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Hello everyone,

I have a 1 year old lab mix who is the most social and loving dog. He LOVES everyone. However the last two weeks I’ve noticed some changes in his behavior.

He has been more aggressive when barking at my neighbor and the UPS guy. He barks continuously and will even paw the ground will his hind legs pushing up grass as if it is a territorial move. He has never done this before (unless following going to the bathroom). He kept barking at my neighbor when she came to the property line to speak with me and would not stop. I’d sit him down and he would settle for a bit and then get up and return to barking at her. And it was not his usually playful bark. A few days ago we had friends come over and for the first time EVER he hid under the bed and acted scared of both of them, but once we took him outside he turned back into his playful self and we didn’t have any problems for the rest of the night. This behavior was extremely strange.

Now I will say that right before I noticed these Behaviors he did end up getting a bacterial infection on his two hind paws and has been on antibiotics for about a week. The neighbor incident happened while his feet were still very red and I can tell they made him sore and uncomfortable.

In addition to all this he is testing me with obedience. We use an ecollar and he typically responds really well to it. The last few days has been horrible and he ignores it more and more often. He also blew through our electric fence when another dog walking began a barking interaction. He was not agrressive towards this dog, but he never blew through the fence before. I had the company adjust his settings immediately after and although he hasn’t crossed the boundary fully, he has definitely been extremely close, specifically with the our neighbor.

any tips on how to get this under control before he spirals out of control? I love his personality and do not want him to become territorial. Also, any one think maybe the medicine or issue with his feet can be contributing to his weird behavior? Or is my dog going insane with quarantine?
 

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Some very good questions for your vet.

Any time there are dramatic behavioral changes, a vet check is in order to see if there is a medical basis.
 

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I would be asking your vet about the possible side effects of those antibiotics, first.

Secondly, in what situations have you used the e-collar to train the dog? When he's barking at something? Perhaps jumping up on your friends or being too excited?

The reason I ask is that sometimes, if you use the e-collar incorrectly, you can unintentionally teach the dog something that you really don't want to. For example, if your dog was happily going over to your neighbor's dog and the neighbor and got zapped by the electric fence....whoops, now he thinks the neighbor and her dog were the ones who caused the shock. He didn't understand that the shock was a result of him reaching the boundary line.

This kind of thing can happen in so many situations, and you really can't predict what the dog is actually learning. Because he's only 1 year old and still pretty much a puppy, I highly doubt that he fully understands exactly what is expected of him in all situations, so when you use that e-collar, it may be that he's accidentally learning that neighbors and friends cause pain when they appear.

That's probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is something you should consider. You also will not want to hear that I would suggest quitting the shock collar and the electric fence and turning to positive reinforcement methods until you know for sure what is causing the change in behavior. Best case scenario, it has nothing to do with the shock and nothing changes. Worst case, it has everything to do with the shock and you slowly make this situation worse, and you have a dog that's afraid of your neighbor and neighbor's dog and anything else it accidentally becomes afraid of for the next 12+ years.

Whatever you decide to do, you should most definitely consider a physical fence at the very, very least. If he's blown through it once...he's going to do it again no matter how high you set the shock. He's going to see a bunny, another dog, and he'll ignore that momentary pain. It's a sure way for him to run into the wrong not-dog-friendly dog, a car, or run off completely. That would a true tragedy.
 
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