So we’ve had a new cleaning lady for a few weeks now:
- The first week she was here, Spencer barked a lot from our hideout in the living room.
- The second week, we organized an off-property encounter. It went well at first and then something spooked him, and he started barking, so I took him back to the house and closed him in the living room. He didn’t bark when she came into the house with me, so he seemed to recognize that I had admitted her.
- The last time she came, it was raining too much to do an outside meeting again, and Spencer barked a fair amount at the living room door.
- I counted on organizing another meeting today but we were foiled by one of the neighbors who set up shop in the passageway to trim the very large hedge. I knew that would scare Spencer, so there was no point in trying to take him out. However, things are going great. He barked a little when Rosa came in the house, but is mostly sleeping and undisturbed by all the noise she’s making.
What has changed? First of all, we have been working on his reaction to the doorbell. Every night when Greg comes home, we do a simulation that it’s a stranger, trying to make it as realistic as possible. That makes the doorbell less scary.
Second, now that Spencer is calmer when the doorbell rings, we are starting to put him in a sit-stay or down-stay while I go to the door and let in the stranger.
So this means that when Rosa came in after ringing the doorbell, Spencer was at a much lower level of excitation than in the past.
Then I think he recognized her voice and smell and certainly the fact that I was chatting pleasantly with her.
He barked a little bit when she came in, but quickly quieted down, even before I went into the living room where he was contained. I gave him his lunch just after her arrival, and the routine of doing tricks to earn his kibble seems to have helped signal normality to him.
He actually slept most of the time she was here…right up until the vacuum got very near the living room door and the he started barking at the door to scare it away. He stayed a bit reactive after that, but less than in the past.