Just as you want your children to display polite social skills, so should your dog. However, the excitement for some dogs is so unbearable when company drops in, your guests could be greeted with lunges and kisses. With small dogs, perhaps this is not so bad, except for those $120.00 slacks now have a run or your new silk stockings are shredded.
Tips for improving your dog’s manners with guests
Bribe several friends to come over for a training session 2-3 x a week. Have a training party. They, your dog, and you are being trained all at once. Try some or all of these tactics on different days! I advise working with one for one month at least 2x a week so as not to confuse your dog.
KEY: Treats are in a bowl high up and near the main/all entrance – always!!!
1. Position your dog to see the door in a stay command
A shorter leash is attached to something that is sturdy and you will need to tolerate a little scrape of paint off that piece. The distance from the door needs to be 10-12 feet away and your dog should be able to see the person enter. If your dog is a hard-puller, you may want to try a training collar or the E-Z leader harness with the RING – ON- THE CHEST NOT THE BACK!
Place your dog in a “sit or down”= “STAY” command several times in this new spot to set the tone. Ask your kind training friend to wait outside until there is calmness and your dog can hold that command. Reward your dog with their most favorite of all treats and (if they are even a bit hungry, the better) say, “Good Stay”.
Now…don’t expect this to work the first time or 2,3…? Your friend needs to stay put until there is a calmness and control. Take shorter steps away while in a Stay and repeat “Good Stay.” while walking to the door and NOT turning your back having eye contact until the dog has it 100%. If you can make it to the door 3x before the stay is interrupted = GREAT.
Open the door and have your friend not look at the dog but only focus on you and greet one another as usual. You will go back to the dog and “sit/down-stay” more firm because your dog will more than likely lose it. Stay with dog – get eye contact and be calm. Repeat the commands and TREAT like crazy because this is a tough routine.
Try again and now you will not reward until the entire routine is successful. If the dog gets up but is calm and not barking = fine (your call it is about staying put). Your mate or children can even help with this training but only if the dog does not know it is them that knocks or rings the bell as your guests do. If your dog is getting cranky and so are you, this is not going to work. Do this no more than 15-20 minutes, tops!
2. Crate the dog.
If the dog barks, ignore (no shush, no look, no hand gesture and no one looks at the dog) only conversation with you. Remember barking is communicating in dog language and they want attention. If no attention, eventually they will stop. Once they stop you must be immediate and then recognize them with, “Good no bark” or whatever phrase you use in your home but must be consistent and treat galore.
When you let them out of the crate, your friends should be seated so the dog does not jump up on them (I prefer kitchen table or high counter seats). Treats are on the table and have your friends become involved in “sit” = “Good sit” + reward. Everyone does a couple of rounds, now give the pup a chew bone, or a OMG stuffed kong to keep busy. I have seen this work and if your friends don’t mind that is great. Don’t forget to reward your friends, too!!!
3. Have a favorite toy to fetch or special treat when guests are arriving.
This toy must ONLY be used for this occasion so it MUST be VERY special. You can also prepare a frozen peanut butter/banana/soft mashed food in a kong and give it to them upon arrival. This may just satisfy them long enough. This kong should only be used for these occasions so that it does not become dull and routine. They more than likely will lick say hi go back to lick or lick while viewing everyone. All your guests should not even look, approach, pet or even mention the dog’s name. By doing so this may arouse them to play and bark.
4. Keep them separated out of sight for awhile until they settle.
But, please be patient and do not ignore them, they need to learn.
Remember these steps should be done in all baby steps.
People generally expect too much too quick. Celebrate each little improvement. Take a breath and smile before each training task. Your dog can sense frustration and excitement. Treats can be used and sometimes in abundance at first but then slowly stopped and a lot of “atta boy!” praise and pat downs. Please feel free to contact me for additional guidance or home training.