What to do about those Visitors
VISITORS – we are now welcoming people back into our home but our dogs don’t understand why and what they should do.
As we all start to get back to some sort of normality, and things begin to open, many of our dog owners report that their young dogs are struggling. They don’t know what to do when strangers – usually our friends and family begin to visit again. Suddenly their whole world has been blown apart as they now have to share not only their owner’s attention but also their home.
If you think about, when we were subjected to all the restrictions, things became a lot calmer and quieter and a lot of new pups were introduced into this calm environment. Now its all changed. Things have become more noisy and loud, if we have children visiting, they are often quick moving and there's is lots of noise. Nothing wrong with that - but for some they find this a challenge and totally understandable.
Although there is very little you can do at that moment in time, you can help your dog with some preparation and also show where they should be if they want to keep out of the way. As summer proceeds, and if we get more sunshine for us to enjoy, it maybe that you need to make sure that your dog knows where to find shade, peace and quiet – you must let your dog have some down time, especially if they are overstimulated by the lots of quick movement and chatter. Use this as an opportunity to teach the children how to do right by your dog too – respect the distance and obviously never let them crawl, climb all over them.
Okay, how about you make a plan about what to do to help your dog when visitors come calling. You may have different types of visitors and so have more than one plan, but what ever it is, do write it down and pin it up on the fridge. Agree it as a family so there are no mistakes.
These are some of the questions you should be answering and remember we mean new or regular to your dog – not you!
Front door a) delivery driver drop off only
b) delivery driver collecting
c) delivery driver entering the house
d) regular friend/family visiting
e) regular friend/ family entering the house and staying
f) new visitor to door
g) new visitor entering the house
Back door and or garden – quite often friends and family come straight in because that’s what they have always done – but how does this affect your dog and what you do with them?
And while we talk about this, think also about the security of gates and doors – we have already lost several dogs this spring who have escaped out of an unsecure door. We don’t want to worry anyone but many of these situations can be avoided by putting in sensible measures beforehand. Please consider what you can do to help your dog cope with these changes.
And so in each of these situations, consider what is going to happen with your dog.
Where are they going to be when the situation arises and will it matter and then teach them what to do each time?
If it’s a case of just a one off delivery, then you can probably shut the dog behind a safety gate while you deal with your parcels. However, it is relatives coming for tea and you have a dog who goes over the top as soon as they see anyone new, then you need to plan what to do and practice it until things go smoothly.
For example, I used to have 9 GSD’s living together in one house. They all got along and we had no problems with them at all until the delivery man came. Then there was no chance of me getting to the front door and the noise was bad. German Shepherd dogs are born to guard and this means barking. I had to teach them that when the door bell went – or someone approached the house – who needed a door bell?, they all had a routine to follow for which they were rewarded. Every time someone came, we would take all 9 to the biscuit cupboard in the kitchen where they would sit and be rewarded. The safety gate was shut, and I would then go to the front door to deal with the “intruder”. Of course, to begin with, I couldn’t expect a postman or courier to wait while I sorted out my dogs, so I enlisted my daughter’s friends who were encouraged to keep approaching the front door and wait while I taught the dogs where I wanted them. Keeping practicing and it will flow and your dog will believe you. By the way I would always say “THANK YOU” as they were taken to the kitchen, and believe me, if I wasn’t there, no body would have got in without being mugged. We found that this system helped our dogs to settle quicker when anyone visited, and they were then allowed to join us when calm.
If you have a plan that everyone can stick to, you will help your dog cope and hopefully you will have a great summer enjoying your visitors – lets hope the sun continues to shine.