Why does my dog make a fuss when my wife comes home?

  • 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.

    Who usually feeds him?

    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? ;-)

    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.

    Is she his "person"?

    JoshDM, please explain. I had adopted him and had him for 5 years before I met my wife. Though I notice that I am a lot calmer than she is when I come home.

    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.

    @Chad, thanks. My name is also Chad, so it was kinda funny seeing that you edited it.

    @irrational John, I'll do that when I get home from work. And I only have the one dog, George.

    Could you edit your original question and provide a little more information about how George behaves before you enter your house? Also, how does George behave when your wife enters the house? How does George behave when someone other than you or your wife arrives and enters the house? (Deleted & reposted comment to edit it. Sorry I didn't get it right the first time. I have no idea why I started referring to "Max".)

    @irrationalJohn - What detail are you missing... these seem to be adequately described?

    @Chad I am not seeing it. hbar98 describes how George behaves when his wife approaches the house, but not the behavior when she enters. He describes how George behaves when he enters the house, but not that when he approaches (drives up). And I did not see a description of how George behaves with people other than hbar98 or his wife.

  • PeterL

    PeterL Correct answer

    7 years ago

    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.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM