Teaching a Big German Shepherd Puppy to Behave and Relax at the Door

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 6, 2018

For this Fremont puppy training session we helped a fearful 9 month-old German Shepherd puppy named Dudley who growls, barks and gets upset when people come to the door or guests come inside his home.

Knowing that Dudley sometimes is reactive to people he doesn’t know when they arrive, I called ahead and gave the guardian some instructions on a different way of having a guest enter the home.

We filmed this greeting but frankly Dudley was so fearful during the encounter that I didn’t think the footage was very useful. Later in the session I recounted some of the things that I did to help Dudley feel more comfortable; waiting at the door for him to settle down, offering a number of treats, moving slowly, positioning myself sideways to him or lowering myself, etc.

Once Dudley had combed down and become comfortable with my presence, I sat down with his guardian to discuss the dog behavior problems they wanted help with.

I made a number of suggestions on little things the guardians can do to help Dudley start to see and respect them as authority figures. Adding rules and structure and enforcing those rules consistently could be a great way to help a dog start to see the humans acting like a leader, at least from the dogs perspective.

I also showed the guardians how they can add structure to petting the Dudley as well as the importance of rewarding him when he offers desired action and behaviors on his own.

To address Dudleys habit of barking and acting aggressive when people knock on the door or guest arrive, I handed my phone to the guardians so that I could share a number of dog behavior tips.

After only a few minutes of practice, Dudley was remaining calm and not barking when he heard the sound of a knock at the door. Outstanding. Stopping a dog from acting aggressive is all about small steps. These were solid.

I must say I was quite pleased at how well Dudley responded as well as this different approach to teaching a dog to be calm at the door when guests arrive. Prior to today’s session I have been showing humans how they can claim the area around the door away from the dog.

While there is nothing wrong with the approach that I used in the past, I find the technique that I used in the above video better and as you can see, very effective.

I’d like to see the guardians practice this new technique for a week or so without any guest at the door. The idea is to help Dudley practice staying on the pillow spot while his guardians get up and simulate answering the door.

Practicing this activity over and over again without the presence of an actual guest, we take away the excitement which will allow Dudley to learn faster and progress quicker.

After a week or so of practice, the guardians should start inviting one or more guest to come and visit each week so that they can build on their progress.

I’d also like to see the guardians look for opportunities to take Dudley out to get him more social experience. I would be willing to wager that a good portion of Dudleys door aggression is based on insecurity due to a lack of socialization experience. It’s certainly something his guardians can fix, but is a good illustration of why and how important it is to socialize your puppy around as many different experiences as possible.

Help the guardians remember all of the dog behavior secrets I shared with them during this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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