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D2003-22

Dear Daisy Dog

Whenever we visit my daughter, her Labrador retriever Lucky barks at my husband and growls threateningly. It’s worse when my husband wears work clothes.

Later in the day, Lucky plays with my husband as if he were his best friend. What do you think the problem is?

Daisy Responds

Lucky sounds like my brother Jack, who takes a step back and barks at people when he’s afraid of them. I wonder if Lucky might be afraid of your husband when you arrive, even though he doesn’t seem to be later.

We dogs sometimes fear people in work clothes and uniforms because uniformed people – like letter carriers and delivery people – arrive at our homes unannounced and leave quickly, without bothering to get to know us. Our perception is that barking at such people scares them away, so we persist in the behavior.

The next time you visit your daughter, suggest that your husband announce his arrival by saying cheerfully, “Lucky, I’m here, and I have a treat for you!” Your husband should then offer Lucky an especially yummy doggie treat.

We dogs are fearful of people with loud voices, so your husband should speak in a gentle, soothing voice. And he should kneel because we are less threatened by people who don’t tower over us.

It’s also possible that Lucky can clearly see your husband’s uniform, but not his face. You might suggest to your daughter that Lucky’s veterinarian examine his eyes to determine if limited vision is part of the problem.

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