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winston is the most friendly dog ive ever known, to people and to other dogs. he LOVES children especially! and when im with him on leash or in an enclosed environment, like a house, he is so wonderful and approachable.

heres the problem.. outside, he is hesitant and shy. example.. i live on an active street. i do not have a fenced property. one morning, my husband left him outside and didnt even tell me he was out. i hear him barking and growling at people walking by. they did not sound too happy.

today, i was playing fetch with him. he is extremely play-driven, so recall is generally easy. but a woman and her son were walking down the street and he went over to them. he stayed on my side of the ditch, and he wasnt growling, but his hackles here raised. the little boy asked if he could pet him, but i told him no. winston has never bitten anyone before, even when he is anxious like that [example, a man he had never met walked up to us, winston had his hackles raised and he was dancing around the guy, but as soon as he got close enough to touch him, he started wagging his tail and licking him]..

i know once he gets close enough to touch the people, he will return to his normal happy self, but its the growling and raised fur that i dislike. it scares people. and i feel bad that he wont listen to me calling him back! i dont have a leash long enough to play fetch with him on.

so.. any tips will be greatly appreciated. ill be here to answer any questions.
 

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He is probably a dog from shelter so I won't bother asking for history as it's probably unknown. First advise: You should never leave a dog unattended with no leash and no fence. There are two reasons for this: obvious issues (kid gets bitten, you get lawsuit, dog put down...) and dog-human relationship issues (dog left to his own devices in a stressful environment). That goes for any dog, even a most calm golden retriever.

As for your specific situation, it's hard to tell through forums... Try putting up a mirror so he can see his reflection, normal dog should not react. It looks to me that he reacts visually on humans but calms down once they let him sniff. This is a common issue with extremely abused stray dogs, they remembered scent of humans who abused them and of those who helped them. He probably has a visual filter, I bet he only reacts to people of certain age, skin colour, hair colour etc.
 

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Socialize the dogs with lots of friendly dog-savvy people, 2 or 3 people at a time. He sounds like he's still in a fear cycle of developmental stages, so this is the time to expose him to low stress things. Your goal (Ian Dunbar) is to expose him to 2 - 3 different people per day: men, with beards, hats, uniforms, and then women and children until he has interacted with 100 people in a friendly and safe environment.

And, just to anticipate things, you also want to socialize with lots of dogs and other animals as early as you can. You can socialize a dog to be non-reactive to cats, rabbits, and squirrels... although it takes lots of patience, if you catch them at the puppy stage.

Re: Mirror - Never heard that one. My dog recognizes things in mirrors, but I'm not sure how much he understands. However, I was at a garage sale and there was a small mirror on the floor. He was tentative exploring the small mirror, but after a few starts and stops, he ignored the strange dog in the little window on the ground...
 

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Re: Mirror - Never heard that one. My dog recognizes things in mirrors, but I'm not sure how much he understands. However, I was at a garage sale and there was a small mirror on the floor. He was tentative exploring the small mirror, but after a few starts and stops, he ignored the strange dog in the little window on the ground...
Yeah, normal dogs would quickly realize that the reflection is not an actual dog. Those that don't, they end up barking at windows, metal surfaces, shiny floors, water, shadows, sunny spots, TV, statues, wheels, all sorts of things....

Some dogs, I reckon, even figure out that mirror is reflecting their own image. I remember that some "scientist" from a "recent study" in my morning newspaper said that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
He is probably a dog from shelter so I won't bother asking for history as it's probably unknown. First advise: You should never leave a dog unattended with no leash and no fence. There are two reasons for this: obvious issues (kid gets bitten, you get lawsuit, dog put down...) and dog-human relationship issues (dog left to his own devices in a stressful environment). That goes for any dog, even a most calm golden retriever.

As for your specific situation, it's hard to tell through forums... Try putting up a mirror so he can see his reflection, normal dog should not react. It looks to me that he reacts visually on humans but calms down once they let him sniff. This is a common issue with extremely abused stray dogs, they remembered scent of humans who abused them and of those who helped them. He probably has a visual filter, I bet he only reacts to people of certain age, skin colour, hair colour etc.
for your information, i adopted this puppy from a friend when he was 9 weeks old. he has been by my side ever since. he is half lab, 1/4 border collie, and 1/4 walker hound.
as for mirrors, he doesnt care for them. i have a full-length mirror in my bedroom and my daughter is more interested in it than winston.

and yes, i know that he shouldnt be left outside unattended. my husband mustve forgotten or didnt care. when he is outside with me, he stays with me.. except for the other day when people were walking by.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Socialize the dogs with lots of friendly dog-savvy people, 2 or 3 people at a time. He sounds like he's still in a fear cycle of developmental stages, so this is the time to expose him to low stress things. Your goal (Ian Dunbar) is to expose him to 2 - 3 different people per day: men, with beards, hats, uniforms, and then women and children until he has interacted with 100 people in a friendly and safe environment.

And, just to anticipate things, you also want to socialize with lots of dogs and other animals as early as you can. You can socialize a dog to be non-reactive to cats, rabbits, and squirrels... although it takes lots of patience, if you catch them at the puppy stage.

Re: Mirror - Never heard that one. My dog recognizes things in mirrors, but I'm not sure how much he understands. However, I was at a garage sale and there was a small mirror on the floor. He was tentative exploring the small mirror, but after a few starts and stops, he ignored the strange dog in the little window on the ground...
how do i get that many people to agree to approach us from the street?
like i said, hes wonderful inside the house or even other people's houses. hes usually fine outside when either hes on a leash or close to me when the person approaches. when there is distance between us [like when playing fetch] and he sees people, he seems to get on edge.
 

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Just 2 - 3 people per day .... Ask people at PetsMart, at Pet Stores, from the Vet, the Vet technicians, friends that have dogs, from dog parks, from schools. What Ian Dunbar used to suggest for socializing puppies was to have a puppy party with plenty of beer and pizza... You invite 8 - 10 people over, and have only a couple of them interact with the pup at one time. You only want people that like dogs, and most people that like dogs, love puppies....and would like to help...
 

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all righty. im having a housewarming party/1st birthday party for winston. ill see if i can rope up some volunteers. itll probably be pointless since winston will already know everyone.. lol!

im due for a pet store visit. i need to get some presents for his birthday. but if hes with me, he will see what im getting......
 

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You need to come up with a much safer way to contain/exercise your dog. If he's aroused enough to bark/growl/raise hackles, unless you are able to work out a way not to let him approach strangers in these situations, he is a bite waiting to happen. No dog, no matter how friendly, should be unattened in an unfenced yard on an active street. If you can't afford a long leash, get some nylon line from the hardware store and a clip to tie on to it. A good positive trainer can help you with his reactivity. But only if you are also willing to manage him
 

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Just 2 - 3 people per day .... Ask people at PetsMart, at Pet Stores, from the Vet, the Vet technicians, friends that have dogs, from dog parks, from schools. What Ian Dunbar used to suggest for socializing puppies was to have a puppy party with plenty of beer and pizza... You invite 8 - 10 people over, and have only a couple of them interact with the pup at one time. You only want people that like dogs, and most people that like dogs, love puppies....and would like to help...
Well, maybe not "plenty" of beer. People's judgement can get a little "loose" Coming from Ian, though, that's not real surprising. Ian does like his brew.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
of course i want to manage him! hes never stopped playing fetch willingly before, so i didnt even think it was a concern. when he first seen the people, he trotted over like he wanted to say hi, with an alert but positive attitude. it was only when the mother seen him and became alarmed that his hackles rose. if im not mistaken, id say winston really wanted to play with the little boy [he LOVES children], but the mothers anxiety made him anxious too.

nylon rope, got it. approaching exercises, got it.

lol, if everyone in the world were drunk, theyd feel no anxiety to dogs coming up to them. i think the dogs would be a lot less stressed out!

then again, thats probably not such a good idea if the dog is running at you with teeth bared.
 

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Fear periods are totally normal in maturing dogs. :)
Having him meet many types of people in many different situations is a good idea, but be careful too. Never force him to interact, especially on leash, this can actually make the problem worse. When people meet him, it would be good if they could wait for him to come to them. Tossing treats, or hand feeding, would be much better than petting.
Having a party might be good, but many dogs are made nervous by crowds of people. Just check in with him often, and don't be afraid to take him upstairs or into a quiet area with a great chew for short periods of time, even if he looks happy.
One other thing you can work on is teaching your dog they have control over social interaction with things that make them unsure.
http://ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/bat/
This website has a great protocol for dogs showing fearful/reactive behavior to anything.
The book "click to calm" may be a good addition too :)
 

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winston had his hackles raised and he was dancing around the guy
Raised hackles can be a sign of excitement. It doesn't necessarily indicate aggression.

Molly's hackles are up every time she sees an unknown dog or human and she hardly ever tries to kill them.
 

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it would be good if they could wait for him to come to them. Tossing treats, or hand feeding, would be much better than petting.
I personally wouldn't recommend this as it teaches the dog that every Joe on the street is just waiting for him to approach. Best is if people could simply ignore him, no touch, no eye contact, no nothing - just stand there being humans, talking, doing there usual human stuff. No interaction whatsoever. This teaches the dog that humans present no danger. Once the dog returns to its handler, then it gets praised and rewarded with food and play. It is good to have a couple of friends help with this.
If you let strangers reward the dog for approaching them, those that don't will then punish the dog through negative punishment (withholding the reward) - it becomes pretty confusing to the dog. Those especially aggressive/unstable ones can react very badly to this. That's my take on this.
 

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We can agree to disagree here. The dog is nervous of approaching strangers, he needs to learn that approaching strangers has a positive outcome. I do agree that a good protocol for nervous dogs is no touch/talk/eye contact, but shifting his emotional response from strangers being unsafe to strangers being positive will not be hindered by them tossing a low value food item to him. Pairing something unpleasant with a rewarding stimulus to change an emotional response is the principle of classical counter conditioning.
Once he learns that strangers = awesome the OP can fade the food. People in and of themselves will have become rewarding, interacting with them has been paired with the release of pleasure hormones triggered by food in the dog's brain.
 

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I can very easily relate to this issue. When Sydney was around 8-12 months she decided she DID NOT like older men, or men with hats or beards (I think because a big older man ran at her when she was younger but thats just a guess). She would be perfectly fine running in the park until someone she didn't like came in and she would run up to them dancing around barking. Since it was a dog park I would apologize and ask if they would just say hi to her then keep walking. It took about two months and she is so much better now. Its not necessarily aggression he's showing, he's just unsure if everything is safe around and letting you know he's not completely comfortable.

And everyone thats getting on to her about not watching him all the time... she is doing what she thinks is best and sometimes husbands and boyfriends don't go along with all the rules!! I had to continually remind my SO not to let the dogs out in the morning in just his undies because there's no telling if he might have to step out and call them back!
 
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