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Anna
Anna, Pet Trainer
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 11430
Experience:  40 yrs. training pet dogs and performance dogs in obedience, agility, herding, tracking, and therapy.
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My dog is reactive to people visiting my home. Any tips on

Resolved Question:

My dog is reactive to people visiting my home. Any tips on how to deal with this?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Anna replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have over 40 years experience training dogs as pets, and for dog sports, including obedience, tracking, herding, therapy work, and agility. Some additional information will better enable me to help you.

What breed (or mix) is your dog?

How old is she?

How does she react ? Is she overly excited and jumps on people? Barks frantically? Tries to bite? Growls, etc.?

Is your dog crate trained?

Thank you.

Anna

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Anna

Have been trying to work out how to respond: hope this email works.

Breed - GSD: Age - 6: Barks frantically in an aggressive and intimidating manner: Not crate trained.

Regards

Tom

Expert:  Anna replied 3 years ago.
Hi Tom,

Thank you for getting back to me. This site can be confusing to figure out, but your response did come through this time. It is in a GSD's nature to be protective of the home and family, and that will be something that would be very hard to 'train out' of your dog. It would take a lot of time and patience. I'll give you some things to try, but I first want to tell you what I would do. I would prefer to manage the situation, rather than train the dog. Find a comfortable place with a door that closes, such as a bedroom or even a laundry room with a blanket or rug placed on the floor, where your dog can stay when you have visitors. If you expect company, simply put her there ahead of time. Provide water and perhaps a Kong toy to occupy her. If an unexpected visitor arrives, ask them to wait a moment while you take the dog to her room.Honestly, with a breed bred to be protective, this is an easier way to deal with the problem.

If you want to try to teach her to be more tolerant of visitors, you'll need some cooperative friends to help you. You were on the right track with the treats, but were proceeding at too rapid a pace. You need to condition your dog to think visitors are not at all exciting, and that they cause good things to happen. If she starts barking the minute there is a knock at the door or the doorbell rings, that's where you have to start. You never want to raise your voice or act excited yourself because that only confirms to the dog that there is something to be concerned about. You should be sitting calmly with treats in your pocket. Have your helper knock (or ring). Don't get up. It may confuse your dog when you don't respond and she may stop barking to see what's wrong with you. If not, try to calm her with your voice. Either way, when she stops barking, say in a cheery voice something like, "Oh my, looks like we have guests." Give her treats. Repeat this over and over until she no longer barks at the sound, but comes to you for a treat when you mention having guests. If you want, you can tell her to sit at this point.

The next step is for you to rise at the sound. Don't go to the door. This process has to be done gradually. Proceeding too quickly will undo what you have accomplished. This time, you'll again mention something about guests (you want the word to mean something to her), and provide treats when she's quiet. When you ahve success with that, you'll go through the whole process again, but now you'll walk toward the door a few steps. Then you'll go through the following series of steps, slowly until she is steady at each one:

1) Walk all the way to the door, but don't open it.
2) Crack open the door and speak to the visitor, but don't open the door all the way.
3) Open the door, but don't have the visitor step in.
4) Have the visitor just step inside.
5) Have them take a few steps in.
6) Have them come in and sit down.

If at any point, you can't get your dog calmed, back up to the previous step. You'll need to have a number of friends or relatives serve as your helpers. Otherwise you'll only be teaching your dog to accept that one particular person. As far as a time frame, this process could take months of daily sessions of 15 minutes.I wish I could give you a quick fix, but I would be lying if I did. You deserve honesty. when dealing with a naturally protective breed, there are no shortcuts. Again, my first choice if this were my dog would simply be to remove her from the situation.

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it will work out well for you and your dog.

Anna

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