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If you have the kind of dog that wrings every inch of joy out of every minute of the day, I would bet that when you have guests over, they really turn it up to 11.
Even the most die-hard dog lovers are less than thrilled to be run over by a friend’s excitable pup on arrival. It’s even worse for the dog’s guardian, who is usually desperately apologizing and attempting to calm or restrain their pooch. Fortunately, there’s a way to train your dog to stay calm when visitors arrive—and some handy precautions you can take while you’re still ironing out the kinks.
1. Keep the Hounds at Bay
In the short-term, the quickest solution is some kind of barrier or gate that will separate your dog from the front door. This probably won’t calm the flurry of barks and excited prancing, but it will make life easier while you’re working on this behavior. We like this sturdy option from Midwest Homes for Pets, but there are lots of good pet gate options to choose from.
If a gate doesn’t work in your space, put your dog on leash before guests arrive and keep them close to you. Read on for the training steps!
2. Stay Calm
When a pet parent yells, commands, and/or gets physical with their dog when a guest arrives, it makes their pup think “YES! You’re in on the party! Let’s go wild!”
It’s a challenge for an excited dog to recognize the difference between frustration and joy when their parent is intensely vocalizing and interacting with them.
To keep a dog calm around guests, the first order of business is to stay calm yourself.
Ultra-friendly dogs will find the arrival of a guest to be the ultimate reward. Attempting to restrain your dog or to use cues that have not been bomb-proofed in distracting situations is like trying to swim upstream.
Scolding your dog for their behavior around guests won’t get you very far either. Remember that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In other words, if your dog is rewarded for the two things you want—politely greeting your guest and staying calm while they are over—then everyone, dog included, will be happier. Positive training can make all the difference.
3. Work on the Greeting
Open the door slowly for your guest and ask them not to acknowledge your dog. (You can even put a sign on your door to help your guests know not to react when entering your home.) You may want to have your pup on a leash prior to their arrival.
- If your dog is too excited, then immediately, calmly inform her that hyper dogs don’t get to say hello by saying, “Too bad!”
- Quickly but gently take your dog by the leash and place her in the closest room, closing the door behind her as she enters.
- Wait for 30 seconds (no longer), and then let your dog rejoin the gathering. If she immediately goes back to jumping all over guests, repeat, “Too bad!”
- Repeat this time-out sequence until she is able to exit the room calmly.
Now that your dog is calm, they get the wonderful reward of saying hello to your guest!
4. Staying Calm After the Greeting
Your best defense for long-term relaxation from your dog is establishing a portable, comfortable place that your dog associates with wonderful things. This can be simply a dog bed, rug, or towel.
With a little work, you’ll have a mobile location where your dog wants to be calm. Why? Because it pays.
Pay your dog for good, calm behavior on their bed while your guest is present, first by moving their mobile calm spot near to you. Give them a long-lasting goodie to keep them occupied. Here are a few great options.
A Kong filled with extra-special, high-value treats like chicken or peanut butter is a great long-lasting option. Freeze first for an even longer-lasting delicious distraction.Find on Amazon Find on Amazon
An electronic training feeder such as the Treat and Train lets you reward your dog remotely for relaxing on their bed. These devices can also be used to reward your dog’s “stay” in a “sit” or “down” position when a guest arrives.
Once the initial thrill of the arrival is over, most dogs can go back to being their regular selves without overwhelming your guests.Find on Amazon
These tips won’t create a change overnight, but with practice, your dog will learn that being calm around guests is far more rewarding than hyperactivity.