Grouchiness in dogs can be related to several different factors. When evaluating a dog, we look at age, temperament and health. The first thing we rule out are health issue. Make sure your dog has regular check ups with their veterinarian. Health issues can make dogs grouchy, just like with humans.
After your dog gets a clean bill of health, then we look at behavior. How often do guests come over to the house? How often is your dog out in public? What happens during these events?
An important thing to look for in our dogs are signs of stress. Often we miss these signals. Some signs of stress include lip licking, excessive panting, and yawing.
Making your dog feel comfortable with other people begins when no one else is around. Then, slowly we start by desensitizing them to others using positive reinforcement.
Spend eight to twelve months reinforcing your dog's behavior with treats, praise and toys. You'll be amazed at how your dog responds and remembers the commands.
If you spend twelve months punishing your dog's behavior with overuse of an electronic collars, scruff shakes and harsh tones, you'll be amazed at how grouchy your dog becomes.
It is also important to look at your dog's age. Senior dogs often has less tolerance for young children. If you know your guests have young children, set your dog up to succeed by keeping them in a quiet bedroom while your company is visiting.
If you know your dog does not do well with strangers, quiet bedrooms are a good alternative. Especially if you enjoy having company visit. After all, you don't want people to avoid you because of they are afraid of your “mean little dog”.
Remember, a tired dog is a well behaved dog. Don't forget to make sure your dog gets plenty of mental and physical exercise before your company comes over.