This has always been a big problem for us. Our dogs LOVE people. They see someone pull in and they start barking and whining and going absolutely crazy until, finally, their guest is in the door and ready to be licked to death. Or at least, that’s what the dogs think. They jump up to get closer to their face, they whine and turn in circles. There is so much energy you just don’t know what to do.
For us, it was something that we allowed from puppyhood. It’s cute when they are little and they jump at your leg when you get home. We would pet them or even pick them up when they did this. We taught them it was ok.
This was not our only problem with manners in and out of the house, so we called a trainer. She was able to do sessions with us in and out of the house. These in-home sessions were amazing. (They were also much more reasonably priced than I had anticipated. If you have thought of doing training, look into a local trainer who can come to your home.) One of the best things we learned was how to get our dogs to stop jumping on guests.
This isn’t going to be a simple fix, of course, and it will require a little audience participation. You need to have one basic thing down before you can get started with manners at the door – sit. Our trainer told us we needed to make them sit for everything. One of our dogs comes up to us for a pat on the head, first they sit. They want to go outside to romp in the backyard, first they sit. We come home from work and we are all so happy to see each other, first they sit. We dropped something on the floor while cooking that they can eat, first they sit. It can be difficult to get into this habit, but once you do, you’ll be glad you did.
Now that you have that all-situations sit down, it’s time to try to apply it to the door. Our dogs did not want to listen in the least. “Sitting at the door? When a new person is coming them see us? You gotta be crazy,” is what they seemed to be saying to us. This is where our next tool comes in – the squirt bottle. We now have the stashed all over the house for when the dogs won’t listen. At the door, they are basically a requirement.
So how do we bring this all together?
If you know someone is coming over, leave a squirt bottle outside the front door for them. Let your guests arm themselves and tell them not to pet your dog until he or she is sitting. Have your squirt bottle ready, too and let them in. Tell your dog, “sit” and if they do not obey after two or three times, squirt them and keep saying, “sit!” This can be supplemented with a few, “down!” commands, as well. If the guest is able to squirt your dog before he actually jumps on them, awesome. This will help to ensure they understand jumping is a big no-no.
If you weren’t expecting your guest, you’ll have to do all the of squirting yourself. Once your guest is in, let them know you need the dogs to sit before they can pet them. Keep squirting them until they get the picture.
If you are able to stage 5 front door training sessions in the first week, it will really help to get the message through to your dogs. You are probably changing the rules on them with this one, so they need to know that now we have a different protocol at the door. Manners are mandatory. Give it a try.
*Image from Petcha.com