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I have a 1 year and 2 months old female lab mix named Sadie and I'm having some trouble figuring out how to train her to act in an appropriate manner around guests.

Some background; we are fairly private, quiet and anti-social people, so we rarely have guests and Sadie doesn't get much practice being around people. She just gets too excited when she sees them and if the guests react fearfully to her or react in a somewhat weird way, she barks at them. She also may jump on them if they stand up and walk about. She's mostly being an playful puppy, but it's one thing I haven't really worked on with her.

Normally I put her in one of the rooms when guests arrive, but she scratches on the door to a point where she actually starts damaging the door and she barks a lot as well, making it hard for conversation.

Eventually my goal is to allow her to be loose with guests around. How do I go about training her?
 

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A leash. Treats. Practice.

If you meet guests outside and take a little walk around keeping away from them so Sadie cannot jump she would be able to calm down somewhat. If not put Sadie on leash, open door and move away so guests can enter so Sadie has some space and she cannot jump up. Now just keep her away until she calms down rewarding good behavior like sitting on cue or looking at you rather than exciting strangers with a treat. If she is too excited and barks as they come in put her in the room with closed door and wait for her to calm down. My fearful and reactive dogs bark in fear/greeting at first then the bark changes into one of loneliness. So I go back, wait for quiet when I'm in the room, leash dog and armed with more cookies go back to company a step at a time. If dog barks back up. When dog is quiet treat. Keep her leash until you see she is calm enough there's not going to be any jumping or barking then drop the leash so you can retrieve her if she acts up.

Have people ignore her if possible. The leash should help keep them feeling safe from a sudden jump and if they look she will bark which is startling and a bit scary coming from a dog you don't know. Show off her tricks with her on leash, even Bucky likes doing that. Just keep it between you two, no interactive ones like shake a paw until she's comfortable and you don't see barks and jumps bubbling up inside.

Practice door greeting as part of your obedience training. Knock on your door from the inside, have her go to a spot, open the door and pretend to have a conversation and such. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol goes through this if you want a written out plan. Have other household members help you with this.
 

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I agree, a leash. I leashed Ralphie, and when he behaved inappropriately I would lead him away, and then after a few minutes we would try again. I like Kathyy's advice, as well.
 

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Good ideas but I go one further. Crate her when guests come.

I have never understood why the pet dog is supposed to mingle with house guests. Most guests don't want a dog around them anyway (even if they have dogs; your dog is not their dog). Crating the dog also insures no one is bitten (and that can happen with any dog). Better for all to keep guests and pet dog(s) separate.
 

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So, two options - Interact with guests, don't interact with guests. You can train a Lab to do either.

No interaction - Elicit help from friends and neighbors. Teach Sadie to lie down on a pallet or her bed, and high value reward her. Then, teach her that she gets a high value reward if she goes to her place when the doorbell rings, ignoring her otherwise. After success and proof, advance to rewarding if she goes to her place when anyone comes in. Look up place command training for more ideas.

Interaction - Same ideas and set up, but when she hears the bell she has to sit politely until released. Most dogs will get excited at the bell or entrance of a new person. If Sadie sits politely, she may calm down after people are walking around in the house. After success and proof, advance to training her to Sit politely when anyone comes in. When she gets over-excited during this training, just have the friend say 'Oops' and then turn around and leave. If you can calm Sadie down, have the same person return ... repeating the exit/re-entry process as many times as needed. Then, do it again with another person.

I did this by accident with 5 repairmen while having work down on the house over the course of two months. The repairmen ignored my dog [a Lab mix], petting him if he was calm, leaving him alone and working otherwise, walking in and out of the house. My dog got used to strangers fairly quickly. He may not get a little excited to see people, but if they don't want to interact, he doesn't bother them.
 

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We have a similar living situation. Rural area, few visitors. Also have an 11 month gsd in training. I always keep him tethered to me when guests do come over. I tell everyone to ignore him completely, act like hes not there. He will be right next to me when we greet guests at the door, but is not allowed to interact with them. Same goes for the whole time they're at my house. He's mostly learned by now not to even attempt to pester guests. He doesnt expect attention from them.....since he rarely gets it. Makes things much easier.
 

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At that age, my lab/mini poodle mix would simply lose its mind when guests came. Commands were ignored, and restraints were only temporary solutions. As soon as a leash was removed she would go nuts. If you put her in a room, or in the yard, she would scratch relentlessly at the door.

We struggled with it and more or less accepted it for a while, since she was only a 30 lb dog. But, she is now over two years old, and we decided that surely by now, she should be mature enough to be trained.

With advice from a local trainer, we have employed the following methodology for when guests come.

Step 1. Request that guests ignore bad behaviour when they arrive. Only give the dog attention if it is not jumping, barking, nipping, and causing chaos.
Step 2. Give a verbal deterrent when the dog greets the guests poorly. We use a "shhh!" sound.
Step 3. A more powerful physical deterrent if the bad behaviour continues. We use a loud clap. You could also consider a stomp, or a small pinch to the dog's side.
Step 4. Removal. When the dog decides to continue the bad behaviour past step 3, the dog gets removed from the situation until it calms down. We put her in her crate, because we don't want her to try and scratch her way through any of our interior or exterior doors. She will bark and fuss for a while sometimes, but we don't release her until she is calm and quiet.
Step 5. Reintroduction. Once the dog is calm in its crate, let it try again. If successful, reward the dog for good behaviour, with some positive attention. If the dog proceeds to behave poorly, return to step 4, and remove the dog from the situation that is causing it to loose its mind. Skip the warnings of step 2 and 3.

Depending on the persistence of your dog, you could end up in a very long loop with repeating steps 4 and 5. But, eventually, the dog will learn that over excited, jumpy, nippy, agressive behaviour will not get it what it wants. Eventually, it will change its strategy, so that it can finally get the attention of the guests like it is craving.

We have been working on this for a few weeks. We also don't have a lot of guests come to our door, so the practice opportunities with guests are not plentiful. However, we use the same approach for barking at the window, which is a much more common occurrence, so the dog is now very familiar with the steps. It is something we will need to continue working on, but we have definitely seen improvement.
 

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Are you having any success with steps 1-3? Why not just repeat 4-5 instead so you aren't causing your dog to think visitors are bad? Once a dog is over the top reacting to too much she probably cannot feel any pinch or nudge in the first place. Keep her under threshold so she can learn. What this trainer is doing is trying to work with a dog flooded with too much stimulation. Very glad the crate is an option or you would be having to increase the punishment to the point of abuse to get your dog's attention. The 3 strike rule might work with children that aren't over tired or stimulated but it won't work with a dog that's lost his mind because there is too much new stuff going on.
 

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Are you having any success with steps 1-3? Why not just repeat 4-5 instead so you aren't causing your dog to think visitors are bad? Once a dog is over the top reacting to too much she probably cannot feel any pinch or nudge in the first place. Keep her under threshold so she can learn. What this trainer is doing is trying to work with a dog flooded with too much stimulation. Very glad the crate is an option or you would be having to increase the punishment to the point of abuse to get your dog's attention. The 3 strike rule might work with children that aren't over tired or stimulated but it won't work with a dog that's lost his mind because there is too much new stuff going on.
Honestly yes. We are seeing results with steps 1-3. We don't always end up at the Removal Step 4. But, sometimes the excitement is still too much to handle, so we do go to step 4.
 

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rkj, It's nice that you're seeing some success with the methods outlined. But they definitely are written to have the dog fail over and over and over until it (maybe one day) learns through punishment not to jump up. Plus, it would be a total buzzkill for me to have to shush and pinch dogs while trying to invite my guests in.

What I would recommend is STARTING with removal. Guests knock on the door, confine the dog before opening it. Confinement simply means having it so that your dog physically cannot touch any of the guests. Leashes, gates, crates, pens etc. are all acceptable depending on the dog and household setup. My favorite setup allows the dog to safely see guests from a distance. The management PREVENTS a dog from practicing unwanted behavior. I ignore any rowdy behavior, and reward any calm behavior. The cool thing is, when the dog is contained there is no pressure to reward or to punish. I can invite my guests in without any stress at all. After allowing the dog to calm down, allowing the novelty of the newcomers to decrease, and after rewarding good behavior, I may choose to let my dog interact, or guests can toss treats for good behavior, or I can take my dog out on leash and continue the training... Endless possibilities.

But the point is, from the beginning you set the dog up for success, not for failure. That, and you don't come off as an over-controlling and angry dog owner to guests as they are just coming through the door.
 

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While pinching and stomping at your dog may technically get the results you want (and it very well may not! aversive techniques like that can backfire and ruin a dog) I wouldn't suggest you try that. I think you've gotten a lot of good advice here. When I was working on this with my dog I tried to break it down into steps. Meaning I started with having someone knock on the door (which was the initial trigger that would make my dog got nutso) and worked with him to not react to the sound. Once he was hearing the knock and behaving calmly, I started working on having someone open the door and teaching my dog to wait several feet away - so teaching a wait/stay command if you haven't already would be useful here, too. Once the person was in the house, I would release my dog from his stay. He had to keep all 4 feet on the ground or the person would immediately turn and exit, and we'd start over. When he was good, he got treats, pats, and praise from the guest. I had him on a long leach during all of this to prevent any slipping out the door since there was a lot of in and out going on.

I'm no trainer and this may not work for every dog, of course. I also like Canyx's idea of just starting out with removal and going from there.
 
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