Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists
Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists

Don't Bite the Guests


Fear and aggression are linked aspects of the canine character. Wild ancestors of our domestic pets survived using their instinctive ability to act cautiously when necessary, and respond decisively when able. Those canines that survived and reproduced were selective in their hunts. They were suspicious and avoided prey and predators that posed a threat, and sought out those which could be quickly and easily dispatched.

In order for the species to survive, canines also needed to be aggressive. They needed to be courageous in defense of their pups, their pack and their territory. A mother wolf facing a more powerful adversary would normally run, but when trapped or when protecting her pups, would fight with every ounce of her strength. Although our modern canines exhibit less instinctive aggression than their ancestors, they still react with growls and bites when they feel threatened.

One of the most common bite scenarios occurs when house guests arrive. The knock on the door immediately excites the dog. It doesn't know who might be outside and its defensive instincts energize. Growls turn into barks and barks turn into lunges. Angry commands are ignored and in the unstable moments that follow, the dog panics and bites. These unfortunate events could easily be avoided by providing dogs with a consistent doorway routine. When dogs clearly know how to deal with a situation, their confidence increases and they are less likely to display fear based aggression.

'In Your Spot Protocol' teaches your dog to move to a designated spot when someone knocks on the door. Select a place at least three meters from the doorway and place a mat on the floor. The dog should be able to see the door from this spot. For a few days scatter some treats on the mat. Your dog will soon get a good feeling about this place. Frequently command your dog to their spot and reward their correct response with a treat. When they willingly go to the spot, command them to 'down' before rewarding them. Increase the distraction, distance and time they must stay in their spot before rewarding. Once they understand what 'In Your Spot' means, insist they go to their spot whenever you answer the door.

After your guests have arrived and have been sitting for a few minutes, you can let your dog greet them. The dog has had an opportunity to watch your guests for awhile and will be less likely to be fearful and aggressive.

Be proactive. Teach your dog strategies to deal with routine events like receiving visitors. If your dog knows what is expected, they will feel more secure and act with confidence.

Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists

Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists