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Looking for advice for training a territorial dog.

679 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  3GSD4IPO
I have an Australian Shepherd who is almost 5 years old now. I've always had problems with her being territorial around my house, but it's gotten a little bit worse lately. She barks at anybody she sees out the window, even if they're all the way down the street. When we have visitors over, she will only bark at them for a minute and then will calm down. This is fine and not too big of a problem. The bigger problem is that she'll chase after anybody she sees anywhere near our property if she is outside. If we open the door and she hears somebody outside, she will race out the door and start barking loudly and chasing after them. She never does anything more than this or tries to bite, but she still really scares people. We've tried so much to get her to stop doing this. In the beginning, we tried a bark collar, but she grew used to it and would keep barking and chasing even though she was being shocked. We've tried positive reinforcement and other things like that, but it never seems to have any effect on her. Most recently, we've tried using a high-pitched sound to distract her from the people around the house, but now she is desensitized to it and will just ignore it.
I know that just keeping her on a leash would solve this problem because she can't chase after people, but I can't keep her on a leash all the time. Every time we open the door, she sprints outside very quickly and we have a hard time stopping her. She is a very smart dog and we can't trick her with treats or anything.
I need some advice for anything else I can do to stop her from scaring people like this. I've considered an invisible fence, but considering how she was able to get used to the bark collar I worry that the invisible fence wouldn't bother her either. Putting her in a crate while we have the door open is also an option, but she gets anxious when we leave and I worry that being in a tight space would scare her more. I feel like I've run out of options -- any advice is greatly appreciated!
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She is a herding dog and this is herding behavior. She probably finds the chasing fun.. people run.. and she chases but it is going to be her undoing. It is a hard wired behavior (herding) and she has a genetic drive to herd (which is truncated prey drive and hunt drive). She has found a way to satisfy her drive and it is not in a way you like.

She needs, at this point, to never be off leash. Train her to wait at the door (NO DASHING) per suggestions above. Leave a leash on her so if she does dash the door, you can STEP ON IT. This will stop her. Probably short... and it may make an impression.

Dogs, not being gold fish, learn very fast. She will learn to behave with that leash on.. even dragging it.. but the question is will she behave when it is removed? My guess is that she will know when it is off and she will not behave.. but that is a different problem for a different day.

Yes, she must always have a leash on at this juncture, whether dragging it or you have it in your hand. The behavior she is doing is self rewarding.. and self rewarding behaviors are self reinforced every time they are repeated. So, you absolutely MUST stop the behavior first and physical restraint will be necessary.

Will it ever become unnecessary? I doubt it. Her genetics say to herd and she has found a way to satisfy her genetic drive to herd. This does not mean you should not TRY but you best start this minute or the day will come and she will chase the wrong person and the trouble will not be worth it.
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