Helping a Fearful Dalmatian Mix Stop Barking and Lunging at Unknown People

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 16, 2018

For this Woodland Hills dog training session we worked with Rex, a 2 year-old Dalmatian mix who is anxious, especially around new people, is sometimes dog aggressive and has a fear of the kennel.

When I stepped inside the home, I could immediately tell Rex was acting out of a sense of fear. His tail was tucked so far up it was touching his belly as he barked and backed up away from me.

I spent 15 minutes offering calming signals and soft body language to help Rex calm down. When they didn’t work, I asked guardians to sprinkle some chips on the floor so I could show them an exercise that teaches the dog to move away to act when fearful or anxious. We call this Behavior Adjustment Training and you can get some tips on how to stop a dog from acting aggressive when meeting new people by watching the video below.

Its important to recognize that Rex was not being aggressive. He was fearful and anxious and acting out or acting aggressive to make the human move away. That is why helping him learn to move away is such a great and easy way to stop a dog from acting aggressive.

The great thing about this approach is we wait for the dog to figure things out on its own. We may call the dog over to us a few times to get it started, but eventually the dog learns to move away when fearful instead of acting aggressive to try to get the person to move away.

I recommended the guardians practice this technique with people Rex hasn’t met. You want tp practice this a lot. That will help the humans get better at recognizing Rex’s more subtle warning signs (freezing in place, licking lips, staring, tail up, holding his breath or breathing heavily, etc) and help Rex practice moving away.

I made sure to point out that anytime they petted Rex in an unbalanced state of mind that they were rewarding that behavior. To help them avoid that in the future, I showed them how to pet with a purpose. I also recommended that they pet Rex under the chin within 3 seconds anytime he offered a desired behavior like sitting, coming or laying down.

Another trigger point for Rex was his kennel. His guardians had gotten into a habit of tricking or pushing him inside as they didn’t know a better way. I showed them how to use positive dog training to help Rex develop a positive association with the kennel then practice being inside for progressively longer periods of time. Basically practice being in the kennel.

Because the kennel was all banged up, I recommended they get a new kennel then use these kennel training tips to help Rex learn to love his kennel.

By the end of the session, Rex was calm and relaxed and was already starting to sit or come to ask for attention. The more the humans add structure and practice these techniques the more confident and relaxed Rex will become. Teaching him some new tricks and commands can also give his self esteem a good boost.

To help the guardians remember all the things we covered in this in home dog training session we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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