Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Indy Hates Guests (and A Sleepy Puppy Photoshoot)

Keith and I frequently refer to Indy as an inside joke, we love him, but others don't get it.  Indy is approaching his second birthday, and remains to be extremely defensive of his parents.  (Note, we are not that worried about him welcoming the baby, we expect that this "protection" will extend to Chirphead.)  At the PetSmart Pet Hotel, he loves the staff when we aren't there, but bark at them when we drop him off.  At the Vet, he is head-shy when examined in the room with me, but is much better when I'm not arround.

Ryan's flow chart of Indy's behavior.  
Indy is getting much better at barking at strangers while we go for walks and runs.  We try to notice the people first and then talk to him until the person has passed.  He gets praised for ignoring strangers.  The big issue is when people come into our home.

Before a guest comes to our house, we warn them that Indy doesn't like other people in our home.  (Even people he loves, like our super, will get barked at when the have to enter our home.)  We tell them that he won't bite, but he will bark a continous alarm that can be very disconcerting.  People often don't undertstand why we make Indy to be such a little brat.... until they come over and realize that we were right. Slowly Indy will calm down, and then become annoying in another way: demanding pets.  Indy requests attention from our guests in a manner that goes FAR beyond what he does when it is just me and Keith at home.  And of course, if the guest stands up Indy is likely to start barking again (but for a much shorter time.)

We are still learning how to best get Indy to accept people in our home.  The following things help the transition from barking to demanding pets go much faster:

  1. Go for a walk with guests before entering the apartment.  The apartment is terratory that must be defended, but if Indy crosses the threshold with guests he has already met and sniffed, he is less likely to freak out.  A walk around the whole block is best.  
  2. When you enter our apartment, ignore Indy.  We have noticed with strangers on the street that if they make eye contact he is more likely to start barking.  Inside, Indy will eventually calm down and start sniffing you, but try to hold off trying to pet him until he is rubbing against your leg asking for it.  
  3. Treats.  When Indy sniffs you without barking, we give him treats.  First from us (Keith and Rebecca) and then from the guest (once movements no longer freak him out.)  Giving him treats while he barks only rewards the barking behavior.  
  4. Have the Guest send Indy to Jail.  Once Indy has calmed down and is in seeking pet mode, you will likely need to stand up at some point, which will likely start another round of barking.  This past weekend we discovered that if the guest tells Indy, "Go to Jail" he LISTENED, and then got much more comfortable with these guests standing up.  This is helpful for showing that the guest is dominant.  (We would not recommend trying this before Indy has accepted you while sitting.)  
  5. Indy will forget - He may wake up in the morning and forget that you were here and that he already met you.  The good news is that each time you are "reintroduced" he will calm down MUCH faster.  
  6. Indy will remember -  The good news is that if you have visited our apartment before, Indy will remember that he likes you.  Indy has remembered people who visited us over 9 months in the past, and has gone up to the wiggling.  Combining this love with a quick walk before entering the apartment and we get a relaxing, wonderful visit.  


Indy is exhausted after guests leave.  He spends most of the day with guests seeking pets, whereas with us he will usually sleep all day.  A sleepy puppy is a lot of fun.  I wrapped Indy up in a sheet for fun, and he stayed that way for hours!  He kept stretching and then settling in a new pose as if begging me to take his picture.   

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