Summary: Lab/BC mix with maybe other stuff in there, very smart, but resource guarder and barker at people out window and children. Looking for best threads dealing with these behaviors, or any specific advice.
My wife and I talked about getting for a number of years, and finally started looking in earnest. We checked all the shelters because we wanted a rescue dog. She wanted a golden retriever, but we didn't find any, and really never found "our dog"
Then, a week later, we saw an adorable little pup on petfinder at a nearby rescue. We spoke with the foster owner and were told that she was "half black lab, half golden retriever." Loving her cute face and funny sounds when she was sleeping, and finally being ready, we took her home.
As time went on, we saw more and more signs that she may not have any golden in her at all. She has double dewclaws, which the vet suggested may be from a newfie...and that she's 65lbs at 10 months suggests it may be.
That said, more and more, everything about her temperament points to her having a significant amount of border collie in her. She's extremely intelligent. We got her one of those "treat puzzles" called a "treat tornado" or something, and even though it's classified as hard and explains you have to introduce it to your dog slowly so they understand it, I just filled it with food and put it down in front of her. Within 3 minutes she had solved/emptied the whole thing.
I take her for a walk of about two miles every evening, except days when she goes to doggy daycare and is too tired for it. Alternately, I take her to a big open field and just run around with her for 20-30 minutes. I'm pretty sure this is enough exercise, as she's always panting when we finish either one, and flops down on the carpet to rest when we get home.
Despite her intelligence, she's still a pup, and she uses her smarts to realize she can be bad. Here are my major issues, and I was hoping that you guys could tell me the best way to deal with them, or point me to the best threads dealing with them.
1. Resource guarding. We got her when she was about 3 months old, and I do not think she was properly weaned, and who knows what happened when she was feeding. She eats her food as if there is no tomorrow. If you put your hand near her head or food while she is eating, she will freeze and growl and sometimes snap at you. At the advice of the trainer we were using when we first got her, we fed her all food by hand slowly for the first week...then two weeks...then three weeks....she never got better. Now we feed her off a baking sheet just so she eats slowly. The trainer suggested free feeding as a solution, but the night we decided to try it, she ate two FULL bowls of food and wanted more, and then was sick for two days with vomiting and diarrhea. I was afraid to let her eat more, though I'm wondering if we let her keep going if it might have worked.
She'll usually trade toys for high-value treats without much of a problem, so it's -usually- just a problem with food.
2. Barking out the window (house or car). Even if we close the shades, she uses her nose to push them aside and looks out the window. Anytime someone walks by, she goes nuts, barking at them for about 10 seconds, and then no matter where we are in the house, she runs to us making a weird growl/whine/whimper sound. We've taken to telling her NO! when she starts barking, getting between her and the window, making her sit and down, and then rewarding her as she goes down and calms, but she still insists on barking. Similarly, if we're in the car with her, she'll bark at anyone that comes close to us, be it people walking if we're at a stop light or gas station, or a person on a motorcycle. I am hoping she never figures out that there are people inside cars.
This may be general guarding behavior for what she sees as her property, or our property, or it may be a desire to play, as her tail is almost always wagging when she barks, and it is usually not a truly aggressive sounding bark. We have to restrain her when someone is at the door, and I'm not sure how we're doing to deal with Halloween.
Any suggestions on preventing this? We want her to be able to bark at an intruder, but not at every person who walks on our sidewalk.
3. Barking at people in the house, or at people at their house. We've had guests over, and after about 15 minutes of them being there, she'll calm down and relax. Even then, though, if someone stands up to go get a drink or something, she again freaks out and starts barking again. She does the border collie "push" with her head, though for people who don't know it's coming, they jerk away when she starts moving toward them. We try to let her get adjusted to people slowly, or to ignore her, but it's not working very well. That said, we don't have a whole lot of guests over, so she doesn't get a ton of practice with it.
4. Barking at kids. When we're on walks, she'll often bark at kids that she sees. Granted, most of these are 8 year olds screaming PUPPY!!! and running full tilt right at her, so I don't blame her for being spooked. Or gangly high schoolers on scooters going up and down the block. That said, I'd like her to be better at ignoring things going on around her in general.
All in all, she's a beautifully behaved dog when it's just the three of us at the house. She is still working on heeling all the time, but she will do sit and down and leave it and stay 95% of the time, though we're still working on a solid recall. Mostly she responds to "Molly, Come get a cookie!", though if it's just a matter of more words as a replacement for "come", it doesn't bother me too much.
She completed her puppy classes and earned the STAR PUPPY award with flying colors, but unfortunately in her next set of lessons she encountered a dog that bothered her and she couldn't concentrate the whole time we were there for weeks. We take her once a week to doggy daycare for the day, and we've asked the people who run it and they say that she is well behaved and doesn't fight or anything.
I know there are already some threads here on a few of these subjects, but I was hoping you guys could point me to the very best of them, rather than trying to dig through years of stuff, and possibly see if you had any insight into how to train her best based on the combination of things she's displaying.