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Training my dog to "stare at a squirrel" but at people, not squirrels, and on command

My dog is your standard, friendly lab mix (mixed with BC). Socialized up the wazzu; he has gone to parties, public places, any establishment that allows dogs, etc. Fine with strangers petting him, meets new people enthusiastically, etc. He’s far more interested in rolling out the welcome wagon than thinking elsewhere in the world dogs do things like bark at people who walk in the house or drive up the driveway.

I've had some experiences with strangers lately though that make me wish he commanded a bit more respect. In no way do I want my dog to be aggressive, but I was thinking of ways I could use his existence as a dog, and take advantage of his BC traits, to possibly make people think twice about approaching me, such as the ‘border collie stare’ he adopts when he sees squirrels, quail, rabbits, etc. It's quite the intense, focused look, and never has any aggression. I was thinking of ways I could train for this, with a verbal and physical queue. I'm drawing a blank on using the clicker to get him to do this on command, and was hoping I could get ideas here?

Like I said, I don't want him to be aggressive, and that is not my goal. Mostly just a handy party trick than something to actually rely on for protection.
 

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Re: Training my dog to "stare at a squirrel" but at people, not squirrels, and on com

Not sure how you put the 'stalk' stare on cue. However, a Lab's happy bark is tremendously intimidating to non-dog people, and can be easy to put on cue. In fact, one famous trainer used to recommend something like teaching your dog to bark a lot, when you said, "Back Fido!" ... so onlookers would report that you were trying to keep your 'attack' dog under control, not realizing that you had cleverly changed the command for "sic'em!" :)
 

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Re: Training my dog to "stare at a squirrel" but at people, not squirrels, and on com

I've had some experiences with strangers lately though that make me wish he commanded a bit more respect. In no way do I want my dog to be aggressive, but I was thinking of ways I could use his existence as a dog, and take advantage of his BC traits, to possibly make people think twice about approaching me, such as the ‘border collie stare’ he adopts when he sees squirrels, quail, rabbits, etc. It's quite the intense, focused look, and never has any aggression. I was thinking of ways I could train for this, with a verbal and physical queue. I'm drawing a blank on using the clicker to get him to do this on command, and was hoping I could get ideas here? .
This is called a "mark behavior". It's often taught with different cues (verbal, signal, combination) for differerent targets. Although BCs are known for their impressive 'border collie stare' , retrievers - notably working Labs and Chessies - have a 'stare' as well. Not quite the same thing, but equally impressive in its own way.

To teach this in a controlled way, however, is pretty advanced training because an untrained dog will have a tendency to break - or try to break - to the target once he is "marked" to it. This is NOT what you want and you don't want to encourage that at all even at the very beginning. So you need to have a VERY solid "wait" before you can even consider it.

At this point, I wouldn't be teaching this. I'd work on the "Look At That" game for the things he is targeting.

And as 'hanksimon' said, a Lab's bark is pretty impressive just by itself. You CAN teach your dog to bark on cue rather easily, and the cue can be any word(s) you want to "impress" those you need to impress. One person I know trained a trick where her dog would bark on the word "WHOA" and she would take slack off the leash just enough to make it look like she was holding back the dog. The dog wasn't protection trained or attack trained or anything like that, but the display was quite intimidating to those who didn't know the dog was a mushpot.
 
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