How to Stop an English Bulldog From Acting Aggressive to Guests at the Door

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 13, 2017

Theodore is a two-year-old English Bulldog who lives in Villisca, Iowa with a female Bulldog named Tilly. Their guardians set up a dog behavior training session with us to address Theo’s aggressive behavior when gusts knock on the door or come into the home. They also wanted some advice on how to deal with Theo’s reactive behavior when the new baby is crying.

Knowing that Theo had a history of being reactive to guests, I adopted a soft body language, had extremely high value treats ready and prepped the guardian on how to answer the door. All that advance work paid off as you can see in the video below.

Although this greeting went well, Theo has a history of not behaving so well so we spent quite a bit of time going over his daily life to determine why he was acting aggressively to guests.

Because Theo didn’t really have any rules in place, and he was able to tell his humans when to pet him, he had gotten the impression that he was in an authority position. Because security for the pack is usually handled by one of the leaders of a dog pack, Theo was acting aggressive around guests to communicate he didn’t want them there.

After suggesting how to change the leader follower dynamic in the home, I showed the guardians how they can claim the area around the door and train their dog to act how they want him to.

Using the right approach made it easy for Theo to understand what we wanted from him. As you saw in the above video, Theo was easily redirected away from the door. Now this is what we call “warm,” meaning the dog was warmed up due to repeated practice repetitions.

In order for Theo to adopt this new door behavior in a “cold” situation, his guardians are going to need to practice the exercise over and over. A great way to accomplish this is to have family members call or text when on their way home and pretend to be a guest knocking at the door.

Combined with constant enforcement of rules and boundaries, petting him with a purpose and rewarding desired actions and behaviors, Theo will adopt a follower’s mindset and stop charging the door, trying to nip guests or barking when people pass by his home.

We wrapped up the session their Roadmap to Success video which you can watch below.

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