|Barked: Fri Mar 22, '13 2:57pm PST |
|You need to set your dog up for success. If your dog is just going back and repeating the same unwanted behavior you aren't doing a good job managing the behavior until it can be modified. By allowing unwanted behavior to be practiced it only strengthens and reinforces it.
Dogs growl. It is part of how they communicate, usually that they are fearful or uncomfortable about a situation. Correcting growling is probably the worst thing you can do, how would you feel if someone yelled at you for saying you were afraid of something? You'd probably stop telling them, which is what dogs do most of the time, which can lead to "unprovoked" or "out of nowhere" biting or other unwanted behavior. You took away a step of communication, so logically they would move on to using the next one.
What I would do (and I'm not there to see the actual behavior, so this is just IMO), is set up an exercise pen, crate, or confine the dog behind a baby-gate, a reasonable distance away from where the problem behavior occurs. It should be far enough away that your dog WON'T exhibit growling, also known as under threshold. DO NOT allow your dog to keep practicing this behavior outside of training sessions. I use clicker training, but you can also use a marker reward such as "Yes." Every time the trigger happens (someone walking by the door), click and reward. Don't even give your dog the chance to react negatively. Once your dog is looking at you expecting a treat when someone walks by, move them a little bit closer to the door. Repeat every time your dog has about an 80% success rate. DON'T scold if your dog makes a mistake and growls/whines/barks. Ignore the behavior and move back a step if it is happening more than 20% of the time. Take things very slowly and they should begin to positively associate strangers walking by with positive things and look to you for direction.
A good book for your situation would be Behavior Adjustment Training, there are many DVDs as well. I hope this helped, good luck!
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