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Help, My Dog Barks at Strangers & Other Animals!

Help, My Dog Barks at Strangers & Other Animals!
You wish your dog was friendly and trustworthy around people and other animals, not over-excited, nervous or territorial? You might think that getting the right breed means your job is done. In reality, YOU play a huge role in shaping your dog’s behavior, how he responds to both humans and other dogs.

They are easily trainable when they are still puppies. By socializing your dog, or giving them lots of pleasant and positive encounters with both humans and other dogs during their early stage of development, your puppy is much more likely to grow up to be a confident, relaxed and friendly dog.

On the other hand, puppies who do are not socialized from young can grow up to be fearful, nervous and territorial as they do not understand how to behave around other living things. This, in turn, leads to aggression, which can be dangerous for themselves, strangers or other dogs. Here are 4 tips on how to raise a friendly dog:

Don’t take a puppy away from his mother & littermates before 8wks of age
Interactions with their moms and siblings teach young puppies a lot about getting along with other dogs. If you take your puppy away from his canine family too early, you’ll do permanent damage to his social skills.

Give your dog plenty of positive experiences with other dogs
Obedience classes, dog park romps, and playdates with your friends’ dogs will help him learn how to get along with other canines. For puppies, playing with other pups has another, even more important, benefit: it teaches them not to bite humans.

Give your dog plenty of happy experiences with all kinds of people
Big kids, little kids, tall men with beard, round women with short hair, and people of every shape, color, and size. If your dog gets regular exposure to humans of all stripes, especially in puppyhood, he’s less likely to be fearful or aggressive. Experts recommend throwing "puppy parties" to expose a young pup to lots of different people when he’s learning how to behave around humans. You can also have your dog make friends with the mail carrier and your neighbors, and take him to cafes or to work.

Let your dog live indoors
There are no good “outdoor” dogs. A dog who lives in the home, with his human pack all around him, will be more comfortable with people and the bustle of the household, and he’ll be much happier too.

Expose your dog to all kinds of noises and experiences. Skateboards, bicycles, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, and the like can frighten a dog who’s not used to them. Nail trimming, being grabbed by the collar, getting touched on the rump or other potential “hot spots,” and having people around his food bowl won’t get a warm response either. The solution is to expose your dog to all these experiences, ideally during puppyhood. If you have an adult dog, be sure to move slowly and keep the mood positive, with food treats to reward him at each step.

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