Petting Party Part 2: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??? HOW TO CONVINCE FIDO TO LOVE HOUSE GUESTS…THE RIGHT WAY!!
Let’s go back in time a bit to one of our September blog posts…Petting Party Part 1. You’ve got your friends lined up, you know the schedule of the games you are watching…so what’s the game plan?
You are going to provide the beverages (adult and other) and each of your guests will be bringing pot luck, for whatever theme you decide! Just ask your guests to each bring an appetizer of some sort, and you are almost ready. Now, for the subterfuge! As with all classical conditioning, we need lots and lots of repetitions! Granted, 10 folks watching a football game would give you just that, but we need targeted repetitions that involve not only greeting guests in your house, but also repetitions that relate to the front door, the doorbell and even someone knocking on the door! So here is where we get sneaky! Remember how you are providing the beverages? The twist here is that you’re not going to put those drinks in the fridge, you’re going to put them in a great big cooler full of ice that you will place right out in the front yard! Why, you ask? Well, every time any of your guests need a beverage, they have to leave the house and reenter through the front door (and no…one person isn’t going to bring in drinks for everyone!) You figure even your conservative friends will have 3-6 drinks over a 3 hour football game (maybe even more if they are of the non-alcoholic kind!) Now, are you seeing how this party is going to work? (P.S. I would love to take credit for this idea, but it was Ian Dunbar (the puppy professor ) that I got it from!!! He even suggests that none of the bottles be twist tops, but require a bottle opener which you have “conveniently” hidden outside as well. You won’t inform the guests of this until they are already in the house the first time, causing them to exit and reenter again!!!)
I wish it was just that easy, but there are still some housekeeping items we need to go over, as well as getting Fido on board with the idea! There will also be two very different techniques to follow, depending on whether the dog in question is older and not (at this point) very welcoming to visitors or if we are dealing with a 10 week old puppy! Needless to say, not only do we have to explain the procedure to our guests (and what we are trying to accomplish) but we have to make it “idiot proof.” So, I need you to go get your car keys and head to the local office supply store and have a sign made (just a simple photo copy that’s laminated) that says “Entry into this house requires four things…1) ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door; 2) taking 3 treats out of the mail box; 3) entering the house; and 4) asking my dog for a sit, saying thank you, rewarding my dog and then reaching down to provide a pet or scratch on the head with the praise of “Good Dog”!!!” Yes that’s right, you will be using the mailbox to store the treats; and you guessed it, every time your friends go outside to get a beverage, they will have to repeat the process in its entirety. It is important to make sure that the friends you invite will abide by your rules…see post Petting Party Part 1 on how to select appropriate guests. By the end of the evening your dog is going to love hearing the sounds associated with people coming to visit you in your home (yes the doorbell or people knocking on the door!) In fact, you just might have a trained butler ready to correctly say hello by the end of the first night! But remember that all dogs react differently, so it might take several weeks of this “petting party” experience before Fido completely grasps the concept. It is also important to keep in mind that dogs will naturally bark at the sound of the doorbell or a knock on the door…we aren’t going to stop that, but we will minimize the dog’s excitement, decrease your embarrassment of having a “misbehaved” dog and increase your ability to socialize in your home! If you need more information on dealing with specific behaviors, see the earlier blog posts on barking dogs.
But, before we get this “party” started, remember how I said that you have to address puppies and older dogs differently? The next blog post will go into the explanation of what those differences are and why it’s important to know the distinction between the two age groups! Possession of your fingers may depend on it!
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