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Canine Behavior/Unusual behavior


We live in the city. At night, we often go out on the patio (connected to the sidewalk) to have a drink, and the dog joins us on his leash.  I can't leave him inside at these times because he scratches the door and walls to get to us, and we live in a rental. As soon as someone passes by, even if it's somebody he sees everyday, he barks aggressively, jumps and sometimes lunges. This only happens when he's sitting with us on the porch, while leashed. If I'm walking him on a leash and someone passes by, he wags his tail and gets excited (might even jump), but he never barks or acts aggressive. When we take him to the dog park, he's a playful sweetheart and has never once barked or acted aggressive. Please help us with this situation; it's very embarrassing.

Your dog is confined in a "small" space he does not "understand", on leash; he is guarding from confusion/fear.

Try this for the next three days and REPORT BACK USING FOLLOWUP FEATURE:

The MOMENT he reacts in an unwanted manner, put him BACK into the house/apartment but close the door ON his leash so he cannot move into the apartment itself; count to ten, bring him out again, hold onto the leash.  EVERY SINGLE TIME HE EVEN REMOTELY demonstrates the start of unwanted behavior, isolate him in this manner to the count of ten.  Say nothing, make no eye contact, don't say "no" or attempt to calm him by petting him, just put him behind that closed patio door to the count of ten.  THEN report back.  Let's see if there's any improvement; we can then begin to counter condition him once he has STOPPED to "think" about the consequence of the fight/flight response.

PS:  Do you absolutely KNOW without any DOUBT that your dog does not bark at people and other dogs through this patio door when you are not at home?  I think he probably does.

Remember: the most friendly, calmest, best trained and well socialized dog in the world CAN demonstrate "guarding" behavior in a car or other confined space.  I had an Ibizan Hound who did this, totally out of character for her.  So the ten second confinement (and it's important he not be able to retreat into the apartment) will force an interruption in his fight/flight response.  Once he is able to join you again, he WILL repeat the unwanted behavior.  So, while we are "treating" this problem, don't think you will be having a casual, relaxing sip of wine.  For at least three days it will be far from casual and relaxing.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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