My dog & I have just completed another series of obedience classes at the State Fairgrounds. Congratulations to all our wonderful students, moving on to more harmonious and integrated lives with their dogs. It is, of course, so much easier working with your dog in a classroom setting than taking those lessons home with us.
I have recently been very interested on one of the behaviors that is very difficult to address in class –front door greeting. This seems to be one of the most frustrating situations to manage at home, especially with multiple dogs. The doorbell rings – the dogs explode into action and tear for the door, barking and leaping with excitement. ”Oh Boy! Someone’s here!” At this point, it is generally “crowd control” for the helpless owner and the visitor on the other side of the door has no idea what to expect. Just who is in charge here?? OK Guys – it’s never too late to change. Let’s take control…
When the doorbell rings, your dog may be allowed to bark –once – it’s fine to let outsiders know you have a guardian but once he has had his say, you need to assume the leadership role and that means that YOU – not the dog get to greet visitors at the door. Your dog may accompany you but if he is not calm and alert, beside you, he should be on a leash until the greeting protocol is established and that may take practice.
The doorbell rings- you go get your dog – sometimes you may have to bring him back from the front door to leash him. Walk to the front door with your dog slightly behind your leg and ask him to “sit”. Once he is calm, open the door, greet your visitor, asking them not to pet the dog as he is “in training” and invite your visitor in when appropriate. Keep “Sam” on the leash until he is calm. It may be next time…
Your dog will learn that the doorbell ringing means bark once and then go to Mom to see what comes next. You can set up “fake” visitors with friends and family to practice but I promise it will be worth it and your visitors will breathe a sigh of relief!!
Of course, you could simply confine your dog when you have company but that’s not “training” is it??
Good luck and if you continue to have chaos rule, give us a call!!
Stay warm, Spring (mud) is imminent……
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– Janine Lazarus, LBSPY #51. (March 10-April 7, 2014)