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 dog when arriving at their home. It’s even worse for the dog’s guardian, who is usually desperately apologizing and attempting to call or restrain their dog.
When mom or dad yells, commands and/or gets physical with their dog when a guest arrives, it makes their pup think “YES! Mom and Dad are in on the party! Let’s go crazy!”
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—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.
Open the door slowly for your guest and ask them not to acknowledge your dog. 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 release the hound. If she immediately goes back to jumping all over guest, repeat the “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!
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.
Start this work at less exciting times. Feed your dog on the bed and give them puzzle toys or chewies here. If they get up and take the item elsewhere, gently return it to the bed.
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. Put one of these items on their bed:
- A puzzle toy like a KONG filled with extra-special, high-value treats like chicken, hot dogs or peanut butter.
- A high-value chewy such as a marrow bone, pig’s ear or bully stick.
- 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 shape 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.
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.
Featured image: Jorge Elias/Flickr