6 ways to help your dog get used to house guests
A chocolate Cockapoo is sitting on the sofa watching out the window in anticipation for their guests to arrive.

6 ways to help your dog get used to house guests

30 April 2023

Whether they loved them or loathed them, most dogs developed a relationship with the local delivery drivers during lockdowns. So a lot of pups started to think that most people that visit our homes don’t actually come into the house, but drop off presents at the door and run away. Then everything changed and guests could actually come in again!

That was a big change, particularly for dogs who joined their families during the pandemic, it was completely new to them, and could potentially be a bit stressful. So what can you do to help your pup cope with house guests?

  1. GET PUPPEARED - There are plenty of training classes you can do to get prepared for when visitors come calling, whether online or in-person. It can take time but it’s a good idea to train your dog to go and lie down in their bed when told. This means that when the doorbell rings, they can be told to calmly go and lie down which can hopefully diffuse a bit of the initial anxiety involved with a guest’s arrival. Also working on how to keep ‘down’ or ‘stay’ can be a really beneficial way to get ready for friends coming round.
  2. MAKING FRIENDS - Meeting friends and family outdoors first can mean that when they come into the house they aren’t strangers. This won’t stop our puppy pals from being excited about them coming to visit, but can reduce a bit of worry as they are familiar faces, and smells!
  3. START WITH A FEW FRIENDS - When first getting visitors round, try to keep the numbers low, so make sure the first time your dog deals with visitors isn’t a massive house party. One or two quiet guests at first can be a great way to ease a dog into the idea of visitors. Ideally pre-warn these friends to come in and not fuss your pup. Let the guest sit down and relax for a minute or two, letting your dog settle down a bit, then your pup can get attention.
  4. GIVE THEM TIME - Some dogs absolutely love visitors and the biggest challenge will be to stop them giving out slobbery kisses to everyone whether they want it or not, but some other dogs may not be so keen on these new people entering their kingdom. For the shyer pups let them take their time to approach guests, and don’t force cuddles or greetings on them, keeping everyone calm and relaxed. Even once your dog approaches the guest, give them space and time to have a good sniff, and decide whether they are comfortable before any petting. They may just need a bit more time to suss out this new situation and new people.
  5. SAFE SPACE - Providing a safe place, whether a crate or dog bed, is a great way to give your dog somewhere to go if they feel overwhelmed, or just tired and wanting some space. When they’re in this area, be sure to leave them alone. If they want to come out and interact they have that choice, but also let them know this space is somewhere they can relax and get a bit of peace and quiet, and that they won’t be fussed.
  6. GET HELP - Don’t be afraid of asking for help. Using a qualified dog behaviourist can be really useful for dogs seeming over-excited or anxious at visitors, or any other worry about their behaviour. Speak to your vet to be referred to someone local.
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