Visitors (fearful dogs)


If your dog has a bite history with people, you might consider 100% management, meaning that your dog stays behind a secure, closed door while you have visitors. Sometimes it’s more work than it’s worth as it’s a LOT of stress on the dog, a lot of stress on you, a lot of stress on the visitor. 

When we have a human-reactive dog, we have a great liability on our hands and it’s our responsibility to keep them and the public safe. 

Double check your home insurance as they will have coverage for you if your dog bites a person on your property. 

As always, safety first!

Getting into a good routine right away pays dividends down the road. You and your dog will both know what to do, and your guests won’t get jumped on, spooked, or worse – bitten! Let’s train our dogs to run to a specific spot when there is a knock on the door (or the doorbell rings). This will also prevent a door-darting situation! 

How to prepare:

  1. Place a sign on your door or near the doorbell that says “Dog in training. Please be patient.” – this will buy you a little time to do the training in real-life situations without feeling stressed about the visitor who is waiting. 
  2. Arm yourself with small, high-value treats that your dog loves. Keep these in a treat pouch around your waist, or in a secure container near the front door where your dog cannot access them.
  3. Have a few stuffed frozen Kongs in the freezer, ready to rock!

Training Tip: If visitors are coming and you don’t have time to train, put your dog in their crate or confinement area with some things to chew on. Don’t give them the opportunity to learn bad habits. If you have non-compliant people coming over, manage the same way – you do not want other people un-training your dog after all this hard work! It’s not worth it!

Troubleshooting: If your dog is having trouble with your visitor routine, be ready to reward more frequently and ask for something easier. For example, if you were asking for a sit-stay when the doorbell goes off, instead ask for a quick sit, then release your dog to say hello.

Important Note: Please keep in mind that this is a quick overview and this behaviour challenge often needs more help than can be given in a quick Roadmap. This is a starting point, but I might suggest keeping a close eye on our Cranky Canine program that works through “stranger danger” with dogs. 

Check out our Live Training replay video from November 4th, 2020: