However sweet and loving your dog is, no one likes to have a dog jump up to greet them. Few people anticipate such problems, yet they are common among dog owners, especially those with newly adopted dogs, puppies, and generally exuberant canines. Potential problems can be avoided and resolved with the following tips.
Tip 1 Leash your dog
One of the challenges with training polite greetings is keeping bad habits from getting started. If you have a puppy, or a dog who is particularly rambunctious, try leashing him during greetings. Then stand some distance from the new visitors– and don’t go any closer unless your dog has all four feet on the floor.
This uses the greeting itself as a reward. If your dog has all four feet on the floor, take a step closer to the guest. If he rears up, take a step (or several if needed) away. Then step closer again– but again, only if your dog keeps all four feet on the floor.
If you follow this procedure carefully, and consistently refuse to let your dog approach a visitor unless he has four on the floor, you’ll be surprised at how quickly he catches on.
Tip 2 Turn your back to teach polite greetings
When dogs greet someone, having their greeting reciprocated is very rewarding. You can use that as a way to train polite greeting behavior: simply ignore your dog until he sits. Only when he sits do you reward him by paying attention to him.
To make this even more effective, quickly turn your back on him any time he jumps up. If you do this consistently, most dogs will catch on very quickly that they need to sit to get a hello and all that nice petting.
Tip 3 Arrange greeting practice sessions
To work on greeting behaviors, set up practice sessions. To work on how your dog greets you, go in and out of the door four or five times. Ask for a sit on each greeting and reward your dog when he greets you politely. To work on how your dog greets guests, arrange for a friend to come to your home as a pretend guest. Doorbells and people knocking often serve as triggers that get a dog excited; so with this kind of practice session, you can also work on rewarding your dog for responding more calmly when someone comes to the door.
Tip 4 Ask guests to turn their backs
Make sure you also instruct your guests to turn their backs on your dog unless he sits. Dogs are smart. They’ll learn to greet different people different ways– depending on what works. So train your guests. With their help, you’ll make great progress in encouraging your dog to greet people politely.
If your dog isn’t trained, yet, to greet people politely, leash her when someone comes to the door. This gives you more control and can prevent bad behaviors from getting established.
Tip 5 Be calm during greetings
Dogs pick up cues from us on how to behave. If you and guests are calm during greetings, you’ll help your dog stay calmer as well.
Pay attention to your body language and tone of voice as you greet your dog. Relaxed, quiet movements and a soft, lower-pitched voice can help keep your dog from becoming overly excited.
And don’t initiate high-energy play when you first return after an absence. Wait for a half hour or so, then play.
Tip 6 Reward a polite greeting
To a dog, greeting is a reward in himself. But you can make that reward even more reinforcing by adding other things your dog likes. For example, suppose you enter your house or apartment. Your dog rushes up to say hi. You ask for a sit and your dog sits. In addition to greeting and petting him, you might also give him a treat. Or toss him a favorite toy you keep near the door.