Last Thursday I was at a new Home Dog Training Session in Dahlonega working with our new client and his Boxer, Yogi.  Like most boxers, Yogi was a sweet dog.  His major issues were a complete lack of focus and a very high energy level.  After several hours of instruction and interaction with Yogi, he came to understand that he needed to pay attention to our client and respect his wishes.  Our client was very happy with the results.

Get your dog to be calm when people come over to the house 

As I was finishing up, I asked my client if there were any other issues we needed to address with Yogi that day.  He thought for a moment and then remembered one more thing.  He told me that Yogi would go crazy and run all over the house whenever anyone came over.   He then said that he didn’t know how he could correct this because, even though it was incredibly annoying when guests came over, he didn’t have a lot of guests over to the house. He wondered if I could offer some ideas to help his crazy boxer be calm and properly focused with people.

I told my client that his issue was not unique among many dog owners with high energy dogs.  I decided to offer him a solution that had worked many times with dog owners in his same situation. My client lives in an urbanized community with neighbors that love to walk their dogs along the quiet streets in the early evening.  There are also a great number of families with grade school and high school kids that are picked up and dropped off every day by those big, yellow school buses.  These two situations provided us with the knowledge of when there would be distractive activity directly in front of his house.

I also pointed out that, because of the placement of his house on his lot, he had an unimpeded and expansive view of the entire street from his front door. The knowledge of when people would be in front of his house and the clear line of sight of those people from his front door gave him “the appropriate fodder” he needed for the training lesson I was about to suggest.  Here is what I told him.

  • Start the process by identifying a calm time of the day when the street outside your house is empty of all neighbors with little or no other distractions. Place a leash on Yogi, open the front door, move back into the house about six feet, and sit down with him.  Although it is not required that Yogi is sitting, it is better if you place him in a sit. You and he should have a clear view of the door and the “outside world beyond”.
  • Tug the leash slightly about every twenty to thirty seconds so that he will have to acknowledge you and give you calm focus. If he is not responding to your “tug for attention”, calmly rise out of your chair and guide him (with the leash) away from the door and around the room.  Continue this until he is now giving you the focus you had requested.  Once he is calmly looking and watching you, praise his appropriate response by saying “Good Boy” in a high-pitched tone.
  • Calmly return with Yogi back to your chair by the front door.  Slowly sit back down and continue the exercise.
  • Continue your “sitting by the door and getting his focus” for about five to ten minutes.  Initially perform this exercise two or three times daily.
  • After several days, Yogi should dependably be providing you with respectful focus every time you make your request. Once he is doing this consistently for two days, you can move on to the next step of the exercise.
  • Change your “practice time” from a time when there is no activity outside your door to a time where people will normally be passing past your home. You will be doing everything you were doing before with Yogi. He must focus on you when you request and must remain calmly next to you at all other times.  If he does not, as before, you will walk him around the room until he is calm and focused.  The difference to this part of the exercise is that you have added the distraction of people within Yogi’s “field of vision” outside the door.
  • Continue this process until Yogi is calm and not focusing on the people walking in front of your house outside the front door.  Because you and Yogi are six feet away from the front door, Yogi has a very small field of vision when observing what is passing by on the other side of the door.  After two days of calm and respectful responses from Yogi, it is time to move to the next level.
  • It is now time to move your chair to the entrance of the front door.  You and Yogi will now be sitting at the doorway as people pass by outside.  Yogi now has a larger field of vision and can observe the “outside people” for longer times as they approach and depart the front of your house. This will require a greater level of restraint on his part regarding his becoming excited when seeing people and his willingness to respond to your demand for respectful focus. Continue to correct Yogi if he starts to focus too heavily on the people passing in the street.  Be aware that this may be the time where he may start to jump, bark, or pull on the leash.
  • When Yogi can remain calm when observing the people pass the front of the house while he is at the front doorway, it is time to “ramp the exercise up” again.
  • Increase Yogi’s field of vision of the people and items passing in the street by moving six feet outside your front door.  As before, sit with him and repeat the focus exercise. If he starts to act up, correct him as before.
  • Repeat the above exercise, placing Yogi and yourself closer and closer to the front walkway where the people and items are passing by. Eventually, ask a neighbor (preferably one you know) to stop and talk for a moment.  If Yogi starts to react, momentarily direct him away and then return to continue your calm interaction with the neighbor.

The process that I have just suggested is designed to slowly introduce Yogi to people at your house.  The process began by placing Yogi in a familiar and consistent environment without the introduction of “people distractions”.  Once it was established that he was fine with that, we slowly introduced people. Through the use of perspective and distance, we started the “people distraction” as a very small portion of Yogi’s world.  Once he demonstrated that he could appropriately accept a small distraction, we slowly increased the amount of distraction until we had achieved a “real world environment” of having Yogi calmly interacting with people at home.

Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over nineteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and superb families and are ready to help you.