My Dog Hates the Housekeeper

The dog, she is funny.

When we brought her home from the rescue, she was the shyest, sweetest li’l thing you’ve ever seen. She just sat on my daughters’ laps in the backseat and looked at us with those big dark saucers as if to say, What on EARTH is happening to me, and WHERE am I going NOW?

You see, we got her from a rescue. She was turned in as a stray so we have no background on her whatsoever. All we know is, she was picked up at a rescue in Philly and brought back to foster care, where she stayed approximately 12 hours before we met her and took her home. I can only imagine what she might have been through before that.

She didn’t make a peep the whole way home. On our way, we took her to the pet store to stock up on essentials. She greeted two other dogs with curiosity, but never barked or whined or cried.

We brought her home and immediately drenched her with the hose. (With our history of allergies, we didn’t dare bring her in the house without getting her nice and squeaky clean.)

She just stood there and looked at us. She didn’t try to get away. She didn’t bark. She didn’t object in the least.

The first night home, we put her in a crate. We have no idea if she’d been crate trained or anything trained, but we knew that we didn’t want a brand new dog running loose in our house, so we crated her. She didn’t whine or cry or bark or paw at the cage. She just curled up and went to sleep.

For the first few days we had her, she didn’t bark, she didn’t get on furniture, she didn’t jump on people, she didn’t even try to go upstairs.

We thought we were golden.

We were such unseasoned pet owners. Little did we know . . .


Then one day, it all changed.

Actually, it happened gradually. At first it was a few yips here and there when a stranger appeared at our front door. Then she started growling at certain persons for no apparent reason. Now she barks at anything that MOVES outside.

Half the time I think she’s barking at a fly because there is NOTHING out there. Forget it when the mailman comes to the door. You’d think we had been invaded by aliens the way she freaks out.

But that is bearable. I mean, all dogs bark at strangers, right?

Until we discovered . . .

My dog hates the housekeeper.

Now THIS is a problem. Because my house keeper? She’s not going anywhere. Ohhhhh, NO.

The day the housekeeper comes is the best day of the entire week. It’s like getting a Christmas present every time she comes.

The housekeeper is staying.

If one of them has to go, it is NOT going to be the housekeeper.

Savannah, however, is unfazed by my warnings.

She growls every time she gets a glimpse of my housekeeper, and if they are in the same room together, she barks incessantly.

In what I thought was a stroke of brilliance, I offered my housekeeper some of Savannah’s favorite doggie treats to use to try to win her over, but she wouldn’t even take them.

In fact, she ran behind me by means of escape, and then turned around and punctuated her statement with a couple more vicious barks, as if to suggest that our attempts at bribery were highly insulting.

This went on for hours today, and it is the third time the housekeeper has been here since Savannah joined our family.

Eventually she will get over this, right??

How can she have such a strong aversion to one particular person???

She’s such a lovable little pooch 98% of the time. I mean, look at this face.

Savannah seems to be trying to make up for that first week of perfect behavior. It’s like we flipped a switch and now we can’t turn her off.

I’m begging you, oh wise internets. What can be done about this yippie dog??? Do you have some wisdom to offer? I’m all ears.

***We absolutely love and adore this little girl, and she truly isn’t going anywhere. But I think we have some training to do . . . ***

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49 Responses

  1. Fill a can with coins. Every time she barks at the housekeeper, shake it vigorously(and LOUDLY) and say “NO”. Or have a squirt bottle ready. If she stops, be ready with a treat. It will take some time, but it does work.

    1. Oooh we used to do that with the cat! Good idea. I will try the coins. I don’t want her to be scared of water, b/c we bathe her so often. I don’t want her to associate that with discipline. But the coins could work…

  2. My dog is deathly afraid of the vacuum cleaner!! And he barks at flies AND the mailman. Any mailman. We can be on walks and he’ll see the postal truck and go crazy. Who knows what gets into the minds of our furry friends. It could be that Savannah doesn’t like the vacuum cleaner and takes it out on the housekeeper by telling her off? LOL Maybe someone out there can shed some light. I am so curious as to how you will solve this problem! 🙂

      1. oh HAHA! Your comment system is the bomb! just responded via email. Thanks Jo-Lynne — just launched the new me.

  3. Could it be that she associates her with the vacuum cleaner and hates the vacuum? That’s the problem I had with one house. The dog got to the point he didn’t bark all the time but would sit and watch me the whole time.

    1. Could be… I dunno. I think it may be more because she acts like an owner the way she is all throughout our house, and all? So Savannah is protecting our turf, in a way? B/c she doesn’t act like the vacuum bothers her at all.

  4. She is adorable which must make it hard to get mad at her. It may just be a puppy thing or an adjustment to a new home. We had a puppy like that who would bark at everyone outside our family. He even barked at my husband (boyfriend at the time). We took him to the obedience class they have at petco and they did a great job teaching him.

    1. Yeah, she is impossible to be mad at! LOL. We have been considering obedience classes. More b/c the way she jumps on us and won’t obey basic commands, lol. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. 🙂

      1. We have a dog trainer and behaviorist who does NOT approve of the training at petco, petsmart, etc. I don’t know what exactly he doesn’t like about it, but just a caution to research what they do and what other options there might be. He says dogs have to be leash trained before they’re trained off-leash (i.e. always keep the leash on her so you can pick it up and tug to correct bad behavior.) He also has us crate our dog for “time-out” every now and then when he gets too rowdy and leash-tugging isn’t effective (don’t say a word, just lead her to her crate, which she knows to be a safe space, HER space, and leave her til she can be cool). i’m no expert, so obviously don’t take any of this as gospel. Dogs who know they’re NOT the alpha look to the alpha when strangers are around to see how to behave. ideally, she’ll learn that YOU (and your husband and kids) are the boss, and when you’re calm and cool she will be too. Sometimes it’s even more stressful than kids since you can’t reason with a dog!

  5. Maybe the housekeeper looks, or more likely for a dog, smells like someone who mistreated her in some way. Maybe assuring her that it is ok would help? I mean it would have to happen dozens of times. Show the dog that you think the housekeeper is a safe person by hugging her in front of the dog. Or something like that.

    Short of that, maybe just keeping her away from the housekeeper. Go out for walks, or something that the dogs likes. So every time the housekeeper shows up, something fun happens to the dog. Maybe after enough times, the dog will start associating her coming with something fun. Again, I’m sure it would take dozens of times to override whatever she’s feeling right now.

    Good luck!

    1. What a cute dog! I agree with Tammy….there may be some reason why Savannah associates something not good with your housekeeper (no fault of hers!) Good ideas, Tammy!

  6. Please, do not spray her with water or shake a can of coins at her. This will only scare her and make the problem worse. She is afraid of the housekeeper, mailman, and any other person she feels is a stranger and she is protecting you and her new home. Fear easily turns to aggression and your little dog may become even more aggressive and become a biter. You have to make her understand that you are in charge and you will protect her. Before the housekeeper arrives, take her on a nice long walk to expend any nervous energy. Keep her on the leash when the housekeeper comes to the door. Keep her by your side as you open the door and then have her sit. If she growls, quickly jerk the leash and tell her “no” firmly. Not too hard, just enough to get her attention. If she gets up, calmy place her back in the sit position. Don’t yell at her, be calm but assertive. No treats, she probably won’t take them from anyone at this point. When the housekeeper is there, keep her on the leash with you. The housekeeper should ignore her. It will take a while, but she will get the message if you are consistent. Check out Cesar Milan’s books and his “Dog Whisperer” show on NatGeo, and ask your vet for the name of a good trainer. Good luck.

    1. Very interesting, Victoria. Thank you. She does not sit very well on command. We are working on that. I have the Dog Behavior Answer Book and I was reading that this morning. I like the philosophy of the book, though, that they are basically always looking for approval so give them affection when they do what you want and ignore them when they don’t. For her, this is definitely true. She’s such a love bug.

      It sounds like we need to work on the basics first – like sitting and staying. I was doing the sitting before the housekeeper got here, and she was starting to get it. I know it will take a while. I think obedience classes are probably in order, especially since the kids try to teach her to sit and they probably confuse her.

      I never thought of putting her on the leash. I will try that next week.

      At this point it is more comical than bothersome, but I definitely want her to be comfortable around the housekeeper.

      1. She’s a rescue, and you want her to feel secure and that her “pack leader” is in control. She’s not sure how to behave when someone comes to the door, and the leash and the sit will let her know what’s expected of her. The walking beforehand is just to tire her out so she can focus, not really to give her more attention. Practice with her by having a friend come to the door a few times a day and she’ll pick it up even faster. She does want to please you, but she has to know what you want from her first. The leash will immediately let her know she doesn’t have to be in charge. When we are training a new puppy, they are leashed and they drag it around with them all day for at least a month or two.

        Obedience classes are great, and they will teach you how to work with her, but they won’t really help with specific problems like this. I learned this technique years ago from a trainer that we called to our house after one of our dogs bit a repairman. Love your blog!

    2. Victoria, this is what my trusted and respected vet recommended. It has worked with my dog, and others as well. You have great advice as well. But sometimes they need that negative feedback. By doing all that before the housekeeper arrives, she is winning because she will figure out that she gets *more* attention.

      1. I can see both sides of this, but since she is a rescue, and I have no idea what her life has been like, I’d rather err on the side of going gentle with the training. And she isn’t being bad, she is just obviously being her doggie self, and trying to defend her turf. I think it is just that the housekeeper comes in like she owns the place, and the dog is like WHATTT???? LOL!!

    3. Victoria just said everything I was going to say. If you offer her treats, she’s getting a reward for behavior you want her to stop. Definitely read Cesar Milan’s books.

  7. My dog barks to tell me that a neighbor has opened or shut their car door, driving on the street, whatever. He has gotten better now that he’s 13. My parents used a spray bottle with water in it to keep their dog from barking in the same way the coins in a can was used above and it worked, unfortunately, water in the face fazes my dog not at all. He just licks his lips and goes about his merry business. =)

    Sometimes I just tell my dog that he’s lucky he’s cute. =) I hope your dog learns to curb the barking. The trick to whatever you use is to be consistent. I think that’s the problem with our dog. I would be consistent but hubby wouldn’t. Now he’s a spoiled brat. He is also a rescue and knows that he’s loved so I’m okay with the life and pet we have. =)

  8. *team leash* Izzi wasn’t potty trained when we got her and they recommend crate training for that, but I wasn’t comfortable with that since she was also in a crate all night long, so I tethered her to me with a leash.

    Plus, she was famous for crawling under the bed right into the middle and I’d have to wait til my son got home to crawl under there and get her. Li’l stinker.

    We have one friend Izzi STILL go berserk at and never stops no matter how long he’s here or how often he comes by. He’s 6’7″ and I think he just freaks her out with his size. We just ignore her antics and she eventually gives up and goes and takes a nap. Until he dares to, you know, breathe or some ridiculous thing.

    Au contraire my friend, Savannah is extremely smart. So smart, in fact, she has you wondering what she’s barking at. 😀

    Another thing to do is swaddle her with a blanket or a sweater. A dog will calm a dog right down like an infant. But puh-lease do not put any old ratty sweater on the girl. She has standards.

    I see a Facebook page in her future.

    1. Darla, would you PLEASE get a blog again? The world needs your comic relief!!!

      There is NO FACEBOOK PAGE in Savannah’s future.

      However, she has been known to wear a shirt — one of my daughter’s shirts, in fact. Don’t ask for photos. There aren’t any.

      She actually LOVES being swaddled. She is such a baby. Hilarious.

      1. But I like YOUR blog. 😛

        Your daughter is smart too. SEE? And why no pictures? I think coordinating mommy-daughter picture on WWIW is a must. {duck}

        I {cough} might {cough} have few online stores I shop at for Izzi, What? It’s cold out there in the winter. I also have a winter coat for her made out of the same material they make for horses.

        Don’t even get me started on how hilarious a set of pink boots are on a dog.

  9. For the most part, little dogs are barkers. And she appears to be of the breed that does a lot of barking. Maybe you could get a squirt bottle and fill it with water and squirt her when she barks. I also saw a whistle that you are supposed to blow when they bark, not sure about that. Or check with the dog whisperer. 🙂

  10. She probably does this because she thinks she is protecting your family. It is her way of showing she loves you guys and looks out for you. Plus, little dogs bark because it makes them feel bigger. We’ve had our daschund for 9 years and she still barks at everything. Our trainer told us it is because she wants to feel more powerful.

  11. This happened with our dog every time the maids came too. I put him in his crate and covered it with a beach towel so that he couldn’t see. Worked like a charm. Try it!

  12. Now that I’ve read the comments more fully, I really like Victoria’s suggestions. Like I said earlier, my dog is a rescue and he would constantly bark at my husband or any man, so we know he had been abused by a man which was really sad because he was only a few months old when we got him. Now he is very loving and will even lick my husbands arm and always wants hubby to rub and pet him. He doesn’t even do those things with me. He feels that he has to protect me and has since day one. =) My dad says he is a very different dog and now knows he is loved…and he does.

    We couldn’t crate train him. He would paw and bite at the door until he drew blood on his paws and mouth. It was horrible and I felt terrible. I’ve never put him in a crate since then. I just can’t do it. Your dog will figure out that you all love her very much and she will calm down…a bit. =) I’m glad she’s found a good home and a loving family. It will make all the difference.

  13. As an housekeeper, I’ve been at the other side but it was with a cat. Would run away or make hissing noises at me. First time an animal disliked me and I thought maybe something was off with me. lol Turns out it was the vacuum. It took me one year for that cat to be ok with me. That cat has since passed away but I remember Pixel with her favorite spot (didn’t know it was and that’s where I was placing my purse. Oop.) and her disdain of the vacuum.

    My tip is to let the housekeeper slowly get close your dog. I would talk to Pixel, warn her when I’ll use the vacuum (lol) and slowly would try to pet her until she let me and would start purring. It’ll take time and patience.

  14. Good luck! Dogs require a TON of patience…I learned that lesson the hard way! I don’t think this was mentioned in the above comments, but another thing you could try is to get one of the treat dispensing toys and fill it up with yummy stuff and give it to her when the housekeeper comes over. Then she will associate the housekeeper with something positive. If she likes her crate & feels safe in there, you could even put her in the crate with the treat toy and some of her other favorite toys. When my dog gets stressed out she immediately finds her favorite toy and it’s like a security blanket for her.

  15. I read blogs all the time, but never comment; I just had to tell you that I would’ve had to give my dog away, too, if I hadn’t hire a trainer! I got a trainer from the “dog-whisperer” school of thought; it was an outstanding investment. He was able to help me correct all of her behaviors in a gentle, common sense way. Almost all unsavory behaviors are correctable; I would definitely recommend you consider a few sessions with a trainer.

    1. I think a trainer is a great idea. I’m looking into that.

      And PLEASE know the comment about someone having to go was completely in jest. We love and adore this dog and she really IS a good girl. She just needs some training. 🙂

  16. Hi. I have a similar rescue female dog. They calm down. It’s her low confidence that’s all. My Dog Arya was very very careful with food for first couple of months. didn’t get on furniture for 6 months. Didn’t play with any toys for about 2 years. She barked on everyone but more so on the maid. I think rescue dogs do that more.. baps they don’t like a stranger messing up with home.. who knows? What if the stranger makes them exit this heaven on earth? They calm down though. They take their time, but their confidence develops n they calm down. Just keep loving her. That’s all its going to take

  17. Hi,
    My dog- Bailey (9 yrs old) was in the streets for well over 3 months and hard seen the worse of the situation when he got infected with Canine Distemper (CD), a local dog shelter got him and within a week somehow, he survived the deadly disease. I have adopted him.

    For around a month or so, everything seemed to be perfectly fine. He (being a Terrier) got curious towards my rats, but was fine after sometime. The problem occurs whenever our cook or our housekeeper comes. He just growls at our cook but goes mad after our housekeeper. Poor lady, when I am at work, she has even swept the floor whenever he had peed in his earlier days in my apartment.

    The interesting fact is, my housekeeper tells me that in my absence, he’s a darling and would be on his own. I don’t know, may be he’s trying to be protective when I am around.

    Nowadays, I try to be make him submissive whenever I am around during the housekeeping time, i.e., if I am working from home. he would still go for some funny- little growls! 😀

  18. My dog hated the cleaning lady. Found out later she hated us because she vandalized our property. Not the only folks it happened to either. I would inspect belongings and secrectly record to see that no shenanigans are going on. 

  19. Hi I have a chauhua he is 5 years old and everyday the cleaner is here he barks at her. I am now living with my son and daughter in law and it is causing so much problems. What can I do to stop him from barking. I have sprayed him with a spray can, I have scolded him but nothing works. He is doing this since I got him as a baby.
    Pls help

  20. Hi: PLEASE share any suggestions you get…..I have the exact same story! Fostered, then adopted this precious Yorkie who was such a quiet boy for the first week. Now…..same story – he barks incessantly at my cleaning lady and now he’s starting to bark at any man he comes across during our walks and some women. Love him to pieces but would love suggestions how to correct this behavior! Thanks.

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