One of the most common aspects of having a dog is that they are always extremely territorial.
How To Stop A Dog Barking is probably one of the most asked questions.
Sure enough, it is your home but once that new dog moves in they pretty quickly feel that this is their place.
Generally, it takes around 48 hours for a new dog to suss out the layout of the home and around two weeks for them to feel completely comfortable with their new surroundings.
It’s something you will notice when you start taking your dog for a walk, usually on the walk back home, your dog will be almost leading you back as they know where they are going pretty quickly. Dogs are definitely creatures of habit.
So with the whole territorial thing in mind, when that doorbell rings or the door is knocked by a visitor, it is common for our furry friends to bark and sometimes goes a bit crazy.
This is normal behavior for a dog as he or she is reacting to what we could call “perceived danger”
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We know it’s just the Postman or delivery guy popping in to drop off the mail or maybe a family friend coming to visit, but our beloved pooch doesn’t know that!
Going back to the entire pack mentality aspect, our dog is alerting us as pack leaders that something is wrong and someone is invading our territory.
This behavior is entirely normal for the dog. It’s hard-wired. It is how their ancestors, the Wolves react and it’s another characteristic that our modern-day domesticated dogs have inherited.
What we have to do is to negate it somewhat.
Our dog is reacting to this unidentified threat so it’s important that we react accordingly. How we act and react to every situation in our lives when in front of our dog is extremely important. They are looking to us all the time for reassurances and we need to be aware of that.
When couples argue in front of their dog it causes extreme upset for them.
Dogs are hugely sensitive to everything and we as humans would do well to remember that.
In this instance of the doorbell or door knocker going, you can do the following to reassure your dog.
Thank the dog by touching them and responding “Good boy (or girl), It’s OK..thanks for letting me know”.
This is vital because you are letting the dog know that you have acknowledged their part in the whole scene.
The dog is acting like an excited child wanting to tell a parent their news and you have to take notice and react accordingly.
All dogs are different of course and this is trial and error, but generally, the fact that you have acknowledged the alert brings down the dog’s anxiety level somewhat.
After this, you can approach the following in four different ways
1. Firstly, you can then go to the door together, you and your dog and answer the call.
When you answer the door explain to the caller to not take any interest in the dog as you are training him or her and the least fuss the better.
This shows the dog that the threat is diminished as the caller is ignoring the dog as we learned before in our previous article about How To Talk Dog.
It’s important that we as owners react calmly. Dogs pick up on our emotions way more than we realize and this is why a calm and collected owner usually has a calm and collected dog.
2. If for any reason you think that your dog is still at a stage whereby they could jump up or continue barking at the said visitor, it would be prudent to put your dog on the lead before answering the door.
This way, you are in control and the dog may think it could be going for a walk, but it will soon learn it isn’t and at least you are acting responsibly and as pack leader.
3. If you are at a stage where your dog simply can not be trusted with either of these two methods and the barking and jumping would be too much, then a safe alternative is to place your dog in a room with the door closed.
This has to be done in a reward-based way. No shoving or pushing. Those actions are negative and don’t do anything to make the dog feel good about their alert and we need to empower them so they can become the best dog they can be.
Simply thank your dog, acknowledge what they have alerted you too, pop the lead on the dog and walk it into a safe room, give your dog it’s favorite tidbit for cooperating and close the door.
Your dog will soon learn that this is the normal reward for them doing their job and it will lower their anxiety even more.
They are learning that this perceived danger comes with rewards for them.
Importantly here, if your visitor is then coming into the house explain to them what you have done and ask them to ignore your dog when you let them back into the room.
Most people will be fine about this and the dog can then come to them, sniff them and get used to the fact that this “threat” wasn’t really a threat at all.
4. This is rare but needs mentioning anyway. Sometimes the person you are explaining your reasons to about why your dog needs to be ignored on first meeting them simply won’t have it.
“Oh, I love dogs me..it’ll be fine…dogs like me…etc” and they won’t be convinced of your reasons.
So in this case, it’s best to leave the dog in the room away from them safely as all of your good work up to that point and the training you have done in this particular aspect could well be undone by an over-enthusiastic visitor who will excite your dog.
We need calm and consistency when we train our dogs and together with patience and love, it makes for a great recipe.
It’s YOUR Dog after all
One of the most important factors about having a dog is its uniqueness. Like we as humans, every dog is totally their own dog, if you like.
The way you interact with your dog is unique too and after having 4 Greyhounds over the last 20 years, I can tell you that they all have similar traits but hugely different personalities.
The point of the dog training tips outlined here is that you can tailor them to your own needs and make them work for you.
After all, it’s your dog and you will spending the most amount of time with them after all, it makes sense to find a strategy that works for you and most of all, is simple for you and your dog to follow,
Please don’t make the whole thing complex or difficult to follow because if you do:
A) You will not get the desired results
B) You and your dog will stop following the plan.
A Rinse & Repeat Strategy
You really have to commit to this and follow it through and make sure your spouse or whoever else who lives with you does exactly the same course of action when this happens.
Your dog is smart and will soon learn that this is what always happens and it will become second nature to them, and important to you too.
It’s important to let your dog be a dog. They want to alert you, they want you to know that they have got your back so it’s important to reward and acknowledge what a great gift they are giving you, namely one of protection and making you aware of what is going on.
It’s just another reason why dogs are so great!