Maya turned 2 years in March. Last summer, she was cool as a cucumber when we all sat on the porch.   All of the sudden this summer, she’s growling at passersby, cars pulling in/out of driveways, and people down the street walking AWAY from her. She doesn’t lunge at people and when someone’s coming to the door, or if we’re on a hike, her tail’s wagging while she’s growling and she moves towards them submissively. 

The interesting part is shes she’s only doing it when we’re outside with her. If she’s out alone, she’ll watch the UPS guy walk up to the door with no incident. So it seems like it’s a protective thing. I’m playing email tag with our trainer, but figured I’d ask you all what your thoughts are on the reasons and any tips you may have. 


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  • She's decided it's her job to protect you. If you're not there to protect, she's fine. You will need to ask your trainer how to work on that. Or join our training group here on DK and perhaps our training experts can help. DK Training Group:
    I do have to ask, are you saying she is left outside alone on a porch? 

    Training - Experiences, Challenges, and Mindsets
    This group provides a safe place for members to share their experiences with training, celebrate big and little successes and gain insights as we…
  • Thanks. She’s out there on a long lead as were coming in and out doing chores and whatnot. We don’t put her out alone without eyes on longer than 5 minutes. 

  • Nala “alerts” when anyone comes on our property.  She does this both in the home and on the property. 

    She is actually the most friendly dog and wants to meet everyone she sees, no barking/growling when on a walk.  This is ONLY when on our property or in our home.  I have a sneaking suspicion that if the UPS man talked nicely to her she would let him in.  She is by no means a guard dog even though she sounds tough with her growls...way too friendly, but a definite watch dog.

    I like that she alerts and I praise her for doing so, but when I see what she is barking at I tell her it’s okay and I pet her.  And she stops.  I can tell from the way she is barking if someone is on our property, if she sees an animal, or if someone is just walking by.  

    PS The UPS guy can’t step a toe on our property without me knowing about

    Good luck!

    • Riley has an "alert" bark (if she hears someone at the door or something) and a different and much scarier "intruder" bark (which she uses only at night it seems).  After hearing her "intruder" bark I don't think anyone would proceed into our house lol.  She sounds VERY large and mean.  

      In reality she is a giant chicken - she barks a lot at people, especially when she is tethered outside because we are playing.  Yesterday a lady construction worker came by to say hello in her orange vest and hard hat and Riley was doing her "alert" bark, trying to sniff the lady but then backing off between sniffs.  She seems to do that a lot with strangers, hoping she grows out of it, it makes people nervous when she barks because she sounds scary and she's so big.

  • I think what you have here is a very teachable moment and you can definitely train her.  I have learned more on this board than anywhere else, so I would hop over to the group Karen suggested for starters.

    Nala is our first dog, and she made it easy on me as I am no trainer.  I never taught her to alert, but when she naturally did it, I seized the opportunity to encourage her.  So when there was a delivery and she would do her alert, I would open the door, show her who was there, tell her it’s okay, delivery.  (Mind you they never ring the bell, I never hear them, but she knows! Lol) Now she knows what delivery means...I even let her smell the package.  

    Unlike J, I like that she may make strangers feel uncomfortable.  She is doing her job.  If you are on my property, and I didn’t invite you, I want you to know I have Nala here.  There have been times I did not tell her its okay, and she continued to bark/growl and I never stopped her until they left. When I want her to stop, I tell her it’s okay.  I praise her a lot.  When someone comes in the house she doesn’t know she will bark at first, then we say its okay, everyone has been great about letting Nala smell their hands, and then she is happy, no more barking....she even followed the cable guy around all day brining him toys and they were best buds.  

    If she didn’t stop on command, or did this on walks I’d go I get it.  Like I said she is the most friendly dog there is going, when we are out she LOVES people and dogs.  But I definitely think you can get her to behave the way you would like her to.  Love her name, btw!

    • I don't mind if Riley alert barks, what I don't like is when someone approaches to pet her when we are right there with her and she barks in their face and backs away.  That is fear behavior and it can escalate so it's not something that I want to continue.

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