definitely not be an option until the dog proves a real danger.
 
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