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 Post subject: Behaving around guests
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:34 am 
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Hi all!
My husband and I adopted a cute little 2-3 year old black cocker spaniel about six months ago. We never really considered adopting a cocker when we were looking (mainly because of all the stories I hear about their health issues) but when we met this guy (Carlos) we were IN LOVE.

From what we know, he didn't have a happy beginning, but he is surprisingly friendly and well behaved considering how neglected he was in his early days. We've had to work with him in regards to his nervousness around strangers, but he has improved very quickly. For the most part, he is well-behaved on walks, in public places, or in any environment that is strange to him/not his own.

At home, its a different story. He is a relaxed, easy-going dog around my husband and me, but once a stranger has invaded his space, he freaks out. Its mainly a lot of nervous barking (when we first brought him home he growled at a friend, but he hasn't done that since his first few weeks with us), and he calms down quickly once our guests have a seat.

We want him to be able to relax when we have people over, so I was wondering if anyone had some tips for dealing with this kind of behavior. Most of our friends are completely understanding, but his barking can reach frantic levels that are understandably unnerving (both to our guests, and to my husband and me). Our place is small, so we really don't entertain that much, so it can be hard to 'practice' with him, but we try to expose him to new people and situations as much as possible.

Any helpful hints or tips?

Also, he is crate-trained, but its not really helpful to send him there, as the crate is in the living-room (in the midst of all the action)


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 Post subject: Re: Behaving around guests
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:30 pm 
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Hi! Welcome to the forum. Carlos is a cutie!

Do you think his barking is based on fear? Have you tried having your guests give Carlos a treat when they arrive and maybe throughout the evening when he is quiet for even a second? Something that is extra special that he doesn't get otherwise - only when new people or guests come over (like tiny pieces of chicken, if he can have it, or hot dog). He may start to associate new people/guests = chicken! It might take a little while, but if you're consistent, you should see some good results.

Or how about a special toy that comes out only with guests? A really favorite ball or bully stick or something like that. Unless he guards his toys and is possessive about them, he might be able to make the same association that guests = special toy.

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Emma - 6/23/10 -
Waylon (non-cocker, terrorist) 2/1/01 -

Shiloh - 4/5/95 - 5/23/11 RIP, sweet girl


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 Post subject: Re: Behaving around guests
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:03 pm 
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Will he be quiet in his crate? What happens if you put him there before people come in?

I've done that with fosters, and just left them in the crate, so they could see and hear people all around and experience it being safe for them.

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Chris
Mom to
Cricket, home 1-29-2012 - 3-29-2017, 5 yrs, 2 mo of Love
Sophie, 10-22-2015, home 9/19/15-
---------------------------------------
Maggie Mae: home 9/1/2014 - 3/31/2015, 7 mo of Love
Feather: 3/23/1994 - 11/17/2011, 17 yrs, 8 mo of Love


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 Post subject: Re: Behaving around guests
PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 12:07 pm 
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I'm with Tina. Good things happen when guest arrive.

ETA: the above would also allow him to used to visitors

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Abby (B&W) 3/25/09
Ava (B&T) 3/25/09


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 Post subject: Re: Behaving around guests
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:11 pm 
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All good suggestions. I reccommend that guests throw treats on the ground first.


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