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What To Do When Your Dog Snaps At A Guest

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Has your dog not always been a good host/hostess by snapping at visitors?  If your dog does snap at a guest, calmness is the order of the day to diffuse the situation.  The July 2014 issue of Whole Dog Journal offers these suggestions on dealing with dog/houseguest problems:

  • Remove your dog from the situation.  As I stated above, remain calm and relocate your dog to a quiet room, close the door and be sure he has a bowl of water and a chew toy.
  • Apologize to your guest.  First of all, be sure the guest was not injured, then calmly apologize.
  • Deconstruct the incident.  If this is the first time your dog has exhibited this behavior, identify what events happened previously that may have led to the incident.  Once you figure it out, take steps so the problem doesn’t happen again in the future.  To help figure out the course of events, ask your guest questions such as:  What was the dog doing right before she snapped at you?  What were you doing when she snapped at you?  Did you notice any signs the dog was uncomfortable?
  • Make notes.  As soon as possible after the incident, make some detailed notes.  Describe in detail the guest that sparked the dog’s behavior.  Note gender, age, size, distinguishing features (glasses, beard for example).  Include any information regarding events in the past few days that may have caused your dog stress (storms, disruption of normal schedule, for example).  Accumulation of stress can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior in a normally calm dog.
  • Monitor your dog around future guests.  Watch your dog carefully and note if he seems to show signs of stress such as panting, licking his lips, or rolling over.  If your dog exhibits signs of stress, calmly move him to a quiet room.  If your dog continues to exhibit stress around visitors, consult a positive behavior specialist that can help resolve the issue.

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