How to be calm when someone's at the door? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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How to be calm when someone's at the door?

Saber is very alert to anyone coming up our walk to our front door. We have a split entry house, so she and I are usually up half a flight of stairs in the living room/kitchen when someone comes to the door. I have a baby gate at the top of the stairs so she can't just run downstairs.

So it goes like this:
someone knocks, rings the bell, or walks in with one of my kids
Saber races to the baby gate, puts her paws up on it and barks hysterically. LOADS of barking.
If the person comes in, she changes to a "happy" barking, lots of wagging and excitement. She can hardly contain herself.
If the person is a stranger and stays at the door, she continues the "defensive" type of barking and is very wound up.

She knows the "quiet" command and quiets in other situations when I tell her to, but not when someone is at the door. She is so wound up it's like she doesn't even hear me, and keeps barking.

She knows "down on your bed" and does it in other situations, but not when people are at the door. Again, too wound up.
What I would like to do is be able to tell her "Quiet" or have her go to her bed or just sit beside me and stop barking and let me deal with the people and I can introduce them to her if they are coming in. I sometimes have to crate her to be able to talk to whoever is at the door.

How do I work on this? I do want her to give a few alert barks if someone is coming but need it to stop and have her chill out when I ask her too. She is 9 months old.

Shawn
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"Saber" Jette vom Wildhaus BN RN CAX JJ-N HIC CGC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

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Last edited by cassadee7; 08-18-2011 at 01:18 PM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 02:35 PM
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Dakota hardly barks, but will give a short woof sometimes.

What I've been doing is saying "thank you" to her, then putting her in a down stay by the front door. I want her to be visible to who ever is on the other side of the door, which I can see because we have glass there. I've worked on this for a while because I did not have any helpers who were willing to help, so I had to do it on my own and actually wait till someone came to the door.

If you can get a couple helpers. Leash her, get someone to ring the bell and you and the other person go to the door, put your dog in a down stay, while the other person answers the door. This way you can work on your dog without having to answer the door. Once she is good at this then try it with just you and the dog.

Use lots of treats. I was contanstaly dropping treates between her front paws for holding the down stay.

This worked for me.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 09:19 PM
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I haven't had to deal with this problem. But, if I did, I think I would put my dog on a leash, and put her in a down/stay when people came over. That would be a positive command rather than "I don't want you to do that". It is also easily reinforced since there is a leash on the dog. After the people are in the house and settled, I would release the dog to a toy.
As I said, I haven't had that problem, but that would be the first thing I would try. Good luck.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 09:28 PM
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I also say something like "Good (for the alert)", "Enough" (or quiet), and a sit/stay next to me at the door or slightly behind me. I give the "back" command as I step out through the glass security/screen door. If I bring the person in, I give the introduction and the dog allows in who I choose. Lots of practice and visitors have helped with this.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-18-2011, 10:17 PM
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My dogs do the same thing. What has worked for us is I keep treats handy and when they bark and alert me that someone is at the door and I want them to stop barking-I grab a treat and say-good boy! and then they stop barking and eat the treat.

*US Army Mom*


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-19-2011, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Good idea with the practicing. I will try that, having my kids and friends come to the door and ring the bell while I work with her.

Shawn
Mom to five kids and
"Saber" Jette vom Wildhaus BN RN CAX JJ-N HIC CGC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-19-2011, 09:15 AM
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Best way to go about it is to enlist some help and set up sessions to practice. Not just rely on the randomness of people coming over, especially when those people won't know what you're working on or how to react whereas when doing a training session you can make sure they respond appropriately.

Then decide what you want her to do when people come, and train for it. If you want her to go to a place and lie down, then you have her on lead and show her that and reward her for it while someone else handles the door. So that would take 3 people. If you want her to walk with you to the door and sit politely, then you'd just need 2 people, yourself to handle her with leash and treats and then someone playing the visitor.

It also can really help if the "visitor" plays along and ignores any incorrect behavior on her part, even to the point of leaving again and shutting the door, and only comes in and gives her attention when she's doing what you want.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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Update:

I have been practicing having someone ring the doorbell or knock. I put her on leash. I don't open the door so she has no idea who it is. She barks and barks, pulls at the leash to the point her barking is almost "choked." I try to get a "quiet"/treat in there if she pauses but she rarely pauses and is pulling the whole time. If she quiets for a second and I praise her and give her a treat, she is either too excited to eat or she tries to eat it and bark at the same time and starts choking on the treat (small, like cheese bits or kibble or hot dog bits) and coughing it out as she barks.

Note, she is, I think, not at all aggressive about her barking. It is more like she is so so so excited she cannot contain herself, although sometimes if it is a stranger, she hackles.

She has not responded to trying to get her into a down when she is worked up like this. I can get her to sit for a split second but not stay. Her OB in other conditions is very good, so I guess she is just way too excited.

When we do open the door and she sees it is someone she knows, she continues super excited but higher pitched barking and wagging and pulling to greet them but I don't allow her to greet until she settles a bit which takes about 5-7 minutes. If it is a stranger she goes nuts with the barking.

I have tried having a neighbor who she has met, but isn't super familiar with, come to the door. I tried bringing Saber to the door on leash with me but that did NOT go well and she barked so muich and so "scary" that the neighbor felt a bit threatened even though I was in control with the leash. I know she is just excited and would not bite, just wants to get to the person and sniff, jump around, lick, act like a crazy puppy, which I don't let her do.

If someone comes to the door unexpectedly, before I can leash her, she runs from the front window to the gate by the door, back and forth over and over, knocking over anything in her path, barking.

So... how do I work on this? Do I need to just keep on leashing her and being more patient, waiting however long it takes for her to be calm and then reward her? I am sure there are simple answers I am not thinking of. Any insights and tips help!

Shawn
Mom to five kids and
"Saber" Jette vom Wildhaus BN RN CAX JJ-N HIC CGC
Kira vom Snoozhaus ZZZ CGC!!!

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Last edited by cassadee7; 08-21-2011 at 03:42 PM.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 05:35 PM
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Have you tried a muzzle? I know a lot of people are against them, but sometimes, dogs get the idea when they can't open their mouths to make a sound. You might also want to try a "time out" crate. We do this with our puppy. Whenever she behaves badly, we tell her to go to time out, and she lays in her crate.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 05:56 PM
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I would try then bringing her to the door, on leash and doing down stays in that area when no one is at door. Get her in a really calm state and work on this. This way she knows how to relax around the door.

Then add the distraction of the doorbell ringing, while she is in the Down stay and really relaxed. Going to the door and doing a down stay is too much for her to handle. Break the events down to small exercises.
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