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Sherlock is a lovingly 5-yr old beagle mix, which came with us from Brazil to US a couple months ago.

We take him out at least 3x a day, for 10-15 min walkings mainly for peeing/pooping/stretching.

We know he is not very social dog with others in the beginning (it takes some time for him to make new friends), but he is actually barking at (and sometimes attempting to jump into) other dogs and even short people.

He has lived with 5 other dogs back in Brazil, and he used to get along really well with them.

Today we took him to the dog park for the first time, and at first he was shy/scared, then he only wanted to lay down close to us.

He let other dogs to sniff him, but he wasn't interested on playing with them. Some dogs came to provoke him (as a invite to play) and at first he ignored, when the dog insisted he growled and then barked.

After the same thing happened with a second dog we decided we should no longer insist and we went out.

My question is: should I just accept that is how he is and not take him to dog parks anymore (and live with him overreacting to other dogs/people) or is there something I can try to remedy this behavior?

  • Is the barking very aggressive - teeth showing etc? A dog will bark to tell another dog that they don't want to play but you can read a lot into a dogs bark - our pup has a very inquisitive 'ruff' type bark, very low and he uses it when new things are nearby or something has made a new noise. – Aravona Nov 2 '15 at 10:01
  • The barking is not very agressive, it is more like he is bossing around. – Tiago Romero Garcia Nov 2 '15 at 21:16
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Secluding your dog will only make matters worse. You need to take it out more to socialize it. Also, consider verbal and leash feedback when he barks while walking. The key to this (according to Cesar Milan, at least) is to break your dog's concentration before he winds himself up. Scooting his butt with your foot, tugging on the leash if it's a design where that won't choke him, and making a distracting noise can do that.

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    Thanks! Yes this makes a lot of sense. We usually just say "NO" while he barks but he barely pays attention on us because he is so much into his barking. I'll try to break his concentration before. – Tiago Romero Garcia Nov 2 '15 at 21:15
  • I honestly think this answer is actively dangerous. Reprimanding a dog because he growls to show that he is worried and wants the other dog to go away could result in a dog that bites without warning. I really don't think any properly qualified behaviourist would advise it. – Victoria Nov 11 '15 at 20:45
  • @Victoria It's not about reprimanding, it's about breaking concentration. As for qualifications, he's self-taught but he does have an amazing track record. – user25296 Nov 11 '15 at 20:53
  • I'm sorry, but a dog that is being repeatedly upset by other dogs in a dog park does not need his 'concentration breaking'. He needs removing from the situation and not to be put into a situation he can't cope with again. And as to Milan, the rescue I work with has had repeated problems with people copying what he does for a TV show and causing themselves nightmare dog problems. People HAVE been bitten. Problems HAVE got worse . This is one small rescue, but talk to almost any rescue and you'll get the same story. Do NOT follow what is shown on TV! – Victoria Nov 11 '15 at 20:59
  • @Victoria And they also have issues with any other method. This method, at least, has an improved chance of success when done correctly. And this dog isn't a rescue, as far as I can tell, from the question. That's apples and oranges there. Moreover, you as a friend to a rescue should know what the effects of seclusion are on an unfriendly dog. – user25296 Nov 11 '15 at 21:12
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OK. You have a dog who is not an instant 'loves every dog' dog. It happens. I have one of those, too.

PLEASE don't force your dog to go to dog parks and then jerk on his lead if he growls. PLEASE.

You are teaching your dog that you will not protect him. You are teaching him that he can't trust you to look after his interests. You are teaching him that you will punish him if he lets another dog know that he's not happy or comfortable.

This is really dangerous. It can end up with your dog biting another dog unexpectedly because you have taken away all his alternatives and left him feeling stressed and unsafe with no other way to make the scary go away. Or he might bite you, because his world is no longer a safe place.

Socialisation is important, but socialisation doesn't have to mean going to a dog park where dogs can approach your dog closely offlead. It can mean walking past other dogs at a distance on lead, it can mean standing 300 yards away from a dog show where your dog does not feel he will be rushed, it can mean training at the other end of a field while someone else works with their dog within eyesight.

Some dogs are the equivalent of human introverts. They find the company of strange dogs stressful and wearing, and they can only take so much of it in a day.

Never reprimand your dog for growling. If your dog growls, he's telling you he's uncomfortable. Accept what he's telling you and adjust things so he feels happier. Often this will mean walking away. That's fine.

My credentials for this advice: I have been involved in dog rescue since 2005, I have fostered many rescue dogs, one of my own current dogs is a nervous dog who behaves just like this, I have consulted a qualified behaviourist for help with this and with previous foster dogs, with good results.

PLEASE, when it comes to taking dog advice, be cautious of asking questions on the internet that may be answered by people who are taking tips from watching shows about dogs on TV featuring people without behavioural qualifications.

Here is an article from a very well known behaviour specialist that may help explain how your dog feels : http://suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

Here's an article explaining 'look at that' training, which may help you :

https://clickerleash.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/look-at-that-a-counterintuitive-approach-to-dealing-with-reactive-dogs/

Here's the official home of the Behavioural Adjustment Therapy system for dealing with fear and aggression in animals, from Grisha Stewart : http://empoweredanimals.com/

Here is an article about dog park etiquette from an industry-recognised expert : http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-park-etiquette-rules

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He simply needs to be educated in the ways of the world. Do some reading about training methods and start training him -- by the way, half or more of successfully training a dog is for the human to also absorb the training - it's not all about the dog.

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