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I have a 3 year old Bernese/Great pyr mix. The day we got her she was so scared and hiding under a table living outside with all kinds of other trash and clutter. We had to drag her out but when we did get to hold her I assured her that we would be a great family to her and she would be safe with us. Once we got her home she came right out of her shell, she would sit outside with us and would just lay by our chain link fence as kids would pass or as the mail man would walk by. She never barked at them. She would bark when we had people come over but her bark always came with her tail wagging like excitement. She has always had separation issues and will chew anything and drool and pant if we leave her. I always just assumed it was because she was the runt of the litter, therefor having attachment issues and overall poor breeding. I am a stay at home mom so it has never been an issue because I am home most of the day.

Anyway, it seems as she has gotten older she is getting worse, not better. Now whenever we go sit outside she will charge the fence barking and jumping if someone walks by, even kids. She also will growl at people who come over that she doesn't know. I have tried really hard to socialize her but it doesn't seem to help. She gets along great with all other dogs and I trust her 110% with my family. I just don't trust her with strangers. She is too protective of us.

Things were ok until last week. She she acts aggressive to strangers who come to our home by barking and growling but if we take her out of her environment like to the dog park or just walking down the street she acts fine and doesn't do those things. Up until Last week :( We had to be out of the house because our house is on the market and they were going to show it. We went to home depot because it was too hot to be out in the heat and we wanted to look at new flooring costs. Well while we were there this big guy with a hat come over and ask to pet her and she barked and growled at him. I was just so caught off guard I didn't know what to do so we left immediately. know I am scared I can't trust her to take her anywhere. It upsets me so much I have no idea why she acts this way. She is the BEST dog otherwise.

What makes me the most sad is I want to foster or adopt from the Giant breed rescue that we have here but I am afraid they will tell us no because of the way she acts. I don't want her bad habits to rub off on another dog. What can I do? Can I get another dog or is that just asking for trouble? Sorry its so long. Thanks to everyone who reads and responds.
 

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When you say "she is too protective of us" is that something you've kind of encouraged around the house...ie; allowed her to bark at strangers, charge the fence?
In other words, let her make the decision of who's scary and who's not?

What have you done to teach her that this isn't her job?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
When you say "she is too protective of us" is that something you've kind of encouraged around the house...ie; allowed her to bark at strangers, charge the fence?
In other words, let her make the decision of who's scary and who's not?

What have you done to teach her that this isn't her job?
I don't think we have done anything to encourage her. It has never been a behavior that I have wanted her to have. When she first started doing it we would call her back and most of the time she would just ignore us so we would take her inside kinda like a "time out." She have also held her muzzle shut and tapped her on the nose and said "NO." I would rather not get into what doesn't work but concentrate on a new way that will.
 

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This is going to take alot of work in the early stages. Right now, she thinks she needs to handle/confront strangers at the fence, guests coming into the house. Good pack members will bark out an alert of possible intruders. That's good but, at the first bark someone from the rest of the pack needs to step forward and take over the situation...show her that her job is done after the alert.

That's the hard part...actually going out there to assess the 'problem'...getting between her and the 'intruder'....showing her that her job is done...you're taking over and now she can relax. You thank her for the alert and here's an important tactic....how to teach her that this 'intruder' didn't need an alert bark or isn't a problem...you YAWN. Yawning is something dogs understand...boring/nothing to be concerned with. This is called a calming signal.

For inside the house, show her how to meet guests. Your choices can be having her go to a rug or mat and sitting or laying down or going to a special spot away from the door. Point is, give her a specific action to do so she knows how to handle guests. You always meet guests first then she gets to say Hello. That way, she takes her cues from you instead of making up the rules on her own.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok great. I will try the yawn thing and see how she acts. I try and make her sit stay and she will sit for a second then go back to what she was doing. It is fine if people come over and I have a treat ready because I can call her back and she will do what I ask but if I don't have a treat she's not as willing to listen. Thanks for you help I am also looking more into clicker training.
 

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We had the "barking at the fence" problem with our roommate's dog. I got so sick of him running up and down the fence barking at the dog on the other side! One day I literally hung outside for hours. Everytime I watched him get into his barking position I put him into a submissive position, then made him sit facing away from the fence and gave him a treat/dog food. After a week of practice, he completely gets it. Sometimes he will still let out a few very quiet barks while facing away from the fence, but nothing big.
 
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