Thursday, March 31, 2016

Head of Security

In the week since I've moved into my house, I've had to think about things I never had to think about in my apartment: buying a lawn mower, trash pick up, and whether to get a security system.

Growing up, I never lived in a home with a security system, so I'd never really considered getting one. I wouldn't have bought my house if I didn't think it was in a safe area, but when a representative from a security company stopped by to give me information about their new homeowner program I wasn't sure what to do. My mom wouldn't give me advice. My dad wouldn't give me advice (although I could kind of tell he wanted to say you should do it from the tone in his voice).

So, Barley and I did what we do best--we "cased the joint." This time instead of studying every yard for signs of dogs and e-fences, we studied them for security yard signs. The majority of our neighbors seem to have them. I decided to take the plunge and called my rep.

The installation happened this week and to say it was hard on Barley would be an understatement.

We can't all be as chill as this guy, I guess.

I had plans to leave work a few minutes early and get her out for a quick walk before the installer came. I left work 15 minutes later than usual. I had planned to do some relaxation games in the living room while we waited for the installer to arrive. He called to say he finished the previous job early and could come immediately. He made it to the house before I did. Sigh.

The guy was very nice and gave me a few minutes to get Barley out for a bathroom break before he came in. I kept her on her leash and he gave her her space. I knew I needed to be in the room to answer questions and I knew Barley would have a conniption fit if I left her in her crate, so I grabbed a pocket full of treats and we did our relaxation exercises while the guy worked. He chatted with me--we'd both lived in the same area of Virginia and had the same area code for our cell phones--and I thought he was completely pleasant.

Barley wasn't so sure. If I stopped rewarding her calm behavior for too long, she'd sit up and I could feel a low rumble going all the way up the leash. The installer would talk to her and she'd tilt her head at him, but kept her ears perked and tail still. I moved her bed and had her do some "mat" work (one real mat was in the car from agility class and the other is lost somewhere in the abyss of things to be unpacked). She relaxed a little.

Then the alarm system started beeping as it started its setup. Barley continued to work with me, but the little bit of relaxed behavior she'd given me was gone. She was read to pop up at a moment's notice.

The installer had to walk past us to put sensors in the kitchen, so I repositioned myself to make it easier for Barley to stay focused on me. He passed us once and she was interested, but looked back to me for a treat. He passed by a second time and she did the same. On his third pass, he asked me a question and as I went to answer--instead of praising Barley for her good down--Barley popped up and nipped. Luckily, I had her on a short leash for that very reason and the guy never stopped moving while asking his question, so all she got was air and the guy's back was turned so he didn't even seem to notice, but I was mortified.

I've always wondered if Barley would protect me if necessary. I assumed she would from behavior on walks when she's known I was a little on edge. She's also highly skilled in the arts of intimidation when people have food that she wants, so I know she has an intense mode.

You WILL give me pizza crust.

But I've worked hard to make sure Barley has never felt like she was in a position where she had to protect me and our training has made her far more relaxed than she used to be.

The mail carrier brought mail all the way up to the front step and Barley didn't even notice.

It seems that Barley wanted to give me a little reminder that no matter how much technology I install, she'll always be head of security around here. Message received.

Be sure to visit all of the great blogs joining in the Barks and Bytes blog hop hosted by Heart like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.

Heart Like a Dog


  1. Luke believes he is our head of security as well. Since we are in such a rural area, electronic security systems are rare around here. But being kind of secluded in our new home, I feel better knowing Luke is here to put up a fuss when anyone approaches. I just want him to learn to like the people I want him to like! We haven't progressed yet to bringing him out on a leash, but I hope to get to that point someday!
    Jan, Wag n Woof Pets

    1. When I'm home and Barley's out of her crate, I have no real worries about anybody trying to come in--if they're willing to come in with the fuss Barley puts up, they'd be willing to come in with the alarm set, too, but since most of the time if I'm gone, Barley's also gone, it seemed like a good idea :)

      Thankfully Barley likes almost all of the people I like and she'll tolerate the others if there are plenty of snacks involved!

  2. Delilah is very protective. When they came to spray the yard last Friday she and I were out walking. As we approached he house he was getting set up so we went calmly in and slowly I worked her closer until she could sniff him. All was well.

    BUT when he got to the back of the house, she lost her sh*t. She was jumping up and ferocious at the window. I had all I could do to calm her down.

    They are certainly full of surprises, aren't they? Glad he had his back to you and she only got air.

    1. They are full of surprises! Barley usually loves all people unless she knows I'm nervous, so I don't know why this guy set her off (unless it was just the beeping noises making her crazy), but I'm glad it didn't end up worse, too. I'm sure she was just offering a correction and would have only been a nip and not anything worse, but you never want your dog to nip people, either.