> Hi...I have a question. Why would a dog not accept anyone from outside
> of the household--ever? She loves everyone in the family, but if anyone
> else comes in, she will bark at them, even if they have been in the
> house talking to us for an hour. Any suggestions?? (Other than get rid
> of her??)
Hi. Lots of dogs are protective. Labs are not supposed to be
completely unfriendly to all strangers, but some dogs are...
Your lab just doesn't have the proper lab temperament. She
needs training. How old is she? You should get into an
obedience class with her so that you can start establishing
communication with her and so she'll learn some basic
commands. Then when people come over to your house, she'll
understand that when you say "no barking" you mean business.
You can put her in a down/stay to discourage her from
barking. You can teach her a "say hi" command which means sit
nicely and let this person pet you and don't bark at them.
You will learn appropriate corrections to *make* her stop
barking if she doesn't obey your command right away. You'll
learn about positive reinforcement for proper behavior. It's
all about training.
She may never be openly friendly of all strangers, but you
should be able to train her to avoid engaging in behavior you
don't want -- the barking. I would hope that this barking at
people is not enough to cause her to be in danger of losing
her home and her family... Especially since she hasn't been
trained to do anything any differently.
There are some questions that could shed some light on why she
is the way she is... How old was she when you got her? How
much did her breeder socialize her before you dog her? How
good of a breeder is her breeder? How much socialization have
you given her, and at what age? If pups aren't exposed by a
certain age to strangers and other dogs and babies and tall
men and whatever else they might ever run into during life,
there's a good chance they will not be comfortable around
strangers and other people. After you learn about how to
train her, you should start taking her out to socialize her,
using the proper reinforcements for good behavior. Talk to
your trainer about how to handle that. There are a lot of
ways that owners can make dogs like this much worse if they
don't get help from a trainer. I'm not trying to blame you;
I've been there and done that so I should know...
In the meantime before you get in an obedience class, I'll
just mention one thing... What do you do now when she barks?
If you say "It's OK, it's OK honey, these are good people,
it's all right, be still" and if you stroke her and try to
calm her down, well, what you're really doing is rewarding her
for her behavior and telling her that you want her to continue
with that behavior. What she needs is a correction for wrong
behavior, not comfort and soothing. That's a mistake that a
lot of people make. But be warned that if this is the only
time during the day that you try to train her to do something,
it's going to fall on deaf ears. You need to establish an
obedience relationship with her where she gets used to
figuring out what you want from her and understand what will
happen if she does or does not behave, in all situations --
not just with this barking.