Written by Christine Durrant, Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Care Consultant
Does your dog jump, bark and rush to the door when company arrives at your home? If so, you may consider taking the time to teach your dog a replacement behavior. This means deciding what you’d like them to do instead. The best place to start is to teach your dog to sit, then to stay. That way, you can have them sitting nicely while your guests enter your home. The time you spend training now will last a lifetime.
Next, it’s important to determine WHY your dog is reacting. If your dog is simply excited; follow the steps below. If your dog is afraid or nervous, you’re going to want to change their mindset from fear to excitement. Basically, turn the arrival of guests into a party instead of a dread. Remember, it takes time and patience to help your dog change their feelings about people, especially if they have had bad experiences in the past.
Please note: This post will not cover aggression. Aggression is an issue that requires in-person, professional intervention and needs to be addressed prior to this type of training. If your dog shows aggression towards humans they should not be greeting guests at your door right now. Please consider a professional, positive reinforcement trainer in your area. A good resource for this is The Association for Professional Dog Trainers at: https://apdt.com/
Once you have mastered sit/stay, here are some ways to better manage the problems you may experience when guests arrive:
Start training NOW. Don’t wait for someone to come to your door. As a matter of fact, please don’t expect your dog to succeed until you have practiced this many, many times in advance. For a complete video of similar training click here.
1. Have rewards and a leash near the door. The rewards will depend on what YOUR dog likes. Most dogs will listen best when treats are involved. (We suggest soft, small treats like Zuke’s or the soft, jerky type sticks). Soft treats have more scent and flavor which means more motivation for your dog. Store the treats in a sealed baggie or pouch in a secret location (out of reach but near the front door) and use them only when working on this behavior. If your dog is not motivated by food a special toy will work just as well.
2. Choose the behavior you want to replace the disruptive behavior with. Some people might just want their dog to stop jumping so they teach the dog to simply stand instead of jump. Others might want their dog to lay on a rug or mat while they open the door and let people in (we have videos covering both). We will use sit/stay for this example as it is a common and fairly simple solution.
To access step-by-step instructions click "read more" below:
Christine Durrant, CPDT-KA Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant