When we adopted Dobby the Dog two years ago, we realized quickly that he does not like strangers coming in the house. This was a good thing from a home protection point of view, but not so good when we were having guests come over to hang out. We’d have to put him in another room and wait for everyone to arrive so he wouldn’t charge the door and growl/bark at our guests. Once everyone arrived we’d take him out and he’d be fine because he was only aggressive with people actually coming in the door, not those who were already inside. Wacky dog.
Two weekends ago we had people over for our neighborhood’s dinner club. I opted not to put Dobby in a separate room while the guests arrived, but instead opened the front door wide open and allowed our guests to enter via the storm door without having to ring the doorbell. The result is that Dobby wouldn’t be "triggered" by the doorbell, and if kept occupied while people entered, would not go into guard dog mode. Sure enough – it worked. While he did go to the door when he heard people entering, he didn’t bark or lunge at them.
This past weekend I decided to test him again – once again opening the front door and allowing guests coming over for game night (a raucous round of "Cards Against Humanity") to come in without ringing the bell – and once again he didn’t get triggered at all and greeted everyone warmly and sweetly.
I’m so pleased I didn’t surrender Dobby when he was initially causing us so many problems with his separation anxiety and fear aggression. He has become a very sweet, loyal and loving dog. Yes, he still has a couple issues, but they are MINOR compared to the dog we adopted two years ago.
Not only that, but he continues to show me that he is one incredibly smart dog. Since adopting him, he has learned how to sit, stay, shake his paw, play dead, sit up and beg for a treat, and (finally) to roll over. It took him a while to learn to roll over but after several months off and on training, he finally got it.
Denis and I are now trying to teach him to leave a treat sitting on his nose until we say it’s okay to eat it. In the beginning I almost lost a finger when I tried too many times in a row and he got aggravated that he wasn’t getting the treat that was so close to his mouth. But now that he knows that he WILL eventually get the treat, he patiently sits while I hold his muzzle and lay the treat on his nose. He’ll sit still for about 3 seconds before he tips his head to let me know he wants his treat.
He’s also great and so tolerant with the kids – they love on him all the time and he takes it all in. Last night the kids and I were on the sofa watching TV and Dobby jumped up and attempted to lay down with us. It’s not the biggest sofa but we made it work and he laid with us for a long time before realizing the recliner was empty and could be all his to enjoy.
Part of me wishes he had a doggy companion (we all miss Chilly), but the other part of me knows he is loving being the sole receiver of affection since he has always been a needy dog in that regard. He may not like another dog dividing our attention again.
Going back to game night this weekend, during the game he kept moving around the table, seeking attention from various game players. By the end of the night, no less than three people said that should I ever want to give him up, they’d take him. I assured them I would never be giving him up. But it’s nice to know that the behavioral work we’ve done with him has caused other people to recognize what a great dog he is.