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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Two teenage boys walked past our property, and Aidan went nuts. He followed their path inside, from door to windows, barking, growling, and howling to beat the band! He sounded *much* bigger and more fierce than he is!

A couple of months ago, he would have greeted them with great glee, as though they were his best friends in the whole world. This is the first time he's made such a racket. I praised him because I want to encourage him to be a watchdog.

Five minutes after the boys were out of sight, Aidan is still patrolling all the windows, making sure they are gone.

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I praised him because I want to encourage him to be a watchdog.
You want him to "go nuts" every time somebody walks past your house?

I want our dogs to alert us if someone is at the door (because the doorbell may or may not be working) and I certainly want them to sound the alarm if someone is trying to get into the house unannounced. But I'd really rather they ignore folks who are just walking past, minding their own business.
 

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I agree with RonE . . . it sounds like this is the beginning of a problem behavior more than him being a 'watch dog'.

I had my parents watch Ozzie for me for 6 weeks one time while I was out of the country. I come back and notice that he had started barking/alerting to people walking by the house. I ask my parents whats up with that, and they shrug and say he is being a good watch dog. Fast forward a couple months and Ozzie is barking at everything going past our house. Gets real old, real fast. I contact a behaviorist, and start a training regimen with him. Now its months later and he is finally able to not alert and go nuts every time someone walks by. We still have set backs but are doing much better now.

Its a long road to climb back up once you start down it. Its much easier to look ahead now and realize this behavior might not be wanted or appropriate. Also, consider that Aiden is barking for a reason. This may be his way of saying he is uncomfortable with people around his property, in which case you may want to start desensitizing him and carefully watching for an increase is guarding/territorial behavior.

I believe that most (medium+ sized) dogs will provide what most people want in a 'guard dog'. Most dogs, regardless of training, will protect their home and family against threats. Dogs are really good at sensing whats normal and whats not and I wouldn't try to encourage aggression towards 'normal' things, such as teenagers walking by the house. This may also be Aidens way of telling you he isn't comfortable with teenage boys, in which case, its your job to expose him to more of them and make it positive.

Just a few thoughts...
 

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Two teenage boys walked past our property, and Aidan went nuts. He followed their path inside, from door to windows, barking, growling, and howling to beat the band! He sounded *much* bigger and more fierce than he is!

A couple of months ago, he would have greeted them with great glee, as though they were his best friends in the whole world. This is the first time he's made such a racket. I praised him because I want to encourage him to be a watchdog.

Five minutes after the boys were out of sight, Aidan is still patrolling all the windows, making sure they are gone.

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Well as a pup who is feeling his oats, I think this is nice because as you continue his regular work such as obedience, control will come as he gets older. Little praise is not bad, don't overdue. What I like is the crazy appearing dog as the teen-age boys are walking by home cause that could save you some grief down the road. Maybe, just maybe they spread the word to let your home alone cause of the crazy dog living inside.

Either way the dog must alert 1st and then like walking a tightrope or catching a 20 lb fish on a 10 lb test line praise/control is added. Too much control and maybe the alert program stops, too much praise a monster in home is built. I like a dog with a little crazy in him, that's just me though.
 

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Unless I lived on a rural property where there should never be uninvited people walking near by house (as in, house being set back from the road/ within a fenceline etc), then I wouldn't want to encourage barking at people walking by. Like the others say, it gets old very fast AND if you work during the day, it will annoy the heck out of your neighbors when you aren't home to stop it.

But I also understand wanting a good watch dog. My suggestion is to encourage an alert bark when someone comes up to the house or basically anytime they aren't just walking along. Then, train a stop to the bark. An acknowledgement that you heard him and you will take care of any issues. I always say "Okay, I got it" and get up to look at whatever has got Chester on alert. He knows that once I am aware of the person/car then he can stop "telling" me to look.
 

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I live in a small city. My last dog (malamute/collie) spent most of his time in our fenced backyard. He could see people on the street but ignored them. If someone came into our front yard/driveway and he didn't know who they were, he would do a gruff bark. He never went crazy. His is the kind of behavior I like, not a dog that freaks out and yaps its head off every time someone walks down the street.

My current two are all right. They will bark at dogs going down our street, but not at people. They will bark when someone comes to the door. I'd like for them to bark a little less (a couple of alert barks would be nice, not a full-on show), but I consider them fairly good watchdogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
You want him to "go nuts" every time somebody walks past your house?
We live in a rural area, very isolated. No neighbors in sight. These two boys were the first people who have walked by here in months. The grand total for the year, so far, is four people.

Aidan does not bark at the mail lady, the UPS or FedEX guys, the farmer across the street when he goes to retrieve his cows every day, the guy down the road who brings me tomatoes, the school bus, or anyone whose mode of transportation is a tractor.

I want him to bark when strangers are walking down the road. It prevents them from deciding to take a detour onto our property. I get a bit nervous sometimes because it takes the state police 45 minutes to get here when I (or any of the "neighbors") call them. The way I see it, a barking dog might alleviate potential problems.

There are some iffy people who live around here. A large percentage of teenagers use all sorts of illegal drugs -- many supplied by their parents -- the school is nicknamed "Heroin High". So, I like the teens (and their parents) to be scared off.

Aidan knows our kids' friends ... nothing to worry about with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This may also be Aidens way of telling you he isn't comfortable with teenage boys, in which case, its your job to expose him to more of them and make it positive.
I have 17 year old triplet boys, and a daughter who will be 16 next month. Aidan has no trouble with teenagers at all.
 

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Sounds like you have good balance with Aidan and that he's coming along nicely. Let me know when you're all done -- I'll send directions so you can send him my way. :)

Either way the dog must alert 1st and then like walking a tightrope or catching a 20 lb fish on a 10 lb test line praise/control is added. Too much control and maybe the alert program stops, too much praise a monster in home is built. I like a dog with a little crazy in him, that's just me though.
^^^ This. Poca is fairly balanced, mostly by accident vs. anything we did. We just ignored her behavior and let her decide how much to react. She doesn't bark at everything that moves, but if they approach our house she goes at it. I'd like her to settle more quickly with people if I let her know they are ok. A work in process. But not bad.
 

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Two teenage boys walked past our property, and Aidan went nuts. He followed their path inside, from door to windows, barking, growling, and howling to beat the band! He sounded *much* bigger and more fierce than he is!

A couple of months ago, he would have greeted them with great glee, as though they were his best friends in the whole world. This is the first time he's made such a racket. I praised him because I want to encourage him to be a watchdog.

Five minutes after the boys were out of sight, Aidan is still patrolling all the windows, making sure they are gone.

View attachment 27926

This is a great beginning and a good foundation. With proper training and some time, you get him to turn off once you command it. Your bond with him also plays a role here.

BTW........ It is WAAAAAAAAAY easier to tone a dog down, than to build one up.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This is a great beginning and a good foundation. With proper training and some time, you get him to turn off once you command it. Your bond with him also plays a role here.

BTW........ It is WAAAAAAAAAY easier to tone a dog down, than to build one up.
Getting him to turn off on command is a good idea, just in case we ever move to a place that is more populated, I won't want him to bark at everyone who walks by. He hardly ever barks, though, so that will be difficult. Do you have any suggestions?
 

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Getting him to turn off on command is a good idea, just in case we ever move to a place that is more populated, I won't want him to bark at everyone who walks by. He hardly ever barks, though, so that will be difficult. Do you have any suggestions?
He is like 8 months old right?

I would just let the behavior you saw with the teenagers develop on its own. Encouraging as you see fit. You can shape it and control it later. The same way you would any instinctive behavior.
 

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Getting him to turn off on command is a good idea, just in case we ever move to a place that is more populated, I won't want him to bark at everyone who walks by. He hardly ever barks, though, so that will be difficult. Do you have any suggestions?
I associated words like Shell did when I first got Gweeb. At that time he barked and screamed at everything and now he knows "quiet time". I don't know how you'd do that without him barking much.
 

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I live in a rural area, on top of a hill with a long driveway. Both of my dogs sound the alarm whenever a strange vehicle comes up the driveway, which my boyfriend and I love.

A) Between Lucy's bugling and Colt's giant 'WOOF,' the house sounds like a den of Hellhounds to any would-be evildoers.
B) If we're around, the early warning gives us time to put shoes on and generally make sure I'm not lounging around nekkid when the Verizon guy stops by.

It IS important to teach Aidan an 'off' phrase if you're going to encourage the behavior. The last thing you want is a dog who sets off over every rabbit that happens to hop around your yard. I taught my dogs what was worth barking over and what wasn't- the only non-human thing they've alerted us to lately was a momma snapping turtle laying eggs right next to our house.

Lol, don't expect much if someone actually breaks in though. The bf's cousin came by one night and let himself into the house. Lucy didn't recognize him in the dark and let out the longest, most panicked howl I've ever heard. At least 20 full seconds of 'BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.' Then she came running to me like 'OMGOMGOMG' I didn't know such a petite dog had that much noise in her, but she was shaking for half an hour after. Another time I locked myself out and had to kick the door in. She barked for the first two kicks and when I finally broke the lock I found her hiding in the bedroom. Way to defend the home, Lu. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Between Lucy's bugling and Colt's giant 'WOOF,' the house sounds like a den of Hellhounds to any would-be evildoers.

It IS important to teach Aidan an 'off' phrase if you're going to encourage the behavior. The last thing you want is a dog who sets off over every rabbit that happens to hop around your yard.

Lol, don't expect much if someone actually breaks in though.
Maybe I'm strange, but I like the sound of a dog howling, if I am not the target and as long as it doesn't go on forever. Sometimes, I watch youtube videos of howling breeds doing their thing, and for some reason, it is a marvel to me that they can do that.

Well, that rabbit thing is what I don't understand about Aidan. He completely ignores animals - birds, cows, rabbits, squirrels, deer, cats, etc. He sniffs the air for a minute when we go outside, and after that, his nose is either stuck to the ground as we walk along, or his face is stuffed into a hole that was pre-made by a yard rodent.

I have made an effort to show him the wildlife and farm animals, and the result has been that I notice wildlife a lot more. The other day, I saw a vole (I think; it had no tail) in the yard, about a foot away from me. It was the color of the dirt and nearly invisible because of the grass. Aidan had his head stuck into a hole, and I tried to get him to pay attention to it, to no avail. I was pretty pleased, though, because my observation skills are definitely improving!

If someone breaks into our house, Aidan will either greet him with delirious joy, bring him a toy, or hide behind me. I cannot imagine him protecting me, because he clearly expects me to protect him.
 
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