Whenever I have company over, my dog goes crazy barking and jumping at the door. He's really friendly, but some of my family doesn't like him because he barks and jumps at them. How can I get him to stop?
This is a very common concern among dog owners. Dogs can feed off our excitement, activity and stress level, causing unwanted behavior: barking, rushing the door, jumping and mouthing guests.
We should be sensitive to the fact that some people are uncomfortable, fearful or just don't like dogs in general. With a multi-dog household, people can feel overwhelmed; large dogs can knock people over and small dogs can get underfoot. It's our job to shield our guests from this unwanted behavior.
The best approach is to take control of the dog(s) before you open the door to let your guests in. Various options include:
• Train your dog to sit/stay patiently near the front door, but with enough space for people to comfortably enter. Once the dog is behaving calmly, he/she can be released to greet the guests.
• If your dog isn't trained, use a leash to handle him while answering the door so you can manage any problems that arise. Alternately, enlist help from a friend or family member to handle the dog on-leash.
• In some cases, it may be best to manage the situation by simply putting your dog away in his/her crate, kennel, or another room before the arrival of your guests.
Keep in mind that the reward for the dog is that people come in and give them the attention they want. Start practicing early or consider hiring a professional to train your dog in time for your next party.
This week's expert is Pauline Houliaras, CPT, certified professional trainer and behavior consultant with Doghouse Girls and president, B-More Dog (www.bmoredog.org). Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.