Having visitors with a dog: what to think about

For most people, a part of home life is having people come and visit you! That might be family or friends, or it might be children’s friends. Whoever it might be, you want to ensure your visitors and your dog are both happy.

If you’ve had your dog from a puppy, they may already be used to visitors and not be scared. If they came to you later in life, they may not be as happy having their home ‘invaded’ by strangers.

For the former group, you’re more likely dealing with over-enthusiasm towards your guests. Unless they’ve just hit their teenage months, when they’re re-thinking virtually everything and things that were fine before become worrying.

With the latter, they need to learn visitors are a good thing, or aren’t something that’s going to be stressful.

Overexcited with visitors

While it’s great your pup is so friendly, dogs who get overexcited with visitors can be just as likely to cause injury to your guests. In their enthusiasm, they can jump up (scratching or unbalancing people – especially children or vulnerable adults), grab at clothes or limbs, or try to take treats or food.

Fellow dog owners may be able to deal with all this bouncing exuberance, but if you have people who are more worried about dogs – this can become a more serious issue.


For dogs who haven’t been brought up to expect and enjoy visitors, having strangers in their home can cause stress and anxiety. Not only are these people your dog doesn’t know – and so doesn’t know if they are ‘safe’ – they’re disrupting the usual routine and are, for the dog, unpredictable.

A dog who’s worried by visitors can show a whole host of different behaviours. These can include:

  • Barking or growling
  • Backing away
  • Hiding
  • Retreating to a safe distance to observe
  • Becoming hyperactive (zoomies etc) and so outwardly appearing overly happy
  • Body language cues such as yawning, lip licking, whale eye etc
  • Wagging tail at visitor but with low or stiff tail carriage
  • Clinginess to owner
  • Inability to settle while the visitor is there
  • Threats including darting, nipping and potentially biting

Happy to see people

A dog who’s happy to see and is used to visitors, is far more likely to give them a welcome. There are varying degrees of enthusiasm depending on their personality, then they should be happy to settle down.



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