Reactivity to Visitors – Using Food

09/02/2022

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REACTIVITY TO VISITORS – USING FOOD

When it comes to working with reactivity around visitors, you’ll want to combine management with positive training.

Make sure you know when your visitors are coming and have plenty of high value treats ready that your dog really loves. Prepare your visitors with clear instructions on how to behave around your dog. This could include avoiding eye contact, not approaching or touching your dog, sitting calmly and notifying you if they need to move so that you can support your dog.

When your visitors arrive you may find it helpful to meet them somewhere neutral outside with your dog before coming back together. This is great if your dog is only reactive to people inside the home.

If they come directly into the house make sure your dog is safely in another room while you welcome your visitors and settle them in.

Bring your dog in on a lead initially or put them behind a gate or barrier where they can see the people but not get to them.

As soon as your dog notices the visitor, give them a treat. You want to deliver the treat as soon as your dog is aware of the person and not before. This is because you want the visitor’s presence to mean good things happen!

If your dog doesn’t show interest in the treats, this could be a sign the situation is too much for them. Try to create more space and if this doesn’t work take them out to settle elsewhere and try again another day.

Notice any patterns if your dog is struggling. Is it specific visitors, or particular types of people such as men or children? If you notice a pattern you will need to do more work around these visitors.

Taking these steps whenever someone visits may help your dog form new associations to people in the home.

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