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Hi friends! As many of you know, I'm getting ready to bring home our first standard poodle puppy in the fall and am very excited. I've made lists upon lists and am watching/reading plenty of dog training books and videos. There's one thing (and I'm sure not the last thing) that I'm not sure how to approach and wanted to see what advice folks here had.

We have a lovely neighbor whom we share a fence line with who has two adorable papillons. I have a great relationship with our neighbor but unfortunately her dogs are a bit reactive. They bark at people, especially children, and are incredibly dog reactive. They generally bark at me outside when we're in our front yards (no fence) at first and then settle down, but still aren't interested in being pet. If they are in her backyard and we are in our backyard, they bark at us through the fence. The neighbor does the best she can to settle them down and frequently calls them back into the house if they're going too crazy. The one time we had them inside our house for about 30 minutes (because the neighbor had workers in her house for an issue), they huddled together at the front door - didn't bark but also didn't move and obviously didn't want to be pet so we left them alone so as not to stress them out. Obviously I would prefer that my neighbor double down on training and get their reactivity under control but I understand that it's tough with older dogs in established patterns.

So my concern is obviously when we bring home a puppy in a few months. I'm worried about the papillons regularly barking at the puppy through the fence and either a) stressing the puppy out and/or b) encouraging the puppy to bark frequently as well. It wouldn't be something that happens all the time. My neighbor doesn't leave her dogs outside all the time - really only when they're doing their business or if they're hanging outside with her. But it seems like a likely enough regular occurrence that I'm concerned about how to approach it.

Would it be worth trying to introduce the puppy to the papillons, even though they're often dog reactive? Is there a way to do that safely? Perhaps in our backyard instead of theirs (to get them off their "home turf")? But I of course don't want to scare my puppy or give him/her a bad experience. Instead should I just keep them apart as much as possible by trying to manage their outdoor, through the fence interactions (by just not be outside at the same time, at least for awhile, and/or training through the barking)? The ideal would be for them to tolerate each other enough to hang out (and one day be able to pet sit for each other!), but at this point I would just take being able to be outside at the same time without crazy barking!

I've spoken to my neighbor about her dogs many times and I don't think she would be opposed to additional training but I also just think she's relatively resigned to their bad behavior. And I certainly don't want to try to push something on her and impact our good relationship by being judgmental about her dogs.

Appreciate any recommendations you guys might have on how I can best set my puppy up for success in what might be an occasionally challenging environment. Thank you!
 

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Others will have different perspectives on this, but I'd probably just focus on teaching my puppy to ignore them. Treat them as background noise, like a loud lawnmower or jet rumbling overhead—something that puppy will need to be exposed to as part of that important early socialization period, but in a positive way.

So bark! bark! bark! through the fence = yummy treats and playtime with my human!

I have no interest in encouraging Peggy to engage with reactive dogs, and would actually prefer she just avoid them altogether and look to me.

There's also the massive size difference to consider. I've had two trainers in the past year warn me about letting larger boisterous dogs interact with toy breeds. Injuries (or worse) can happen in a blink.

If your puppy is enrolled in a good puppy class and then some follow-up obedience, that's probably a better, safer approach to socialization than spending time with those two. Bonus: If you find a trainer you love, you can recommend them to your neighbour, too.
 

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Others will have different perspectives on this, but I'd probably just focus on teaching my puppy to ignore them. Treat them as background noise, like a loud lawnmower or jet rumbling overhead—something that puppy will need to be exposed to as part of that important early socialization period, but in a positive way.

So bark! bark! bark! through the fence = yummy treats and playtime with my human!

I have no interest in encouraging Peggy to engage with reactive dogs, and would actually prefer she just avoid them altogether and look to me.

There's also the massive size difference to consider. I've had two trainers in the past year warn me about letting larger boisterous dogs interact with toy breeds. Injuries (or worse) can happen in a blink.

If your puppy is enrolled in a good puppy class and then some follow-up obedience, that's probably a better, safer approach to socialization than spending time with those two. Bonus: If you find a trainer you love, you can recommend them to your neighbour, too.
Solid advice!

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Well, my neighborhood is full of reactive dogs that bark. The dachshund in back of us, the golden 2 houses down, etc. My dogs bark as well, but I control the situation. My current dogs rarely interact with other dogs...Jasper would be fine, but Miracle would be unpredictable. What I did find with my previous dogs was that there was less reactivity between dogs when they got to interact. Maybe if your new pup got to spend some time with these other dogs, they might bark less at your specific dog.
 

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We have one yappy aggressive little dog which lives behind us, with two fences between us and him. I had similar worries (and honestly, did not want to bring a puppy near him), but this is really good advice.
We have an annoying little yapper behind us. We spent a lot of time working with Charlie and rewarding him for not reacting. Now it is hilarious to see him encounter a little terror on the sidewalk, and see him look (way) down from his 30" shoulder height with silent scorn, turn his back and strut away.

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