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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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We’ve not had any social visitors in over a year. Peggy was only seven months old at the time! So, as you can imagine, she doesn’t really know how to handle herself now when someone shows up at our door. We’ve had almost zero opportunity to practise.

Today we’ve got a contractor coming by to bid on a bathroom renovation, and I’m wondering if we should just preemptively put her outside or in her crate behind closed doors, or if we should put a leash on her, grab a high-value treat, take a deep breath, and try to work through it.

I have no idea if he’s a dog person or not, and I really want to be able to focus on the non-poodle task at hand, so I’m inclined to just avoid interactions altogether.

For those of you who also have “covid adolescents” what do you do in these situations?
 

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The only people we've had in the house have been folks in our outdoor social bubble who've needed a place to pee when out for a walk. We did the leash thing and just distracted her in the living room while they ran down to the basement since we needed to keep distance indoors anyway. But these were not strangers to Oona, they are people we see semi-regularly outdoors. I think Oona won't know how to handle actual guests at all when the time comes so I'm curious to hear what people do (or are planning). Her crate is in the living room and she's still spending a fair amount of time in there for naps and time outs when she needs a safe contained place to chill. So we'll probably use the crate if she has trouble settling or seems scared. With adult friends now she chills out after they introduce themselves and she gets a treat but in her house it may be a different ballgame! I anticipate one of the first indoor visits might actually be in someone else's home (in-laws this summer, hopefully), so that might actually be a good indoor space to try meeting and acclimating to hanging out with others outside our household before having guests in our own house.
I'm very anxious about it! But also - having friends over for dinner and a movie or board games is what I live for and I miss it SO MUCH, so it's a good, hopeful post-pandemic problem to anticipate in the scheme of things.
 

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Mia, Christmas in June 2010
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I'd also go with avoiding the interaction all together today, as it seems like it's asking a lot of the repair guy. If it were me, I'd start small with having a friend come over - someone who knows the rules of the game - to make it as stress free as possible for all involved. But if everyone's feeling up to the challenge, then go for it.
 

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Recently, our daughter actually came inside and Sat on the Sofa! since we've all had our shots.

Normie was delighted. Too delighted.

It became a choice between a teaching moment and a family reunion.

He ended up on his leash, sitting calmly because he had no choice. I'm hoping that even that was a teaching moment of sorts.

We had a plumber in on Wednesday and crated Normie.

Now he's going through the "I want to play with every dog I see" phase. Dog school starts in 2 weeks so this should be a challenge.
 

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I’m guessing the contractor has come and gone. I hope it went well. While we have had company, it’s pretty much only been family that Bobby actually interacts with. He’s still a work in progress so we do leash him initially then release him once he’s calmed down. If there’s too much excitement with the grandkids we just leash him again until he is relaxed and settled. We are trying to not let him practice bad behavior. We are very lucky that he is wonderful on the leash. I can just leash him to the couch or table and he is wonderfully behaved. I use a 10 foot leash.

As far as work people and the like, and we have had a handful during this past year, we put him in his bedroom. Probably not the perfect training answer but company still puts him over the top sometimes and we can’t always have intense training sessions during these times, so it is something we are still working on. Both the leashing and the bedroom work really well for Bobby. He’s getting better as he matures but he’s still an excitable boy!😉
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter #6
I decided this was a management situation rather than a teaching opportunity, so I put Peggy in her crate in the bedroom ten minutes before the contractor arrived to give her a chance to get into snooze mode. For the 45 minutes he was here, we didn’t hear a single peep! Even as we chatted right outside the bedroom door. Way to go, Peggy! She did huff from room to room after, following the scent of his cologne, but otherwise it was like we didn’t even have anyone over.

I’m confident she’ll adapt fine once social visits resume, but I expect it’ll take some patience at first.

@Dianaleez, what a simple pleasure that must have been, to have your daughter sitting on the couch again. :)
 

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Just for future reference. If the contractor or worker is not going to need my input, I will ask them something like this, "Sir, I was going to train with my dog while you work in another room but I don't want to do that if it bothers you." I can usually tell. I always let them know the dog will be on leash at all times. If I get any feeling from them that they are nervous/uneasy/apprehensive... I don't do it. Safety first of visitor & dog. If your dog gets really amphed up when it comes to visitors, then I would wait until the person leaves & then go train your dog in all commands in the room where the person walked around. This can be very distracting to a dog when a stranger's scent is in their home, especially during pandemic time. So sometimes training after the person leaves is nearly as good & it's an excellent place to start. Have the dog work on the opposite side of the room... you'll see the little nose working & some will lean to get a closer sniff. Remember when the nose is in scent world, the mind is not with you. So this is an EXCELLENT means of proofing your dog & working them with a distraction & you're already paying for it if they're working in your home... might as well get some benefits for your dog training.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Thanks, @dogsavvy! Great advice. And I know what you mean about reading the person. We had an HVAC guy say he didn’t mind, but he was clearly uncomfortable with the distraction, whereas our landscapers get a real kick out of watching me train Peggy in their presence. We usually end up talking dogs for quite a while.

If we finally go ahead with this bathroom reno (which we’ve been putting off for five years!) it’ll be weeks of training opportunities. Will be good for her ongoing socialization, but I’m feeling apprehensive about the covid aspect.
 

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Good girl Peggy ! Next time you could put a leash on her and if she’s good, let it drag on the floor. You might be surprised : if you act normal, maybe she will too and won’t make a big deal.

Since I live alone with nobody to repair or install anything for me, I often have workers coming at the house. Mostly men, but some women also to help with house chores. Beckie barks when she hears knocking but she stops when I tell her. Then when people enter, they both usually go say hi. Depending on whether the person is dog friendly or not she will stay close, wag her tail and lick their hands or just step back. Merlin gets close but won’t stay long. Beckie won’t let anyone pet her though. She’s a friendly « don’t touch me » girl, lol !

Even though it just happened and it wasn’t planned, I’m really proud of them for being so nice with strangers. Often people will tell me how well behaved they are, or how surprised they are that my dogs aren’t madly barking at them.

I think Peggy will get there too. It’s just such a bad timing with the pandemic.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Aw, @Dechi. Your duo sounds so sweet and well-mannered! Good job, Beckie and Merlin.

Peggy’s problem is that she will get waaaay too close, and probably also do some crazed skittering back and forth. It’s the kind of behaviour that gets an awwwww if you’re small but is irritating if you’re a big ol’ excited spoo.

She does the same thing outside sometimes, but if I chat with someone for a while, she eventually flops down at my feet. And at her playdates she’ll swing by the humans for an occasional rub or treat, but not in an annoying way (at least not anymore). And she doesn’t get particularly excited if someone new shows up. But that’s on neutral territory. I understand why it’s so different inside our house.

Just need a little practise....

Dang covid.
 

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Your duo sounds so sweet and well-mannered! Good job, Beckie and Merlin.
As long as we’re in the house, Beckie is good. But outside, oh my god...

And she doesn’t get particularly excited if someone new shows up. But that’s on neutral territory. I understand why it’s so different inside our house.
Beckie is a nightmare outside but so good inside the house. It’s like they’ve seen so many strangers come and go that they don’t think anything of it anymore. They accept that when people come inside the house, they are okay and not a threat.

I agree big dogs can be scarier, but I’ve had people tell me small dogs are the ones they distrust the most, as they will sneak up on people and bite from behind. Two men who came two weeks ago (water infiltration) said at the house they were before mine, the dog kept barking it’s head off the whole time they were there.

If I were close to you, I would be so happy play the « stranger » and practice greetings with Peggy !
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Well this was delightful! I saw a package on the front porch and had just opened the door to grab it when the masked delivery person suddenly reappeared with a second package. Eek! I had a loose poodle with me, less than a foot away, peering out the door!

I braced myself for hysterics, but all she did was sniff in his direction and wag her tail. Hallelujah. :)

Not quite the same as having a guest over, but a surprise porch stranger is good practise.
 

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"Can my dog say hello?" Is probably the friendliest way I can think of to get Peggy in the situation.

Or leaving treats in a cup out of sniff distance, and gingerly dropping in to ask the worker(s), "would it be okay if you asked my dog to sit, gave her a treat, and then have her a quick pet?"

You would be the "friendly dog lady". I'm trying to think of the best intentioned ways of manipulating the situation versus a "do this or else" mindset knowing:

1) customer service is part of the gig, "make the customer happy" without testing limits.
2) people tend to be agreeable
3) how would I want to be treated
 

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Sometimes I put mine in another room. If it is going to be a lengthy repair (like the time I had to have water damage repaired)-I usually introduce my two mini poodles (on leash) to the workmen—if they seem dog friendly. It seems to help sometimes if they know what is going on. Sometimes I sit with them in expen or gated off area. My male is more protective of me and his sister.
 
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