01-09-2018, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: NW Washington State
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
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I'm really familiar with this. It tends to be an issue of the dog deciding that the space is his, and being a bit defensive of it. The telltale is when the dog is fine in the space for a while, then one day just starts being territorial.
If the dog is growling from day one, this is probably something else. Sounds like you haven't really had a problem for about a year, then this started. So, it sounds like what I'm describing.
First, the unhelpful bit. The little bark that he would give was your red flag. It meant that he viewed anyone entering that space as an intruder. He would relax once he realized they were OK, but that initial bark said, "Alert! Incoming stranger!" This would have been easier to fix if you had addressed that right away.
OK, hindsight and all that ...
The basic remedy is the same. You have to convince him that he does not own the space. I have accumulated a few tricks that can help. Not all of them work on all dogs, but usually something works.
What seems to work best is, as soon as someone enters the office, get up and leave immediately (with your dog). You only have to be gone for about 30 seconds, but it seems to work best if you go somewhere clearly away from the office (not just out in the hall). Then, come back in with the dog, but don't take him to his normal spot. Have him lay down some place he doesn't normally.
It is best if you can get up to leave the office before the bark, but if you jump up immediately after, that's OK too. But, if he ever growls or shows the least sign of not being comfortable with the "intruder", get up and leave again. This should be an immediate response. You really want to impress upon him that growling or barking leads to immediate exile. If you delay even a second or two, the lesson is weakened.
It can also help to arrange to have people in your office before you get there. The more people, the better. And, they should stick around for at least a few minutes. That way, he is coming into THEIR space, not the other way around. If you can arrange this every time you walk into the room, that would help.
You should be able to basically fix this within a couple of weeks, but should reinforce the lesson 2-3 times per week for another month or so, or whenever you start to see signs again.
Hope this helps.