Keeping Your Pet Calm When Guests Come to Visit

Keeping Your Pet Calm When Guests Come to Visit
The doorbell rings, a knock at the door and your dog starts barking or your cat jumps up, runs and hides under the bed.

You may not feel this way, but it’s very common for your pet to react this way when guests come to visit.

My dog Snoopy, who’s now deaf, used to react to doorbells and even though he can’t hear them anymore, he can feel/sense when we open or close the door when guests come over.

This got me thinking, with the holidays fast approaching, why not do a post about how to keep your pet calm when guests come to visit. This way you can get a head start on training your fur baby to keep calm and carry on. :)

Below are some helpful steps to train your fur baby to thrive during the upcoming holiday season so your guests can enjoy them just as much as you do!

Teach your pet not to react to a knock on the door or when the doorbell rings

I know what you may be saying…well, how do I do that? Not to worry, all it takes is some practice- trust me!

Here are the steps:

  1. Start with knocking on a table quietly.
  2. See how your pet responds. If they start barking, rush the door or your cat jumps up and hides, then knock more quietly. The main goal here is for your pet to stay calm when they hear a noise.
  3. Then increase volume and frequency. You’ll do this until your dog or cat starts to ignore the loud knocks. Gradually increase the volume and frequency – do this until your dog is ignoring reasonably loud knocks.
  4. Now that you have got the knock down, introduce a doorbell sound. Repeat steps 1-3 with the doorbell.

Tip: you can even try using the doorbell sound on your phone so your pet gets used to it.

Move on to the actual door:

  1. Once you and your pet have mastered the steps above, you can move on to knocking on an actual door.
  2. Then start introducing other people “Guests” to this practice. Ask someone to go outside (while you stay with your dog), approach and knock on the front door once. See how your pet responds. If they remain calm, reward them for being so good.
  3. Then, while your pet is enjoying their treat, knock again- very quietly to begin with. Then gradually increase the number and volume of knocks. You can repeat this same process with the doorbell.

The noise will eventually become meaningless to your pet and when they hear it - the hope is they will no longer react to it. This takes practice and repetition, so don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results.

Teach your pet how to greet guests properly while teaching your guests how to greet your pet too!

Sometimes it takes participation from everybody to help train your pet to greet guests properly. (This next part is mainly for dogs.)

  1. Ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to help you
  2. Have some good treats ready to go in your pocket
  3. Get prepared and hang your dog’s leash over the doorknob or have it somewhere close to the door
  4. Ask your helper to ring the doorbell or knock on your door
  5. Follow your dog to the door and call out to your helper, “Hold on, please, while I leash the dog!”
  6. Then leash your dog, ask them to sit, and then open the door. If your dog breaks the sit, ask your helper to close the door and start the process again

When your pooch can sit there while your helper steps into the house, praise them calmly, pet them, and give them a yummy treat.

Keeping your pet calm when guests come over- dog on a leash
This is the key part to this training…ask your helper to ignore your pooch. This will be difficult when the real guests start to come over, but this is what I meant when I said you may need to train your guests as well. Don’t worry, ignoring your pet is not rude. It helps keep them calm and allows you both to greet each other properly when the time comes.

Several little sessions with different helpers before you invite actual guests to come over, will help your pooch thrive during the upcoming holiday season.

Other things you can try:

There is also the bed command that you can teach your pooch. Tell them to go to their “bed” when there’s a knock at the door or the doorbell rings. As long as they stay in their bed, they get a treat.

You can practice this with family members and friends as well. When the time comes for them to greet the guests, come up with a command that tells them it’s alright to leave their bed, like “OK.”

And if all else fails...

This may be your go to if you have a cat that's scared of guests. Sometimes it will just be easier and less stressful for your fur baby to be put in a safe haven while guests come over until you really have the time to train them.

This safe place can be a bedroom, a laundry room, or if they love the safety of their crate, it can be that too. Just make sure if it’s for a longer period of time, to put them in a place that has plenty of space, water, food, blankets and toys. That way, they can just enjoy their time alone and come out stress free when everyone is gone.

Here are some different items in the shop that will help train, keep calm and occupy your pet when the time comes to invite those guests over.

Products to help keep your pet calm when guests come to visit
Remember, this will take practice and persistence. Be gentle with yourself and your pet, as you are both learning something new.

Also, when I was doing some research for this post, there’s so much information out there to help you and your pet succeed in this area. So don’t hesitate to do a little research of your own, you may find something else that’s a perfect fit.

I wish you luck and remember don’t give up!