Wolfie Goes Nuts When Family Comes for The Holidays - Help!

I hate asking family over for the Holidays because Wolfie terrorizes them the entire time they are here.  I have to lock Wolfie in the back room and have to be back there all the time to try and keep him quiet.  What can I do?

High energy or “people unsure” dogs can be very annoying and embarrassing when we have a house full of guests. We are unsure what Wolfie might do (lung, bark, growl, jump) and our guests are uneasy in the Wolfie’s presence. It is critical that you socialize him to understand that you are keeping him safe and secure when other people and animals are in his space. YOU are the care giver. YOU are the cop on the beat.

The one thing that you never do is to have Wolfie with you at the front door when you are greeting your arriving guests. This is a high adrenaline time where you cannot give the appropriate focus and correction to him, when required. Inappropriate situations can escalate quickly as he tries to demonstrate dominance and your ability to regain control could be almost nonexistent. Here is what you should do:

  • Have Wolfie in another room with a family member when the guests arrive. The door is closed. He should be on a leash and be provided with toys and other mental stimulation so that focus with the family member can be easily maintained. You can also have the television on in the room with him to add to the white noise of the house and to minimize the noise of the arriving guests. If needed, you might also have an Italian Basket Muzzle on Wolfie in order to provide you with the confidence that a nip will not occur. It will also naturally calm him down.
  • When your guests arrive, greet them and guide them into your house. After things have settled down, it is time to work with Wolfie to see where he will be comfortable with them. Remember, he is ALWAYS on the leash and the leash is ALWAYS in somebody’s hand.
  • Open the door between him and the guests in the other room. Observe him while you are still giving him positive praise and redirection towards you or his toys. When he shows a calm, respective temperament, move him closer to the door.
  • Observe Wolfie for any change in his temperament towards fearfulness or assertive. It this occurs, return to your prior position and work with him there for another few minutes before proceeding.
  • Once he his calm, with a respectful temperament, continue to move him towards the door. Now have people pass in the other room where Wolfie can see them. Your guests should move slowly and directly. They should give him passing eye contact and should never turn their backs to him. They should never move directly towards him.
  • Once Wolfie shows the proper temperament, slowly enter the room with the guests, repeating the process we have just discussed. If, at any time, you feel that he is becoming stressed or nervous, back up and slow down.
  • As you proceed, following the above process, you will eventually reach the point where you can be seated with Wolfie and your guests. Do not allow your guests or Wolfie to initially interact with each other. They still have to get comfortable with the proximity of each other. He should still have his toys and treats with him during this time while this part of the socialization process takes place.
  • Have your guests stand up and slowly walk around the room, never moving directly towards Wolfie. Have them leave the room and return. Once this is complete, repeat this process with Wolfie.
  • As you repeat the above process, slowly and carefully move towards your guests. Repeat this until he is next to them and sniffing them. Do not have your guests pet Wolfie as this might be interpreted by him as an aggressive act (depending how your guests move to pet him).
  • Continue to have you and Wolfie mingle with your guests. As you see his temperament maintained at a respectful level and his focus on you, you can allow your guests to pet him. This action must be performed in the manner explained to you by your Bark Buster Trainer.
  • As you continue to see that Wolfie is maintaining a calm and respectful temperament while giving you focus, you can drop the leash. Allow him to meander on his own around the room. Always be nearby to step on the leash, if necessary.
You now have a calm dog with guests in the house. It is critical that you practice this multiple times with friends and neighbors before a big event such as The Holidays, 4th of July, Memorial Day, a family member’s birthday, etc. You need to give the training 100% of your focus to make it effective. If you are in the middle of a “real social event”, you won’t be able to provide that needed focus.

Also, if you see that Wolfie is becoming overly agitated while in the training session, end it. Tomorrow is another day where you can pick up where you left off when everyone is fresh and ready to learn. 
For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.


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