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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had 2 couples over for dinner tonight to celebrate the New Year. We do not entertain often and have very little "visitors". Well Rocky and Boris just went bonkers with barking at the people when they arrived. I could NOT get them to shut up. I feel I have failed miserably with socializing them...I am not social and we live a very secluded lifestyle. But...I think they should be quiet when I tell them to. It was not only frustrating but embarrassing too. Then Rocky was scared of one of the couples and wouldn't go near them...just bark and growl. :help:
 

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Minelson, I have the same problem with my dogs and so no good advice for you. Like you, I lead a pretty secluded life, and the dogs see few visitors other than family. I wish I had socialized them better, but with our lifestyle it's pretty difficult to accomplish that.

Maybe someone here will have some good advice for us.
 

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Welcome to the world of Herding breeds - seldom are they quiet !!
We experience the same thing, since we don't get lots of visitors. Usually though, after the initial barking frenzy when someone comes to the door and enters, if we lock the dogs away for awhile, they settle down, and if the visitors are dog-friendly, we can let the dogs back in, and they usually end up begging for petting and attention.
We have a set-up where we can either put the dogs out in the attached porch and shut the wooden door between the kitchen and access to the porch, which completely closes the dogs away from the rest of the house, Or, we also have a baby-gate between the living room and the kitchen, we can close that so that the dogs can still see the visitors, and we can let them settle down some. It depends on the situation.
 

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Have more friends over, I like my dogs to be in the intimidating side, but mine will hush when told, this has taken anything from having them leashed to give a correction, to useing a squirt bottle, it works wonders.
distractions is what they need, if they like a certian toy, keep it put up until company comes such as a kong with goodies stuffed in them, company = yummy.
 

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Ok, you did a bad job socializing.

Now it's time to forget that - in the past, can't change it - and do what you can. What you can do is decide that you can put a month of hard work into the dog, rather then spend the next fifteen years doing this everytime someone comes to the door;
"Oh wait, hold on... Get back boys!!! ...yes, glad to see you..... that is ENOUGH, be quiet... No, they're fine ...I said Quiet!! ... really, come right in ... No! Stop that. Quiet!!! ...could you hold on a second, I'm just going to put them up."

When you think of it that way, that month of work doesn't seem all that bad. So, for a month, you are going to make an effort to pretend be social. Even if it means employing a dog-loving friend, a nice neighbor, that kid who shovel's the drive, or even making it a point to give the mailman a cup of coffee every day.

Step one. Work on Down. It is hard for a dog to bark from an obedience down. They will try to get up to bark. This is easy, you're going to pretend you're deaf because now barking isn't the issue, it's that when you say down, you don't mean bounce to the ground and back up like a tennis ball, you mean press your chest to the floor and stay there.

Step two. Have people come to the door. Pay or bribe them if you have to (lol, I am a good cook and pay my helpers in food .. lasagna anyone???) but have them ring or knock and then just stand there while you make the dog Down a couple of feet back from the door. (Minelson, do this one dog at a time, with Shep there to set a good example if he stays calm and relaxed)
It goes like this; Knock on door, dog goes ballistic, you go up to the dog ignore the door and make the dog down. Dog either a) ignores you or b) looks at you like you're crazy and charges around you to the door. You do not bribe or sweet talk them into a down. You take them by the collar, drag them back a foot, get their attention on you (by giving a sharp correction to the collar, a foot of cord dangling from the collar is immeasurably helpful.)* and Down them. If you feel the need, enlist a DH or teenage child to help you. Their job is to totally ignore the dog except to give a leash correction if he moves to get up.
As long as the dog's eyes are on you, go to the door and put your hand on the knob. As soon as the dog shifts focus to the door, correct with a sharp, verbal correction. If the dog gets up. Immediatly drive them back with your big, intimidating body language (think momma dog - who takes no guff) and Down them in the same spot. Don't repeat the command, you already said it, press them down. Repeat until the dog will stay down when you go to the door and open it.
At this point, you will, with your voice and body language, invite the dog to politely greet your guest. If the dog comes in with anything but catious, submissive-polite body language, you will drive them back with your suddenly mad-momma-dog body language and have them do puppy push ups several feet back from your guest. "Sit, Down, Sit Down, Sit, Down" Leave them in a Down position and turn back to your guest, let the body language to your guest relax and become inviting. If the dog starts to get up, pull your Jeckyll-Hyde thing and growl them back down. Once the dog's attention is back on you, again invite them to politely greet your guest. Repeat as neccesary.

I know this sounds very long, drawn out and complicated. It's really not. If you have worked previously on basic commands with your dog, you have set the groundwork. The dog should get the concept within about 15 minutes of the first time the doorbell rings. Probably by the third time your "guest" comes in for you, it will be old hat to the dog ... but just for that one day and that one person.

By the third time you do this on different days (and if you can, with different people) the dog will begin to understand that something totally different is required of him at the door and he will not be allowed to go nuts. He will also begin to understand that YOU own the door, it is not his to guard from all comers (lol, he can have the back door and windows)
This is the point where you start asking the mailman if he would like some coffee and having non-set up people come by.

Oh, and if you have a "smart alec" dog who understands to down at the door pretty quick, but then rolls his hips to the side to free up his diaphram to bark at your guests, then puppy push-ups for him.

Again, this sounds very long and drawn out. It really isn't. A good dog trainer experienced in body-language communication can have a dog calm at the door in a few minutes (I think Cesar Milan did it recently on a show,1 time at the door, dog didn't come within 7 feet of the door, owner's jaws were on the ground) It will be harder for you because you aren't as practiced and your dog already has the habit of ignoring you at the door. So, you will become practiced and not allow the dog to ignore you. It's not as hard as it sounds.


* the reason you are not using positive reinforcement is because you are not asking the dog if he'd rather have the nice thing you are offering him then go nuts at the door. He'd rather go nuts at the door. In his mind, you are not in charge, he is on his own to deal with an intruder in his territory, your biscuit isn't going to change his mind
 

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Will bringing them to work here and there, taking them to Petsmart and things like that help socialize them? Or must all of it be done in their territory? Would some of each, out and home help them?

Mine do not lack socialization. I might live in the "boonies" as my husband likes to say but we are not lacking on visitors. With relatives treating me like a petting zoo, my kids' friends coming and going, my very curious neighbor repeatedly paying us visits, UPS, FedEx bringing me work packages and etc somtimes I feel like a train station :p
 

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Thaiblue, every interaction with people is socializing. The more they interact with people, actually the better guard dogs they will become because they will have more experience of who acts "right" and be more perceptive to "bad vibes".
I deally you socialize both at and away from home. The more interaction a dog gets, the better a dog it will be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, you did a bad job socializing.

"Oh wait, hold on... Get back boys!!! ...yes, glad to see you..... that is ENOUGH, be quiet... No, they're fine ...I said Quiet!! ... really, come right in ... No! Stop that. Quiet!!! ...could you hold on a second, I'm just going to put them up."
LOL! yes...this is exactly what it was like and it felt like it went on forever! I can laugh about it now but it sure wasn't very funny last night.
Thank you for the instructions. I'll try to find some help...I do have a neighbor that would help but I don't know if I want her coming over...it's hard to get her to leave! lol!
I'm wondering though...I don't mind them going ballistic when someone comes to the door because when I'm home alone it does help with "unwanteds"....If I train them this way, will that take my warning barking away? Also, Shep is just as guilty but he stops barking them moment he sniffs the people...unless the other two knuckle heads continue to bark like last night. When someone comes up the drive..Boris starts to bark and Shep can hear that so he barks and they both run to the door barking. Rocky, barks too but stays right by me and barks. I want to be able to turn off their bark button...If I'm not home, or don't know who the person is, I want them to continue to bark. Do I want too much? :eek:
 

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Do you want too much?? Not at all!!
Don't worry, training a dog to behave at the front door will not take away your warning bark. Just the opposite, it will teach your dog discretion rather then just to fly off the handle. How many thieves are going to walk up the drive, ring the bell and be happily greeted by you?

Trust me, once the dogs have learned that someone at the door means they have to pay attention to you, they will pick up on your cues as to whether or not this person is welcome. Dogs are highly observant - once you have them calm enough to observe, that is. And as I said on another thread, any potential threat is far more likely to be intimidated by alert dogs under control then dogs who are randomly barking and distracting you.

If you are very nervous, there is a second part to the exersize. Again, employ a friend to help. This time the friend is going to cut across the front yard and peek in the windows and rattle the back door. You are going to get very excited and rush to the windows and door whispering "Who's there? Is someone there?!" and very calmly praise them when they go nuts ... and they will go nuts!
Then repeat the door routine, they need to stay calm and lie down and greet politely.

Ready for a true story? When I got Thunder he was incredibly shy of people. I never thought he would actually protect me. But taking the advice of my PO uncle, I trained him as described above. It took one session before he figured out that he was to lie down at the door and bark at the back.
Fast forward 2 1/2 years, it is New Years eve and my sister is over, with her new (only 1 year old) car. Just after midnight, Thunder gets very eager to go out. One minute later, there is a huge ruckus that just goes on and on .. I didn't even think it was my dog, the neighbor had 2 dogs that barked nonstop and I thought it was them. When I stick my head outside, my sister's car door is open, Thunder is circling the car, snarling, and there is a very scared guy on the roof. When I shouted, the guy jumped off and made for the fence. Thunder put him over that fence! Nearly had him, if there was one more foot to the fence, there would have been a ruckus (I had grabbed my bat and was hauling myself out to help my dog!)
When the police officer came, she called from the front gate and was invited in. To be greeted by a sweet, shy dog who would not be petted until he had sniffed her from behind (where it was safe) and then flirted shamelessly and asked her for a ride in the car when she left.

Why the stunning personality transformation? Because they acted different. The thief came sneaking around, he didn't come through the front, he didn't seek out the people, he just fertively started touching things.
The PO came comfortably to the front. She behaved like she was welcome, she sought out the people, she waited to be greeted and invited in.

Now I'm not saying that if you do this, your dog will be putting thieves over fences (no one was more surprised then I when Thunder did, he was reallyy, really shy when I got him) but I say it to demonstrate that you are not so much teaching your dog to ignore the door as you are teaching him you own it, you control it and his job is to stay back and observe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Otter...this is now my New Years Resolution :) I will have to strengthen their down first. They all know it..but are being slackers once in awhile. Boris actually almost broke my nose with his teeth when I got home from Christmas travels he was so excited to see me. He hopped up as I bent down and whamo! Brought me to my knees....welcome home! Lot's of blood and swelling but no black eyes. So between that and last night I'm ready to gain back some stricter control around here. Thanks Again! and wish me luck! :)
 

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Good Luck!!!

Oww, and ice for that nose!
 
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