One of our main goals when training dogs at K9 Pack Dog Training is creating strong and healthy relationships between dogs and their humans, while also creating an enjoyable environment that both parties feel safe and happy with. Being able to take your best friend on hikes, lunches in public places, and hanging out with friends are all possible once your dog is trained to greet visitors gracefully.
Greeting visitors calmly isn’t only beneficial to the dog owner, it is also extremely beneficial to the dog himself. When your dog is properly exposed to populated surroundings and general greeting etiquette, he will be less stressed around strangers or large groups of people. Meeting new people is extremely exciting to dogs and sometimes that comes off as aggressive or annoying to some, whether it manifests in the form of jumping, excessive licking, barking at the doorbell, etc.
To begin teaching your dog how to politely greet visitors, the trigger to the undesired behavior needs to be detected. Once that trigger to the undesired behavior is found, you can correct it with the desired behavior. For example, there are many cases in which the dog hears the doorbell and gets overly excited and begins to bark. It is extremely important to resist reacting to the undesired behavior because even a correction is a form of attention. That is mainly what a dog craves from his owner - attention - and he will do whatever he can to get that attention.
With that being said, if the dog barks at the doorbell or jumps when guests enter, do not correct him by shoving him off or telling him to stop. The correct thing to do is to ignore the barks and wait until he/she calms down. Once your dog calms down and stops barking, they can be rewarded for the desired behavior. This set of actions needs to be repeated in that order – ring the doorbell, ignore the barking, wait until the dog settles, and reward him for sitting calmly. After a few repetitions, your dog will associate the doorbell with a positive behavior and the excessive excitement will be reduced.
Now that you have resolved the doorbell, your dog is in a good mindset to greet the person that is about to walk in the door. Seat your dog on their bed, or in a spot that is fairly distant from the front door and keep them on a loose leash. When your visitor enters the house, verbally reward your dog for sitting still and give them a treat. If your dog gets up to approach or jump on the guest, ask your guest to move back and repeat the exercise without rewarding the dog. After this has been repeated enough times, your dog will sit still beside you while the visitor enters
Now you have successfully created an enjoyable environment for you and your guests as well as built an understanding between you and your dog. You now understand your dog and what is going through his head and with that important information, you will know how to better communicate your desired behaviors to your dog in a positive way.