Dealing With Dogs That Bark At Guests
A dog bark is an alert! We appreciate when our dogs bark to alert us of possible threats, like noises outside of our homes that we may also find suspicious. When our dogs get praised for barking in these situations, it is easy for them to be confused into barking whenever they feel any kind of threat, including barking at unfamiliar guests in your home. The best thing that you can do for your dog is to eliminate any feeling of threat that they may feel towards your guests. A dog may “puff its chest” by barking when your guest stands from the table or even laughs at a volume level that is uncomfortable with. This is not acceptable behavior for our dogs as it can raise a significant territorial dispute between your dog and your home.
Dogs Need Personal Space
One of the best ways to handle a dog that barks at guests is to keep it in another room when you know that guests will be coming over. By giving your dog a safe space, out of site of the door in which your guests will be entering, it will be able to evaluate the situation from a distance rather than just seeing your visitors walk into its home. Once a little time has passed and your dog has had time to realize that you have the situation under control and that the guests are not threatening, introduce your dog on a leash. A leashed dog will be able to be under your control from jumping on or being invasive to your guests. Also, if your dog is already accustomed to being on a leash it will add an extra feeling of safety. If your dog does feel threatened and decides that it needs to be vocal during this meeting, never yell to discipline. This will only make your dog think you are barking back and that his display of aggression is ok since you joined in.
Dogs Think Doors Are A Threat
There is an exercise that you can do to stop your dog from barking that doesn’t include keeping it in another room. You will need to teach your dog that front door is not a threat. Remember, this is practice so you need to be sure to do this in a house without guests that are already there or any other distractions. By rewarding your dog by luring it calmly to the front door, it will eventually learn that good manners at the front door mean that it will receive a treat.
Train Your Dog With Visitors
If you have an extremely patient friend, one in which your dog is unfamiliar with, ask if they will be willing to be the guinea pig for your dog’s training. Spend some time having your friend walk in your door and while your dog is leashed, introduce the two. I would even suggest to load your friend up with treats to reward your pup with when it lets your company inside without incident. If your dog is already familiar with commands like “sit” or “lay down” have your friend instruct your dog to perform these when they enter. The dog will feel more comfortable if your guest is using words that he is already familiar with. It’s crucial that your friend acts in a calm and relaxed way during this exercise and any other time they enter. Dogs go by body language a lot of the time when they judge us. If your guests are told to come in relaxed then your dog will eventually be able to tell the difference in a friendly person and one that it really should be concerned over.
Distract Your Dog To Avoid Hassle
Let’s say your dog is now comfortable with people entering your home but still has an issue with them when they move around while inside. Get your guests to give you a heads up before they have to get up. This way you can give your dog something to do to take its mind off of your friend’s movements. A good way to distract your dog is to give him certain things to do. For instance, you can have the dog perform a certain set of tricks that it is already familiar with or even get out his treat bag. Treats can be a huge helper here. Typically, if the dog is eating, the rest of the world is basically forgotten, as long as no one is threatening its plate! If you are having an issue with food aggression, check out some tips here. Your dog shouldn’t be fed treats every single time a friend is going to make a move. That can lead to issues that we won’t cover here. But treats can be a good way to introduce a dog to a new type of behavior that you expect. Remember to switch it up with different activities and sometimes treats as a distraction.
Like any other behavior that we try and teach our dogs, this one is going to take the utmost patience on your part. Your dog is naturally curious, dominant and possibly aggressive. This can be a dangerous combination when we’re talking about people walking into your home. By providing your dog with a life that is full of love and attention, you will have an easier time getting it to trust you. This trust will be huge in the struggle of getting him to accept friendly guests into its home. Just remember to keep calm and guide your dog through his anxiety with the tips that we’ve covered here.