How to Have Visitors and Maintain Your Dog’s House Rules

Your dog has responded well to training—they’re keeping calm at the door, staying out of the kitchen, leaving people alone at the dining room table—that is, until a well-meaning guest riles them up, or slips them some table scraps. Since dogs thrive on consistent messaging, this could cause quite a setback, but the good news is it can be avoided.

Having visitors can be fun for you and your dog, but sometimes guests unwittingly undo your hard work.

What’s going on in your dog’s brain

If your guests encourage your dog to jump up or play roughly, it could lead them to believe that that behaviour is now acceptable. To avoid this situation altogether, make it a habit to pre-emptively tell your guests that jumping isn’t an acceptable behaviour for your pet, and ask them not to encourage it. Most people will understand and simply change their own behaviours.

Similarly, many guests don’t realise that offering your pet some food from their plate can lead to begging and expectations of being given people food later on. Let your guests know that your dog eats a specially-prepared diet that won’t upset their stomach. You don’t have to tell them that it’s just dog food—it’s still true, and they should respect your request to withhold table food, regardless.

When the guests include children

Kids may not understand why your pet has rules to follow. Be sure to explain the boundaries when they first arrive, and advise them to give your pet plenty of space. Your dog may become uncomfortable with too much rough play, so remind children to visit calmly. Even better, ensure your dog has a safe haven to which they can retreat freely. Children who learn to respect dogs from an early age are far less likely to be bitten, and even friendly dogs can be pushed to nip when they are agitated.

Most importantly: kids and dogs should never be left alone together.

House Rule

When the guests include other dogs

If your guest brings their dog with them, there are some extra issues of which you’ll need to be mindful. For example, dogs that have ‘accidents’ in your home leave their scent behind, which can confuse and challenge your dog. After all, their scent is marking your dog’s territory, so the only option your dog will see is covering it up with their own scent.

To avoid other potential issues, any visiting dog should have their first meeting with the resident dog in neutral territory, to ensure they are able to properly assess each other. You can determine if they will tolerate being together. Some dogs are not able to cope with a strange dog in their home turf, and will react poorly.

You can always request that your guests leave their dogs at home while they visit if your dog is not comfortable with other dogs in their territory.

If you need some one-on-one help, get in touch with your local Bark Busters trainer. They’d be happy to help!