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Discussion Starter #1
I have 2 large dog who feed off each other's energy. This is a problem especially when someone comes to the door (usually the mailman). Pepper, even though she likes people, has developed the habit of totally freaking out and barking/lunging/growling at the mailman when he shows up. I suspect it's barrier frustration for her, she's usually home alone during the day.

Kane on the other hand, is fearful and distrustful of people. He doesn't like people even walking by the house. However, when he is alone he usually just growls and will only freak out and bark if the person lingers or looks different (ex wearing a hat or uniform).

Now put them both together. Pepper is doing her freaking out, totally focused on the person outside, blind and deaf to me completely. But Kane feeds off this and completely freaks out like Pepper is doing. Often he will end up going after Pepper and they have gotten into fights this way. If I step in and try to reach for Kane he acts as if he's going to go after me (although he never has) so I avoid reaching for him at all. I try to separate them with a barrier or my body, but it's ineffective.

I have been working from home more lately and it's become a problem I want to try to fix, but I'm not sure how. I tried blocking them from reaching the window, but if I leave the room Kane pushes through the gate or Pepper jumps over the couch to get to the window. I can simply close the blinds, but they can still see through the gaps and the same thing happens if it's anyone else who comes to the door, so I never really know when that's going to happen and don't want to keep my blinds permanently closed in the 2 largest windows in the house 24/7.

The only other thing I know to do is have someone I know practice walking up to the house, while I train the dogs. But I don't have anyone who can help me with that.

Is there anything that can be done or am I just doomed to live in darkness with the blinds closed all the time.?
 

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Train a Down command without distraction. You must be consistent. Teach them separately. The down is to be held until younrekease the dog, you give another command or the dog dies.

Down is down. It is not down/stay. If the dog is down, the dog is staying.

Build duration. If you have not worked duration you start with a couple of seconds and build duration. At first you may need to be next to the dog. Eventually you take a step away and go right back. Eventually two steps, hesitate then go back. At this point you rekease the dog after you go back. Eventually as the dog gets better at holding the down you go back and keavevagain.
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Reward duration by going back to the dog and saying "good down" and giving a bit of good food. If the dog gets up before being released I mark it with "no" and simply take him back to exactly where he was and down him.

As the down becomes more solid you add distraction. Stand next to the dog and. reinforce the down.

Train each dog separately. This will take time and effort. Eventually, after both dogs are good separately do the down with both dogs in a no distraction environment. Handle each dog separately.

Next release each dog separately. Dog A and Dog B are in a down. While next to dog A, release dog B. Dog A must stay in a down. Put Dog B back in a down. Stand next to dog B and release dog A ensuring dog B stays in a down. Eventually you should be able to release dogs separately without being next to them. This teaches impulse control.

Meanwhile, the mail is usually delivered at the same time each day. With COVID 19 we aren't getting visitors. Put the dogs in crates away from the door before the mail comes and let them out after the mailman has left. The longer the dogs are allowed to self reward with this behavior the harder it will be to change.

When you have a good down on each dog, take one dog out. Leave the other dog crated. Wait for the mailman. You need to see him before the dog. Put the dog in a down. Enforce the down until the mail man leaves... rinse and repeat the next day with the other dog.

Eventually you should be able to down both dogs and have them stay in a down until released no matter who comes to the door.

FWIW I put my dogs up when company comes. No need for them to interact with company. That said I can put them both in a down and have them hold it when someone comes to my door. I can interrupt their barking and have them down and be silent and hold their down. You can too. I am not a magic trainer with exceptional dogs. I am cosistent.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you. I will try that. The problem is that as soon as they see the mailman they are instantly over the threshold and they don't know I exist anymore. The mailman is not consistent; he comes anywhere between 10 a.m. and noon.

Still good advice though, we will start with that.
 

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Can you get that frosted contact paper that still lets light in but makes it impossible for anything to be seen through the window?

I would keep Kane crated between 10:00am and noon. Eliminates the possibility of him attacking Pepper, or you.

What about a slip lead nearby, and then when Pepper freaks out at the mailman, slip the lead on, say "enough", and lead her away from the window for a treat? Personally, I do want my dog to alert me to visitors or "weird things", but I also want him to stop when I deem the "threat" unthreatening, haha. I used to do the above with Ralphie when he was a young dog, and I can call him off barking at delivery people, although he may huff and puff a bit until the person is out of view. If you want to squash the alert altogether, then this might not work for you. But it kind of gets them out of the "freak the heck out" and turns it into, "Okay, I told Mom about the thing, how about a reward?"
 

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Another partial option:
Crate Kane or put him in a back room as suggested above. And also, put Pepper on leash and take her outside to meet the mailman with treats that you provide. If the mailman is willing, Pepper should learn to like the mailman in about a week or so. She may still bark, but it will be for a different reason, and she may be easier to train while Kane barks...

I'm not sure about this will work with the current social distancing?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Can you get that frosted contact paper that still lets light in but makes it impossible for anything to be seen through the window?

I would keep Kane crated between 10:00am and noon. Eliminates the possibility of him attacking Pepper, or you.

What about a slip lead nearby, and then when Pepper freaks out at the mailman, slip the lead on, say "enough", and lead her away from the window for a treat? Personally, I do want my dog to alert me to visitors or "weird things", but I also want him to stop when I deem the "threat" unthreatening, haha. I used to do the above with Ralphie when he was a young dog, and I can call him off barking at delivery people, although he may huff and puff a bit until the person is out of view. If you want to squash the alert altogether, then this might not work for you. But it kind of gets them out of the "freak the heck out" and turns it into, "Okay, I told Mom about the thing, how about a reward?"
I think they would still be able to see through frosted contact paper, enough to know he is there anyone. You have to walk right past the window to get to the door.

I had thought about keeping them on leashes in order to pull them away when this happens, but it's hard to control both of them at the same time, I'm not sure they would learn anything from it. It would probably work well with one dog, but again Pepper is already over threshold as soon as she sees the mailman and by the time I get over there to her, she's not in a teachable state. It's worth trying though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Another partial option:
Crate Kane or put him in a back room as suggested above. And also, put Pepper on leash and take her outside to meet the mailman with treats that you provide. If the mailman is willing, Pepper should learn to like the mailman in about a week or so. She may still bark, but it will be for a different reason, and she may be easier to train while Kane barks...

I'm not sure about this will work with the current social distancing?
I actually suggested this to my husband! It probably wouldn't work right now though like you said. And once this covid thing is all over I'll be going back to work in the office and won't be home to do training like that :-(
 
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