Post-COVID re-boot – Part 4: Visitors Entering the House

Do you put your dog in another room before friends and relatives visit because you don’t want the dog barking at them when they walk in the front door, or jumping on them? Or worse? 

Your dog is protecting you, and her territory, from strangers.  Remember the dog’s “mailman” theory?  This is similar – resource guarding.  

As with all training, it’s YOUR consistency that will make the behavior stick.

You can train your dog to offer friendly welcome greetings to visitors: 

  • Be outside with your dog when friends arrive. 
  • Keep your dog on-leash and let your friend enter the house first; you and the dog enter after.  
  • Reward your dog while this is happening, not afterwards.  
  • Ask neighbors and other friends to do this on other days and at other times of day. 

Once this habit is formed, practice having the dog sit (inside) at least 10 feet away from the door when friends come to visit.  Reward your dog for listening to you and staying.  Reward the dog when the person enters.  If your dog shows friendly interest in the new person in the room, have your visitor toss a treat to your dog so it lands in front of her feet; your visitor leaning forward with a treat in her hand and trying to get close to your dog may be seen as too close or an invasion of her space.  Make sure visitors do not reach extend hands to pet your dog on the head – dog’s perceive this as rude behavior. 

Once your visitor is in the house, have the visitor intermittently drop treats in front of the dog’s feet so the dog learns that new people in the house is a good thing!

Practice this with friends, neighbors, co-workers and other dog parents in your neighborhood.  If you don’t practice, and reward, the behavior will not change.

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