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Discussion Starter #1
This is going to turn into a long post, so I apologize in advance.

My wife and I have been having this discussion over dog behaviors.  To remind you, we have a five year old chihuahua/daschund mix named Cinnamon, and now our Boxer boy Sirius.  We have been discussing some of the behaviors exhibited by Cinnamon.  She was an adoption for us, and when we got her she was already 2 years old.  Many of her behaviors were good, but two are what many dog trainers consider to be "bad" behaviors.

The first behavior that Cinnamon exhibits is barking whenever someone knocks on our door.  She goes nuts, stands at the door barking at the top of her lungs.  Now, I don't really mind that she does this because twice in the past this has really been a good thing.  Once, she was barking when someone started playing with the door handle.  I didn't hear it but she did, and started barking.  I opened the door to find an idiot trying to break into our apartment.  He freaked when he saw me standing there instead of his ex-girlfriend who had lived in the apartment shortly before we moved in.  If she hadn't barked, I don't know what would have happened.  

The second behavior Cinnamon exhibits is a little bit of fear aggression.  Whenever we take her for walks, she is fine until someone comes within 20 feet of her or my wife.  Then she goes nuts, barking and growling.  Several times she has done this to little children who approach.  The thing is, she won't bite unless the person gets right on top of her.  One time my brother was visiting and he thought he could approach her without getting bitten.  He came right up on top of her and she bit his leg.  

So, here is where the problem lies.  My wife and I move a lot with her job.  We are moving to new cities at least twice a year.  We live in apartment complexes, and good ones at that, but there are still creepy people and criminals everywhere you go.  We do not have or want kids except for our fur babies, and we don't have friends that come over to our apartment with kids.  Any adult that comes to our apartment knows that Cinnamon is to be given a wide berth until she becomes comfortable with them being there.  This only takes her an hour or so and then she is in their lap and loving it.  

I don't mind that Cinnamon barks when someone knocks on the door.  Every now and then she starts growling when someone is talking loudly outside our apartment, but for the most part she only barks when someone knocks on our door.  I like this so called "bad" behavior because I feel that she is a good warning system.  It does get kind of embarrassing when UPS knocks on the door, but our delivery person knows our apartment well now.

I also don't mind that she barks at strangers while we walk her.  I know some of you will call this irresponsible, but I know that sometimes my wife has to walk Cinnamon alone and at night.  It is a little bit comforting to know that if some punk tried to approach my wife, Cinnamon might not bite him, but at least she would raise hell and maybe draw attention to the situation.  

My wife understands my reasoning behind my view of these two behaviors, but she disagrees with me.  She thinks we should get Cinnamon into a gentle leader and teach her to ignore strangers.  She thinks that Sirius is going to learn these bad behaviors from Cinnamon and be even worse than she is.  I agree with her that he could learn these behaviors, but I guess I think maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if he did.  I do worry that he won't be as reserved as she is, and he will try to bite someone even if they don't try to approach my wife.

I wonder sometimes if Sirius could be taught to growl or bark on command.  This would allow my wife to set him off if she felt threatened by a stranger.  I don't want him to be a trained attack dog, but I don't want "Creepy Perv" to think he can come up to my wife every time she is out walking Sirius because Sirius ignores him.

So these are the dilemmas we face with Sirius and Cinnamon.  I know for a fact we could break Cinnamon of her "bad" habits, but I really don't want to.  She is a great dog, and even these two bad habits are good in my mind.  I just don't know how to approach training Sirius to be intimidating to strangers, loving to our friends and watchful of everything else.  I would love to hear all of your thoughts on these subjects.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I should add that we are not planning changing our lifestyle any time soon.  If we were settled down and lived in a neighborhood that we knew well, we would make every effort to train our dogs to be perfectly behaved around strangers.  I am just not sure that I have to go this far since we have a slightly different lifestyle, and one that causes us to be thrown into new places with different people all the time.  As I said earlier, I do not want my dogs to be attack prone, but defensive is fine by me.  And if a situation presents itself where we are being attacked, I would hope our dogs would attempt to defend us.  Maybe this is a bad way to think about dog training, so that is why I started this thread.
 

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I don't consider barking a couple of times at the door a bad behavior.  However- relentless barking gets annoying- if not to the owner, then neighbors and visitors.
While Cin barking on leash at strangers doesn't seem like a big deal- you do not want to let Sirius get into that habit.  Mostly people will allow that behavior or excuse it from little dogs who are easy to control, but Sirius will be much bigger than Cin. and harder to control if he develops that behavior.
I don't know if he would necessarily "learn" the behavior from her, but it may get him excited (and harder to handle) or cause him to also fear other people since she is showing him that she is afraid.
Have you ever watched "It's me or the Dog" on Animal Planet? There are a couple of episodes very similar to your situation- small dogs that bark bark bark at the door and at strangers on the street.  They do it because they are insecure and scared of the people going by.
Personally, I would try to work with Cin.  if nothing else, so she will be more confident and mentally healthy on walks- if you think about it- she is actually just scared when people walk by, wouldn't you rather giver her confidence so she feels safer?
In a few months Sirius (being a larger more intimidating dog) will hopefully be enough of a deterrent for "bad" people to not approach your wife on the street.
If you search on Youtube (I'm at work right now so I can't ;) ) yo ucan probably find "Its me or the dog" videos. Look for one with a chinese crested and another with a pomeranian and another little dog.
Some of the methods to help Cin. include teaching her to sit/stay while you open the door- So- someone knocks- she gives a few barks, you praise her then make her sit/stay quietly while you get the door.  Obviously you will need friends or someone to help you act this out and practice at the door.
While walking, when ever she starts barking or looking like she is getting ready to bark- turn the opposite direction and walk away from whatever is triggering her behavior.  When she calms down, turn around and head towards the "trigger" again.  Keep doing this until you can walk past someone without her barking.  No gentle leader needed.
I think the fact that you are constantly around new people is even more reason to help Cin. feel more comfortable in her surroundings and boost her confidence when going out.  
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I have seen "It's me or the Dog" quite a few times.  I read the book "FIGHT" as well, and that does a great job of explaining fear based aggression. That is how I knew what I was dealing with.

My wife has actually tried walking Cinnamon away from people.  It doesn't work for her.  She doesn't exhibit the behavior until the person is quite close, and once she starts barking, she won't stop until the other person is completely out of her sight.  That is why I think the gentle leader will be more effective for her.  If she is in her regular harness, she can still turn and bark.  My wife ordered a gentle leader in her size, and is going to start training with it as soon as it comes in.

With Sirius, I am going to use the gentle leader to break him from pulling.  I was just hoping there was a middle ground to him being a nice and gentle dog most of the time, but a firm and intimidating dog when need be.  I read in a Boxer book that one of the tricks people teach their Boxers is "play wolf," where the Boxer growls and bears his teeth on command.  I am wondering if this could be trained without also promoting the aggression behind it?  The first time I read about this trick, I thought to myself "does the Boxer know that it is just supposed to be play growling."  I would think that growling and bearing teeth would also mean the dog would confuse aggression with play.
 

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Well I'm sorry I really don't have much to offer. Except that I have to wonder if it's the small breed that Cinnamon is. Chi's are known to be verrrry vocal. I have read that getting them to pipe down is one of the hardest parts of training them. My father has a rat terrier and she sounds alot like yours. Everyone knows to give her her space and let her come to you. She will snip at you if you approach her too quickly. With all that said I don't think boxers are naturally loud like that. So I'm not sure if this would pass onto Sirius or not. I would try to get Cin to quiet down. But I bet as Sirius gets older he will just let her be the alarm! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
There is a purebred Daschund living in our building that does the same exact thing as Cinnamon.  In fact, if we meet this other dog and her owner during walk times, we have a double dose of freak out to deal with.  So I think Cinnamon gets this behavior from both of her bloodlines unfortunately.

My wife is determined to work with her to break the outside aggression habit.  I support her in this, and will help out with it (even though I really don't want it to change).

As for the inside aggression when someone knocks on the door, my wife has agreed with me that we are not going to change this habit.  She makes a lot of noise, yes, but it is also very contained.  She doesn't bark for extended periods of time, only when someone is actively knocking on the door.  If they stop knocking, she tilts her head and waits until another knock, jiggle of the handle etc.  I think this is perfect, and I really, really don't want this to change.

I mentioned earlier that there were two instances where Cinnamon barked at someone at the door, and it was a good thing.  The first was that guy trying to break into our apartment.  The second was a police officer telling us that our apartment building was on fire.  It was early in the morning, and my wife had already left for work.  We were living in an apartment where the bedroom was far away from the front door.  If Cinnamon hadn't been barking at the door, I probably wouldn't have woken up until the fire dept. kicked the door in, or worse, the bed caught fire.  

Brandy agrees with me, the barking-at-the-door behavior is a good thing.
 

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IMO a well adjusted dog would be a better watch or guard dog then one that is aggressive due to fear.  A good way for a dog to gain confidence is to go through an obedience class.
 

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Oh, I totally agree barking enough to let you know someone is there is a good thing.  
How old is Sirius? I would keep working with him in a regular flat buckle collar on the walking.  When he pulls, stop in your tracks. (turning in the other direction also works but I would pick just one method to stick with) it makes them pay more attention to you.  
IME a gentle leader stops them from pulling, but only works when they are wearing it, once you go back to a regular collar the pulling continues. He is still young and just needs time to learn how to walk the right way.
How many times have you or your wife tried the turning away and walking with strangers?  Maybe she just needs more practice. If this is a behavior thats been going on most of her life, it will take lots of time and patience to get over.
Take some of her favorite treats out with you and ask a person if they would like to giver her a treat, and let her come to them to get it. The treats have to be really good though! like liver or cut up hotdog or whatever she absolutely loves :)
On the play wolf thing- maybe just teaching him to speak, but using a different command like "watch" or "guard" or another word to intimidate someone you don't want approaching.  Some of Delilah's barks are growly anyway :/
 

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She has been working with Cinnamon for a couple of weeks now.  The problem is with her harness and collar.  Her harness is one of those that has the swivel ring on the top.  So as my wife is trying to walk Cinnamon the other way, she just turns on the swivel ring and barks more.  So we tried switching her to a collar, but the collar has to be loose enough to not choke her, so she just ends up pulling against the collar.  That is why we ordered the gentle leader.  We are going to try that for a while and see if she gets the idea.  If not, we may move up to a martingale style collar.

I wish I could say it was as easy as the lady on t.v. makes it look.  But Cinnamon is way more intense than those dogs.  Once she starts the aggressive behavior, your only option is to pull her away from the area completely until she can't see the other person.
 

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boy i am not much help here..have never had a small dog..but i know all that would drive me crazy..the dog ruling the roost, so to speak, when friends come over it takes an hour for her to be ok with them?
maybe she was abused before your adoption? she seems very fearful of people...and her only way is to yell it at the top of her lungs ...

i agree with the barking when someone knocks..mine both do this but only until i say "ok " and accknowledge that im coming or that i know the person..i do NOT use the "ok" when its a stranger..and they will literally both stand between me and the door and wait for me to say its alright..

8O although Isis does not see ANY need for little dogs to be in our front yard EVER..and broke through our screen yesterday on the front window b/c the idiot lady walks by everyday and everyday she lets that stupid retractable leash all the way out and lets her little dog yap and yap right up at our window..

well Isis had enough yesterday and went right through the screen barking her big girl bark .. that makes no sense to me..WHY would she risk that when she doesnt know if Isis is friendly or not...Isis wouldnt hurt any dog..big or small unless she was attacked..she can feel vibration and the yipping get s to her..plus running right up to the window makes her mad...birds arent allowed to do that either...

i dont mind Isis being protective..thats what shes trained for.. she protects my autistic son to no end..she knows where the line is though and counts on me to let her know when things are ok & when they arent...maybe THATS the thing that yours needs to know..that you are there to protect her too...and to look to you for comfort? i dont know just trying to help

sounds like she needs confidence to know the world and people in it arent all evil..i agree with a few good classes...maybe a trainer to come to your home would be best since shes got a fear in the house too..a trainer that can help with the line between being a great warning system and being so afraid that she lashes out..

maybe having Sirus will HELP her..maybe hell make her feel more secure... as he gets older and bigger she jsut might feel a little more protected and make her realize that he too is there to protect the family.. :D never know

boy i hope it works out i know it must be hard for you all esp since shes so afraid ..makes you feel sad for her...

:D maybe she just thinks shes really a mastiff caught in a little dogs body and shes wants the world to know :D hehe

good luck
 

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:D maybe she just thinks shes really a mastiff caught in a little dogs body and shes wants the world to know :D hehe

good luck[/quote]

That's funny! She has little man sydrome! Or uhh....little lady syndrome :lol: Whenever I see a yippy Chi or small doggy that's what I think of! Oh and that's funny that Isis won't allow birds around either. Ace has a passion for ridding our yard of the things! We have a bird poop free zone! :wink:  :roll:
 

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:roll: she sees NO need for it haha...but shes totally cool with friends dogs that come over and play in the yard or through the house..
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It does take an hour or so for her to warm up to new people in the apartment.  She was probably not taken care of as a puppy.  We adopted her from my wife's Grandfather, who found her at a year old abandoned beside a gravel road in the country.  He cared for her for a year before health issues caused him to have to give her up.  He spoiled the hell out of her, but he was also a good disciplinarian, so she was pretty well trained when we got her.  Except for the two issues I have mentioned.

She doesn't bark at people who come over.  She just shies away from them and growls if they make a move towards her.  Eventually she gets tired of being ignored and approaches them.  Once they start loving on her, she is their new best friend.

All in all she is a great dog.  I am sure we can work with her to get rid of the aggressive outdoor behavior.  I have also seen many small dogs in our complex that freak out like this.  I think it is a small dog thing, and not so much a breed thing.  Now if Sirius is brought up right, we should have no problems.  Until we get a new kitten that is.  :)  I miss having a cat around, but Sirius is one third cat, so he is a good substitute.
 

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haha we have cats too..a riot with the dogs..

i think Sirus will make a big difference in her life...maybe make her feel more secure ...

i agree i think its a little dog thing..have a friend that has a white poofy little thing..uhmm i think its called a bichon frise or something..GOOD LORD..he NEVER stops..he was an adoption also...the people totally ignored him unless they were hitting him..sad

he now barks and yips about anyting and everything..& hes only a year...he can be running and playing and IF he feels the need he will growl and snap AT YOUR FACE !!! makes me nuts...:D atleast you dont have tht issue lol

sounds like shes a good dog all around just nervous..whic im sure can be helped with some good training..:D
 

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Well as far as Cin behavior I would try and curb it because she is being stressed. if you could help her get over this she would be confident and maybe only bark at a TRUE threat....no matter what you teach your dog IMO they can sense a TRUE threat and then they will bark/growl and protect their family...right now she is barking at everyone and everything and i know it is hard to think about but if a kid ran up to her and she bit there may be trouble...i know it may seem like it could not happen but stranger things have happened....I do believe sirius can learn from Cin and you dont want him to learn fear from her because people will be much less forgivng when it is a "big bad scary boxer". They look intimidating and this look paired with the conception of them as dangerous dogs in some peoples minds can cause a huge problem for you if he does bite someone out of fear. Even if he doesnt bite you can get a number of complaints for having an "aggressive" dog...Sirius WILL keep your wife safe regardless. I live in a rougher downtown area and i walk Mav alone...no one will approach me and if they do Maverick will either be friendly "not a threat" or get into his stance, go stiff and carefully watch the person or bark at them...he began doing this on his own when he was a few months old. Just trust that you dont have to teach this behavior and he will protect his family on his own..that is a trait.
 

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We had a problem with our dog turning and lunging after we passed somebody on a walk.  He'd go after some dogs too, but it ended up being fear rather than aggression.  I'd start him out, and learned to tell by his body posture and breathing if he was getting even a little tense.  Somebody could be a block away, but at that point I'd give him a treat and we'd go the other direction.  Each time we got further out without a stress reaction.  He'd look at my face, take the treat, and just walk on past anybody without a problem after awhile.  I never thought we'd get there, and it did take about 6 months.
 
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