Does your dog jump, bark and rush to the door when company arrives at your home? If so, you may consider taking the time to teach your dog a replacement behavior. This means deciding what you’d like them to do instead. The best place to start is to teach your dog to sit, then to stay. That way, you can have them sitting nicely while your guests enter your home. The time you spend training now will last a lifetime.
Next, it’s important to determine WHY your dog is reacting. If your dog is simply excited; follow the steps below. If your dog is afraid or nervous, you’re going to want to change their mindset from fear to excitement. Basically, turn the arrival of guests into a party instead of a dread. Remember, it takes time and patience to help your dog change their feelings about people, especially if they have had bad experiences in the past.
Please note: This post will not cover aggression. Aggression is an issue that requires in-person, professional intervention and needs to be addressed prior to this type of training. If your dog shows aggression towards humans they should not be greeting guests at your door right now. Please consider a professional, positive reinforcement trainer in your area. A good resource for this is The Association for Professional Dog Trainers at: https://apdt.com/
Once you have mastered sit/stay, here are some ways to better manage the problems you may experience when guests arrive:
Start training NOW. Don’t wait for someone to come to your door. As a matter of fact, please don’t expect your dog to succeed until you have practiced this many, many times in advance. For a complete video of similar training click here.
1. Have rewards and a leash near the door. The rewards will depend on what YOUR dog likes. Most dogs will listen best when treats are involved. (We suggest soft, small treats like Zuke’s or the soft, jerky type sticks). Soft treats have more scent and flavor which means more motivation for your dog. Store the treats in a sealed baggie or pouch in a secret location (out of reach but near the front door) and use them only when working on this behavior. If your dog is not motivated by food a special toy will work just as well.
2. Choose the behavior you want to replace the disruptive behavior with. Some people might just want their dog to stop jumping so they teach the dog to simply stand instead of jump. Others might want their dog to lay on a rug or mat while they open the door and let people in (we have videos covering both). We will use sit/stay for this example as it is a common and fairly simple solution.
To access step-by-step instructions click "read more" below:
While dog training may not come naturally to us, the core foundation is patience. Out dogs need time and space to succeed and patience to allow for mistakes and challenges. It can be frustrating and time consuming to train your dog. If you don't have confidence in your training skills or your dog's ability, they will know. But, I assure, they know when you are trying and they know when you mean business by your follow through. The only REAL requirement to train your dog is patience - for your dog and yourself.
There are so many benefits to training your dog and it doesn't have to feel like a huge undertaking. Keep in mind, that every time you are with your dog is an opportunity to train them. If you look at it with a positive mindset and, make it fun and rewarding, it will feel much less like a task and more like a time to bond and learn with your dog. It's a partnership and just like any relationship, needs commitment and nurturing.
There are MANY methods people use to train dogs. I choose and (highly recommend) using positive reinforcement dog training for several reasons. Mainly, it is based on how dogs LEARN, not by forcing them to perform like a circus animal. I can teach a dog anything by simply rewarding them for doing what’s right and either ignoring or removing them if their behavior is undesirable Timing is crucial but all things are possible with this method of dog training. I rarely correct a dog's behavior, and if I do it’s with a simple “no”. It's much more powerful to teach them what to do instead, rather than simply demanding they stop doing something. I may interrupt a dog's barking so that I can help them learn it is undesirable but I don't punish them for doing something that is a natural for them.
I would never recommend using an e-collar (shock collar with a new name) because this gives the trainer more power than they deserve. It takes away from the learning process and starts a "I'm the boss and you need to do what I say" mentality. Dogs deserve better than being shocked and I have yet to work with a dog that did not respond to positive reinforcement training so I am rightfully set in my ways. I can't help but think "if you can train a dog without harm, why wouldn't you"?
I truly believe we should ALWAYS allow the dog a chance to learn, make mistakes and grow - without the use of pain or force. It is much better for the dog mentally and training the whole dog is the best way to ensure you keep their spirit and personality intact. We must build them up, not tear them down, and this is where patience comes in. We need patience to allow them time to learn and patience with ourselves to make mistakes too.
When training your dog be sure you are in a positive state of mind and have the time and patience for the task at hand. If you are rushed, worrying about other things or simply not in the mood - I urge you to choose another time. Your dog needs your with them, in the moment and happy, in order to succeed.
Positive reinforcement dog training involves using rewards which will motivate your dog to do what you ask. You will need to find what your dog likes best as a reward. This may mean using chicken to really get their attention, or even a new squeaky toy. Some dogs will work for physical affection. Only you know what motivates your dog best and have fun trying new things. Once misconception about using positive reinforcement dog training - you will need to have treats on you at all times. This is simply NOT true. You will need to have the reward your dog likes best on you while you are training. Once your dog is trained, you can taper the rewards out and replace them with verbal or physical praise if needed.
When training your dog speak kindly to them and try not to repeat commands. If they know "sit" and you say it, wait...give them a chance to succeed. I try to count to five in my head before reminding or helping a dog to follow through on a command. It's also important to be sure you have their attention before you ask them to do anything. Asking your dog to sit, stay or lay down while they are looking at a squirrel (or even a leaf for that matter), isn't fair. If your dog is not looking at you, they are probably not listening either!
Remember - learning takes TIME. Your dog is very capable and they need your patience during training. Dogs learn at different rates and in different ways so take your time to learn and see how your dog learns best.
We have a wonderful series of training videos available! Each one is packed with tricks, tips and advice to ensure your success.
If your dog suddenly starts having accidents in the home, it’s important to FIRST rule out any underlying medical issue. Please seek the advice of your veterinarian before considering these tips.
Below are the top five reasons a once house trained dog may soil in the house:
1. They aren’t getting enough access to outdoors. Ask yourself: Have I been taking my pet outdoors as often as I used to? For adult dogs, every very few hours, or every 2 for young pups (even less for very young puppies) PLUS 10-20 minutes after meal times? (If they are getting enough access to outdoors, your timing may be off or it may be something else). Be sure you provide plenty of opportunities for your dog to succeed in going outdoors if you want them to reverse this new behavior. It’s important to reverse it as soon as possible!
2. They are stressed or upset. Have there been recent changes to their environment? Pets are very sensitive to change and sometimes we may not realize how much a small change can affect them. Some things may include: Adding a new pet to your home, having a baby, someone moving in or out, starting a new job that requires you to be away for longer periods of time, a rainy or snowy day, etc. These changes can create stress in pets and they may start doing things that are “out of the norm” in response – which can include soiling in the house. They need extra support during these times (see “3” next).
3. They need more attention and/or stimulation - Have you been providing enough play, interaction and/or affection? Sometimes, we can forget to include our pets in our day-to-day lives and they feel it. Pets require more than food and water, they also need physical and mental stimulation. Life is busy but it’s so important to take the time to connect with our pets as much as possible. Walks, physical contact, puzzle toys and one-on-one playtime are all ways you can help your pet to feel included. Even just a cuddle session on the couch is much appreciated!
4. Weather - Many dogs do not like cold or wet weather and will choose to stay indoors instead. If your dog is like this, you’ve got to stay on top of potty time to avoid mishaps. Purchase a sweater or coat and take them out on a leash so you know when they have gone. REWARD them after.
5. Loneliness– Your dog may be feeling lonely and they are trying to tell you something. Try leaving music or television on when you are away and consider stuffing a Kong (or other puzzle feeder) full of food/treats to give to them when you leave. You can also leave treats hidden around the house. If you find yourself being away for long periods of time, I also suggest you consider an insured and experienced dog walker. Dogs get lonely too!
Some additional tips to help with this issue:
Written by Christine Durrant, Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Care Consultant
If you want to teach your dog to come when called to you reliably, read this post…
So many people say "My dog never comes when called". Teaching a dog to come when called requires a really good connection between the dog and the human. If your dog is NOT trained to sit, lay down or stay, I highly recommend you start on those before working on teaching your dog the Come command. Come is more a more advanced dog training command and works best if you have formed a bond through positive reinforcement training first. If you have successfully trained your dog in basic manners teaching come will be much easier.
NEVER say the word “come” unless you are 100% sure your dog will succeed. You must train them in a controlled environment, building up to distractions and relishing in all success. If you find yourself saying the command regularly and your dog ignores you, you have basically “ruined” the word and should start with a new one (we recommend “Here”). During training, do not use the word until you have your dog’s attention and they are secure on a leash/lead.
For the purpose of this blog, I will assume you have not ruined the command and use “Come”.
Here are the steps I would recommend for training your dog to come when called: