With the holidays coming, many of us are facing having company over to our homes, and that can create many challenges with our dogs. For us, it mostly means Luke has to be separated from the household since he is fearful of most people, and a group of people can just be too overwhelming for him.
We recently had company for the weekend, and I must plan ahead for him when that’s going to happen. That’s when it’s important that we have Luke crate and leash trained. While just my one friend was here, things went well. He got to spend some time in his crate in the same room with her, and some time in our bedroom away from her. It went quite well while she was here, to the point that he did not even bark at her when she stopped at the gate to the bedroom and spoke to him. That is progress.
We’ve learned to take that progress slowly, so when a group of people came over while she was here, we kept him separate completely so as not to overwhelm. I checked on him often, giving him treats, and letting him outdoors into the overnight pen where he could still see the people but at a distance.
I used to put Cricket down in the bedroom with him, so he wouldn’t be lonely, but later decided he didn’t need her there. It would just make him jealous and snarly when I did go into the room, and he seems fine on his own. I felt it wasn’t fair to her, since she likes most people.
That is our biggest challenge when company comes over, and something we’re always working on and modifying the plan as we see how he does. Crates, gates, and leashes are our best tools, and we have a muzzle on hand as well, but so far haven’t tried that with company (he has never bitten anyone, and we want to keep it that way). He was great when he was in his crate with my friend in the room, he sat quietly and didn’t get upset when she moved around. It’s another step forward.
Now, with our beagle Cricket and all our past dogs before Luke free to be with company, we have things to think about. With all of our dogs, I’ve always worked on not letting them greet people by jumping on them, and not begging for food when people are eating. Begging is a pet peeve of mine, and something we have never allowed any of our dogs to do (not just for company but for every day).
Training doesn’t always have to be complicated and that, for the most part, has always been simple for us. From the day they come home, we never feed them from our table when we’re eating meals. It doesn’t take them long to learn by practice that if they sit and wait quietly, they will get a nibble of our meal and get to lick our plates as long as the foods are safe for them to eat. Then they get a dog treat after we pick up.
Things can be a little different when hubby or I are eating a meal on our own (which often happens with breakfast and lunch), or having a snack. Well, I should say they are different for hubby….he likes to occasionally share his crackers or other snack with them while he’s eating. I never do, however, and when I’m eating they are just sitting or lying closely nearby waiting patiently. Sometimes they might stare at us a bit, but that doesn’t bother me….as long as there is no jumping or whining, it’s all OK.
His breaking of the rules doesn’t seem to adversely affect their normal good manners though. Once in a while, Luke will come up and try to stick his nose in my plate, or give a little whine while sitting next to me. That’s mostly when I’m distracted doing something on my computer, and I’m done eating and haven’t given him my plate yet. I just have him sit or lie down for a minute before giving in, so he doesn’t learn that whining gets him what he wants.
All of this has worked quite well with all the dogs we’ve had; as long as we stick to the rules. I think it carries over to having company, at least as far as I know. Someone who was here recently might tell me otherwise if I just didn’t see it, but I think Cricket stuck to her manners. If one of our visitors starts giving them something, and subsequently gets bothered, well…..that’s their problem! Cricket seems to know the difference, and she hasn’t developed bad habits because of that.
Consistency is key to training, but I also don’t believe that a slip-up now and then sets things back all that much. Luke will try to break the rules every so often, but if we stick to our guns, he’s not going to all of the sudden forget everything he knows. Training can sometimes be easier than you think it might be.
How do your dogs behave when you have company over….have you trained them specifically to prevent unwanted behaviors at those times?
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Training manners for company”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!
I appreciate your tips on training.
I put my youngest dog, Dylan, on a leash when a visitor comes into my house. He loves everyone he meets and gets so excited wanting to jump on them. I allow him to get near enough where my visitor can pet him if he or she wants but not close enough to jump on them. After about 10 minutes he calms down and I can unleash him and let him go about his way. Typically, he’ll find a toy and drop it at the visitor’s feet and look at them lovingly to see if he can get some play time going. Most of the time he charms them into playing with him. He has been this way since I got him and is this way with me if I’ve been away for more than 20 minutes. I have no idea how to get him “not” to love everyone so much. If he appears to be annoying a guest, or they don’t want to play with him, I send him outside to his yard or take him to another part of the house.
Thank you, Barbara!
Take it from someone who has a dog that does not love company, having a dog who loves so much is not such a bad thing! Luke misses out on so much love and attention, and that makes me sad.
It sounds like you keep things under control well. I’m pretty sure I would find Dylan irresistible! 🙂
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Mr. N loves visitors. He brings them toys and demands petting and sits in their laps. He gets super excited when they’re first at the door so we have to watch his arousal levels then.
I wish I had a dog that loved company that much! That’s a problem I could deal with. 🙂
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Ours are wild when people first get here then they settle down. For the most part we just crate them all when people come over. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the hassle of them being out.
Sometimes you just want to focus on your company, and not be distracted by the dogs! 🙂
Bear’s a hider … I’m not sure about Ellie. The couple times we’ve had visitors (handyman, our landlady), Ellie’s been social – except for letting the strangers touch her. I’m never too eager to have people over because I know what my kitties need – what’s bad for them – and guests don’t usually think about that. The Boy and I have had more than a few fights – mostly about things he’s dropped on the floor (medication, olives …) and left there. He doesn’t understand that those things could make the kitties sick and he has to be more careful. I know I’m overprotective – but it frustrates me.
Oh, I completely understand that, and I’m the same way! That would drive me crazy too. My hubby has a candy addiction and I’m constantly after him about leaving candy lying around (luckily it’s not chocolate, but still hard candies that a dog could choke on!).
I agree, I think I could be happy to pretty much never have company, it can be exhausting having to constantly manage things, and watch people to be sure they’re not letting the animals have anything they shouldn’t.
Jodi Stone says
Do you have any thoughts on training the Husbands? Mine will eat animal or oyster crackers and despite me telling him that I don’t want the dogs to have wheat (it makes D’s stool soft) he continues to ‘share.’ Then he complains because they sit in front of him every time he eats. **Sigh**
What is it with men and crackers? That’s exactly what my hubby always has to share (and there’s no fixing them, I don’t think)!
Having followed your work with Luke and company from the beginning, it’s exciting to see how far he has come. Hope you continue to have positive experiences as people visit.
Of course, if you get tired of having visitors, you might be sorry to lose Luke’s discomfort as an excuse to get rid of unwelcome guests. 🙂
Ha ha, you might have seen right through me on that one, Pamela!
I just checked the Feedly feed again, and about 10 posts were “published” 18 hours ago. It must be a tech issue.
Just a note, I follow you via Feedly, and no posts showed up for the past 2 weeks. I thought that it was odd – and I even clicked on your feed to make sure… and it said zero new posts. Then, all of sudden, a ton of posts from today and from the past showed up today. I feel bad that I haven’t been visiting… I’ll be more aggressive in searching for your posts in the future!
We have a similar situation with Shyla as you have with Luke, although her reaction can be fear when people come over. R used to be too excitable for most people but he’s learned his manners as we’ve patiently worked at it over the years. It sounds like management is a big part of your plan… and it’s the same here. I’m glad that Luke can be by himself and be happy. That’s not true for Shyla. She is very agitated if her brother isn’t with her.
Our strategy has been to train our guests about how to deal with Shyla so she doesn’t have to be in another room. We tell them to pretend that she doesn’t exist. Don’t look at her. Don’t talk to her. And, pretty soon, she’ll sneak up behind you and put her muzzle into your hand, asking to be petted. Even then, don’t move too fast or she’ll get scared again. We’ve found that this process is taking less and less time – so Shyla mingles with our guests pretty quickly now. And, when she is finding the guests to be too much, she takes a nap in our bedroom.
Luke sounds a little trickier but it sounds like you’re doing a great job! He’s making progress… at his own pace, and that’s all that you can ask! And great job on the “no begging”. Ours are great with us but tend to “test” guests just to see if they might want to give them a tidbit 🙂
Thanks for letting me know that. I knew you had been gone away so thought that was why we hadn’t heard from you. 🙂 I’m not familiar with Feedly, so no idea what might have been going on there!
I’m glad you’ve made progress with Shyla. That was our first routine with Luke, don’t interact unless he approaches first, and it went OK when he was younger. Then one day he barked and jumped on my friend, he didn’t bite, but he scared her and that’s when we started separating him. I almost feel like maybe we didn’t give him enough space from strangers when he was younger and that’s why he got worse.
You can’t blame a dog for trying to get an extra tidbit, can you? 🙂
Bell Fur Zoo says
I usually spend time in brudder’s room takin a nap when we has visitors unless it’s family or brudder’s friends cause I like all of them. It are more people I has never met befur or the ones of the little variety dat like to chase me or pull at my ears. I don’ts like dat at all and although I has never bit anyone either Mama doesn’t want me to get to agitated and accidently yell/bite anyone 😉 Matilda just hides until she nose who it is and if it’s safe to come out.
When it comes to the foodables I likes to beg Mama but no whining just sitting patiently drooling BOL and Matilda are like a dog all up in her bizness tryin to see what she has 😉 Buts Dadddy makes us lie down and wait patiently.
Matt (& Matilda)
I think “better safe than sorry” is always a good way to go!
There’s nothing wrong with a little drooling as long as you’re patient! We’ve never had too much issue with cats begging, though our late girl Katie (Sam’s sister) might steal things left unattended on the counters!
The Island Cats says
We usually hide out when company is here…so there’s never any problems.
Sam was always a hider too, many of our cats were, and sometimes people didn’t even know we had any! Sam actually seems friendlier now that she’s older and blind, and of course we have to keep her out of the way for her own safety!
I’m glad Luke had such good manners with your company! Being separated from company is always the hardest for Barley–this summer I had a friend who was passing through with his dog while moving across the country, so they spent the night here and were only in the house for about 10 hours, but Barley had to be kept separated (although I did sneak her downstairs while Rye was entertaining her new friend, so she at least got to say hi to the human) and she was just heartbroken that she didn’t get to love on a new person, so she knows how Cricket feels when she keeps Luke company!
With our first dogs, we never had an issue having people and their dogs over. I think that makes it even tougher now, especially for Cricket, because it used to be fine! She always ignored dog company, she only wanted the people to play ball with her! I’d always tell her she was a rude hostess – LOL.
Brian Frum says
When we hand dogs here they totally loved company and just knew they were coming to see them!
When she was younger, Cricket was convinced the only reason people came to our house was to throw her ball. 🙂
Monika & Sam says
Consistency is definitely key. Dogs are a little like lawyers, they’re always looking for a loophole and there’s no bigger loophole than inconsistency. Kudos for helping Luke deal with company and an extra ear scratch for his good behavior.
Connie rogers says
No complaints from me lol
Glad to hear that! And I greatly appreciate your patience with Luke when you are here. ♥
Melissa K. Clinton says
Bentley and Pierre act as if they have NEVER seen another human being when we have company. They go ballistic so we put them on their leashes until they have given everyone a sniff. After that, they are pretty chilled except Pierre sometimes wants to be a lap dog. We do put them in our bedroom behind the baby gate when we have company over to eat. They are shameless beggars.
That is the kind of behavior I was more used to, before Luke came along. It’s definitely the problem I’d prefer to have!
Being consistent is the key to any training. We dogs don’t understand exceptions to rules. Mom loves having us jump up on her, so we are all jumpers and that is the way it is. Many people don’t like it, but it is what we do. For company or strangers Mom tells us not to jump, but sometimes we do anyway. Bummer you have such people issues, Luke. Our issue is we love people too much!
Boy, would I love to have that issue with Luke! The truth is he does jump on my one sister who he loves, though we’re trying to deter him from being quite so exuberant. I think the size of the dog jumping makes a big difference too. Cricket used to jump, but no one minded her little self jumping on them!
can you train humans too? mark would need a lesson in begging from the table… he is the one who boycots me every day…uh oh guys!
we have the problem that phenny thinks visitors are a kind of toys … and he often tries to find their “squeaker” ;o))
In my experience, men are MUCH harder to train than dogs!! 🙂