More stranger anxiety!
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  • J

    Dex and I have been working really hard at improving his behavior around strangers. We live in a city, so it is pretty hard to avoid the constant flow of people around town. Just to recap from previous posts, I have had him since 4 months and we have heavily socialized him since. He was fantastic with strangers as a puppy, but now at 13 months he is beyond terrible with them. I no longer allow people to pet him when asked and his hair stands on end at approachers.

    Oddly, he waits to see the stranger's motive before making a response. If the person just walks by, we can walk on and he settles down. If that person pays him any attention or speaks to me, he lunges and lets out a small growl! I have no clue why this behavior has turned for the worst. We carry a clicker and treats everywhere we go, and my strategy as of late has been to click and treat every time we walk by someone, as long as he looks up at me on the command "watch". I do this so that he can take his concentration off of the walking-byers and know that a reward comes when strangers are around.

    Lastly, we have gotten both the CU book and the new CU Puppy Book, which are excellent. I am hopeful that some of those strategies might be of use, but I definitely fear for the stage we are currently at.

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  • Have you tried a behaviorist? Many times they see things that we as owners totally miss

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  • J

    We are in a Basic class that mixes in CGC/TDI skills. Do you suggest a private session with a behaviorist?

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  • @jdido09:

    We are in a Basic class that mixes in CGC/TDI skills. Do you suggest a private session with a behaviorist?

    Yes, so that the behaviorist can evaluate him in the situations that are a problem. And have you talked to his breeder about his temperament and problems?

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  • Why do you carry a clicker around with you? That sounds awkward. Once a command is on cue, you shouldn't need it. (unless you are carrying it to potentially mark some other behaviour you are hoping he will offer??) If he responds to your cue "watch" , then you reward, but not every time. Intermittent rewarding yields better results once the dog understands the command. This is pretty basic clicker training stuff.

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  • J

    @eeeefarm:

    Why do you carry a clicker around with you? That sounds awkward. Once a command is on cue, you shouldn't need it. (unless you are carrying it to potentially mark some other behaviour you are hoping he will offer??) If he responds to your cue "watch" , then you reward, but not every time. Intermittent rewarding yields better results once the dog understands the command. This is pretty basic clicker training stuff.

    I carry the clicker to mark any behavior that isn't anxiety in the company of strangers, since there is no cue right now that will alleviate him. Leslie in CU mentions actually more frequent clicking as more beneficial for an overstimulated dog such a Dexter.

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  • O.K. that makes sense. I thought you were using a specific command so he would watch you, but if you are looking to mark any incompatible behaviour that works for you, then having the clicker is obviously necessary. I would be concerned that you could end up with a dog that only pays attention as long as you don't run out of treats…..a danger if you don't move to intermittent rewarding once a behaviour is on cue.

    @jdido09:

    Leslie in CU mentions actually more frequent clicking as more beneficial for an overstimulated dog such a Dexter.

    I'm thinking because the clicker is a secondary reinforcer it might be helpful…...provided he gives you something you can click!

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  • J

    I agree. Thanks for the advice! He does well when we walk by people, but does very poorly when either A) someone approaches interested in petting him, or B) speaks to me (e.g. "What kind of dog is that"). I find it odd that he becomes instantly over threshold once the stranger's attention is turned towards him or I. Even more odd to me is that this has developed only over a month, and prior to that he had been excellent with strangers.

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  • I don't think it's odd at all. He is maturing, and becoming a "teenager". He may also be protecting you…...not necessarily from a threat, but more likely as a "resource". He doesn't want to share anymore! :) He may get over it, but distracting him is likely the best way to go. I would keep people away from him if he is acting aggressively, unless you can set him up with some dog savvy folks who can help you with this issue. It wouldn't do to have anyone get bitten.

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  • Hope everything is going ok with Dexter, as you know Kwame is the same age and we are having some problems.
    Both dogs have become more wary of strangers just lately, they have both been well socialised but over winter we don't tend to see as many people out and about so in our case i think this has a bit to do with it. Malaika however is better than Kwame so of course age is a factor too.
    Kwame is fine when we are out walking and passing people and again because the weather isn't condusive to walking we don't get many people stopping us lately.
    If people that Kwame doesn't know well come to the house he can be very wary.
    We are going to have to work hard with them both and remind ourselves to give people treats for them.

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  • @thunderbird8588:

    Both dogs have become more wary of strangers just lately, they have both been well socialised but over winter we don't tend to see as many people out and about so in our case i think this has a bit to do with it.

    I find socialization doesn't necessarily last. If a dog is naturally wary, that tends to come back when he hasn't had the chance to "practice" being social for awhile…...either with people or with dogs. Because we don't get a lot of company here, I notice this with Perry. If things get "busy" for a short time, with more people coming and going than usual, he starts to get used to it and lighten up, but after another spell of little company he is back to being wary again.

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  • @eeeefarm:

    I find socialization doesn't necessarily last. If a dog is naturally wary, that tends to come back when he hasn't had the chance to "practice" being social for awhile…...either with people or with dogs. Because we don't get a lot of company here, I notice this with Perry. If things get "busy" for a short time, with more people coming and going than usual, he starts to get used to it and lighten up, but after another spell of little company he is back to being wary again.

    Yes i quite agree, i've read somewhere how important it is to keep Basenjis socialised. Think we need more friends :D

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  • J

    Completely agree with you thunderbird! I'm glad to here that Malaika is doing well–there is hope!! :) . Control Unleashed has a lot of strategies (e.g. the Look At That game & hand targets) that I hope will make an impact. Keep us updated on your efforts!

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