Does your dog jump on people when they come over? We have some dog training tips to help change your dog’s behavior when you have guests at the door.
One of the training questions I get asked most often is ‘How do I stop my dog from jumping up on people?’. We can all understand that our dogs are bursting with excitement when we get home. We’re excited to see them too!. Isn’t that show of unconditional love the most wonderful thing about having a dog? Most of our dogs also love meeting new people or seeing old friends again, and we can’t blame them for that. But the exuberant dog greeting of bouncing up and down on people doesn’t always go over well with guests. It can also be dangerous if our friends visiting are elderly, or small toddlers, or if a guest is 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 another designated, safe area 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.
Training this new behavior will take practice. Here are some dog training tips we recommend:
- Start by rewarding your dog for going to the new location, while you’re together in the house. (You’re not coming in from the door yet.) Just practice directing them to the bed, platform, or spot you’ve designated, and sit. Then reward with scratches or a treat.
- Once your dog will go to their spot confidently each time you ask, then give the place a name, lead him there, and give him a reward. Since I’m teaching my pup Rossi to go to a Klimb training platform, I say ‘go Klimb’. But you can say ‘Place’, ‘Bed’, ‘Mat’, or whatever will be easy for both of you to remember. (It’s important to use a consistent command.) 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. Enter and immediately give your pup the command to go to their new place ‘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 (or garage) so you’ll ready when you walk through the door.
- Once your pup is consistently going to his new place each time you come home, start adding in some friends and family members who are willing to help. Give them some treats and have them come to your door. 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 is recommended. (Remember, this takes a lot of restraint for them!) And of course, always remember to tell your pup what a good job he’s doing. Verbal praise feels just as good for dogs as it does for humans.
Some things to keep in mind:
- The first few times you have guests over, take your dog out for a walk or have an iFetch play session before they arrive. This will probably take the edge off, if your dog is a bit tired.
- Be patient. If your pup won’t go to his place at first because they’re so excited, just calmly ignore them and ask again. When they go there, reward them immediately.
- If your pet is having a hard time remembering to run to a dog bed, try a higher location – sometimes the act of stepping or jumping up makes the place easier to remember. If you don’t have a training platform, you can use a low dog-safe stool for them to try.
- Don’t reward your pet when he jumps on you – a reward is as simple as petting or verbally praising. Wait until he’s on his spot to give lots of praise and a reward (a treat, a new toy, their favorite tennis ball, or lots of belly scratches). If you’re having a hard time resisting a greeting when they jump, try turning your back and crossing your arms.
- Ask your friends and guests to do the same. If you don’t reward the behavior with attention, dogs will start doing what they realize gets them the reward they’re looking for – lots of love from you and your friends!
As always, try to keep your training sessions short (around 5-10 mins) and keep it fun! Training is a gift that you give your dog and yourself. It’s also a wonderful way to strengthen the bond with your pup. Best of luck!