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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the last few days, Dixie has started this strange behavior. If my husband is the one who responds to her ringing the bell to go outside, when he goes to open the door for her, she will walk away and back into the house. Similarly, if she is waiting to be let back inside (she sits and looks at us through the glass door), and he meets her to open the door, she won't come back inside. She sits back about 5 feet away from him and will just look at him. He has tried bending down and calling her, bribing with a treat, all positive things, and she won't budge unless I come over and call her in, in which she will come with hesitation.

She lets the kids and I let her in and out of the house all the time with no issues. I asked my husband if he corrected her recently at the door that she is so hesitant to go in and out with him. He said no.

The only thing I can think is he has been very hands off with her training, until recently. And this behavior is frustrating to him. He loses patience and is frustrated. I said he's just going to have to work on it with her. It is not acceptable for him to get frustrated, give up, and walk away. This is why I have been the primary trainer. :)

What makes it even more strange is she is really affectionate with my husband. When he wakes up in the morning she runs right up to him immediately, and leans into his legs until he sits on the floor with her. She'll almost stand on her head and do a somersault as she leans into his chest, and then rolls on her back for belly rubs.

Is this behavior possibly that he hasn't done much training and she doesn't see him as "that person"? She is so sweet and submissive. And so I'm not painting the wrong picture, my husband does really love her. He has been won over. :)

Any thoughts?

She's a smart one. I'm sure she's picking up on something that I'm just not seeing.
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She may be a little anxious around him, which would explain the over-the-top affection and belly-up appeasement gestures. And she may feel he's claiming the doorway as his own. Maybe he once blocked her when she was about to pass through. Such a fleeting thing to a human, but can have great impact on a poodle.

I would have him practise running away from her in a playful way, which will encourage her to follow—out the door when it's time to go out, in the door when it's time to come in.

This sort of behaviour doesn't always come naturally to men (and some women!) but it's very effective. Much more effective than coaxing, which tends to prompt us to lean forward and actually encourage the dog to back up or retreat.

My husband felt so silly doing this sort of thing at first. His human instinct was to stomp towards Peggy when he wanted to her to come, not turn his back, and to use a firm voice rather than a playful voice: "I'm not going to reward her for ignoring me!!"

But once he saw how effective "the chase" could be, he was sold. Attending training classes together helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's a great idea! We will definitely have to try that! I think you are correct that she's maybe a little extra intimidated by him, although she seems to love him so much at the same time. And I know she is super sensitive, so maybe something slight happened that she's fixated on. I'll let you know how it goes!
 

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Great advice from PTP ! I also believe your husband inadvertently did something that she is now weary of.

Try what PTP said, or having him just step away from the door, not looking at her. He can turn sideways, or look down, or turn his back. Since he is probably taller than you, he is more imposing and intimidating, so it is best he doesn’t look directly at her when she is intimidated. These are all tips that work when you deal with an anxious dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, so he just had some success. She rang the bell, so I told him to walk out the door and call her out instead of just opening it and standing there. She first walked away when he walked up to the door to open it, but then followed him on the deck, although still a little hesitant. But we'll take it.

He waited outside until she was done and then called her on the deck, had her sit (part of her routine to come inside... And it took several prompts for him to get her to sit), and then he stepped inside and told her to come get a treat. Again, there was some hesitation, but I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. I think with time and repetition it will be ok. I just need to make sure my husband is patient and willing to do the work.

Still not sure what prompted the behavior, but she is certainly the most sensitive/intuitive dog I've ever had. We just love that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The more of think about it, you all are definitely right on that she is more intimidated by him. She has "submission peed" a few times around him. I thought she was just so excited to see him because she's wagging her tail and running towards him when it happens. A few days ago, he caught her in the middle of it, scooped her up and hurried her out the door. I wonder if that's the event that started this!
 

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The more of think about it, you all are definitely right on that she is more intimidated by him. She has "submission peed" a few times around him. I thought she was just so excited to see him because she's wagging her tail and running towards him when it happens. A few days ago, he caught her in the middle of it, scooped her up and hurried her out the door. I wonder if that's the event that started this!
Oh, that’s a real possibility ! If he was agitated, maybe even a little angry (even if he was trying to hide it), she felt it and that definitely can be the cause of her fear.

I would ask your husband to only interact with her when he is very calm and in a good mood. Also, I would not insist on obedience as long as she’s not comfortable around him. This is a situation that is easy to fix, but more easy to make worse.

Also, your husband should work on not having her do a submissive pee anymore. If he fixes this, then it will help with all the rest. It can be body posture, tone of voice, energy, looking at her or being too rigid / demanding of her. I think until things improve on that aspect, he should only do easy/fun stuff with her. The goal is to make her forget. Because once it’s become a habit, it’s a lot harder to fix. Half of the battle is to not letting behavior issues become habits.

I think you’re dealing with a very sensitive dog. I have one of those. In his case it’s generalized anxiety disorder but the result is the same : you can’t hide anything, he knows how you feel.

Keep up the good work, you’ll get there ! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for this, Dechi! I will have him back off worrying about trying to make her sit. I thought maybe that would build her confidence with him because she doesn't listen to him like she does me.

The few times she's peed around him involved him getting her up in the morning to take her out. So I don't know if it's really a submission thing or that she would get so excited when he'd let her out in the morning. But it's only happened with him. Either way, he is the common denominator.

I have seen nothing but sweetness when he greets her in the morning, but I know he is frustrated when she's had accidents around him. But he's a pretty quiet, gentle man. :)

I just want to set them both up for success!
 
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