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George, my 9 year old German Shepherd Dog/Border Collie mix, will make a huge fuss when my wife comes home. If he even thinks he hears her car coming, he will start barking, whining, and making lots of other noises until she comes in.

But if she is home and I come in, he'll trot over to me, sniff and lick my hand, and then be on his merry way.

Why does he makes such a fuss when she comes home? Is this something I should be concerned with and correct? If so how should I go about correcting the issue?

[more info, as requested]

  • If nobody is home when I get home, George will come to the door when I get home. I'll pet him, talk to him, and then take him out. If my wife is home, he'll be a bit more happy and excited, but he doesn't bark and make a fuss.
  • If I'm home when she comes home, George will start barking and whining and pacing the kitchen until she comes in. He'll start as soon as he hears a car that sounds like hers. He'll continue barking for a bit while she comes in and settles down.
  • Apparently if I'm not home, he doesn't do this as much when she comes home.
  • If he sees someone he knows (he spends a lot of time in the kitchen because the windows go almost to the floor), who he likes, he'll become excited and do the excited/happy routine that he does when my wife comes home.
  • If he sees someone he doesn't know or doesn't like, he'll bark and raise his hackles.
  • If we both come in at the same time, he'll come to the door, but he won't do the whole barking routine.
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    Who usually feeds him? – John Cavan Feb 9 '14 at 14:35
  • Because he got rewarded for it before, and probably still is now. I'd hazard a guess that your wife pets him, rubs him and just gives him lots of attention when she comes in the door. On a side note, lucky you, is he baking cookies or cakes? ;-) – ThomasH Feb 9 '14 at 14:40
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    Actually, I'm the one who feeds him. And it is quite the opposite. I'll pat him (and call him George) when I come home, and she usually comes in with both hands full. – hbar98 Feb 9 '14 at 14:43
  • Is she his "person"? – JoshDM Feb 9 '14 at 15:59
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    I have two dogs. One of them prefers to hang out with me; the other prefers to hang out with my wife. When my wife isn't home, he mopes around. When I'm not home, the dog who hangs out with me mopes around. – JoshDM Feb 9 '14 at 17:42
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I notice that I am a lot calmer than she is when I come home.

You mentioned this in the comments. Dogs respond a lot to our energy -- if she comes in the door and goes into a falsetto voice and greets him and puts down whatever she's carrying and pets him excitedly, he's going to learn that her car means play time is about to start. If he knows that when you come home you're going to say hello and pet him calmly, his energy when he thinks you are coming home will reflect that.

See if that applies to the other people he sees coming to the house, too -- you say he gets excited when he sees people he "likes", but what does that really mean? Does he get excited when he sees people coming who he regularly acts excited towards and they play back?

Its hard to say without seeing first hand the behavior not only of the dog but of the people as they come in, but as a general rule (and supported by your comment), dogs will act more excitedly/with higher energy if that behavior has been rewarded in the past with excitement/high energy in return.

  • I'll say that's a good bit of it.. But like you said it's hard to know without having first hand experience. I started watching more closely, and I think I come in with a lot less excitable energy than others... Not because I'm tired, but I want George to be calm and not jump all over me when I get home. – hbar98 Feb 12 '14 at 16:29
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My dog also does the same behavior but when one person is already in the house and a new person enters. We ask one of our friends who has been adopting troubled dogs for many years, who said it's a protection thing as he wouldn't even bark at the builders unless someone was already in the house. it may be why your dog doesn't bark and get excited when you and your wife are coming into the house at the same time and it has only been reinforced with your wife getting excited when someone else is already in the house, which may be why the dog gets more excited.

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George knows you want him to be calm and not jump up and go crazy. Your wife may like that and George knows with the energy you both give off. Like said in previous comments. It's not something to be corrected. He's already being extremely obedient. He's tuning into how each different person wants him to be. Seems he's very happy 😊

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Yeah I agree on the energy thing. I have a friend that has two dog's and when they see me, I get a greeting bark from one, and then she stills politely to get petted. The other one would just politely sit in front of me and put it's head upward and let me pet him . Both with waggly tales. Ny neighbors dog comes up to me, waggly tail, no barking and gets petted.

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