Does your dog like to greet people coming into your home with excited leaps of joy? Large or small, no matter what size dog, some people simply do not appreciate that type of welcome as they come through the door. How do you stop your dog from jumping on your visitors? The first step is to examine how your dog behaves with you and your family.
Does your dog jump on you or your family members? If so, your dog needs to learn not to jump at all if you want to teach your dog proper manners at the door. Dogs cannot differentiate between family and visitors, and know that it’s okay to jump on you but not okay to jump on others. Consistency is key. If you are not consistent, then your dog will be confused. The most positive and effective way to teach your dog not to jump on you is to completely ignore the dog when he jumps. Dogs jump to get our attention, so telling him “Off” or “Down” and pushing on him is doing just that – giving the dog attention – and it is reinforcing the dog’s understanding that he gets attention when he jumps on you. If you turn your back to him and say nothing for a few seconds, then turn and face him and ask him to sit and give him lots of praise, the dog begins to learn that he gets attention only when he is not jumping on you.
Let’s also examine how you greet your dog when you come through the door. Are you really happy and excited to see your dog after a long day at work? Of course! But if you allow your dog to greet you by jumping on you, this is inconsistent with what you are trying to teach him, that is, not to jump on people as they come through the door. I know, some of you are saying that you love your happy, excited greeting after being apart all day!! There’s nothing like the love your dog gives you when you come home. I completely understand but if you allow your dog to jump on you when you come through the door, it’s undoing any instruction to stop him from jumping on visitors. Dogs learn by association. If he is jumping on you as you come through the door, he associates every person coming through that same door with that same activity. They cannot distinguish the difference.
A better option is to calmly greet him when you come home. Say a mellow “hello” and go about your business. Once your dog is calm, then greet him happily…away from the door.
After teaching your dog not to jump on you and your family, you can begin to instruct your dog to greet people nicely at the door. It’s best to practice when you expect visitors, or even better, have a friend practice with you. Take your dog out of the room, or even outside, prior to your guests’ arrival. Typically, when someone enters your house, there can be animated talk and a flurry of activity which can over-stimulate your dog. If you keep your dog away from this initial excitement, you have a better chance of keeping your dog calm. Once your visitors have come into your house and are settled down, bring your dog into the room on a very short leash. Have some tasty treats handy to give your dog or have your guests give to him. Praise your dog softly and happily when he greets people appropriately. If you and your visitors maintain a calm demeanor, you have a good chance of your dog staying calm and behaving in a well-mannered way.