Depending on the personality of your pup, having guests over may be either a stressful or fun affair. Some pups love the attention of guests, while others are shy and even anxious around strangers. No matter the case, it is always recommended that your pup is trained to behave around guests. This is for the safety and enjoyment of you, your pup, and your guests. Here are some training tips to practice before having guests over.
1. Controlling Overly Excited Pups
If your dog tends to go ballistic when guests come to visit, training it to remain calm is good practice to prevent any unfortunate incidents. Jumping and standing are common behaviours in overly excited pups, so the first step is to teach your dog that these unwanted behaviours will not get them the attention it desires. Instead of reacting to your pup’s jumping, simply ignore it till it realises that the action is not returning the outcome it desires. Don’t get worked up over it, as an excited dog can’t tell the difference between frustration and excitement. Stay calm so that your pup will feed off your low energy and follow suit.
If you find that your dog no longer responds to the “sit” command when it becomes excited, putting it on a leash, or even confining it till it calms down may be necessary. The goal is to teach them that excited behaviour such as jumping and standing are not rewarded with attention. If done enough times, your dog will learn to remain calm when guests arrive so it can finally receive the pats and cuddles it yearns.Read more: Why Positive Reinforcement for Training is Important
2. Managing Guests
It is always good to inform your guests beforehand that there is a dog at your place. Not everyone is fond of dogs, so a good host would be aware if there are guests who prefer not to be in contact with your pup, and prepare accordingly.
If all your guests happen to be fellow canine-lovers, you may want to give them some tips, especially if your pup is still in the process of training. Tell your guests not to reward unwanted behaviours such as jumping and standing, even if they don’t mind it. A fun practice is to pass each guest a treat as they come through the doorway, telling them to ask your dog to sit, and reward it with the treat as it does so. This teaches your dog that it will be rewarded for remaining calm and sitting when guests arrive, and is a fun welcome activity for your guests!
3. Helping Anxious Dogs
Not all dogs are into receiving attention from strangers in the house. Some may cower in a corner or hide in another room altogether. While this may not seem like a big issue, putting your dog through such trauma whenever guests are around is not recommended. Instead, a good owner would try to ease it out of the anxiety. One way is to create a safe space that is away from the main party, but still within sight. You may pick the far end of the dining/living room, or even a connecting room with the door left open. If your pup needs a confined space, you can set up a baby gate or place it in an exercise pen. Place your dog’s bed or blanket there together with its toys and water bowl. You can also give it a treat or chew as a reward for being calm in that space. Lastly, make sure that your guests know not to approach your dog when it is resting in its safe space.
Note: If your dog is aggressive or extremely fearful, please seek professional help.
4. Training Greedy Dogs
It’s an ongoing debate as to whether it is recommended for dogs to be at the dining table or not. This issue is mostly up to personal preference and your dog’s behaviour during dinner time. Persistent dogs may become bothersome while you and your guests are deep in conversation, so it is always good to train your dogs to behave properly when you are at the dinner table, no matter how tempting dinner may be. The easiest option is to confine your pup at a place away from the dining table. You should also make sure to feed your dog before meal time to keep it from going frantic while you feast. If you aren’t keen on the idea of confinement, then you should train your pup to go to its bed or blanket on command. Some key principles you should practice is to never give food directly from the table. While it is discouraged to feed human food high in fat and sugar content, there are certain foods such as cheese and small pieces of chicken that are fine for dogs. Always place the food in your pup’s food bowl to prevent an association between food and the table.