Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue better

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addieNmel
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Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue better

Postby addieNmel » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:53 pm

I finally decided to break down and post, seeing if maybe others with experience as well, could help us more.

Addie for the most part is a good dog. We do agility, go to trials, out for walks etc. However, a behavior that I have been consistently having trouble with is her reacting very strongly to anyone new coming to the house. The behavior has gradually gotten worse and worse. She has not attempted to bite, but she looks aggressive. I believe this behavior continues to get worse and reinforced because she jumps on the couch when we're not home and barks furiously at the mail man. Mail man goes away.. she thinks hey, me looking nasty makes scarey people go away. I have tried moving the mail box and shutting the blinds, but that does not seem to have worked at all.

We have seen a veterinary behavioralist (OSU), used an in home trainer for 2 sessions, and gone to a class or two, tried multiple medications and sadly nothing seems to help. I admit early on we used harsher training methods ( prong collar snap, tethering her to a door - though I don't consider that harsh), She is clicker trained, I have tried to train go to your place, which she does beautifully with no distraction, mild distraction ( me walking to door and ringing doorbell) and even medium distraction ( husband coming home, ringing doorbell), but she goes from doing well to " I forget everything I ever learned" if a stranger comes to the door. Shes so over stimulated, her hearing shuts off and she wont listen or take treats. We've figured out putting her in a room initially where she cant see and letting her out after 5 minutes or so ( she barks the whole time) she is then happy to see the visitor and brings them toys. However, when they go to leave, she becomes nervous again and eyes them suspiciously.

I have had neighbors unexpedidly enter our yard as well, she is surprised by them, charges, and looks aggressive with hackles up, again, put her inside for 5 minutes, she comes out shes fine, but on times where I was caught off guard and I couldn't get to her for a good minute or so, she puts on this display the whole time and doesn't calm down.

I guess my question is, how do I manage this better? We live in a small town where all of our friends and family live an hour + away, we rarely have visitors. I have tried treats and redirection, but nothing works except taking her into her own room for a few minutes. Sadly the initial agressive display has not diminished at all. I generally turn my back and walk away from people if we're outside, on a gentle leader, but she pulls, whines, and howls like a banshee the whole time until we're out of ciew, then she still tries to look. this is only around our house. Elsewhere.. no problem! She is very friendly to people and even very tolerant of most dogs away from home.

The behavioralist said It sounds like I am doing everything right, but gee.. I sure feel like I must still be doing something wrong... any additional input would be appreciated :)

PITtsburgher
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby PITtsburgher » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:22 pm

It sounds like in general she probably has some degree of anxiety about strangers and when they come to her house it puts her over threshold since it is a confined space and it's her home. Kind of like how in my neighborhood lots of the people on the street are a little scary to me, but not terribly so, but if they were to try to come inside my house I would be freaking out!

How does she do meeting strangers off the property say on the sidewalk? Maybe she would do better meeting off property and all walking in together?

As far as your desensitization it sounds like she did great with lower levels of stress, maybe you just need a few more steps to work up to the real thing. Maybe a friend would be willing to walk halfway up to your door (or however close she can handle) while she focuses on you for delicious treats, and then turn around and leave? Then work up to actually entering the house?

I agree with you about the mail carrier that she is continuing to sensitize herself. How would you feel about confining her in a bedroom with the TV on when you're gone so she doesn't continue to build up her fears about the mail carrier?

All that aside, I feel like having her put away in a "safe zone" with food/water/fun toys while people are over is a safe and reasonable way to manage things. Much better than her progressing with her aggression and having to feel that scared.

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addieNmel
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby addieNmel » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:54 pm

PITtsburgher wrote:It sounds like in general she probably has some degree of anxiety about strangers and when they come to her house it puts her over threshold since it is a confined space and it's her home. Kind of like how in my neighborhood lots of the people on the street are a little scary to me, but not terribly so, but if they were to try to come inside my house I would be freaking out!

How does she do meeting strangers off the property say on the sidewalk? Maybe she would do better meeting off property and all walking in together?

As far as your desensitization it sounds like she did great with lower levels of stress, maybe you just need a few more steps to work up to the real thing. Maybe a friend would be willing to walk halfway up to your door (or however close she can handle) while she focuses on you for delicious treats, and then turn around and leave? Then work up to actually entering the house?

I agree with you about the mail carrier that she is continuing to sensitize herself. How would you feel about confining her in a bedroom with the TV on when you're gone so she doesn't continue to build up her fears about the mail carrier?

All that aside, I feel like having her put away in a "safe zone" with food/water/fun toys while people are over is a safe and reasonable way to manage things. Much better than her progressing with her aggression and having to feel that scared.


Thanks for the input! Outside the general vicinity she's really good with people. I can take her to the pet store, agility trials, parks etc, and only very rarely does she get nervous about someone ( for the most part she wants to go greet them). Its just if we're around the house at all, ( within a few houses) she gets very nervous of people. Luckily we had a big event in town this weekend and had lots of people walking up and down the street, we were able to work on sitting back in the yard and watching them go by with lots of good treats. She did very well.

I hesitate to 'lock her up' as we have a small house, and she tends to get really nervous when shes confined. We, way back when ( from 7 weeks - 1 1/2 years) used her crate for night time and only when we were leaving, so she for the longest time panicked in the crate. However, since we have been trialing, shes made HUGE strides in being calm in her crate, at least outside the house. I could try confining her to a room, against hesitation since last time I did that ( when she was 1.. shes 4 now) she ripped up a lot of things, when shes loose in the house, no problem, and has been for years. However, it's been a long time, maybe I should try it again, at least for a week or so to see how she does. I'll be sure to leave lots of super good treats and stuffed kongs etc and try to see if I can leave for a short time.

Doing a 'lets go" and walk the other way when shes on a gentle leader, and wlak back and treat when shes somewhat calm seems to help around the outside of the house. But I do think you're right, trying to get rid of chasing the mailman away so to speak, may help a lot. I just wish I didn't have to contain her for the rest of her life.. I fear letting her loose after shes made progress would erase all the training.

I appreciate the help... anyone else please feel free to add anything you think might help, too :)

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Nickdawg
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby Nickdawg » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:02 am

I think you are doing all the right things. Especially think the treating with lots of people going by is good....

I do think you should try and see if she would do ok on her own in a room ( with lots of fun stuff and other things put away that would not be good to get into) for when people come over as this may be the least stressful or at least sometimes. I also recall a manners minder - training mat that some had great success with - dog goes to it and gets a treat when people come to door, try a search... also Red member here always has good thoughts on medication which can help but is a individual choice...

edited to add I see you have tried meds but as I said she is super knowledgable about this and similar behaviour (also may be able to recommend a different behaviourist).

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Nickdawg
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby Nickdawg » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:06 am

also how old is she and what is her history/background?

here is the manners minder I think this is the one anyway http://www.amazon.com/pet-supplies/dp/B0010B8CHG

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addieNmel
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby addieNmel » Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:24 am

Nickdawg wrote:I think you are doing all the right things. Especially think the treating with lots of people going by is good....

I do think you should try and see if she would do ok on her own in a room ( with lots of fun stuff and other things put away that would not be good to get into) for when people come over as this may be the least stressful or at least sometimes. I also recall a manners minder - training mat that some had great success with - dog goes to it and gets a treat when people come to door, try a search... also Red member here always has good thoughts on medication which can help but is a individual choice...

edited to add I see you have tried meds but as I said she is super knowledgable about this and similar behaviour (also may be able to recommend a different behaviourist).


Thanks ! Ill have to see if I can contact her. We've tried a whole handful of meds.. including a new one the behavioralist ( Xanax, Prozac, amitriptyline, I forget what else.., all for several months each) wanted us to try, without too much luck. Luckily, shes pretty darn good away from the house. Again, shes friendly enough to go to agility trials, goes to people, solicits pets, or just ignores them. Just so strange..

Dr Herron at OSU ( the behavioralist) suggested a manners minder too, though her main concern was getting her out of that highly stimulated zone so she would respond to it, that's my concern as well. I still may look into one.

She's 4, I've had her since she was 7 weeks old. Never had a bad experience with people around the house from what I can remember. Only concern was perhaps using the prong collar for so long ( I am a vet tech, and have consulted with several trainers how to use properly) with bad behavior and coupling that with day after day her 'scaring the mailman away'. The behavior gradually got worse when I let her roam the house loose, I think, about 3 years ago.

Thanks for the input.. red was the name of the other member?

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Nickdawg
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby Nickdawg » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:34 pm

you're welcome, yes she goes by "Red" here...

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gooeydog
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby gooeydog » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:18 pm

How about contact paper on the windows? My first dog actually broke out a window going after a neighbor's dog (thankfully, the window breaking either scared the dog out of our yard, or made my dog think twice; and she stayed inside), and we crated her for a while, while I retrained her to stay away from the windows and we fitted them with protective grates. A year or so later though she began to nose into the blinds again, and even though she couldn't hurt the windows themselves, she was still ripping up the sills and rubbing her nose on the grate trying to go after things she saw outside. I got white contact paper and put it under the grates, voila- no more visual stimuli. Never had an issue after that with the windows.

Can you keep her on a leash when people come? That way when you see her getting nervous as they go to leave, you can redirect her. I would still confine her when people first come, as that's a very stressful/exciting time for both her and guests. Maybe bring her out on a leash, then tie her out of the way with a nice bone or kong toy so she can learn to relax and not worry about what's going on with you and your guests. If she's too stressed to eat though, that won't work. If you can't prevent her from "practicing" the behavior when guests come while she's out, I would definitely confine her away from them, as it'll be less stressful overall for you, her, and your guests. Good luck with her!

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addieNmel
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby addieNmel » Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:13 pm

gooeydog wrote:How about contact paper on the windows? My first dog actually broke out a window going after a neighbor's dog (thankfully, the window breaking either scared the dog out of our yard, or made my dog think twice; and she stayed inside), and we crated her for a while, while I retrained her to stay away from the windows and we fitted them with protective grates. A year or so later though she began to nose into the blinds again, and even though she couldn't hurt the windows themselves, she was still ripping up the sills and rubbing her nose on the grate trying to go after things she saw outside. I got white contact paper and put it under the grates, voila- no more visual stimuli. Never had an issue after that with the windows.

Can you keep her on a leash when people come? That way when you see her getting nervous as they go to leave, you can redirect her. I would still confine her when people first come, as that's a very stressful/exciting time for both her and guests. Maybe bring her out on a leash, then tie her out of the way with a nice bone or kong toy so she can learn to relax and not worry about what's going on with you and your guests. If she's too stressed to eat though, that won't work. If you can't prevent her from "practicing" the behavior when guests come while she's out, I would definitely confine her away from them, as it'll be less stressful overall for you, her, and your guests. Good luck with her!


Contact paper, interesting idea. I'll have to look into that too.. thanks for the idea! When people come over I do put her in a room, after a few minutes she's ok, but yes, good idea ( duh!) about putting her on leash when they leave. inbetween she seems pretty happy. Just baffles me since she's friendly outside of her territory. Thanks for the tips.. we'll see what we can do.

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tiva
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Re: Need some extra tips on how to make territorial issue be

Postby tiva » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:30 pm

Hi-
When my Vanya was getting very reactive to both people and dogs walking by outside our cabin, I bought privacy window film from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Non-Adhesive-Fros ... B007RCX088" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It helped enormously (unlike curtains, which he could pull down). It's easy to put on and take off--unlike contact paper, there's no adhesive involved.

We also invested in a Manners Minder. We followed each and every step exactly in the wonderful training guide and video that came with it (Dr Sophia Yin is incredibly good at breaking exercises down into tiny behaviors.) You start with the tiniest of distractions, and the steps are excellent. People who have tried to take shortcuts have had a lot less luck with the MM.

We also played the "look at that" game from Control Unleashed (which is another excellent resource for helping with calmness).

Fluoxetine also helped a little.

And finally, BAT might be helpful (I think it stands for behavioral adjustment training). A lot of folks on this board have had a lot of luck with it: http://functionalrewards.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; It fits in well with clicker training; its goal is to help your dog learn that she can calm down on her own, and then the scary thing backs off a bit. She doesn't need to get all screamy and shrieky to get a bit of space.


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