Please help with Anxiety/Fear Based Barking/Lunging

Posted by l-mcdermottcomcastnet
Oct 12, 2009
I need help with my dog. We have had her about 3 years. Our problems with Hope got worse when our older (alpha) dog passed away - she was a 13 year old lab. I have tried to follow all the alpha dog suggestions and for the most part I think the whole family does a pretty good job with what we know to do. We make her sit stay at the door, always walk out first. Sit stay before feeding and feed her last (even pretend to eat from her bowl). Also she is not allowed on the furniture or beds. Hope is a mixed breed that is very skinny, fast and has a lot of anxiety. The anxiety seems to have increased after Kodi passed. She is afraid of people that come in the yard and house and she is very afraid of trucks. She shakes I think with fear (not sure if that's what it means but she is shaking). We have invisible fence and even when she does not where her collar she does not leave the yard BUT she will run back and forth barking at whatever is passing by to stop them from coming onto the yard. I know what she is doing but I can't seem to stop her. I was yelling but read that this could be seen as my encouragement for the behavior so I try to get her and put her in a sit or down while the car or person passes. I do not see any changes from doing this and I cannot always get control of her (she will run from me). I know she thinks it's her job but I don't know the best way to take it away from her. She will also lunge at people that come onto the property or get out of their cars in the driveway - while barking she looks aggressive (tail wagging from excitement not being friendly) but I know it is fear more than anything (maybe not a better thing) if i am there it goes better - and if I have her sit and then the people approach it is the best. Once she touches the people all she wants is attention and to be petted - she even becomes a leaner. But if they were to leave and come back in a short time she will do the same thing. My husband wants to use a shock collar devise that can also use tones but I am afraid for him to use that because how do we tell her what we want her to be doing - she will not know the right response. The only other thing she does that I do not like at all is that she growls when she plays with other dogs (not with the kids - only other dogs) it sounds bad and does not seem to bother the other dogs but I don't like it - makes me wonder what other dog owners must be thinking. It worries me that I do not trust my dog - she has not bitten anyone yet I just don't want to have fear that she will. She did grab the neighbors shirt - too close for my comfort. I was there and the neighbor did not provoke her or even come in her direction - it was all Hope. Lastly, she does listen pretty well but she is not good about staying in her positions. She will sit or down but will move quickly and sometime I feel she doesn't sit fast enough. SO even though I think I am doing the right things to be alpha dog I am not so sure there is not more. I can easily get her into a submissive down but here again she won't stay there. I could REALLY use the help. Thank you, Lecia
Posted by KOPsarah
Oct 17, 2009
hi lecia and thanks for your post,
It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things so far. I was wondering whether she reacts to strangers and other dogs as badly when she is off the property on and off her leash? Also you say she has a lot of anxiety, what sort of anxious behaviors does she show while inside with the family or at other times other than her territorial defending? Sorry for all the questions just trying to get a better picture of how we can help hope.