Most dog owners deal with their pooches going wild when the doorbell rings. But, sometimes, the doorbell doesn’t even have to ring. Just the presence of the guest behind the doors is enough to get them going.
Now this ‘going wild’ can come from a sense of excitement or protective anxiety. The former could be bothersome for many guests; the latter could be triggering for your dog. Outside this binary, over-enthusiastic guests may encourage your dog to normalize unacceptable behavior.
Nonetheless, the best action is to get your dog to behave well when people come over. Because you want your dog to stay calm and your guests to be uncomfortable
In your journey of being a dog parent, you will eventually have to train it to socialize, get potty trained, recognize commands, and whatnot, So are a few tips to train your dog to behave when guests arrive.
1. Assess your Dog’s Behaviour
It is important to understand your dog on an emotional and behavioral level that highlights its intentions.
If your canine belongs to the breed better known for guarding or fending off intruders, you will find them all worked up at the arrival of guests. But then again, this depends on individual temperament, levels of socialization, and previous home experience (if any), so there are a lot of variables.
The initial assessment will give you a better understanding of your dog. To begin with, observe their body language to see if they’re excited or anxious. Meaning if they’re wagging their tails, the position of their ears, barking and jumping onto the visitors, or being protective and loud. Next, observe if there are specific triggers. For example, suppose it’s the doorbell or the intervention of unknown people.
These observations will help you pinpoint the reasons for your dog’s behavior. Now with the issues narrowed down, you can take a more concise and objective approach to better behavior.
2. Let Your Dog Socialize with People & Animals
This is the crucial step in behavioral development, where you expose your dog to people, other animals, and places healthily. The goal is to help build confidence and reduce anxiety and fears with familiarity. In addition, this nurtures a positive initiation into the socialization aspect of your dog’s behavioral development.
Reverse Conditioning & Desensitizing
Let’s say your dog has certain fears and triggers that make them anxious. These make them act out in unwanted ways. Such instances require desensitizing and reverse conditioning. The goal is to gradually expose them to their triggers in a controlled manner and ensure positive notions regarding their fears.
For example, if your dog gets triggered by the doorbell when anyone comes over. The idea is to create a positive association with the sound of a doorbell. So give them their favorite treats when the bell rings or have them engage in a game with their favorite toy involved. Avoid rewards if they fail to act calm while the bell rings.
If it’s not the doorbell but the unfamiliar faces being the issue try creating controlled encounters. Here a retractable dog gate can be your best friend. If a guest is coming over, use a retractable dog gate to create distance between the dog and guests.
Your dog can monitor the group of new faces from a distance and get used to their presence without coming into contact. Have the guest stand around the gated area, avoid eye contact and throw in a treat themselves. This can assure them that nothing negative is happening as guests come over.
Gradually decrease the distance between the gate and the area where the guests sit and have your dog ease into this new environment with unfamiliar faces.
The retractable gate method is also effective if your dog is super friendly and would jump on guests on arrival. Only this time, your guests would go near the gated area to greet your dog without making contact.
Encourage your guests to ignore your dog’s excitement, especially if it’s jumping around. These measures will help the dog determine that such behavior isn’t being rewarded. Remember to reward calm behavior for them to make the connection.
Positive Interactions and Rewards
Start with interaction with familiar faces in the household and people paying frequent visits. Getting treats, pats, and positive affirmations from a group of familiar faces creates a positive sense of human touch.
Gradually move to similar interactions with other people and animals. Have your dog adhere to commands in an environment with unknown individuals. Reward them in the event of positive behavior showing signs of adaptability. If you get your do stay calm at a park with loud noise and squirrels running around, you, my friend, have done a fine job with the training.
But do permit playtimes and rewards when they’ve been a good boy or girl.
3. Training Your Dog for Guest Interaction
This training aims to create a harmonious interaction between your dog and guest for a positive experience. This can begin with basic training and gradually go through steps like socialization and conditioning. Let’s start with the tips to train your dog to behave when guests arrive.
Train to be obedient
Train your dog to learn basic commands, which is essential in their behavioral development. Teaching commands like sit, roll over, and stay are some of the most basic commands you can begin with. After that, the process usually starts with hand gestures, reenactment (if need be), and incentivizing with treats and positive affirmation.
Perform an activity that makes your dog naturally lower its body to sitting. For example, hold something over its head or a treat to sniff. The lifting of the head will naturally have the dog lower its body. As soon as it sits down, say the word ‘SIT’ and offer treats, pats, and belly rubs.
Repeat this practice while gradually decreasing the frequency of treats while compensating with pats and positive verbal affirmation. The same process goes for teaching a dog to stay and move on command.
When teaching to stay, have your dog sit down first. Then start moving away from it, repeating the words ‘STAY’ while hand gesturing at the space it’s sitting at. Finally, take it to the next level by commanding ‘COME’ while making an inviting gesture with arms wide open.
Reward, as mentioned before, if it starts recognizing the keywords and acts accordingly. There we have it! An obedient dog capable of understanding basic commands. This crucial training will help control and display the desired behavior when guests arrive.
4. Kick the Training Up a Notch
We covered the basics of command. Now let’s go for some tricky ones. Teaching how to greet, wait for the signal, and, most importantly, not jump.
If your dog is a jumper at greeting, try calming it down and offering a handshake. Take hold of its paw and give it a shake. Might even say ‘Shake’ out loud to familiarize that word as a greeting. It will be confusing initially but incentivized with a treat might just be the push to have the idea clicking. Repeat this action in the event of jumping.
This approach might not apply to every dog, but it is an idea. The whole point being teaching a constant way to greet will condition a constant response rather than any surprising behavior.
Try kicking it up a notch once the basic sit-and-stay commands are covered. For example, try achieving the same in a house full of guests with plenty of distractions. Even if the dog might want to display impromptu behavior, the training should have it respond to the commands by instinct.
If it’s about to jump but suddenly hears, ‘Sit, boy!’ Its instant response should be responding to that command and maintaining it until the next signal comes from you. Try achieving these responses in gradually more distracting environments. If it fails, the pepper needs some time to learn better.
5. Perfection is Nothing but Consistent Practice
With all this training talk, it’s best to remember that achieving results is a matter of consistent practice. Keep up the training routine till it’s ingrained in your dog’s behavior. Consistently use the same verbal commands and hand gestures for the behaviors expected from them. It will take time, and both of you have much patience. But nothing undoable.
Never stop the routine even after you find your dog abiding by the training. Let the behavior solidify for the best. So that in any setup and around guests, it shows its best behavior.
Wanting to train your dog to behave in front of guests is what we call responsible pet parenting. Being able to achieve this pet-guest harmony always massively destresses an owner.
You can end up with a calm best friend through consistent practice, socialization, observing, and understanding your dog’s behavior. One who greets guests mannerly and avoids jumping on at random, licking-biting, or anything bothersome.
The journey of training your dog is rewarding if you’re up for it. If you are, I hope these tips are for training your dog to behave when guests arrive. Helps in grooming you a well-mannered canine companion.