Everyone has been so helpful in the past, so I thought I would post this here and see if anyone has any thoughts on this new matter.
Riley is settling well, and he is a really good dog 95% of the time. However, he is still relatively fearful and shy, and not very confident. He is getting better all the time though -- loud noises don't bother him much and he is getting really used to traffic when we're outside. When he sees people and other dogs on our walks, he is fine.
However, we have recently discovered that he goes INSANE when strangers come to our house. We've had about 10 or 12 different people over to our home since we got him (including friends, both male and female, our trainer, dog walker, landlords, etc.), and he's never had any issue. However, last week we had a home inspector come in and Riley went NUTS. Same thing when the electrician came on Friday.
He was very aggressive towards both these men. And I mean -- VERY. Not exaggerating, he was growling, barking, lunging, -- it was like when you see 'junk yard dogs' on TV, and you just know that if it wasn't for the chainlink fence they would be taking someone DOWN. That was Riley. It was very scary. I believe if he'd been unleashed he would have bitten them. We kept him leashed and got him out of the house for as much of the time as possible.
We tried getting them to feed him treats and it worked SORT OF. He would be calm and take the treats (he's VERY food-motivated), but as soon as they went back to their work he went nuts again.
I KNOW this is fear based, and I guess he thinks he is protecting the house or me or both, but obviously it's quite bad. I'm nervous about having even our friends over now (especially ones Riley hasn't met yet), and obviously I'm worried that he'll bite someone at some point.
Is there anything we can do to work on this issue? Is there any chance it will just go away (we're in the process of buying our house, so we've had more 'workman' type people over than normal -- the electrician is coming again on Friday but after that I'm sure it'll be months before we have another genuine stranger come over ) -- is it possible that as he grows in confidence he would naturally get over this issue? Or is there some kind of conditioning we can do to help him adjust to these situations? He already has met most of our friends so it would be hard to find a 'stranger' to help him practice with.
We are meeting with our trainer this week to discuss some options, but I just wondered if anyone here has dealt with this issue. Poor Riley -- I know he's terrified, but we CAN'T have him behave this way.