This morning I was in Wellington at a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® client fixing a break in their perimeter system so that Missy, their Bull Terrier will continue to remain safe and secure on their property. It appeared that they had been doing some landscape modifications and in the process of removing several trees, the perimeter wire was cut by a worker’s shovel. It only took an hour or two to locate the break and make the needed repairs. As I was finishing up and making sure that the system was working as needed, my client approached with an interesting dog behavior question. Being the Holidays, he was having friends and out-of-town family staying for several days. I had worked with him in the past regarding rules for Missy and his need to be a good leader. He was wondering what the incursion of all these “new people” would do to his newly established leadership relationship with him Bull Terrier.
As I have stated many times, our dogs need to see us as their leaders and providers. They need to understand that we are the ones who will keep them safe and afford them the consistent environment allowing for the repetitive enforcement of simple and straightforward rules.
We can let our dogs know that it isn’t right to jump on people. We may want them to never enter a specific room. They aren’t allowed to approach the door when we are opening it for guests, deliveries, etc. They aren’t allowed near the table when eating. It is wrong to jump on the counter and steal food.
These are all simple and unswerving rules that can easily be understood through repetitive actions on both our parts and our dog’s actions. These consistent rules, as simple as they may appear, are critical in our dog’s feeling of safety and their consistent focus on us as their leaders.
When the house is full of “strangers”, these rules can disappear very quickly. Family members will want to have Missy jump on them because they think it is funny. Uncle Bob gives her a piece of his sandwich while watching TV. We become too busy to correct her when she is disobeying. Even though she is now “getting away with stuff”, her sense of security is weakened because of the uncertainty of inconsistency and inclusion of chaos.
So, what do we do to keep Missy feeling like her world is still intact and have the house filled with crazy guests and relatives?
We must inform our guests of the “house rules” for Missy. The best thing to do is to print out a “Rule Sheet” that is given to each guest when they arrive for their stay. Include items such as:
- Ignore Missy when she wants attention.
- Do not encourage Missy to jump on you.
- If you want to play with Missy, go outside.
- Do not feed Missy.
- Do not leave food unattended. Missy may be right around the corner.
- Always close the front door and gates in the yard.
- Keep your guest bedroom door closed and do not leave your clothes scattered around the house.
- Always let me (your host) know if Missy is becoming a bother.
- It is my (your host) responsibility to let her know what she can and cannot do. I want to make sure that everyone has a great time.
Once you have, as best as humanly possible, gotten your family and guests on board with Missy’s house rules, build some interaction time where everyone can participate in group activities. These are best done outside. You can play “get the ball” by having one person throw a ball for Missy to chase. Once she reaches the ball, have another person throw a second ball for her to chase after. Repeat this for several minutes allowing multiple guests to interact with her while she runs and “tires out”.
When inside, have her on a leash and walk her around to guests sitting on the sofa in the family room as they the big game. Have Missy sit in front of each guest as they calmly pet her and then continue to watch the game. Praise her for being a good dog and then take her to your spot and have her at your feet. Let her calmly get up and walk around the room, if she so desires. If she starts to jump or become adrenalized with any guests, get up, take the leash in your hand, and calmly guide her out of the room for a moment until she is calm. Once she is calm, bring her back in the room and have her sit with you while you hold the leash.
What Missy is experiencing is an environment that closely resembles “the way it normally is” when the house isn’t filled with guests. She also sees you still in charge, directing her actions, and maintaining a consistent environment. That is what makes her happy and keeps her calm and secure.
Consistency and clear leadership are the key ingredients in maintaining your dog’s respect and focus. Your dog doesn’t understand that you may have different rules with your guests and that they “just might be nuts”. You must provide a clear vision of leadership all the time in order to maintain the proper relationship with your dog. Robin and I hope that you will give us a call if you have any dog perimeter containment or dog behavior questions. Please go to Dog Fence Training Help. We offer a vast library of dog training articles, dog fence perimeter information, and canine obedience practice at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Wellington South Florida. We have successfully trained over 3,500 dogs over the last eleven years in South Florida. Successfully implementing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System involves both the physical installation and thoughtful training. Our Dog Training is a key component of the Dog Fence System. To learn about our dog training methods, please go to Home Dog Training Wellington South Florida.