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Peggy alerts moderately to outside noises. If a delivery person comes to the door, she launches into hysterics. Otherwise it's more of a low woof, maybe a rumbly growl. Well within an acceptable range.

But if someone is about to enter the room? ACK. She flips. Very similar to her delivery person reaction, except she's reacting to the sound of my husband or me.

She never does it when she's in a room alone. We can come and go in silence. But if she's lounging on the bed with me, for example, and hears the bedroom doorknob turn, she will likely lose her mind.

And then it instantly stops when she see who it is. Wiggly butt. Loose body. "Oh hi!"

Same if she's hanging out with my husband in his office and I commit the grave offense of opening the office door.

It scares the you-know-what out of us! Especially because it starts and stops so abruptly (and loudly!) and doesn't happen every time. It's making us crazy.

Anyone else deal with this? Should we deal with it the same way we should be dealing with the front-door hysterics? Is it basically the same behaviour/same motivation even though it's such a clearly different (to us) scenario?

We've tried gently announcing ourselves as we come down the hall, making soft noises or saying hi as we approach. That does NOT work.
 

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Having had small dogs most of my life, known to be barkers (and rightfully so), I have always taken the firm approach with all of them. Basically, my dogs are not allowed to bark. Because once they start, it’s very hard to stop, so best not to do it.

With one exception, when someone comes in the house, if I’m not the one to let them in (when they have their own key). Then they go mad, and it takes a few seconds to stop. But for the most part, my house is silent, even when other dogs outside are barking their heads off.

I really don’t have much advise besides this approach, which has worked for me for decades.
 

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Do you tell her who is at the door? I have found "Don't be silly, it's only me" tends to work to reduce anxiety and barking. Peggy is at just the age my dogs started alert barking at all sorts of things - I eventually realised that their instincts and hormones were telling them that they were now of an age to warn the pack of possible danger, but they lacked the experience to differentiate between what was and was not dangerous, and that my job for the next few months was to help them recognise the difference. Every alert had me up, looking, and saying either "Good dog, thank you!" or "Nothing to worry about - settle down". At the time it seemed to take forever, but it was only a few months, and now they mostly accept my judgement. I found Turid Rugaas'little book "Barking: the sound of a language" very helpful.
 
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That sounds good to me, Dechi. I'd be happy with a no-bark household. She's already quite good about not acknowledging dogs barking outside. Human voices and car doors slamming get more of a response, but she's getting better at doing a closed-mouth woof, which I like.

What does your firm approach entail?

I've tried "No" and "Ah" which work on just about every other undesirable behaviour. I guess these crazed alerts are more a state of mind?

Having had small dogs most of my life, known to be barkers (and rightfully so), I have always taken the firm approach with all of them. Basically, my dogs are not allowed to bark. Because once they start, it’s very hard to stop, so best not to do it.

With one exception, when someone comes in the house, if I’m not the one to let them in (when they have their own key). Then they go mad, and it takes a few seconds to stop. But for the most part, my house is silent, even when other dogs outside are barking their heads off.

I really don’t have much advise besides this approach, which has worked for me for decades.
 

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Do you tell her who is at the door? I have found "Don't be silly, it's only me" tends to work to reduce anxiety and barking. Peggy is at just the age my dogs started alert barking at all sorts of things - I eventually realised that their instincts and hormones were telling them that they were now of an age to warn the pack of possible danger, but they lacked the experience to differentiate between what was and was not dangerous, and that my job for the next few months was to help them recognise the difference. Every alert had me up, looking, and saying either "Good dog, thank you!" or "Nothing to worry about - settle down". At the time it seemed to take forever, but it was only a few months, and now they mostly accept my judgement. I found Turid Rugaas'little book "Barking: the sound of a language" very helpful.
My husband has been trying that. He'll say "It's just me," as he walks down the hall and she's already BARK! BARK! BARK! before I can say, "It's just your friend."

It's like her brain turns off.

If she is barking at an "intruder" (aka a delivery person or passerby) she'll rush at the front door but run right back to me. I look out the window, tell her thank you and all is well, and 9 times out of 10 she calms back down.

But my husband or me walking into the room elicits such a short but intense response, she's already happy and wiggly and saying hi before whoever's with her has a chance to reassure her.

How does she constantly forget that two people live here??
 

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P.S. I'll check out that book! Thank you! And you're right - she's always learning even when she doesn't seem to process it right away. I just worry that the sudden appearance of a favourite person is in a way rewarding her for barking, so she's learning it's a good thing to freak out. Poodles are too smart!!
 

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I just worry that the sudden appearance of a favourite person is in a way rewarding her for barking, so she's learning it's a good thing to freak out. Poodles are too smart!!
If you think she is being rewarded by your appearance when she is barking, then immediately turn around and walk away without a word to her. Wait until she stops and then come back.

Zephyr tends to bark in excitement when I am heading to the door to let him out, and that is what I do. One bark and I immediately turn around and go sit at the computer until he comes and nudges me to remind me that he wanted to go out. Then I get up and head for the door again, and usually he is quiet.
 

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I use "Enough!" when I think the barking is simply silliness. Shouting means I briefly go away again; being polite means I come in and we have happy greetings. It did not take many repetitions for the message to sink in.
 
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Misha is a little older than Peggy, and he started having some weird alerting back in January. Things that weren't scary, but just looked a little odd to him. The only real thing that he consistently alerts to is people out at night if there aren't a lot of people around. He doesn't seem to believe me that it's fine. I just try to remove him from the situation but I wish I had a better alternative. Other than that he is very quiet.
 

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Misha is a little older than Peggy, and he started having some weird alerting back in January. Things that weren't scary, but just looked a little odd to him. The only real thing that he consistently alerts to is people out at night if there aren't a lot of people around. He doesn't seem to believe me that it's fine. I just try to remove him from the situation but I wish I had a better alternative. Other than that he is very quiet.
There was stick sticking out of the ground yesterday, in a spot where there's not usually a stick sticking out of the ground, and Peggy was VERY concerned.

Luckily on walks I'm always armed with tasty treats and she's getting very good at looking back at me after just a woof or a hop. But at night I think she'd be a lot harder to calm down.

I think we'll set up some practise situations at home, to help desensitize her. And I'll start keeping treats in my pockets when I'm inside, so I can try and stick one in her mouth as soon as I hear my husband coming down the hall. Maybe, if he's feeling extra patient, I'll even ask him to text me first so I'm prepared. Peggy learns so fast, but I need to get the timing right.

I've also got this book on the way:


I think her reactions are 100% fear-based and I want to make sure I'm handling them appropriately. I don't want to inadvertently turn a small annoyance into a big problem.
 

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That seems like a good idea. Possibly instead of your husband coming unexpectedly, he could text you to let you know he's coming and you could preemptively get up, act excited, and say "It's Dad!" before she hits her threshold for reacting. I know it's about changing their emotions to things rather than their behavior. Alerting is tricky. Misha only alerts to weird things if he's very bored. Otherwise there's way more interesting things to do.
 

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What does your firm approach entail?
Just being really firm and meaning it. I never lay a hand on my dogs, ever. But they can tell from the tone of my voice and body language I am not happy. I make a « shhhh » noise or say « no » as soon as I hear a peak. I also make sure I get close enough to the offender so he or she can feel my displeasure. Even late at night or during the night, I will correct if I have to.

It‘s just catching it every time, no exception. Since I am home most of the time, it makes it easier too. Maybe it wouldn’t work with a bigger dog, with stronger protective instincts, I don’t know.
 

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That seems like a good idea. Possibly instead of your husband coming unexpectedly, he could text you to let you know he's coming and you could preemptively get up, act excited, and say "It's Dad!" before she hits her threshold for reacting. I know it's about changing their emotions to things rather than their behavior. Alerting is tricky. Misha only alerts to weird things if he's very bored. Otherwise there's way more interesting things to do.
That might be why she only does it sometimes. I've been trying to figure out the variable.

Today, she's overall just more on edge. A normal game of tug elicited a growl I've never heard before. I tried a few different toys and same thing. Adolescence is stressful!

I remember with my last dog, it was around this time I thought I should get a second dog to help with her behaviour issues. ? Shockingly, instead of it helping, I ended up with TWO lunatic adolescents.

Lesson learned: There are no shortcuts.
 

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It's not the same, but Sisko can sometimes go crazy at the door and I tell him quiet and if he does he gets a treat and if he's quiet and comes away from the door he gets anywhere from 2 to 5 treats. Good luck?!
 
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