OR “OMG! COMPANY IS HERE, GET THE DOG!”
Like so many other things we wish our dogs to learn, greeting guests at the front door is actually composed of several behaviors performed in a chain. In this case I divide door greetings into at least three groups:
- Remaining in the house when the door is opened until cued to do otherwise.
- Greeting people in a controlled fashion.
- Retiring to a spot out of the way of guests coming into the house.
Each of these groups is comprised of several different behaviors. Rather than trying to accomplish training all of these behaviors in the short time you have prior to relatives and guests arriving, you can initiate the training and solve your immediate problem at the same time.
The first thing to change or eliminate a behavior is to prevent it from occurring. How can you prevent your guests getting mugged by your friendly goof in the time that you have in the next few weeks? Here are some ideas:
- Take the dog for several walks the day of the event. 30 minutes prior to guests' arrival, confine your dog to a room or a crate in a quiet area of the house. Provide TV or radio background noise, along with Kong toys stuffed with goodies to keep your dog comfortable. 20 minutes after the last guest arrives you have a choice…either leave the dog in confinement for the duration of the party, or quietly let your dog out of confinement after instructing guests to ignore the dog’s initial bawdy attentions.
- Another tactic would be to acknowledge the dog’s response to the bell or knock at the door, and then redirect her to an area behind a barrier such as a doggie gate or pen using a word or phrase such as “goodies” or “party time.” Once in the target area, toss a handful of treats on the floor and return to the door to let the guests into the house. Again the guests should be instructed to ignore the dog unless all four feet are on the ground. After all guests have arrived and the dog seems calm, quietly open the barrier to allow dog access to the party.
By following either of these scenarios or versions of them, you are preparing your dog to learn all of the behaviors she needs to complete her door greetings repertoire. Visualize how you would like the dog to respond to an opened door…with guests or not. Then list all of the individual behaviors you see in that vision and make a training plan. After this holiday season, you will have a whole year to implement your plan before the holiday season is upon us once again.
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
For more information about this or other dog training or behavioral issues, contact Cathy Hughes.
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