Issues with strangers

Posted by ashleybaker7
Nov 26, 2010
I have a 1 1/2 year old female spayed boxer. We got her when she was 5 months old and instantly noticed some weird traits she had. Was afraid of stairs, and going off the deck in the back yard. Eventually she got over both of those and we started noticing even more weird traits. She started getting aggressive towards people and dogs she did not see everyday. It started off not bad at all and I was working on socializing her a lot. Walks daily and I felt like it all was getting better. But then I had a really hard quarter at school and I did not have as much time to walk her every day. Slowly she started to get so bad that I had to stop walking her because I didn't know how to deal with her. IT seems now that she is more aggressive towards men (especially with hats on, or when they are standing up). She does lunge at women but I am able to calm her down by breaking her attention and telling her to sit then i give her treats. I have been keeping her on the leash when visitors come and just doing it slowly. When she does not calm down I will take her out of the room for a while then try again. I have been keeping her favorite treats on my and having myself and her on the other side of the room as the visitors and have her sit/lay down and give her treats and praise when she is calm and focused on me. It seems that when its women or younger men thats enough to calm her down, and she can calmly go meet them and not bark anymore. This weekend as it being thanksgiving we had my uncle come stay at our house with his girlfriend and she did not take well to my uncle. I had been trying the normal things that work all day for the past 2 days and trying everything. She will be OK one minute then all of a sudden freak out again. She even was at the point last night she smelt him and started licking him then licked his face and all of a sudden freaked out and went for his face. She has never bitten a face at all but that seems to be what she goes for every time she freaks out on someone. Today she was seeming more agitated because she had been on a leash for 2 days to keep her away from my uncle and lunged at 2 other family members when they were petting her( these 2 people were people she does not normally freak out on since she sees them frequently). I'm guessing that keeping her on a leash or closed up in my bedroom has made her more anxious/angry which could have aided to the two random attacks today but i am very concerned and want to find out how to help her. What I have realized is that she is afraid does not know how to react to people/new things. She does not act like a normal fearful dog an retreat she attacks. I have been working daily on obedience and she knows a lot of commands/tricks that she does very well on command and is very friendly and loving with the people she is comfortable with. She does tend to sit on people/animals that live in our house, and we have been battling with skin issues with her (bumps,scratching,possible food allergies?) but other than that the vet said she looked go. Although the vet did not look at her to well as she was freaking out on the vet and not listening to my commands at all. my main concern is that once she starts to be friendly with visitors/strangers at her own pace smelling them and getting to know them she will all of a sudden bark and go for their face. Some situations that I have noticed that scared her once she was being friendly was the person standing up, to close to her face, or putting their hand over her head. I am very desperate and I need help! I know it takes patients but it's so hard when I just want her to be like a normal dog and be OK with my family members/friends we don't see everyday. I lover her very much and absolutely do not want to get rid of her, but I also accept she is not normal and does need me to be patient. I just want to know what I can do to help her in these times.

*update I just tried using a muzzle when she was around visitors and she still just lunged and went for their face and seemed to be a lot more anxious/scared with it on.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Nov 27, 2010
Hi Ashley,

Have you tried maybe you keeping her on a lead, while someone else is in the room. Its important to let your girl approach the person, not the other way around, her feeling cornered will only make her more apprehensive. Once she's ok with approaching your guest, you should be vigilant with the lead, and as soon as she shows signs of being uncomfortable pull her back to you. Praise her for being calm, and when she starts to behave badly remove her from the room and put her in a quiet area.

Unfortunately this kind of problem just takes time and continued exposure to new people. If you have something of yours or her that smells strongly like her home, maybe have your guest keep that on them to help her not recognize them as so "foreign".

You can also ask your vet about anti-anxiety medications or a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) plug in. These will work on a hormonal level to help her not feel so worked up in her home.

I don't have much experience with aggressively shy dogs, but I'm sure other members do, and I hope they can give you more advice. I'll keep thinking on it, and let you know of any more ideas I come up with. I'm glad you've decided to stick with her and work her through this, she certainly deserves that much!
Posted by ashleybaker7
Nov 28, 2010
Another update on her behavior, today I was downstairs and I heard her barking so I ran upstairs and my sister and a bunch of new friends were walking in the house and Addie (my dog) was sniffing them all walking between all of them. There was about 7 people who were there 5 men and none of them were people she is used to. Her reaction to them was not how she has acted when freaking out on people. She was pulling her head away from their hands so I called her out of that area to come downstairs. This time she was not on the leash, and I was not present at first. She is just very unpredictable some new people she has not problem with others she freaks out on.

From looking at different ways I have tried to work with her and strangers, it seems lie times when I separate her from our other 2 dogs and then bring her in once the guests have been greeted by us and things calm down, that she acts the worst. I'm wondering if it makes her worse by not allowing her to see our reaction and the other dogs reactions to the guests. NOrmally I will taker her in a different room have her sit on the leash until I hear things quiet down then ill take her out. This normally is followed by her pulling a head and me needing to correct her. I know the tension of the leash makes her more crazy but its unavoidable when I keep her separate then bring her in alone.

My dog and I are very close. She sleeps in my bed at night with me all cuddled up and during the day follows me around all the time. When I am gone and my family is watching her they say she acts the same no destructive behavior or anything. I also have video taped her while she was home alone, a little whining at first but then she settled down and slept most the time I was gone. I am beginning to think I am the problem thats pushing her over the edge.I am very anxious/scared when she is meeting someone new because I don't want something bad to happen ( a bite) which would cause us to have to put her down. I do try to assert myself when she is meeting someone new but with not knowing what way is the best to introduce her I am not as confident.

I have tried DAP and it made her go crazy, I have also tried some Petco anti-anxiety pills which calmed her while at home doing normal stuff, but did nothing when she meet new people.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Nov 29, 2010
Hey Ashley,

If you think she's worse with you in the room then focus your training on her accepting your calm reactions to guests/visitors. Always speakin calm tones and try not to make sudden harsh movements. Remember she can sense when you're anxious, so if you try to stay at ease in these situations (as hard as that may be) then it should help her. Keep up with having her meet people!