Any pet parent will tell you that a friend knocking or ringing the doorbell can lead to mass chaos behind that door. Whether it’s barking, whining, or even charging the door – training your dog to cool out when company comes is at the top of almost everyone’s list, especially during the holiday season. Here are some tips to help train your dog to behave at the front door.
Decide what you want your dog to do, and practice.
With every plan, you have to recognize what outcome you’d like first. So, how do you want your dog to behave when someone comes to the door – do you want her to sit and stay at a distance, go to another room, or simply “stop barking”? Whatever the answer to this is will be your guiding expectation.
Next, practice, practice, practice! You’ll want to try out different scenarios with the same outcome. Begin with only one person visiting and gradually work your way up to two, a group, and more. Great excuse to eventually throw a party, right?
Some helpful hints to achieving success:
- Put your pup on a short leash while you’re practicing with visitors (and perhaps this will be the case for a few months).
- Work with high value treats that your dog goes crazy over! We see best results when dogs are offered hot dogs, hamburger meat, and other delectable treats that are stinky. Hold them right up to your dog’s nose so she can’t ignore them.
- Practice multiple times a day and even knock or ring the bell randomly throughout the day to desensitize your dog.
- When guests arrive, have them ignore your dog. While this may seem very hard, it lowers the excitement factor down considerably and your dog will be calmer.
- Work on general obedience. Many pet parents report that their dogs have trouble with basic commands like stay or recall when off leash, so when you’re in what they consider their territory (your home), it may seem like all bets are off. Refresh the basics and keep working on sit, stay, come, heel, down, etc.
When someone knocks or rings the doorbell, address your dog first and make the visitor wait. If you rush to the door excitedly or frantically, your dog will react the same. Simply pause, use your cues that result in the action you want (whether that’s “stay” or go to another room, etc.), wait for your dog to be calm, and then answer the door. Also, and this may be the hardest of all, you must practice this with your own arrival home – don’t make it a big deal and ask your roommates or family members to do the same.
Make sure Doggo is getting in a workout
As per the usual tips, a tired dog is a good dog. Make sure she’s had her workout for the day, and she’s more likely to remain calm. As our friends at That Mutt say, “That doesn’t mean you take her for a two-hour hike on Saturday. It means two 45-minute walks every day or whatever it is she needs.” Exercise also helps to keep your pup healthy, and can reinvigorate your BFF-bond.
Keeping your dog calm when visitors drop by can help lessen your own anxiety, but remember – a calm dog won’t bolt when the front door opens. Many pet parents know the heartache of a dog who has gone missing or worse, hit by a car, because their pup excitedly rushed out the door. So whether it’s learning good manners or keeping them safe, staying composed at the door is a very important skill any time of the year.