How to prevent your dog from jumping on you and house guests when you walk through the door
One of the training questions I get asked most often is ‘How do I stop my dog from jumping up on people when they walk in the door?’ Most dog owners know this situation well – your exuberant dog jumps up on you when you get home from work or he jumps on your guests when they come over.
We can all understand that our dogs are bursting with excitement when we get home. (We’re excited to see them too!) And most of our dogs love meeting new people or seeing old friends again. But dog-style greeting – bouncing up and down on you – doesn’t always go over too well with humans and it can also be dangerous if our friends are old or small or scared or carrying things in their arms.
What we need to do is teach our dogs a new form of greeting. A greeting that is just as satisfying but more human-friendly.
The simplest approach to curbing the jumping greeting is to give your dog somewhere specific to go whenever someone comes to the door. This will help keep it positive and fun – a knock on the door means your dog goes to his designated spot, like his bed, a training platform or a low, dog-proof sturdy table to wait for his greeting. Once your dog is in his place, you can say hello to him, give him some scratches and tell him how happy you are to see him. After he’s learned to do this with you, he’ll know that when guests arrive, he should go to his spot and they will greet him there.
Now we’ll break it down into steps:
- Start by rewarding your dog for going to the new location.
- Once your dog goes there confidently each time you ask, then you can give the place a name, lead him there, and reward him. Since I’m teaching Rossi to go to a Klimb, I say ‘go climb,’ but you can say ‘place,’ ‘door,’ ‘mat,’ whatever will be easy for both of you to remember. Work on this for a few days, just a few minutes at a time, 5-10 minutes is plenty.
- The next step is to practice entering through the door yourself and immediately ask your pup to go to their new place. Quickly give a reward and lots of verbal praise – it might be a good idea to keep some dog treats handy in the car so you’ll ready by the time you walk through the door.
- Once your pup is consistently jumping up to his new place when you walk inside, you can start adding in some ‘visitors’ a/k/a friends and family members that are willing to help you. Preload their hands with treats. Have them come to your door; then you’ll tell your pup to go to his place. When he does, open the door to greet your guests and have them give your pup (still in his place) lots of positive reinforcement through treats and petting.
- When going to the designated place becomes a ritual, you can slowly phase out giving treats, although a few every now and then to reinforce the good behavior will be beneficial. And of course, always remember to tell your pup what a good job he’s doing too. We all know that verbal praise feels good for dogs as well as humans.
A few tips:
- The first few times you have guests over, take your dog out for a walk or play session before they arrive. This will probably take the edge off your dog if he’s a little tired.
- Be patient. If your pup won’t go to his place at first due to being excited, just calmly ignore him and ask again. When he goes there, reward him immediately.
- Remember not to pet your dog or greet them till they are on their new place where the hello’s will now occur.
Good luck and remember to have fun training!
- Nicole Ellis