Dogs that run and bark at people generally do so because they were not socialized properly as puppies. While it's never too late to get your dog used to new experiences, investing the time to get your puppy around other dogs and people when he is young can prevent bad behavior from developing. Don't worry that you've lost your opportunity with an older dog, though -- it can be a challenge, but, with work, you can teach your dog to be more accepting of others.
Socialize your dog. The key is to put your dog in a situation where he succeeds. Each time he barks or runs at strangers, he is reinforcing the idea that this type of behavior is OK. To start the socialization process, take him somewhere he can see others, but you can keep him far enough away that he doesn't start barking and lunging.
Provide treats for good behavior. When he is quiet and walking attentively by your side, offer him treats. Slip them to him from your hand without making a big deal about it, keep walking and treating.
Discourage bad behavior. If he focuses on someone and starts to growl, do a quick U-turn and head in the opposite direction. Don't correct him, but don't give him any treats, either.
Work your way closer. As he becomes more relaxed around others and focused on you, gradually move closer to the action. Always stay far enough away that he doesn't feel the need to bark, growl or lunge. Continue to feed him treats generously and do U-turns if he starts to act aggressive.
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- If he lunges and barks at others through the fence while he is in the yard, the socialization process is still helpful. Don't leave him alone in the yard while you are working on the problem. Once he is calm on leash around strangers, start spending time with him in the yard. Walk him on the leash while others are walking down the sidewalk. When he reliable ignores them, you can take him off the leash, but stay outside to supervise until you are confident the pattern is broken.
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