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Hi all!

Hobbes seems to magically know when me or my husband is home, long before we ourselves know. He runs to the door, tail wagging, and sits to wait patiently until DH walks in (DH tells me he does the same thing when he's home and I'm coming in). We live in a 3d floor walk up in an urban area, and we can only assume that he can somehow recognize and distinguish the sound of our car pulling up and beeping (when you lock the doors) from all the other sounds of other cars driving by and pulling up.

There are 4 apartments in our building so there are often other people coming and going besides us, and we can always hear the footsteps and doors opening and closing downstairs. Hobbes seems to know when it's us vs. other people though. Sometimes, when other people enter the building or just approach and you can just hear their voices, Hobbes will run to the door and offer a few "alert" barks. We handle this by putting him in a sit, opening the door, looking down the stairs, and then reassuring Hobbes that there's no danger and thank him for letting us know. I know it's silly - it's just something we started doing and once we let him know that we've checked it out and thanked him for letting us know, he stops barking and goes back to whatever he was doing.

My question is - why does he only do this sometimes when others enter the building? I assume he must have some sort of criteria that helps him make the decision of alert barking or ignoring the sounds of the people, but for the life of me I can't figure out what this criteria might be. Possibly I'm over thinking the whole thing, and it's as simple as "I only bark when I feel like it" or something equally cut and dry. What do you guys think? Many of you have had a hundred dogs for a hundred years, so I assume you must have some theories!
 

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I don't really have any answers for you, but I'd imagine it's similar to why our dog, who's reactive, will growl at some people and not others when we're on a walk...
It's kind of weird/neat the way they have their own system. :)
 

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I don't really have any answers for you, but I'd imagine it's similar to why our dog, who's reactive, will growl at some people and not others when we're on a walk...
It's kind of weird/neat the way they have their own system. :)
Yeah maybe you're right about that. What I"d give to be in his head for a few minutes! Nobody else has any ideas?
 

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Yup. Jackson is the same. If I walk into my house, he doesn't bark. But if I am home with him and someone else enters our house (even if it's my stepmom or mom, who live here) he goes alert barking for a few seconds until he realizes who it is. But he NEVER barks when I walk in the door.... it's like he just KNOWS it's going to be me.
 

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Have you noticed a pattern of whether he barks only when it is a stranger entering the building vs. one of your neighbors? That is the only thing I can think of...
 

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Behavior is a window to the mind.

Observe his patterns of behavior and try to find the common threads and what's constant and what's variable.

Then, you'll be able to figure it out.
 

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Have you noticed a pattern of whether he barks only when it is a stranger entering the building vs. one of your neighbors? That is the only thing I can think of...
The downstairs door is locked, so strangers can't just come in to the building. Maybe if neighbors bring friends in? Something to think about.

Behavior is a window to the mind.

Observe his patterns of behavior and try to find the common threads and what's constant and what's variable.

Then, you'll be able to figure it out.
THat's what I've been trying to do, LOL! Oh, well. I'll just continue to observe and see what I see.
 
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