Robin and I were at a new Home Dog Training client in Gainesville helping him and his Boxer named Brick.  Brick was a relatively well behaved dog most of the time.  The biggest ongoing problem that my client had was with Brick’s wanting to run out the front door every time he opened it and stealing clothes out of the laundry hamper.  We resolved those issues pretty quickly and Brick understood that he should obey and listen to his master.   As we were finishing up, my client mentioned “I don’t like having the family over during the Holidays because my dog is crazy and bugs everyone the entire they are in my house.  I often contain him in our back study and have to stay there all the time to try and keep him quiet.  Can this be fixed?”

High energy or “people nervous” dogs can be very bothersome when we have a house full of family. We aren’t sure what he might do (lunging, barking, growling, jumping) and the simple possibility of those actions can make everyone nervous. 

I tell my clients that is is very important that they socialize their dog so that understands that you are keeping him safe and secure when other people and animals are in his space. YOU are the care giver. YOU are the one keeping him universally safe and secure.

Never have your dog with you at the front door when you are meeting your guests. This is a crazy time you cannot give the appropriate focus and correction to him, if required. Inappropriate situations can quickly become more intense as he tries to demonstrate dominance and your ability to regain control could be almost nonexistent. I suggest this:

  • Station your dog in another room with a one of your family when your guests arrive. Keep the door closed. He should be on a leash and have toys and other mental stimulation for directed focus. You can also have the television on in the room with him to add to the white noise of the house and to minimize the noise of the arriving guests.
  • When your guests arrive, greet them and invite them into your house. After things have calmed down, it is time to work with your dog to see where he will be comfortable with them. Remember, he is ALWAYS on the leash and the leash is ALWAYS in a family member’s hand. Also, make sure the family member will be able to handle him if he gets a little too rambunctious. 
  • Open the door so he can see the guests in the other room. Watch him while you are still giving him positive praise and redirection towards you or his toys. When he appears calm, direct him closer to the door.
  • Watch for any change in his temperament.  The big things to watch are fearfulness or aggression. If you see this, move back and work with him for another few minutes before proceeding.
  • Once he his calm, continue to move him towards the door. Now have the people in the other room calmly walk around.  Your guests should move slowly and directly. They should only give him slight eye contact and should never turn their backs to him. They should never move directly towards him.
  • If your dog is still calm and respectful, slowly enter the room with the guests, repeating the process we have just discussed. If, at any time, you feel that he is becoming stressed or nervous, back up and slow down.
  • Move around the room for a bit and then sit down with your dog next to you. Do not allow your guests to come up and pet him just yet. They still have to get comfortable with the proximity of each other. He should still have his toys and treats with him during this time while this part of the socialization process takes place.
  • Continue having your guests moving around the room. Have them leave the room and return. After they have done this a few times and your dog has remained calm and unattached, I want you and your dog to leave the room and return.
  • As you repeat the above process, slowly and carefully move towards your guests. Repeat this until he is next to them and sniffing them. Do not allow your guests to pet your dog because he might interpret the action as an aggressive act (depending how your guests move to pet him).
  • Continue to have you and your dog mingle with your guests. As you see his temperament maintained at a respectful level and his focus on you, you can allow your guests to pet him. 
  • As you continue to see that your dog is calm and apparently fine with the entire situation, drop the leash. Allow him to meander on his own around the room. Always be nearby to step on the leash, if necessary.

You now have a calm dog when you have guests to the house. It is important that you practice this repeatedly with friends and neighbors before a big event such as The Holidays, 4th of July, Memorial Day, a family member’s birthday, etc. You need to give the training 100% of your focus to make it work. If you are in the middle of a “real social event”, you won’t be able to provide that needed focus.

If you notice that your dog is becoming overly distracted while in the training session, stop for now. You can pick it up later in the day or tomorrow. Don’t push the exercise or he won’t learn. Robin and I are always ready to answer any of your questions.

You can always get in touch with us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Gainesville Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Gainesville Georgia.