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I need help with door reactivity.

911 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MissMutt
I don't even know if you can call it reactivity. It's so mild, yet it causes me to be on guard literally all the time. It's very stressful.

My dog has this thing where no one can get through the front door without being growled at - with the exception of about um, half a dozen people.

I usually counter this quite easily, by bringing Marge outside to meet guests before they come in. It works beautifully and she is quite comfortable once they're inside.

The only problem is, I can't control when my dad comes home. If he's home before Marge comes in (ie., comes home while I'm out walking or in the yard), she is fine. I try to walk her or take her somewhere during the times he comes home, just to avoid the general atmosphere in the house that follows after one of her growls - something I'm currently feeling while writing this message.

I feel like it's worse with him when I'm home. I can't say for sure, but it seems like she doesn't growl when I'm not here. I don't know why. I mean, I don't even need to be in the room - I was upstairs showering.

Why does it only happen sometimes? What can I do to better diffuse the situation? And what the heck can I do to fix it?

I constantly try to distract her with treats and it works a good portion of the time. (It will NOT work with a total stranger unless they are ridiculously unimposing). He will have NO part of this part of her training. Sometimes he angrily sends her downstairs. He usually refuses to give her treats for about a day after each incident, which I know does absolutely no good.

I know I've posted this a zillion times. I just feel like she's 1000x better - even with him - except at the front door. We're getting ready to take the CGC.. she's letting people pet her, she's not cowering the way she used to - yet she's still not privvy with letting my dad into the house. This hasn't happened for about a month - now, all of a sudden, something triggered her tonight.
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Forget the people for a sec.

Think about the door itself. The door open..the door shut...people coming in..people going out etc etc...

from your eloquent posts..I think you can figure what Im hinting at...;)
That she can train her not to be reactive of the door? She needs to be desensitized to people coming and going? Please elaborate.
miss mutt im sorry about my previous reply..

what I was rather arrogantly(please forgive I will send chocolate!) hinting at was finding ways to make marge associate the door opening with good stuff

like having her sit, click as you open the door and boom there is a treat on the other side for her to enjoy.

or one dog I worked with I smeared a little PB on the actual door itself(on the outside) had him sit, clicked as I opened the door and he was allowed to lick the PB off of the door.

again sorry..I have a kind of a weird head sometimes..:oops:
I recently visited a neighbor down the street and was invited in. We had been talking for about a minute when I spotted a large black lab laying in a spinx position at the top of the stairs in the foyer...looking down directly at me. He never barked when I rang the doorbell.
Point of this little story is that the dog had been taught EXACTLY what to do when someone comes to the door. He is not to bark....he must go to the top of the stairs/away from the door and lie down.
So, how do you want Marge to handle the door?
Wow, Tooney, you have some dog-savvy neighbours. Or maybe they're all like that in the States. I know when I visit my neighbours their dogs make their presence known before I'm fully through the door. They are all sweethearts but still.

I would enlist the help of a friend she hasn't met... have him open the door and immediately toss a really great treat to her. How does Marge react when you get home? I'm assuming she's okay with it... in which case, maybe it would help to enter with said stranger? To show that the door opening and a stranger coming in is not always a threat.
That's okay Zim. Your post did confuse me though. LOL

Tooney I am wondering if maybe the best default door behavior for Marge would be to move into another room to avoid confrontation. A fellow fearful dog owner suggested this to me. Maybe, for instance, the kitchen. That way she can then come back into the living room after the person is in the house and greet without all of the "OH MY GOD! A new person is opening the door!" Or could this possibly create more fear because she won't be able to see the person?

When my dad comes home, if I keep her in the kitchen and jackpot her, she won't react. Once he is in the house, he is not evil. It's only as he's coming through the door. So this is definitely a door issue, although she does have a genuine fear of him.

When I come home Marge tends to rush the door, very excited to see me.. I usually won't come in until she goes into a down.

I guess you guys are right... I need to both condition her to understand the door to be a good thing and then set up a default behavior for the door.
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