Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Teaching a Dog to Be Calm When Someone Visits the Home

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Dear Kevin,
I just adopted a 3 yr. old female GSD and I learned I am her 3rd (and final) family. She is very strong minded and actually very friendly but extremely aggressive when someone first comes to the door. I am having difficulty making her go to her “rug” to sit and stay while someone comes into the home. She intimidates and many will not come in unless I place her outside because she will not stay still. Once guest know her – Dakota is a oversized love and wants people to touch her and talk to her. Otherwise – she is a great well-behaved dog and I couldn’t ask for better.

Hi Laura,

Congratulations on your addition of Dakota!

She has a fairly common problem. Most dogs do not know how to act properly when people come in the door. Firstly, I would make a little sign and put it on your door stating that your dog is in training and it will be a minute. By doing so you have the visitor portion of the training partially under control.

The next step is to figure out a safe way to allow visitors to greet her. If you are strong enough to restrain her with a leash, you could do that. Other options may be using a crate, baby gate etc. The idea is that she cannot get to the guest. The next step is going to be to have the guest come in safely and toss her something she likes. This could be a toy or a treat. Make sure everyone stays at a safe distance so no one gets hurt.

With repetition Dakota will start to associate someone coming into the door with good things. This will start to curb her aggressiveness. When she is no longer aggressive when people walk in she will most likely just be excited. Ignore the excitement until she calms down. When she calms down she can then be rewarded with a treat or  just get the attention she is looking for.

Thanks for your question!

Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Of Jody



    My two daughters just adopted pups from shelters(separately). Both pups are approx. 4 mos old. One is a min pin mix..the other a maltipoo.
    Both have the same issue. They consistently bark when people are visiting. Not just when they come to the door but when we move about the house. I know this is the case of proper socialization but its so annoying. What can be done?

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