We‘ve all been to a house where either our dog or the dog inside is going absolutely bonkers. Even though this is pretty normal, it is avoidable. Dogs pick up on our cues and the jovial greeting we give our visitor equates to excited behavior from your dog. You can curb this behavior if you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve.
Change your dog’s behavior by communicating what you want
Tell your dog what you DO want rather than what you don’t want. It’s far easier to teach your dog what behavior you want instead of saying “No! No!” In fact, you may be inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. That’s why instead of fussing or repeating a negative command, you need to teach them what to do instead.
A great idea is to have a special rug or spot on the carpet for your dog to sit when guests knock. Teach them to stay there until you’ve welcomed the visitor into your home. When your dog is sitting away from the door, they can’t jump on guests and will appear much more calm than if they were clamoring at the door.
Distract them with food
When you’re trying to teach your dog new behavior, bribery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s more positive reinforcement to help your dog learn that they get rewarded when they sit in their spot or don’t jump on visitors. Practice with your dog by the door and use super delicious treats to make it extra special for them.
It takes time to change a behavior that is natural to your dog and also that has been reinforced over time. Slowly you can decrease the amount of treats you give as long as you keep up the praise.
Take control of how your dog interacts with the door
Even with all the practice in the world, an unexpected visitor could still send your dog into a tailspin. That’s why the overall goal is to signal to your dog that a knock at the door means “sit & stay,” not “go crazy & bark.” This doesn’t always work, so you may need to lead your dog to a different room and block access to the door until they are calm.
Don’t get discouraged if you have to do this multiple times. Our dog Rigsby is still learning to be calm at the door and he’s 5 years old! Just keep up the positive reinforcement while having them perform the desired behavior of sitting or going to their bed when the doorbell rings.
Dogs will be dogs! They love the excitement of guests and meeting people, but it is something we can control with practice. Let us know if you have any other ways you keep your dog calm at the front door by leaving us a comment. We would love to hear from you.
Dogs who get enough daily exercise tend to be calmer when visitors arrive at the door. Check out our variety of dog walking packages to see if Tailored Pet Services can help! We also can refer you to a wonderful and reputable dog trainer for tougher issues. Contact us for more information.