Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Do you find it hard to entertain in your home because of your dog? Now we all know that some dogs are really mellow and chilled and not too phased by visitors coming over while for other dogs a new visitor in the house can mean lots of things… Some dogs are very excitable and just want to lick the new intruder to death… Some dogs get anxious. Some dogs like to jump on people. Some dogs like to bark when the door-bell rings and some dogs are so food obsessed that they will stalk your visitor just in case a crumb drops on the floor. The bottom line is (and sometimes it’s very hard for us “dog lovers” to remember) that not everyone loves dogs like you do – I know it’s hard to believe. So, you need to be mindful of this, especially when you have non-dog people coming over to your house. You need to be respectful of others and teach your dog some boundaries and rules when you have visitors over. I was chatting to a friend about it this other day. She has a toddler and a very excitable dog. She was telling me that she doesn’t entertain as much as she’d like because she finds it hard to manage her dog when people come over. On the other hand, I had a mum approach me at a birthday party a few weeks back and tell me she had a great blog post idea for me. She told me she’s not really a dog person, and every time she goes to one of her friends’ houses who has a very boisterous dog, she finds it very unpleasant as she wished her friend would realise not all people are dog people and to be a bit more respectful. As a mum of two young kids and quite a boisterous, food obsessed dog, I absolutely understand both sides. It’s hard to invite heaps of people over with their kids if everyone is going to be running around eating. Hence why I have decided to write this article and give you my top tips for how to manage your dog when you have visitors coming over.

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Our house full of kids!

So, here is what you can do about it…

STAGE ONE: Before your guests arrive

If possible, make sure your dog has been for a good walk or done some good exercise to get out some energy before your guests arrive. A tired, well-exercised, mentally stimulated dog is less likely to misbehave and cause trouble when you have people over.

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Taking Cooper out for some exercise before we have friends coming over.

STAGE TWO: When guests arrive.

You know your dog and the sort of mischief they get up. So if your dog gets over-excited when people ring the doorbell or first arrive to your house, make sure to put your dog on the lead before they get there so you can have full control over your dog. Some dogs love to jump on people, some just get very excited and may knock over small children, some may bark. Having them on the lead will give you the ability to have control. Also make sure to have your dog’s favourite treats sitting by the front door. That way, when your dog is calm and doing the correct thing, you can give them a really delicious treat. And even better, you could start to teach your dog to sit and wait patiently at the door or on his bed until everyone has come in. You can start to practise this daily with your hubby, wife, mum, dad, etc.


STAGE THREE: During their Visit.

Creating boundaries for you dog around children.

Even though we all love our dogs dearly and expect everyone else to, this is not always the case. Some children might be afraid of dogs. Some parents might not like their children being licked by dogs. Your dog should not be jumping on anyone, let alone on children, even though you might tolerate this behaviour, other parents might not like it, and even a small dog could harm a child if they jumped up at them. These are some of the things to keep in mind when your dog is around young children. If your dog cannot respect these boundaries, pop him on the lead as mentioned above so you have full control until he is calm and giving the child some space. I have also written an article all about teaching your dog how to behave around children. So make sure to have a read of this too.

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Cooper and Harper playing together – always supervised no matter how much I trust both of them.

Teach your dog that they are only allowed on the couch and/or bed on your command.

This is a very personal one. Some people love having their dog up on their bed and the couch and wouldn’t change this for anything. But imagine the scenario when a guest (who is not such a dog person) is sitting quietly on the couch and then your pooch decides to jump up to join them uninvited. Now don’t worry, I am certainly not saying you cannot never let your dog on the couch or bed, BUT, I am saying that it might be a good idea to start teaching your dog (if they don’t do this already) that they are only allowed up when you invite them up. In our house, Cooper is not allowed on the couch. He’s a big dog and he sheds hair. Even though we love him, it’s not nice for others. But he is allowed on our bed, only when we invite him up. He will literally walk up to the bed and rest his head on it until we say “OK Up”. It’s pretty cute. And very respectful.

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Cooper knows that he is not allowed on the couch. This photo also shows how much he loves food! And why the next point is so important.

Teach your dog the “on your mat” command.

Another good thing you can do in a situation like this is to teach your dog the “on your mat” or “on your bed” command. The idea behind it is to train your dog to stop whatever they’re doing and go and sit quietly on their mat or bed. To teach your dog the “on your mat” or “on your bed” command, make sure to have some delicious treats ready (Cooper’s favourite’s are the Get WAG liver treat), call your dog over to their bed/mat, say the command “on your bed” and once they are lying in their bed, you reward them with a treat. Practice this over and over. Without distractions first and then with distractions once he gets it. With consistency and repetition, your dog should learn this one pretty fast. When you have young children over, your dog might become over excited or may play up a little more than usual, so make sure to have some special high value (extra delicious and/or long lasting) treats they can enjoy on their mat whilst you are entertaining. 

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Cooper on his bed whilst the kids are eating on the couch.

Teach your dog boundaries when there is food around.

For us, Cooper is very well trained, but he is incredibly food obsessed so I know how hard this one can be. Again, I have actually written an article about how to manage feeding time with kids when you have a food obsessed dog around. 

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

A house full of kids eating is almost too tempting for Cooper.

Put your dog outside with a bone

If it’s just too hard, and your dog is not listening or is stressed out, put him outside. Honestly, Cooper is a good dog but as mentioned above he is pretty food driven so when we have a lot of people over with kids, I will often put him outside during meal time with a bone. It keeps him very happy and quiet. I love giving Cooper the Get WAG Kangaroo Bone as it keeps him busy for ages.

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

Cooper enjoying his Get WAG Kangaroo bone outside while we have our friends inside.

When all else fails, see if a family member or a friend can have your dog for a couple of hours.

I have one friend who is allergic to dogs, quite badly, so I am totally respectful of that and if/when she comes over, Jase does his best to get Cooper out of the house. For situations when your feel your dog is too anxious or your fearful of how your dog is going to react with visitors, a last resort is to see if someone can look after your pooch for a few hours… A few weeks back we had 25 people coming over in the arvo for a kids dinner. 10 of those were toddlers!! As well as I can train my kids to sit and eat, I can’t train other peoples’ kids. I know as good as Cooper is, that when there are that many kids running around eating their dinner, there is no point in risking it. So we made the call to take him to my in laws house for a few hours. It makes me sad to think that we can’t have him at home but at the same time, I know my dog. He is too food driven in a situation like that and not everyone who came loves dogs so it was the best decision for all. 

Tips for How to Manage your Dog when you have Visitors Coming Over

We decided that this was too much for Cooper to handle and too hard for me to be cooking dinner and making sure he wasn’t stealing from the kids or eating scraps off the floor that he shouldn’t be.

STAGE FOUR: Once everyone has left.

Make sure to praise your dog if they have done a good job. Let them know you are proud of them. Also make sure that any food scraps on the ground are safe for dogs and if they are, let you dog clean them up, if he hasn’t already! Save you having to get out the vacuum cleaner.


If you think your dog is a risk to your children, please seek the help from a dog trainer/behaviourist ASAP. Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY never ever leave a child and dog alone and unattended. Always make sure to supervise and step in if you feel the dog is uncomfortable or the child is at risk.

If you have any questions on this topic or would like some help or guidance with any of it, please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. Please spread the word and share this article around to all dog owners.

Mel xox

PS. This article was also featured on Mamamia!

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. I will not be liable for anything that happens to your dog or children by following my advice and tips. If you have real concerns or worries about your dog and/or safety of your children, please seek out a professional to come and assess the situation.



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