Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our website. It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”!
I have a two and half year old collie/lab mix that we adopted at 3 months old. She had contracted the parvo virus and treated for this before we adopted her. She lacked confidence at the start, though we socialized her and also three classes in obedience over the last two years, as well we walk her in town (which she does really well with). She hikes with us off leash, though has been developing an alarm bark, which is random (other dogs and people in the distance). We do distract her when we can, and that works, but not always.
First, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of great work with your dog. Kudos to you for working hard to build her confidence as a puppy after that traumatic parvo experience and being consistent with her training as an adult!
So, when hiking off leash, she could be taking things into her own charge and be on high alert, which is causing the barking. When this happens, you’ll want to practice the successful behaviors that work so well on your walks in the city. When she barks, call her back to you and work on some confidence building exercises (Watch Me, Touch, etc.) and put her back on leash for a little while. When she has mellowed out, you can let her off leash again for a little bit. Gradually, you can work back up to longer periods of time off leash. You want her to know that there’s still a connection between the two of you even when she’s wandering off leash. These short little training sessions with her on leash will build her confidence so that the alarm barking won’t happen when she’s off leash.