Help! My Dog Won’t Let People In The House!

Ironically, I have gotten this question a lot lately.  And, whenever I get the same question I realize it is probably time to write an article to help people!

The first client was at her wits end because not only would the dog not let people in her house, but he had also bitten her brother the last time he came to visit.


Imagine that for a moment.

Living with a dog that is in charge of whom you have in your house and in your life.

It is a lot like living in an abusive relationship.

Often times, the abuser isolates the abused and one by one begins attacking friends and family and ensuring they no longer return.

Sound familiar?

Abusive relationships, and unhealthy relationships don’t just come in human form.

Sometimes your dog is the abuser.

The difference is that you can only blame yourself when your dog is the abuser.

Who’s In Charge?

dog won't let people in the houseThis is a difficult question, but ask yourself who is in charge of your home and your happiness?

Is it YOU or is it your dog?

I am hoping that even if earlier in the article you realize you were not in charge that you are deciding you want to make a change.

My Dogs

I have two, lovely, well trained dogs.

My first dog, Fury (almost 7 now) would welcome almost anyone into my home.  She likes people and is affectionate with me and others.  Everyone loves her.

My other dog, Zippy (who is 4), doesn’t really like anyone.  He tolerates other human beings, but he would prefer if I was the only human and he was the only dog on earth.  He doesn’t like sharing my affections.

He doesn’t even like sharing anything with his sister, Fury.

I get it, I am his whole world.  And, I love that about him.  It is nice to be almost worshiped.


But I have other pets.  I love Fury and my cat, Finnegan.

I have family, and I love having them over and spending time with them.

I even have a couple of friends that I love and want to spend time with, on occasion.

And, it is not up to him when and if people come to visit me.

As I said, if it were up to him, no one man, woman, child or other animal would step foot in my house.

It is Not Up to HIM!

But, it is not up to him who I have over and who I spend time with at my own house.

After all, he isn’t going to live forever and my relationship with him alone is not enough!

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So what can you do if you have a dog like this in your life?

You need to add dog obedience and structure and gain control of your home.

I know it sounds trite coming from a dog obedience trainer, but the truth is that regularly practicing dog obedience, and adding dog won't let people in the housestructure to your dog’s life means that your relationship changes and he begins to listen to you as an authority.

Your dog is not in charge!  YOU are in charge of your dog and your home.  What you say should go without question.

So to make a long story short; if you dog isn’t listening to you when you ask him to come when called, he won’t sit or lie down, and has no impulse control, how then do you expect him to listen when there is a person or extreme distraction that he doesn’t want entering his environment?

The truth is, if you don’t have a foundation of obedience and impulse control you are setting your dog and yourself up for failure.

It is best to build a firm foundation of obedience at home, first.


Once your dog is listening to you around the house and you are used to training several times a day (at least 5 for at least 5 minutes a session) you are ready to begin adding people to your obedience program.

Don’t allow anyone into your home without first having a leash and collar on your dog.

Remember the first story about the brother being bitten when he entered my client’s house?

This never should have happened!

And, it would not have happened if the dog had been on a leash and in a sit or down stay at the owner’s feet.

Begin with people you know and trust and those who won’t push the dog too far too fast.

After all, the goal of this kind of control and training is not to force the dog to like people.

My Malinois is never going to “suddenly like people” who come into my space, so that is not even a goal.  The goal is to teach him to tolerate them and trust and listen to me.

That is unlikely to happen.  The goal is to teach the dog to allow anyone you want into your house while he performs obedience and feels as if he has a job.

I want to start with people who aren’t going to force themselves on my dog.

Some people think all dogs love them, or that the goal is to pet or hug the dog and nothing is further from the truth.

And, if you allow someone to push the dog too far you are condoning the dog’s feelings that people are bad.

I want my dog to trust me. dog won't let people in the house

I want him to understand that I am in control and will allow anyone in my home, on my terms, but I will ensure that he won’t be touched or pushed when that is not his desire.

His job is to lay at my feet and do a down stay while visitors are over.

Eventually, I can ask him to do a down stay on his bed or “place”.

But first I must ensure that he is close and under my control so that he doesn’t make a mistake or have the ability to bite.

It is Your Job

After all, it is your job to make sure that your dog is safe in your home and is not allowed to bite anyone.

Use a muzzle if you must.

It is also your job to make sure that your guests are not bitten or jumped on or accosted.

Use your leash!

And, teach your puppy correct principles!

Don’t let him create bad or dangerous habits!


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  1. I have a Greater Swiss Mtn Dog. He is awesome, except when it comes to the delivery trucks and mail carrier. The Ups man gives him treats and allows him in the truck so that is not so bad. However, I cant call him off. He has had obedience training ang good citizen training with me as the handler. If I know a delivery is coming, I put him in the house before they get there but delivery times are unpredictable. He is an outside farm dog basically protecting his territory and sometimes I need that. Suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    You are basically gambling with his life. If he bites a delivery person he may be required to be euthanized. Dogs are pack animals and want to be inside with us. I suggest bringing him in and giving him the obedience he needs to be a happy indoor dog.

    You can’t train an outdoor dog when you are not there to train and work with him.


  2. Terry Nufrio says:

    My dog is 4 and he welcomes some people but not all Is it to late to teach him.


  3. Liz Rizzo says:

    All of training tips are great but I have 6 Yorkies. This makes it very hard . What do you suggest to help me.


  4. Deb says:

    My 2 2 year old dogs bark uncontrollably and jump on people when someone comes in. I tell them to go to “place”, and they break their stay and run to the door. What to do? Barking drives me crazy!


  5. Lynn Fox says:

    Never to late to teach a cdog something new


  6. Kate Reed says:

    I have the opposite problem. My 22 month golden retriever is great on leash and off EXCEPT when company comes. She thinks they are there to party with her and she will not leave them alone. If she’s attached to me with a leash – no problem. Even if she settles while we eat, when one gets up from the table, it starts all over. Because I am retired and had major medical issues last year, she has not had a lot of visitors. She is obedient in the house with me – it is just the added company that she does not know how to handle.


    Minette Reply:

    Put her on a leash, attach her to you and make her lay under the table at dinner, she won’t be able to get up and follow the visitor if she is on leash.


  7. Janet Brown says:

    Thank you for this. Now I know what I should do because my dog barks and growls and goes crazy when she hears the doorbell. But when I am not at home she doesn’t do that. I have gone from home and ring the doorbell I don’t hear I sound. And, it is not because she hears the car. I’ve done the same thing when I was staying in an apt when the car was in a parking lot. For from the door.


  8. Sue says:

    OK,now Jack (3) and Gigi also 3, are really good about greeting people coming into the house, even quietly. However, NOW they bark and jump as the people, any people, leave. We have an area inside the gate with grass, then porch, then door. Now, unless I pick Jack up and hold him while guests LEAVE, he will bark and jump and snap at their hands. Of course, Gigi follows his lead somewhat, but she isn’t the aggressor and is easier to deal with. Got any ideas?


    Minette Reply:

    Exact same thing, dogs go on leash and you use down stays and obedience to control as people come and go.


  9. Nicole Harker says:

    One of my dogs is really nervous when people or other dogs approach him. I have worked on his impulse control, he can control himself better. How can I help him build his confidence? Show him that we won’t let anyone hurt him?


    Minette Reply:

    Don’t let anyone touch him. If he is nervous, he doesn’t want to be touched so by allowing people to touch him, he loses trust in you.

    Same goes for other dogs, don’t let them get close enough to him to scare or hurt him.

    Sometimes I am rude or say NO when people ask to pet or for their dog to meet my dog.


  10. My dog gets super excited when anyone arrives or the door bell rings. He barks and jumps up and down and even if he listens enough to go to his bed or his cage outside but he only stays there for a few seconds. BUT he is NOT at all AGGRESSIVE.
    I have been working on his impulse control before his mealtimes (he is a food obsessed labrador) with a little success but i cant work out how to apply this to when visitors . Help needed as less and less friends /family are wanting to visit


  11. EVA Lacks says:

    Thanks I needed that

    Teach dog to listen


  12. Kate Reed says:

    I keep her on leash with the company and do not have any problems. I would like to transition her to off leash and I am not sure how to do that. On leash and unfamiliar places she is obedient without problems. Only at our home does she go crazy.


  13. Melanie says:

    I see now, in reading a lot of these articles that I am clearly the problem in our equation. I have/do treat my 2 more like children than dogs. I am now paying the price for it. Whenever anyone comes over they bark uncontrollably @ the door, jump, growl, and might even bite if given the opportunity, all out of fear. They both have been obedience trained. Unfortunately no one else in my family helps out on keeping them up with their training. I need to get the fear aggression under control for their sanity as well as ours.


  14. Minette says:

    Find a boarded veterinary behaviorist


  15. Aly Wilson says:

    Hi I have a German Shepard she’s 5 1/2 months and is scared of people. She loves me, my boyfriend, and my dad, but when other people try to come near her or pet her she runs away and barks, tail down ears back. She’s been like that ever since we got her at 8 weeks.


  16. Janice says:

    I have a 3 year old Pomeranian/Chihuahua terror. He is absolutely adorable, but… He is slowly learning leash manners and will tolerate seeing people when we go for walks (as long as the treats are handy). He still goes ballistic when we get too close to other dogs on the leash, but we are working on that. The biggest problem is when people come over. He barks incessantly. He growls. He shows the whites of his eyes. It’s obvious that he is afraid, but he will not warm up. He will gladly take treats from the hands of strangers, and then barks and growls at them. When someone comes in, he goes crazy. He may settle down when they are sitting, but as soon as they stand up or make a move he doesn’t like, he goes crazy again. Is there anything we can do? I love him dearly, but I’m almost ready to rehome him. He is putting a huge strain on my people relationships.


    Minette Reply:

    I would suggest our ultimate K9 companion course. He needs more obedience and reliable obedience and control. I would put him on leash when people are over and give him something else to do like a down stay at your feet. And, I would stop having other people treat him and instead you be in charge of the wonderful treats when he is not barking. By forcing him to interact with these people you are risking them and making him uncomfortable. All the great things in life should come from you


  17. Sarah says:

    My dog (Riley just turned 2) was in a abused home they mistreated him so bad. When we got him he took to us right away and when it comes to me especially. He doesn’t let me out of his sight and if I am for to long he will cry. He also will not let anyone in to my home. He HATES strangers and will bite and growl at them till they leave. This has became a even bigger problem for me because I am now pregnant. He is more protective over me now then ever and won’t let anyone or my cat near me. I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t know what to do. I took him to a obedience trainer who trains police dogs and they told me he had no obedience problems. Because he listens quite well to me. I don’t want to put him down or get rid of him, he deserves a good life. He is so loved and is a very affectionate dog when it comes to my husband and I. If you saw him in my home when it’s just my husband and I then saw him when people are over, you wouldn’t even know it was the same dog. I need help!


    Minette Reply:

    Read this, I think it can help


  18. Jen says:

    My 10 month old lab/Pitt mix has me extremely stressed out. He’s very smart and does great with obedience. However, he is highly reactive (we also have a 7 yr old reactive terrier mix). Reactivity on walks is variable; sometimes he does well and sometimes not so much! Our biggest problem is having people over. He barks, lunges, growls, etc. He has to be on leash and won’t calm down. I feel like a prisoner in my home. My teenage daughter can’t have friends over and we can’t entertain.


    Minette Reply:

    Find a veterinary behaviorist who can witness the behavior and help one on one


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