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My younger V is extremely hesitant to strangers. He is good around people if you give him a few minutes but strangers approaching him he's not a fan of. So we go on hikes and they are offleash most of the time. Sometimes we turn a corner and there's another hiker walking towards us. He goes into this bark bark bark mode. I cannot stop him. I tell him commands he knows like "sit, woa, stay" and he just continues to bark whether i have him in front of me or not. He disregards everything and everyone and just barks. My other V who would normally wag her tail at a stranger goes off his energy and barks a bit, any advice? Its embarrassing to say the least, i tell the stranger they are friendly and some people who like dogs will get lower and stick a hand out for sniffing and such and he just goes crazy and it never stops till they leave.
 

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Fox Trot,

I don't have this problem luckily but thinking about it I'd suggest two things

1. Buy a good training collar and learn how to properly use it.
2. Put your dog in a down before he starts to bark and make him stay through the down until the people pass.

I would learn to use the training collar in your yard first. Expect this to take weeks to correct and take your time. A training collar is not a silver bullet, but another tool you use. Persistence and patience are your best tools.

In puppy classes, our instructor told us that a true down is when the hips are flipped to the side. This is a physically relaxed position. Just sitting butt and fore arms on the ground is not a down. Get your dog to flip its rear to the side and treat. Again, this will take time.

A mussel might be a good investment until you get him trained.

Vizslas can be intimidating anyway and a barking Vizsla will not win you many friends on your walks. Off leash walking areas are getting harder to find. People complain about aggressive dogs and tell the authorities to ban off leash walks or ban dogs all together.

Do everything you can to correct the situation.

Happy trails,

Rod
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com
 

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Very sad but true. People do complain too much. I had kids drop the bike and run into their mothers arms, the mother screaming yet Sam was nowhere near them. Just smelling some poop. The sight of a dog off leash is enough for some people.
I have seen a Doberman who the owner tried to put in a down just because someone was passing by. It is really not easy on wet and cold grass.
 

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I think that an easier option would be desensitizing your dog to strangers. Here are 3 things I'd do to help: 1) have the strangers tossing treats at your dog as they pass by and 2) work on getting your dog's attention on you through a "watch me" or "look at me" command. Once your dog is barking and barking, he has passed his threshold. You've lost your opportunity to keep arousal low. 3) Nail down a solid recall; you will have to develop this inside first. A trainer told me to have someone help you by holding a tupperware of treats and trying to call your dog away from the treats using something even yummier. Once you get this, start trying to do it outside using things like a stuffed animal, etc.

You'll have to work on getting your dog's attention inside first (without much distraction). When he looks at you, treat him, and as he sees that when he looks at you he gets treated, attach your favorite word or cue to it to teach him the cue. Once he's gotten that down, take it outside to a place of low distraction. You'll have to keep repeating it over time until your dog can perform that with growing distractions. What you ultimately want is your dog to either love the approach of strangers because you've worked on strangers giving your dog treats from a distance and simultaneously you want to work on getting your dog's attention so that when something could arouse your dog, you anticipate it and ask your dog to lock eyes on you rather than the object of interest. In an off-leash place, you'll need to work on getting a really solid recall so that you can get your dog to come to you as soon as something that your dog sees something it doesn't like or preferable before your dog sees it. Sorry that was a scattered message, but hope it helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
first off thanks for the responses guys, we are working every day with Vino's true "down" like stated, and VERRRRRRRY slowly is progressing. Also his recall is good off-leash, even better then my older V who is very obedient in any situation, just for some reason he wants to bark at strangers when off-leash, and when i stated where we go off-leash, its never official "off'-leash" areas. We go on remote wooded hikes due to not having any dog places anyway. So the stranger/hiker is rarely ever seen but when they are all **** breaks loose. :( I think like the response of the recall needs to improve hits it on the head, we will continue to keep trucking, thanks again
Fox_Trot
 

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Fox_Trot, I am familiar with your issue. Sophie used to bark at people in the woods, too. Our daily walks are mostly in a wooded area with little or no foot traffic. If there were people in sight, I would try to catch her right before she went into the "zone" and recall her. (It is harder if she sees people before I do!) After a while, I taught her to stay in place (telling her in a happy, calm voice it was OK to see people) until I came up to her and held her by the collar. I found people felt "safer" because I was holding her. Such a scary dog... 8) I know it sounds weird me telling her "it's OK", but she can really pick up on my energy! If I feel uncomfortable or worried, she knows it! Anyway, once people passed, Sophie could care less about them and carried on with much more important things like sniffing! Now she doesn't bark at people anymore, just observes. I don't know if it was the right technique, but it worked for us. She is 16 mos now and has improved a lot. :)
Also, we sometimes take Sophie into the city just so she can get used to the different sounds and people. Hunting stores and other pet-friendly places aree a great place to meet people and get lots of free hugs ;D
 

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Rosie has similar problems. The things she reacts to include strangers--especially children and men--approaching during walks, bicycles and joggers, and visitors to the house (doorbell). It started around 6 months, and increased in the second half of the first year of life. Unfortunately, her barking actually escalated to the point of lunging toward the scary stranger at times, and we did consult a professional. The treatment program we were given was similar to Laurita's approach, and involved pairing a sit-stay with treats during the approach/presence of a stranger. She is some better, but (now at 2 years old) we feel we need more hand-holding to stay on target with our behavior plan and take it to the next level, so we scheduled another visit to the dog psychiatrist (behavioral vet). She reacts much less often, but when she does, it sometimes takes us by surprise (before we can get her in a sit-stay). It's very embarrassing. We've gotten all manner of scolding from people--even been threatened--and we feel like bad dog parents at times.

One thing I do recommend: if you see the stranger before he does, it is often helpful to warn the stranger so they're not startled. If we see someone approaching that we think she might react to, we say something like, "she might bark--she's sometimes spooked by strangers." People are much less likely to get upset with us if they're given fair warning. You might think the warning would spook her and make her more likely to bark, but we have not found this to be the case--usually, we warn people, and it winds up not being an issue. We were also advised by the dog psychiatrist to tell strangers not to reach out to pat her (too threatening), but rather to take a treat and just drop it for Rosie to come get. We were also advised to shake the hand of the stranger (e.g., visitors to the house, even on walks if we explain what we're doing) to demonstrate to Rosie that we accept them.
 
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