You’ve taught your dog well. He usually behaves and responds to your commands when people come to your door. But just because your dog knows what to do it doesn’t mean your guests know what they need to do when arriving at your home.
When visitors arrive it’s typical to see the situation with your dog deteriorate quickly. Guests sometimes insist they are “dog people” who “know” how to be around dogs and “love dogs and just want to say Hi” to your pet. Then they walk through the door and get your dog all jazzed up by:
- Focusing immediately on your dog, staring at him and making a big fuss
- Speaking in a raised, high voice or using baby-talk to address the dog
- Touching, petting the dog or patting their chest for him to jump up
- Bending over or squatting on one knee to get to the dog’s level or lower
Any one of these actions is a very efficient way to get a dog over-excited. Of course guests do this without any ruinous intention. But their actions can put you in the challenging position of dealing with your dog, stopping him from barking or jumping, and basically being an uncontrollable wiggly mess. All while trying to welcome people into your home!
Have a Dog Strategy
To ensure the welcome at your doorway goes well you can prepare your guests with information about dog obedience training before they even show up. How you interact with family and guests regarding your training process is important and encourages them to support a calm state of mind for your pet, especially during a major distraction like visitors arriving.
If you believe all your hard work in obedience training is worth your effort and that results really matter, here’s what you need to do:
- Call your visitors a few days before they arrive and explain (or reiterate) you are training your dog and ask them directly for their help. You are looking for them to support your dog training process.
- Let them know what you will be doing with your dog when they arrive AND that it is important that they ignore your dog when they walk in.
- Listen for feedback that confirms they will support your dog’s ongoing training work during their arrival and visit. Tell them you sincerely appreciate their understanding and willingness to help.
Building up your personal assertiveness by being up-front about training your dog is a big part of establishing a new relationship with your pet. It’s important to have family and guests understand how much you value dog obedience training because the truth is that right there, at your door, you need them to be a partner in the latest episode of training your dog!
Some tips to make the scene at the doorway go well include:
- When guests arrive have your dog settled and on-leash with a collar.
- If you have your dog trained for ‘Place’, have him there ‘In Place’, away from the door. If not, have your dog settled and sitting beside you with his leash in your hand.
- After greeting your guests mention again that you are training your dog and appreciate their help by ignoring and paying no attention to him. Let them know there will be a time to say hello when you are ready to bring your dog to them for greeting (if your dog is ready for this).
Be Your Dog’s Leader
Remember, the pressure to handle your dog happens immediately when guests arrive (or when they pull into the driveway!) You are in control of the point you allow guests to give attention to your dog: not their desire to “love him up” OR your dog’s wiggly demands. This is the essence of advocating for your dog and becoming confident in managing your best interest in all situations. Controlling how visitors come and go at your doorway can be a tough lesson to follow through on, but nevertheless an essential act of control your dog is coming to expect from you as his leader.
Informing your family or house guests that you call the shots with your dog takes tact and courage. With practice, speaking up about your dog training journey gets easier and will reinforce the good behavior you see developing in your dog.