So you’re having a party, and your guests just arrived at the front door. Your dog is so excited to see these new people that he jumps up, gives kisses, wiggles his tail and barks “Hello!” over and over for 10 minutes. Some guests think its adorable, but one is unsure how to respond, another doesn’t want dog kisses and a third is actually afraid of dogs. It would be much easier for everyone if Baxter waited until everyone was settled and then enjoyed snuggles and pets from your willing friends and family. But how do we teach him that the doorway is not for playing?
To simplify the process of training your dog to greet guests calmly, Dog Trainer Andrea Arden breaks it down into two parts: managing your dog’s current behavior, and teaching your dog the behavior you want from them. She suggests keeping your dog on a leash when guests arrive to prevent jumping. You can either hold the leash or gently step on it. To teach your dog the proper behavior, she suggests playing the “automatic sit game,” which involves asking your dog to sit and when she does so automatically, saying “yes” and giving her a treat. Your guests can also play this game, and gradually she will learn that sitting nicely (and not jumping) means treats!
Puppies can be especially challenging when it comes to greeting guests. Who doesn’t love a tiny, fluffy puppy jumping up to say hi? The problem is, what happens when a 12-pound puppy grows up to become an 80-pound full-grown dog? The jumpy behavior becomes at lot less endearing and more potentially dangerous. To avoid this problem, Dog Trainer Martin Deeley advises that you “play safe” with your puppy, writing:
Play safe with your pup when guests come around. Maintain control and help him to learn patience and remain calm. A leash and a crate are great tools to use. Puppies need to understand that guests come to visit you and he is there to be greeted when he is invited. Train your guests to not make him the highlight as they arrive but basically to ignore him. No look, no touch, no talk when they first come into your home. Otherwise he will be rewarded for his excitement, jumping, and generally rude greetings.
If he is a dog that cannot help himself even if you put him on the leash, keep him in a crate when people come over, or better still, before they come, wait for him to calm down before allowing him out to socialize. When you do take him out, slip him on a leash and teach him to greet guests politely with a sit.
When he has learned the art of greeting guests, ensure these habits are maintained otherwise your dog may regress and once more learn he can disobey when guests are present. A dog that greets welcome guests nicely and is a delight around the home when guests are present is a dog you will be proud of and your guests will admire. Their smiles and appreciation are his reward and will help him become even better.
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In addition to the “automatic sit game” and “play safe” tips, teaching your dog the “place” command is another great way to manage your dog’s greeting behavior. If a dog is trained to place, she will, upon hearing the command, go towards her bed (or another designated “place”) and sit still. Once the dog masters this, you can tell her “go to your place” when the doorbell rings, and she will go there rather than run at the door. Sounds simple enough, but how do you teach this?
In this video below, Martin Deeley explains teaching your dog to place with the BigLeash® Remote Training Collar by DogWatch. The tips Martin provides are useful for both BigLeash users and non-BigLeash users – start slowly, have patience and focus on communicating with your dog.
In the video, Martin works with an an active and inquisitive American Bulldog named Oso. Martin starts by introducing Oso to his place (in this case, a blue place board), and giving him treats when he stands or sits on it. He then walks him back and forth onto the mat, and begins using the place command. Finally, he incorporates the BigLeash slowly to reinforce what he’s learned. Oso loves treats (who doesn’t?), so Martin rewards him with small training treats for a job well done.
With these training tips, you can help your dog learn the proper behavior and ensure that you, your guests and your dog all enjoy the visit. And if you miss those wagging tails and excited greetings, don’t worry, there is still time for that during your dog’s playtime – only now, you won’t have to worry about your dog jumping up on Grandma Ruth or knocking you over with his tail to get to Aunt Jamie!