Do I really have to stop my dog doing this around strangers?

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  1. We don't get many people over, acutally make that we get nó people over and so our Humphrey isn't used to many other than us two.
    When the door bell rings or something is slotted in the mail, he will bark up a storm untill he can go sniff the door and know there is no one there. He's guarding the house, that is no problem.

    When I take Humphrey for walks and we pass other people however, he will also start barking and if he is loose (in the park it is allowed) he will get quite close to them (say up untill about a foot away from them) and bark. There is no biting, there is no teeth baring and if someone tries to pet him he'll have a quick sniff and back down a bit, there is no aggression there.

    I do call him to me when he does this and if he is loose I put him back on the leash. However I'm torn, I don't really want him to stop this because we walk in quiet places (it's very quiet here even if it is the middle of a city) and it is mostly just him and me out there, it makes me feel safe. I'm not a scaredy cat perse but when he does this and the guy walking alone behind us crosses the street, I feel safer.
    Can I just leave it like this or is it unacceptable for my dog to do this?
     
  2. I have a lot of experience with dog behavior from working as a vet tech and attending veterinary school. I personally would not want a barking dog approaching me in the manner you described. You mentioned he will approach a person while barking and then back down a little bit. That is an aggressive act. No one should pet a dog that is behaving in the way you described. That's how you end up getting bit.
    If he approached barked and then stopped, sniffed the person, I would not be concerned.
    You should not be walking a dog off a leash, especially one that behaves like this. It is a matter of time before his threatening actions get him into a fight with another dog or he ends up biting someone.
     
  3. *sigh* yes that is what I thought.

    The strange thing is, when I walk him in the other direction which leads us into the centre of town and loads of people, he's an absolute pussycat. In step next to me, lies down when I stop, lets people have a ruffle of his hair, licks hands, even allows tummy rubs. He really only does the previous when we appear to be alone and someone wanders into the picture.
    Very odd I think.
     
  4. Dogs can be aggressive for different reasons -- including fear. I would really make my best efforts to stop this behavior. I would pick up one of the Cesar Milan or Victoria Stillwell training books. They both take different approaches in dealing with dog behavior. I think both are very good and worth checking out.
    From there you can decide if you need to hire a trainer to help work with your dog.