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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Visitors. Part III

If you have a dog who doesn't like visitors or who gets over stimulated by visitors, here are some options:

1. Don't have visitors. Meet friends at family at their place or at a nearby location (coffee house, park, etc..)

2. If you must have visitors
A. First teach your pup how to relax by himself - behind a closed door. Preferably in a crate behind a closed door.
See Separation Anxiety, Relaxation Protocol, Crate Acclimation, and Air Locks

B. If the weather is nice, consider meeting people outside of your residence while your pup relaxes inside with some non scary white noise.

C. If you must meet visitors inside, put your pup in a room in a crate far from visitors - behind a locked door and do not let visitors wander towards where your dog is resting.

D. If your pup would feel better about seeing visitors from a distance, set up the house for safety - using play pens or hold his/her leash and keep a very comfortable distance from visitors. Do not let anyone get within reaching distance of your dog.  Don't assume that just because you tell visitors "no petting" that they will comply.
See some ideas here:

E. If you use a leash, be careful that it does not become a source of frustration. Don't use if your dog will be pulling, tugging or lunging. (instead, put your pup away) And consider a comfortable harness. If there is a chance that your pup might slip a harness, use a martingale as backup:

F. Don't let anyone give treats to your pup. You can reward with treats if you like. See more on treats here

G. As an extra precaution, you might consider a basket muzzle. But you still need to stay out of reaching distance of people.

3. If at anytime during the visits, your dog becomes over agitated or fearful, start ending the visit. If visitors continually ignore your requests to ignore your dog, send them away.

4. If your dog is people-friendly but a little bit uncontrollable around visitors, teach your dog how to run to his crate or run and get his favorite toy. Then teach your dog how to do that when visitors arrive. If your dog has an issue with jumping up, see: and

5. Actually to prepare your dog for visitors (for anxious or excitable dogs), you might try practicing with less exciting people.  i.e. figure out what you want your dog to, teach the trick during boring, quiet times. Then teach it using well known people as distractions. Start with immediate family members, then well known, frequent visitors and so on.

6. What if you want your dog to become accustomed to a certain close friend or family member who is unknown to the dog?  Have that person come alone. And start outdoors. Actually before you start outdoors, make sure your dog is comfortable outside:

Then meet the person outside and do some parallel walking. Have the person stay far away enough that the dog will not become afraid of nor aggressive towards that person.  Try several of these meetings outside. You can give your dog treats for looking at the person - but do not ask the person to give treats at this time.

When your pup seems happy about the outside meetings, then you can walk towards the house together and have the person walk in first, then your dog.  Absolutely no interaction at this time. Have the person sit still, ignoring the dog.  Keep pup on leash and/or behind a barrier.  Then have the person leave.

Try another visit on another day. If the dog is still having fun, you can start acclimating your dog to the visitor's movements. See more at

If that goes well, you can start letting the visitor walk by and toss treats - but do not have your dog approach for treats yet.

Remember to go at the dog's pace and don't move ahead until the dog is happy at the last step. If at any point you pet becomes uncomfortable, back up to a step where you were successful.  This might take a few days or a few months. It depends on the dog.

If that goes well, you might start touch desensitization (if needed for any reason). Here are some details; but it might be best to work with a professional.

Information on hiring a trainer here:

Also, see this video on barking at visitors

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