My dogs

Does you dog look at any visitors as the enemy on attack? They feel this need to defend the homestead even when your best friend comes to visit?

Obedience training for dogs, is a great tool to help you have a well trained dog, but what if your dog does everything else right accept greet visitors with a smile?

I personally had and still have this problem. We have two big dogs, (85 and 65 pounds each) and I took them to training, and even aggression training. They sit/stay nicely, they lay down when I want them to, I go through doorways first, I don't move for them. Basically I seem to be Alpha when I am home alone with them.

But the minute someone is at the door, or even before that, the minute a car looks like it might be slowing down to come in the driveway, then they are at it. We have large windows, with the window sills, only being about a foot off the ground, so they have a complete view of the world out there!

One day some door to door sales people showed up, unannounced of course, I was in the basement, these poor people never even got to the front door! They got out of their car, took one look at my big dogs barking together, side by side with their front paws on the window sill, and teeth showing, and spitting, they got right back in their car and left! Well that is one way to deal with unwanted visitors, but not my idea of being in control.

My dogs are crate trained, and usually if I know someone is coming over, I tell them to "go in their homes" which they seem to do willingly, but if they get to the door early, then trying to get them in their crates is hard. I end up raising my voice, which actually makes things worse, they will go to their crates barking the whole way!.

No matter how much training we do with friends coming to the door, if they even get in the door (the dogs are usually right against the door) they will get jumped on, and pushed down, or actually nipped. So, you can imagine how upset I would get when my dog nipped someone, luckily she is a friend.

No matter how much training I had or did, and the money I spent on it, this one particular part of life became nerve wracking. People didn't want to come over. I would try to be pro-active and watch for anyone coming, and I would ALWAYS leave the door locked.

One friend, who is quite tall, actually over six feet, just walked in one night when I was in the downstairs office, I had forgot to lock the door. My dogs were upstairs, and she had walked over and they did not see her arrive. They rushed her at the door, and actually jumped and put their paws on her shoulders and pushed her out the door and shut the door! I came upstairs in time to see them sitting there all cute and innocent looking by the door, and my friend on her butt on the back deck.

I said enough is enough, and I was to the point of finding them a new home. Yet I loved them dearly and they were 7 years old at the time.

I realized that we had made a mistake by getting litter mates as puppies, this means, right from the get go, they are a pack. They get each other worked up, and I did everything with them together.

I had a trainer finally tell me, to get them a muzzle. Most of the training I had been to, would make you feel bad, they would say "a well trained dog will obey all commands" this made me feel like a failure. I would get anxious, which is fuel for your dogs. I did learn that when you show fear or nervousness, they feel they should be on protective duty.

So, I went to a dog supply store, and I asked for a muzzle. I got this look of "how can you be so cruel". So I went to another supply store, and they had soft plastic ones, where the dog can breathe and even drink water easily.

I measured my dogs snouts, and I got one for each of them.

I then went home and I put a note on both doors. "Please be Patient, Dogs in Training"

Then I started training them to accept the muzzle. I would put it on them, and of course they freaked. I put a tiny treat in them and then they liked them. Now, for whatever reason, I am certainly no dog expert here, but as soon as I put their muzzles on, I am the Alpha.

When I hear someone knock at the doors now, instead of trying to get them into their crates and getting myself excited and the anxiety involved, I go to the cabinet, and I go up to them while they are barking at the door. I tell my friend or visitor, one minute please, and I put their muzzles on, and then they sit/stay and stop barking right away. It is amazing how they do this, since they could still bark with this muzzle if they wanted to.

Then I let my visitors in, they gently sniff them and then go and lay on their beds and watch us. After awhile of visiting, I will take off their muzzles and they are OK.

So, I know there will be dog lovers out there that may think muzzles are cruel or mean, but I felt I had no other choice. I am now much calmer about visitors. My friends are not so scared to show up.

I still keep the door locked, I really don't like people just walking in anyways, but the fear and anxiety I had are gone.. Whether this is considered proper obedience training for dogs or not, it works for me.

One trainer I talked to, said sometimes it takes something physical, such as this muzzle to get the point across. It is an instant result too. They go from jumping barking and showing teeth, to sit/stay quietly with their tails wagging.

My dogs are germen sheppard/husky/paranese cross. We live in a rural area, and they are amazing watch dogs and companions. Once they have seen you at least 3 times they settle down. They will even get to know your car. But until that point, I just don't know how they are going to react, so the muzzle turned out to be a great training tool for me, and it is not cruel. It is practical, and safe and seems to work well.

If you feel you may be in any situation that your dog will react, and you can't always avoid the situation, such as going to the vet or the groomers for example. Then take away any doubt and use the muzzles. They don't have to be those wire cage things you see on pit bulls, just a soft leather or plastic (plastic cleans better) that fits comfortably and allows them to pant.

Obedience training for dogs, is a great idea. Everyone loves a well trained dog. I have had many dogs before that trained well. Go to the classes and learn as much as you can, but don't be afraid to use "tools". Some dogs just need extra props to get there.