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Greeting Guests with Success

What do you do when your dog doesn't care for some of your visitors? Some dogs will take a severe disliking to certain visitors -- perhaps men in uniforms or overcoats...people in big hates-guests wearing perfume. Perhaps due to a lack of early socialization, the dog is fearful of the unfamiliar. And sometimes it's just hard to tell why a dog barks or lunges at a particular visitor.

But in every case, it is up to you to reassure your dog-as well as ensure he or she doesn't frighten or injure your visitors.

First, if you have invited over someone who tends to make abrupt movements, talk loudly, or otherwise excite your dog, speak with the person in advance. Explain that you are working with your dog on politely greeting visitors, and that the guest's cooperation is essential.

You might arrange the following set-up before the next visit. Play with Rover before your guest arrives so that he is not carrying around so much energy-and is not starved for attention. Then place a canister of small treats near the door (not on the floor, of course).

When your guest arrives, snap on Rover's leash and place him by your side, holding the leash. Have him in a 'sit' before you open the door. Verbally praise and treat him for sitting calmly. Your goal is to keep Rover in a calm mood. Be relaxed yourself, or you'll telegraph anxiety to your dog.

When your guest enters, have her take some treats from the canister, while you keep Rover in a sit, praising him for being good or giving a sharp leash correction to re-direct his attention to you if he is getting ready to bark or pounce on your guest.

Next, have your guest calmly greet Rover in a quiet but friendly voice. Your guest should pet and praise Rover only if he is reasonably calm. She can then dispense a treat, simultaneously saying "Good boy," to reward the good behavior. This shows Rover that the guest's presence is not threatening his world-and thanks to the treats, starts building a new positive association. Rover begins to realizes that when a guest comes in, good things such as treats and gentle petting happen.


Last Updated: July 02, 2013 (LET) PawSupport