When your dog barks at visitors

18:20, Oct 02 2012

Do you find that your visitors have dwindled since having dogs? I found when we had a single puppy lots of people came around but as he grew up into a big old lovable clown, people stopped visiting so often. Now of course he is much older (11) with another one in addition to the rest of the zoo.

However, what I worked out early in the piece is that despite what we think, dogs do love us unconditionally and do want to please. They also get frustrated. So when someone comes to the door and I keep yelling "no", the dog gets frustrated and tries to do everything to please me. How, though, do we stop yelling at the dog at the same time as our visitors, who were coming around for a nice barbecue, are standing outside?

This is a common problem and no matter what the issue the same logic applies in this blog.

What happens when a visitor comes to your house. Your dog bolts down the corridor to the front door as your visitors are clearly just there to say hello to the dog. The dogs may bark and carry on. So as owners, what do we do? We expect our dogs are these magic animals that can mind-read, so we assume they know they should not be barking and getting excited. Ha! Your dogs are going to get excited, but our yelling gets them frustrated. All of a sudden your dogs are going more nuts, you're stressed out and your visitors have dropped the wine at the front door and run away - or they come in but vow never will they come back. Sound familiar?

Next time this happens, teach your dog what it is expected to do. For my dogs this is sit away from the door and stay. I would use a treat in the early stages as it calms the dog quickly. If the dog gets up, then you can say "no" as it has disobeyed your sit and stay command. This is great because before we yelled "no" just because the dog was doing something that we didn't want, but the dog had no idea what that was. So this time you can say "no" as "stay" means don't move.

Now to do this you are going to need a really good "stay" so make sure you get that command perfect then slowly work on it. You can then get your dog to lie on a mat and sit and stay till it's calm enough, usually about five minutes.

The big question is how long this will take. If you have a perfect "stay", it'll take only a couple of weeks. If not, give it a go and slowly work on it. You'll be amazed how much more relaxed your dogs, your guests and you feel afterwards.

Simon Goodall is CEO of Dog Guru Ltd. See them on Facebook and Twitter

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