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Bad behaviour with visitors


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Our border collie is nearly 3 years old, and is awful when we have visitors.

We have visitors coming tomorrow for Christmas (within the rules) and he'll be throwing toys at them and barking at a ridiculously high pitch incessantly for attention. It's totally embarrassing and I do not want it to ruin the day.

Other than shutting him away, which won't stop the barking, does anyone have any advice? I have no patience left with this behavior, everything I've tried has failed. 

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Hi there. Can you tell us what you have tried that has failed to change this behavior? It would be helpful to us in helping you if we knew.  It is possible that you did something that would work, but gave up on it because it did not give results quickly enough. 

The first thing you have to do to change a behavior like this is to make the behavior impossible for the dog to do. That means shutting him away in another room or crating him when guests are coming. Never allow him contact with guests again until this behavior has been changed. I will say that if he has been doing this for three years it may take a long time to change it, but you definitely can change it.

If he throws toys, you need to take all the toys and anything else he may try to make into a toy and put all of them away out of his reach now. They need to stay out of his reach at all times from now on unless you give one to him to play with, and you only do that when you don't have guests. Then, after a while, you take it and put it away again. You do this to establish that you and only you are in charge of toys and when, where, and how they are played with.

You also need to crate him any time that anyone comes to the door. If he barks, simply ignore him. I know that's annoying, the barking, but if you completely ignore it you may find that after a  time of getting nowhere when he barks he will stop that behavior. Crate him somewhere that he cannot see the visitors, and preferably where he cannot hear the voices either if that is at all possible. Don't expect this to change things rapidly. As I said, if he has been doing this for 3 years it may take a year or more to train him out of it. You just have to be completely consistent and persistent.

The other thing you can do is this: If he ever does stop barking while in his crate while guests are there, you can go get him out of the crate and let him calmly greet the guests. He cannot throw toys because they are all put away. If he barks, or displays any other bad behavior, he gets put back into the crate immediately. Be patient, and don't crate him with a punishing attitude. Just treat it like simple cause and effect, not as if he is a bad dog. He just needs to learn that he cannot do those things any more or he will be in the crate, and barking doesn't get him of of the crate.

 

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Have you trained to be quiet after one bark? You can do as D'Elle suggests at this point AND also work on training him for 'Quiet' when the door bell rings. You'll need to do these separately. So practice ~ have a friend ring the door bell, give him the quiet cue, reward if he quiets. Getting him to be quiet on cue may take a while, it's worth it.

Does he settle calmly when it's only you and the family at home? If no, teach him that definitely.

Good luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

 

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