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.
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?
This 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.
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!
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 structure 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.
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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.