As we ebb closer to being allowed visitors in our homes many of us are really looking forward to having our loved ones come to visit again.
However, if you have a puppy who is not used to visitors or a dog who gets incredibly excited, nervous or even aggressive, this happy event can be somewhat tainted with nerves.
You want everyone to feel relaxed and to be able to enjoy spending time together, so we’ve put together 8 ways to help your dog get used to visitors so that everyone can have a lovely time.
8 ways to help your dog get used to visitors
1.Talk to your guest(s) in advance
Everyone feels more comfortable when they know what to expect and when they have an opportunity to share their worries and feelings.
If your impending guest is scared of dogs, then you can reassure them that you have management tools in place so that everyone is looked after. Alternatively, if you have a dog lover coming to visit who cannot wait to mollycoddle your dog and that’s your dog’s idea of hell, then talk about it beforehand!
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
2. Prepare your dog in advance of visitors
To help your dog to settle when new people come to visit it’s a good idea to have a safe space that your dog can happily settle in, away from the excitement.
Giving your dog a good walk beforehand will help him/her to relax, since they will have burned off any excess energy. A tired dog will find it easier to switch off and relax in their safe space.
Try and get your dog used to spending short periods of time alone in their quiet place so that it’s a normal event. This means one less ‘new’ thing for your dog when visitors come round.
3. Use a dog gate or barrier
Training new behaviours and habits take time.
It’s a good idea to have a physical barrier that reduces the risk of any unwanted physical contact between your visitor and your dog. Our Dog-G8 can be used either as a door gate for your dog or as a room divider to allow you to create a physical barrier which still allows your dog to see what’s going on.
Be gentle with yourself. Success takes time.
4. Create a happy distance
We’re all pretty accustomed to the fact that increased distance means increased safety.
If your dog is super keen to greet your visitor or to ward them off, then tossing some treats away from where you are will encourage your dog to accept some distance. Choose a high value treat that your dog can’t resist and slowly toss the treats farther and farther away.
If your guest isn’t scared of dogs and if your dog isn’t scared of them then you could invite your guest to partake in a little treat tossing!
5. Give your dog something to do
Your dog may find it hard to quietly settle with the excitement of new people coming into your home.
Delicious long-lasting chews and enrichment toys like Kongs and Lickimats can help your dog to calm down and relax. By giving your dog another focus, you are helping him/her to slowly switch off, while the buzz of something new dies down.
You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things.
6. Doorbell training
Oh, the doorbell. The great big catalyst for an explosion of excitement or nerves for so many dogs.
This will take some time but if you train your dog to accept the doorbell as nothing but a boring sound then it will pay off in spades in the long run. You can do this by practising when nobody is coming to the door to slowly desensitise your dog to the novelty factor of the doorbell.
This video by Kikopup outlines how to doorbell train effectively.
7. Meet outside first
The novelty of meeting someone new can be easier for your dog to process outside of the home.
With all of the smells and other novelties of being outdoors it’s easier for your dog to disengage from the exciting new person who just showed up. You could meet for a dog walk before coming home or even outside the front of your house for a bit of a sniff before you all come inside.
This one can also help you get that much needed exercise for your dog ticked off prior to your guests visiting.
8. Encouraging calm
If your dog is a huge people lover, and your guest(s) are dog fanatics then you can find yourself in the position where your dog is suddenly going completely bananas.
Or, perhaps when your dog was a puppy, your visitors were happy for them to jump up and lick their face. Only now your pup is fully grown, it’s not quite so cute.
It’s completely ok for you to gently explain to your guests that you don’t want to encourage jumping up, or leaping into laps, or whatever your house rules are.
Teaching these behaviours takes time and commitment and you don’t want them all unravelled in one epic fun fest. Use your crate or safety gate and some yummy chews to give everyone some space to calm down.
These are some simple tips to help your dog get used to visitors and are intended for assisting with mild niggles which occur when you have guests coming into your home.
There is no substitute for working with a professional and experienced dog trainer, particularly if there is fear or aggression involved.
If in doubt, separate your dog and your visiting humans and seek out some professional help to get you all moving forwards on positive paws.
A dog safety gate can be a useful tool to have in many different circumstances, it’s a pretty versatile dog product that makes a happy life with your dog much easier.