Bella's barking (which started with no barking, though she was definitely timid, then around 5 months of age began to bark accessively at other dogs while at dog bark but was told by almost everyone she was just 'finding her voice' and as it wasn't aggressive not to be too concerned) has now progressed to what I would term aggressive barking - loud barking with a soft growl attached, ears back, backing up and tail low. And even worse, for the first time today she barked at a child. She has NEVER done this before. She LOVES children! She loves people. When at Petsmart or the dog park she would go up to people, tail wagging 90 to nothin', a happy grin on her face, and ready to lick thier feet (she seems to have a foot fettish).
She has been socialized - though not much beyond the extended families dogs the the first 2 months I had her as she had medical issues that made socializing difficult. Since then though she has been taken to the dog park and Petsmart/Petco. At Petsmart she is fine though still timid (i.e. trying to get behind my legs) when a dog first approaches her. During puppy class the only time she barked was when another dog not in the class began to bark at the entire group and kept it up for a while. Quite frankly other dogs in the group had started to bark back.
I've tried the, "hold her mouth when she barks" routine. She barks through the closed mouth. I've tried rewarding her for not barking. The problem, she begins to bark as soon as she sees people, leaving me with little to reward her for. She will stop after a while, but I almost feel that if I reward her then, she'll get confused and think I am rewarding her for the barking.
Today's barking escapade has really upset and worried me. I do not want an aggressive dog. Does anyone have any other ideas to stop this barking?
When you buy a puppy usually around the 2 month mark, you literally have till 4 months old to fully socialize the puppy. That means meeting as many new strangers a week as possible and meeting many new dogs each week as well, among getting used to strange sounds and sights. You missed the whole thing by the sounds of it. After 4 months the imprinting stage is over, whatever the puppy didn't become properly exposed to will most likely show a fear response to, and fear can turn a dog to show aggressive behaviors .(because of the fear) What you should do now is stop exposeing your puppy to any people or animals for the momment, never set up a dog to feel the need to be aggressive, this just tells the dog that the aggressive behavior is working, and the other dog or people go away. Start from scratch, start with a stranger from a distance, treat, get a little closer, treat, your associating the stranger approaching with food.As the stranger comes up to you the stranger offers the pup a treat.This is a long process, and you must maintain this training on a regular basis.If you ease up on the training or maintenance it will regress.
When I look up into the sky, I think to myself, Wheres the ceiling?
Piperk, how often do you take Bella out to the dog park and how often does she see people and other dogs? It sounds like she's scared if she is barking with the soft growl, and the tail between the legs. I think the more socialization you can give her the better, preferably every day. A timid dog can definitely be an aggressive dog, so working on her shyness is very important. . Personally, I would take her for walks down the sidewalk, where she has to walk past people. If she starts to growl and bark, a short little tug on the leash and a 'Shsht', and keep going. It may take some perseverance, but it's quite important to do this now, rather than have behavioural issues later, when she may snap at people because she's scared of them. Good luck with her.
She did get some socialization, just not as much as I would have liked. But again, she doesn't act this way if she is in a store, the vet, at a house, even in a parking lot. At those places when she meets a stranger she is almost embarrasingly friendly and while she might back away from a dog, she usually then tries to become friendly.
When she first started barking at the dog bark, I tried keeping her seperated from the other dogs by keeping her either behind the fence or off to the side and rewarding her as much as I could when she was quiet. It didn't seem to help and then the trainer said not to worry that she was just 'finding her voice', even others at the park said not to worry. When she first meet the trainer, the trainer checked out how she would respond to other dogs as Bella was a little old for the puppy class (we started late because of the health issues). She said Bella would be no problem as Bella immediately made friends with her Godlen. In fact Bella is still in training and does fine with the dogs she has met there (except for a mastiff puppy about 3 times her size and all but the Bouvier are scared of him) and I would hate to pull her from that when she isn't having a problem in that location.
I guess I will have to stop walking her though. Which I hate to do. She loves to walk, chase the ducks, etc.
Pen2: She is taken over to either my parents' or my brother's house 2-3 times a week - where there are other dogs and children (not always family children, but sometime friends, etc.). She is taken to Petsmart at least once a week if not more and there are always dogs there. At the dog park and the 'people' park she was going every other day before she started barking. Then I started taking her less at the dog park. I have to admit these last two weeks she has only gone to the dog park twice because work just started again, the weather has been bad, and my schedule was full. Now that things settled some, I was going to start taking her on her almost daily walks again. Plus, I had hoped that since she was doing so well not barking at training that maybe she would go back to being fine.