As you may recall, Phoebe is submissive to the N-th degree. I spent quite a bit of time guiding her towards a sense of security. The progress is apparent (i.e., she doesn’t go belly up every time someone or another dog approaches). Basically, she is the queen of her little domain: home. She has never had a chance to go running with a pack.
An Attempt to Change Her Position in the Pack
After her stint at the doggie day care /kennel she seemed to have a little attitude. With exception of one of my brothers, she barked at everyone who came to our room. She had not been there long enough to make the room ‘hers’
My father stopped by and Phoebe starting barking at him. I gave the command to stop (‘enough’), but she didn’t listen. Then I tried trick number two – I stood between her and the perceived threat (my dad). She kept barking, so he just left. It’s not like she doesn’t know him; they have spent a fair amount of time together, both on the trip and at home. Her little bark-fest was different than at home.
Back at the ol’ homestead she barks from time to time. She does those rapid strings of barks, which supposedly means she is suspects something may be wrong and wants the pack leader to (us) check things out. The meaning behind the type of bark could be true, since Phoebe will walk fast, while looking over her shoulder to make sure someone comes to the rescue. We open the door, check things out and go about our business. Phoebe stops barking and life goes on.
Barking at Family Members
Anyway, back to the hotel. My father stopped by our room, she started an incessant bark. That
type of bark that supposedly means there is an intruder. She knows my dad, so there was no reason to sound the alarm. I told her “enough,” (or word for ‘stop barking’). Typically, she stops right away, but this time she kept barking. I tried the tactic of standing between her and the ‘threat’ but continued to bark. My got tired of it and left. She did the same thing when others came to our room.
One of my brothers, who is very familiar with dogs and dog training, explained that she just finished running around with other dogs for the first time, trying to establish some sense of dominance. He assured me that she would be back on track soon. I the meantime, he suggested that I put a few pebbles in a plastic bottle, and if she barks after being told to stop then shake the bottle. It sounded like a good idea to me. Everyone said their goodbyes, so I doubted I would need it. Then Phoebe made a big mistake.
Phoebe barked at me for no apparent reason. To me that was a zero tolerance offense. I should the bottle, which scared her and then gave her what I call the alpha dog stare-down. She lasted a bit longer than usual and then averted her eyes. Alpha female established (me).
From Barking to Cowering
Fast-forward: we arrived home and Phoebe started the “protection” bark again. My step-son stopped by (he and Phoebe never met); Phoebe started barking at him, and continued barking as we walked to the kitchen. That was more than enough; I gave that pebble jar a good shake. She stopped barking and for the first time in a very long time, she cowered and walked off.
Somehow, Phoebe correlated the bottle shake with my step son instead of the barking (I think). All I know is that every time my step son came over, Phoebe would cower at the sight of him, and then would go and hide somewhere; usually in a far corner under my desk (she has never done that). That is the first time I have seen Phoebe cower at the mere sight of someone. Then Phoebe started to regress just like she did at Christmas time. I will get into that in another post.