Most behavioral issues that people face in the home are due to a lack of structure and leadership in the house. Dogs are put in a position where they need to make decisions with little to no guidance from us. It is essential to shift that and apply rules and boundaries to get our dogs constantly thinking and looking to us to determine what is appropriate and not appropriate.
These are some basic structure and management techniques that will ensure that you have a well behaved dog in your home. We put our emphasis on promoting only calm behavior in the house. This will ensure that situations that are typically arousing, like having guests over or meal times, become much more manageable. Some of these are temporary and some are permanent depending on the dogs individual issues and needs.
Dogs are our best friends. We get them to cuddle on the couch and enjoy their company. Heck, even my personal dogs sleep in the bed with me every night.
That being said it is essential that we create a boundary involving their access to our furniture right off the bat. This will be the first step for getting your dog to ask for your permission in the house. We implement a no furniture (Couches, chairs, bed) policy for the first 30 days the dog goes home. If your dog jumps up onto the furniture you will calmly say “No” and deliver a correction with your remote collar at a motivating level.
*After 30 days we switch to permission based furniture access. You will apply the same rules as before (no access to furniture with a correction for jumping up on their own) with the acceptation of being allowed up when WE invite them to come up.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintaining a strict no furniture policy)
Furniture access is a privilege not a right and we want to ensure that we can remove it if need be to help provide much needed structure. It is essential that we are consistent about this over the course of these first 30 days. Any wavering from it will cause the dog to continue pushing the boundary you are trying to set and not reduce the behavior.
Guest/front door protocol
If there is one thing our clients struggle with in the house it’s having guests come over. We see everything from explosive behavior when the door bell goes off, to jumping all over your guests as they are trying to walk into the door. This is not only rude to our friends and family who are trying to say hello to us, but also can lead to more serious and dangerous behavioral issues down the line.
We set a very strict protocol for guests coming over. Set yourself and your dog up for success by asking your friends and family for a few minor things before they come over.
1.) Forewarning before coming over or coming to the front door. You will have a lot to focus on the first few times you have guests over. Letting them in and getting your dog stationary in itself can be a task the first few times that you practice these drills. Knowing before they come knocking at your dog will give you the time to prepare yourself to guide your dog through a distracting situation.
2.) Ignore the dog. Have them follow the no look, no touch, no eye contact policy. Your dog has a lot of associations with guests coming to your home. Up until this point there is a good chance that it was “The Fido Show” every time anyone came over. Adding any attention towards the dog right off the bat will make your job of getting your dog into a calm stable position 10x harder.
When the doorbell goes off we have a few things we need to do. First and foremost is correct any explosion we may get to the doorbell going off. Mark with a verbal “No” and deliver a correction at a motivating level on the remote collar (I typically will start at double what your dog works at under any other distractions the first few times).
Next we need to get our dog in a stable position. I like to use our “Bed” command for this as it is the most clear and stable position. Stand next to the bed and recall the dog over and onto it. Proceed to let your guest in ONLY when the dog is in position and stable. If your dog breaks command mark with your “No”, deliver correction, and take your dog back to “Bed”.
*Once things have settled down (not just 4-5 minutes) and your dog is relaxed and not anticipating being released (I mean it, they should be calm!) you may let him/her up to be apart of things. Enforce a strict “Four on the Floor” no jumping policy as they are enjoying the company of your guest. Give correction with remote collar if the dog gets to excited and begins to jump.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintain a strict Bed policy around new guests)
Understand your dogs individual needs. If there will be a lot of people coming over or your dog gets easily overwhelmed in busy situations they may need short exposure and frequent breaks away from all the action. Our goal is to build their confidence through neutrality and coexistence.