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What do you consider appropriate?

I just walked around the corner of the house with Peggy, and my husband was standing on the driveway with his bike, wearing gloves, sunglasses, bike helmet, etc.

Peggy did a double-take and let out a surprised "BARK!" and then quickly realized who it was and melted into happy wiggles. My husband was exasperated and wondered aloud when she'd grow out of this kind of reaction.

Uh oh.

I think her response was actually pretty normal: She's never walked around the corner before and seen a cyclist in our driveway. She didn't fall to pieces or bark excessively. She was startled, gave an alert, and then immediately relaxed.

Keep in mind, we've had zero social visitors in 8 months, so we've pretty much given up on desensitizing her to the sudden appearance of people on our property. And I think just waiting for Peggy to outgrow her temperament is going to lead to disappointment.

Thoughts?

I tend to think this is a case of big dogs not getting away with the same things as little dogs. When Gracie reacted with a startled squawk, she was met with "Awwwwwww."

But that doesn't mean I won't work on it if warranted. We could take turns dressing up in funny costumes! Might be kinda fun.
 

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I'm used to horses. I'm surprised when they DON'T startle. I'm just pleased when the extent of the reaction is a step sideways followed by a snort.
One of the reasons I have a dog is to discourage intruders. Barking tends to do that. I think Peggy's reaction is fine. She alerted. She did not attempt to shred the intruder. She did not run away in a panic. She calmed down when she she realized she made a mistake and there wasn't actually an intruder.
 

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I think that sounds normal. If it was something that she sees all the time it would be different. She is probably always going to be a bit hyper vigilant. But that seems within the range of acceptable dog behavior.
 

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She is a dog... Sounds normal.

Sometimes I catch myself expecting Annie to respond perfectly to everything. But she is a dog in an imperfect, unpredictable, inexplicable human world. Best I can hope for is when something takes her by surprise, she recovers quickly. I will never teach her NOT to be surprised by things. Like last week, when she decided our lawn mowing guy needed barking at. She has seen him from the porch tons, and never alerts to him (why would you want to know that there is a strange man running heavy equipment in your yard? He isnt a squirrel). But she happened to see him from a window that is normally covered and THAT was worth barking for (a bunch). But - when I took her outside, she went back to her normal self, and then didnt bark again at him out the window. So still a dog, but as good as I can expect.

If she barked like that, then continued to be a bit suspicious after understanding who it was? Less desirable- but still in the range of normal dog (right, Trixie?). If she didnt recover, and continued barking even after he said hi- definite cause for concern.

Sounds like she had great recovery - exactly what you have been working so hard for.
 

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If it makes you feel any better, Misha still barks at his nemesis the Flashing Green Light across the street every single night. It frustrates me to no end. He will constantly ask to go outside late at night but I know that if I let him out, he will just go stand by the gate and bark at the light! He isn't even a barky dog. But the green light is his weakness. The other night he started barking furiously, much more than his normal bark. I went out to check what it was and the flashing light was blue! That was much worse than green. Every time he barks, I go out, check on the light, tell him it's alright, and take him inside. It does nothing. The light must be evil.

There are no perfect dogs. Peggy has come a long way and you should be very proud of her.
 

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I shared all your responses with my husband, and he quickly came around. :)

I think he was just feeling grumpy after encountering a parking lot full of skateboarders last night while returning to the car after a walk. He had no choice but to walk straight through the mess with Peggy.

Did I mention she's never seen a skateboard before??

But even then, she immediately calmed down in the car, while still in the parking lot, which I declare a win. And yes, skateboards have now been added to Peggy's "continuing education" list.
 

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Best I can hope for is when something takes her by surprise, she recovers quickly. I will never teach her NOT to be surprised by things.
Yes! Exactly this!

I could be the most chill human on earth, but if someone jumped out and shrieked "Boo!" I'd jump a mile.

Normal.

If I kept rocking in the fetal position for an hour after, that would be a problem. But if I just had a good laugh while my heart rate slowed back down, all good.

I think we do often expect too much from our dogs. Especially adolescents. It's easy most days to forget that Peggy's still maturing and that so much of the world is still brand new.
 

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This is a great thread! Thank you PTP!
I was wondering this myself. Bobby is pretty relaxed about most things but once I awhile he will startle or get weirded out about something. It seems appropriate and he definitely recovers quickly, that is, except for the man that walks our neighborhood who is tall, wears a huge white hat with sunglasses and is a bit hunched over. Bobby does not like him and growls. I happen to know he’s a nice guy so I feel bad. I went home and put on a big white hat and and sunglasses with the hope that this will help. All that to say, most things are all good in Bobby’s eyes but once in awhile he does startle or get nervous about things. I SO agree that we expect our dogs to be perfect. Maybe we can look at it that we should train our dogs to be the best they can be knowing, because they are living creatures with their own personalities, that they won’t be perfect, just the best they can be with our help. That’s all we expect from ourselves and others so it should be same with our doggies. That would take a lot of pressure off of us and our dogs. 😊
 

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Last night Normie gave one loud sharp bark when I shut the bathroom door after my shower.

Surely he blushed under all that poodle fur when he realized it was me.
 

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Sounds pretty normal plus she had a quick recovery which is good!

Last night I was walking through a dark side street in a completely different route that we haven’t walked down before. It was going okay until we were about halfway down when she heard rattling, moaning and muttering and immediately was on alert (heck, so was I!) and then a person experiencing homelessness stood up behind us. He had a flashlight shining on us asking what we were doing and she barked once and then watched me for a command. I would think that is a normal response because it startled me and had my heart racing pretty good for a few minutes! We walked rather quickly out of there and made a mental note to avoid exploring in this area of town after dark - I was waiting for curb side pick up from a restaurant that was going to be an hour and a half before it was ready.
 

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Sounds pretty normal plus she had a quick recovery which is good!

Last night I was walking through a dark side street in a completely different route that we haven’t walked down before. It was going okay until we were about halfway down when she heard rattling, moaning and muttering and immediately was on alert (heck, so was I!) and then a person experiencing homelessness stood up behind us. He had a flashlight shining on us asking what we were doing and she barked once and then watched me for a command. I would think that is a normal response because it startled me and had my heart racing pretty good for a few minutes! We walked rather quickly out of there and made a mental note to avoid exploring in this area of town after dark - I was waiting for curb side pick up from a restaurant that was going to be an hour and a half before it was ready.
Okay, THAT is impressive!

Nighttime? Strange sounds? Strange person? Peggy would have absolutely flipped out. And so would every dog I've ever known.
 

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Just had another fun one when our neighbour emerged from the bushes between our houses. This wasn't just an alert bark either. Hysterics until she got close enough to see or smell her friend.

And then it was just pure excitement until she could reach him, at which point she sat in front of him, nose up to the sky, tongue hanging out, while he pet her. Meanwhile, I was bright red and sweating with embarrassment.

I think I've decided my personal tolerance level is an alert bark, at which point I want her looking to me for direction: "You see that guy? Friend or foe?"

Just need to figure out how to accomplish that with so little opportunity for socialization on our property. She doesn't react that way when she sees strangers out and about.
 

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Oh sweet Peggy!!!! Poor baby.

Sounds like Norman right now!!! I am curious too.. is it the social distancing??
Norman all of a sudden is on high alert some days. Will randomly bark when someone walks through the door as if he hadn’t JUST seen them walk out. And it’s family.
He all of a sudden now hates doorbells and airplanes?? LOL

I’m thinking personally it’s the social distancing too. He’s not active in town where he’s seeing people as often as he used to.
Originally, LOVED to see people while he road in the car. Now? Bark bark bark at ANYONE who comes near the car.

I’m thinking I need to get out more with him and Loki, who is learning from his bro to bark for fun.

I hope Peggy gets better too with just more social interaction, when possible!!
 

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Galen is now going through a period where he barks and retreats from people he thinks look odd. What defines odd?
Carrying a lawn chair
Carrying a small child
Riding in a pram (a baby)
Throwing unusually large frisbees

I feel like I should just take him downtown and hang out in a park all afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Oh sweet Peggy!!!! Poor baby.

Sounds like Norman right now!!! I am curious too.. is it the social distancing??
Norman all of a sudden is on high alert some days. Will randomly bark when someone walks through the door as if he hadn’t JUST seen them walk out. And it’s family.
He all of a sudden now hates doorbells and airplanes?? LOL

I’m thinking personally it’s the social distancing too. He’s not active in town where he’s seeing people as often as he used to.
Originally, LOVED to see people while he road in the car. Now? Bark bark bark at ANYONE who comes near the car.

I’m thinking I need to get out more with him and Loki, who is learning from his bro to bark for fun.

I hope Peggy gets better too with just more social interaction, when possible!!
I think it's definitely set us back. The boredom alone has been a big factor. Her number 1 hobby is now listening for weird noises and scanning the horizon for intruders. She would have a blast being on bark patrol with Norman and Lokie!

I'm counting down the days until Labour Day. As soon as the tourists empty out, we can at least resume some of our normal activities. Right now it's way too hard to social distance let alone maintain enough space to keep her under threshold.
 

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Galen is now going through a period where he barks and retreats from people he thinks look odd. What defines odd?
Carrying a lawn chair
Carrying a small child
Riding in a pram (a baby)
Throwing unusually large frisbees

I feel like I should just take him downtown and hang out in a park all afternoon.
Lol. Aw....

I'll be honest — I kinda miss those fear periods when Peggy would actually retreat. At least then I could stand between her and the horrifying person and demonstrate that everything's okay.

Have you seen a change in Galen since he lost his doggy mentor? I imagine that's been a little disorienting for him.
 
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