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I am dogsitting for a friend, and I thought that her dog would trust me by now (I go to her house a lot). But forgive me, I'm not too good with dogs besides my own little mop.

When I got there this morning, the dog (a huge chocolate lab) came to the door and stood in my way, barking and growling. He has always been a sweetheart, but I should have known he'd be so protective. What should I do?
 

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How is your friends dog with other dogs? Do you think he will trust you more if you bring your dog along with you?

Also, do like Moke suggested and bring treats. Something good, like roast beef, or turkey.

Try not to make direct eye contact. The dog may see you as more of a threat then.

Most importantly, Be Careful!!
 

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Can you get ahold of your friend? Maybe she'll have some suggestions on what to do, afterall it is her dog and she probably knows him best. In the least, if you can't get the problem sorted out maybe she knows someone else who can go to look after him, or even go to help you out. Someone the dog knows better?

Other than that, I second bringing some yummy treats. Don't just hand them to him though, toss them to him. If he's really stressed by you being there he may not even eat it, but if he does it's a good sign. Next toss it a little closer. Just keep tossing him treats and talking calmly to him. Get down to his level too, and like SugarKat25 said, don't make eye contact. Be patient and understanding. If he doesn't come around you're going to have to get your friend to find someone else to do it I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, guys. Will the treat thing really work? I'm really worried, but maybe I'm just stressing too much.

I'm afraid that bringing my dog over will freak him out more, like someone else to fight? Plus she's tiny - a Lhasa - so I'm scared he'll hurt her.
 

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Thanks, guys. Will the treat thing really work? I'm really worried, but maybe I'm just stressing too much.

I'm afraid that bringing my dog over will freak him out more, like someone else to fight? Plus she's tiny - a Lhasa - so I'm scared he'll hurt her.
No guarantees that the treats will work, but it's a way to show this dog you're not the bad guy.

I wouldn't bring your dog... that just sounds like an accident waiting to happen to me.
 

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Only you can judge this situation, but it may not be as serious as it appears. Both of my dogs will bark and growl like vicious maniacs at anyone approaching the house. Once the person is in, they are totally fine, regardless of whether or not a member of the family is accompanying the visitor. Heck, sometimes they will bark at ME when I get home!

I hate to give you advice that will get you hurt, but have you tried actually approaching the door and attempting to walk in? It's possible the dog will totally cave once it sees you getting out the dinner bowl!
 

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I've been in a similar position before. Our neighbor had a heart attack and his collie wouldn't let anyone into the house to feed her. I ended up sitting on his front porch with a book for a very long time. The dog was watching me out the window and barking at me. Eventually I tossed some treats to her and then sat back down on the porch for a while. She finally decided that I wasn't a threat. She let me in and I fed her. From that point on she viewed me as the person with the food. She would watch for me out the window in anticipation of dinner. Patience was the key. The neighbor recovered and returned home and I had a great dogsitting job for a long time. My advice would be to be patient and also to be very careful. I would not have proceeded into the house if she had still been acting in a threatening way.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
FilleBelle: It's entirely possible that I'm over-reacting. I don't deal with big dogs very often. He is acting a lot more aggressive than I've ever seen a dog act, though, so I figure I should be cautious, right? :) I did try walking in earlier today, and he stood in front of me wherever I went and growled and barked more. So for now, I'm giving him space.


w8ing4rain: I'm so glad to get experienced advice! (Not that it hasn't all been great). When I go back I will take something to do and more treats :p I will definitely take your advice.
 

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I suggest that you walk in, just push in, most dogs bark and carry on like that when their home owners aren't home but if the dog is not a mean dog (no bitting history) and he knows you you should just walk in.
Forget the treats, ask him if he wants to go for a walk.
But you can't let him know that you are scared of him.

We had a large dog years back and we asked the neighbour to feed him and let him out for us one evening.
This dog had no intention of letting the neighbour in. And once the neighbour figured out that he wasn't getting in he went home and said to his son. Hey why don't you go and let sandy out and feed him for me (the boy was about 10) The boy just walked in and the dog was fine. Sending someone that didn't realize that there was an issue solved the problem for him.
I don't suggest you send in a child, but you have to just walk in just as you would when your friend is actually home.
But only if this dog doesn't have a history of eating people.
 

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This is exactly why I am not so sure a dogsitter would be the best option for us. Mac'n'Roe would probably scare the begeezus out of any stranger that tried to enter the house. I'll have to do some extensive preparation (many visits) with whomever I decide to hire to do this. My sister is the only person (and my neighbor) that can approach the door without the dogs barking and growling.

I would NEVER suggest to ANYONE to just come in my door if they were acting aggressively. That could very well get someone bit. A kid, however, would be able to walk right in! :) They LOVE kids. But, that's my dogs. Only you know what you are comfortable with, and how the dog is acting. Be very careful!
 

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I do some dog sitting on the side. In fact I sort of specialize with dogs that kennels tend not to accept and most sitters won't touch.

Dogs with high prey drives, guarding instincts etc. Some dogs on my limited client list are as follows.... A home with four Filas, a home with a Rottie and a Lab Mix, A home with three American Bulldogs and a Pit, a couple of GSDs. I also have the capability to do other stuff as well. I have experience with Horses, cattle exotics, etc. I don't advertise and do this on a limited basis, word of mouth, referral. I tend to have a client base with multiple animals. Since I can look after them all, it works out well.

A few things I do.....

1) Always go meet the dog with the owner present.

2) Arrive at the home and feed the dog at least one time with the owner present.

3) I do a brief on leash training session with the dog with the owner present so it gets used to accepting commands and working for me.

4) Do a test run with the owner not home but still in town.

5) Keep some REALLY good treats.


In this case I am not sure how to advise you. I sense apprehension in your posts and am concerned that if you are uncomfortable there might be a problem. Because the dog will sense your apprehension. They notice it in body language. I am sure they can smell the adrenaline, and I tend to think they can even hear or sense rapid heartbeats, etc. I am very confident with dogs and pretty much walk in matter of factly, greet the dog and do the feeding and excercising, etc.

My gut tells me with a Lab it is probably all bluff. But I am not there and cannot say for sure. And even if it is bluff, fear or apprehension could easily turn it into something else. So other than BE CAREFUL and call the owner for direction, I am not going to give any advice.
 

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Okay .. I'll tell you this first hand when you get a dog sitter, ALWAYS the owner should be present & the sitter come over to meet the dogs. So this kind of problem don't occur ;)
They did say they'd been to the house a lot.

I second (er...fourth/fifth?) the treat idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all! I finally just walked in and sat at the kitchen table for about an hour, hour and a half or so until he calmed down. Now he follows me around and thinks we're best friends :p

Thanks again for all your help.
 

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Thank you all! I finally just walked in and sat at the kitchen table for about an hour, hour and a half or so until he calmed down. Now he follows me around and thinks we're best friends :p

Thanks again for all your help.

Good deal..... That is what I wanted to tell you to do. Walk in like you own the place. But I was concerned that if you were not up to that and hesitated the dog would sense it and escalate.

Its always works for me (so far) and I sit for some pretty serious dogs.

One dog I sit for..... Put his nose against my leg, curled his lips and let out a low deep gutteral growl. Dog is a pit, ambull, sharpei mix. 75 pounds and he means business. Stood still like a rock did not look down directly at him and talked to him nicely. Aww you don't want to bite me tater, I got the food, we are gonna play ball and have a good time. He eased up an walked off. I got him fed and he was okay. Next time I went in, I took a big glob of peanut butter and made a baseball size ball out of it. I gave him that as soon as I went in the yard. Figured it would either stick to the roof of his mouth and occupy him or he would have peanut butter breath while he ate me. It worked. He is my bud now.
 
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