Having visitors or going visiting friends and family with your new dog can be stressful for all concerned. Some dogs will love it and want to jump all over new people and others may bark or be destructive. It’s well worth putting some strategies in place to help your dog to cope and to teach them the right way to behave.
Having Visitors To Your Home With Your New Dog
If you have a puppy it’s a great socialisation experience for them to get used to visitors but even with a new puppy it’s still important to show them that you are looking out for them.
One fundamental is to find a way to avoid your dog having direct access to the front door so that they don’t get to meet and greet all the visitors before they’ve even got through the door. Another fundamental to good visitor behaviour is to have a safe space which you’ve taught your dog to relax in for weeks and months in advance. Often people use a crate and/or play pen for puppies but even older dogs benefit from having their own space.
Let Visitors Arrive First
If your dog has their own space then what’s better than having a doggy peanut butter kong or lick mat in their safe space while your visitors arrive. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with your dog jumping all over your visitors at the door before they’ve got their coats off, it can just be a difficult habit to break and not all visitors love it. It is also difficult for your dog to know which visitors they are allowed to mug on arrival and which they aren’t, so for your dog it may be helpful to be really clear about their role with visitors.
Settling on a mat
Once everyone has arrived and are comfortable you should find that your dog is also calmer. This is the time when you can invite your dog out to lay on their mat in a calm settle eating treats from you. To start with this might be all you can do before giving your dog another calming activity in their safe space. If your dog can’t lay on their mat eating a non-stop supply of treats from you then they won’t be able to meet and greet your visitors calmly so it’s kinder to give them something else to do in their own space.
Meeting and greeting
Meeting and greeting visitors is an important skill for a lot of dogs to learn too as they are social animals and it’s an easily teachable skill. Just be aware though that not all dogs love visitors and they may want to be elsewhere when you have visitors and that’s okay too, perhaps book them in at their usual doggy day care or have a walker take them out.
You can teach your dog to ‘go say hi’ in lots of settings not just at home by giving your ‘visitor’ a treat and then sending your dog to ‘go say hi’ and your visitor either just gives them the treat before your recall them away. As a general rule, if you don’t want your dog jumping up at visitors then I’d discourage visitors from petting your dog when they have their paws up and you may even want to use a house lead to help. If your dog is particularly prone to jumping up then you’ll need to be quick on the recall and over time introduce them to the idea of sitting for the treat from the visitor or the visitor may need to drop the treats on the floor.
If your dog can manage to meet and greet visitors appropriately and can settle on their mat around visitors then you can gradually give your dog freer access to visitors.
Visiting dogs are worth a particular mention. It is by far and away the best thing if the dogs can meet well in advance of a visit to your home, and if this isn’t possible then take them on a good long walk together before going inside. Make sure that there are no bones, chews or kong toys on the floor too. Unless the dogs know each other well I’d recommend some separate time with your dog in their safe space with something calming to do while everyone arrives and protect your dog’s safe space so they don’t have to share it with a visiting dog.
Please have a watch of this ten minute video on visitors and dogs https://youtu.be/h6mdJdPIW68