How to Train Your Dog to Greet Visitors Calmly

Medium
3-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

No one enjoys walking into a house where a dog is going to jump all over them. You want your dog to know when visitors come and go, and you would like him to keep your house protected. But you also want your friends and family to be able to come and see you while wearing nice clothing or carrying gifts without your dog jumping all over them. Teaching your dog to greet guests calmly is not only beneficial within your own home but also beneficial when your dog is out and about such as at your veterinarian's office. An excited dog can cause damage to clothing, other animals, or even your house. We may all know a house that has scratches all over the doors and windows because the dog jumps each time the doorbell rings. You don't want to be the one family member or friend no one wants to visit because your dog will not stop jumping on anyone who enters your home.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to greet guests in a calm manner can be done in a few different ways. You can give your dog a special place to sit or lie calmly while he waits for visitors to come to him. You can teach your dog to shake hands with visitors before they walk in the door. This gives your dog attention and acknowledgment without your dog jumping all over your guests. While teaching your dog to greet your guests calmly demonstrates good behavior, it also builds on your dog's manners. A well-mannered dog will be a dog who gets more attention when you have company. Teaching your dog to greet guests calmly goes both ways as well. If your overall goal is to teach your dog manners, be sure to let anyone who comes into your house know the rules, so they do not encourage your dog to jump or greet them in wild fashion.

Getting Started

To teach your dog to calmly greet guests, you will need lots of delicious treats, a leash for at least one method, and a special place for your dog to be greeted once your guests are ready to say hello. This could be a spot on the floor near the door or a mat or a bed you teach your dog to go to when the doorbell rings. Dogs are excited when the opportunity arises to meet new people. Each time the doorbell rings your dog probably thinks it is a visitor for him. So have time and patience to teach these manners to your dog. You may want to recruit a friend to ring your doorbell now and then and assist with the training process.

The Ignore Your Dog Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
No attention
Do not give your dog any attention from anyone if he is jumping to greet your guests.
Step
2
Communicate
Teach the people who come to your home not to touch, pet, or acknowledge your dog unless he is sitting or lying down and is calm.
Step
3
Praise and pet
Once your dog has calmed, pet him and praise him for being a good dog.
Step
4
Sit command
Ask your dog to sit before he is allowed affection and a greeting. Once he sits, give him the attention he deserves for obeying. Remember your dog just wants to be noticed. Once he is a good listener and obeys, notice him.
Step
5
Practice
Practice this with everyone who comes into your home. Set your expectations with your guests, so your dog begins to understand he will not get affection or attention until he is calm.
Step
6
Reward
Always offer your dog a reward. While training, you can have treats nearby to offer once he is calm or you can give him praise for being a good boy.
Recommend training method?

The Wait on Mat Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Sit
As soon as the doorbell rings or guests arrive, ask your dog to sit on a mat or bed and offer him a treat for obeying.
Step
2
Command
Using a treat for a lure, hold it out near your dog and ask him to wait. Do not give him the treat. You can use a hand signal as well to keep your dog in place. The typical 'stay' hand signal is your hand up palm facing out toward your dog.
Step
3
Treat
Open the door and give your dog the treat on his mat as soon as the door is open.
Step
4
Another treat
Repeat the step above with another treat. Hold the treat so your dog can see it and use the command 'wait.' Do not give your dog the treat unless he stays still and waits.
Step
5
Count
As you are greeting your guest, count to three and then reward your dog with the treat for waiting.
Step
6
Repeat
Continue to use these steps as your guest is coming into your home to entice your dog to stay on the mat away from your guest. Each time, use the command 'wait,' and reward after a few seconds have passed. You can increase the time to make your dog wait.
Step
7
Practice
You can practice these steps without the doorbell or guests in your home. Teaching the command 'Wait' can help your dog stay calm when company visits.
Recommend training method?

The On a Leash Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Keep leash by door
Keep a leash by your door, so when the bell rings, you can attach the leash to your dog.
Step
2
Tight leash
Answer the door, keeping your dog on a tight leash.
Step
3
Command
With your palm facing out facing, put your up hand in front of your dog’s face and say the command “wait” while holding his leash close to your body
Step
4
Open door
Open the door for your guests and use the command wait.
Step
5
Keep dog away
While holding the leash tight, continue to use the command ‘wait’ and greet your guests.
Step
6
Reward
Reward your dog with affection once he's calm and ready to greet your guests.
Step
7
Practice
Continue to practice asking your dog to wait until he no longer needs the leash.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/10/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Tuffy
Japanese Spitz
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Tuffy
Japanese Spitz
2 Years

HOW TO STOP DOG JUMPING ON VISITORS? AND HOW TO STOP HIM BEGGING FOR FOOD?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Geeta, To stop Tuffy from jumping on your visitors, try the methods outlined in this Wag article: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-jump-on-strangers To stop Tuffy from begging for food, practice the methods outlined in this Wag article: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-beg-at-the-table Best of luck with training, Caitlin Crittenden

thank you very much, is my golden lacking attention and that is why he demands it from our guests?

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Nala
lab
Four Years
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Nala
lab
Four Years

Our dog is calm when home with family as soon as guests come over she is out of control jumping and wanting to play. Have tried putting her on a leash, making her sit, nothing seems to work she gets overly excited and happy to see everyone.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amy, Check out the video linked below. Start with just you and him, and recruit friends or hire trainers who are willing to practice being guests while you work on implementing the same type of training but around other people too - which will probably look like greetings on leash at first with the right attitude, calmness and tools to teach more respect to you and your guests. When he is totally calm, he can calmly greet guests or have guests ignore him for a bit after they get there, and you can reward with a treat for being in a calm state of mind and polite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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oggy
Golden Retriever
8 Years
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oggy
Golden Retriever
8 Years

sorry i don't know how to send a photo, but i have a very large loving dog. HE IS 135LBS AND TALL. We were greatly affected by the hurricane this past year and have had to rebuild our house so lots of people in and out. Oggy goes up to everyone and demands to be petted and most are very nice and pet and play with him thinking he is super friendly and cute(which he is) But i am wondering if this behavior means he is not getting enough attention from us. My hubby suffered a stroke last year and is in a wc. I am giving him all the attention i can with walks in the park and he has free roam of a underground fence. ( i am my husbands sole caregiver) i want to start back into running again and would like to take him with me but he is always pulling me down. i thought that would be a good bonding experience with him. His golden 1/2 brother is totally different and quiet natured and just goes up to the door with his tail wagging. Please help me to make my dog happy. thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Perry Ann, Many Golden Retrievers are exceptionally friendly to everyone no matter how much attention you give them, so them being friendly doesn't necessarily mean he is not getting enough attention - he may simply be extroverted. Running, walks and other obedience type exercises that work his brain and body are definitely good though. I suggest using a no pull device while also training him to pay attention to staying next to you. I suggest an easy walk harness, gentle leader, or prong collar (fitted high on the neck and tight enough that it gently touches the skin all the way around so that it will give an even correction and not hang loose - hanging loose can make it bump into the throat which isn't good, it is supposed to give a gentler correction even though it can look harsh). If you have access to a fenced in area, practice the "Turns" method from the article linked below in the fence first to make it easier in case he pulls. Make sure when he starts to move his face past your leg that you turn directly in front of him at a ninety degree angle quicky - if you wait until his entire head is past your leg it's hard to turn in front of him and turning in front of him will help him learn not to move ahead of you. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hugo
Rottweiler
2 Years
0 found helpful
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Hugo
Rottweiler
2 Years

He occasionally jumps up and puts a persons arm in his mouth and can scratch. This is mainly when he is being looked after. On occasions to my son. I put him for time out, outside and sometimes use a leash to control him from doing this. Any tips would be great fully received.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hugo, First, you need to determine whether he is doing is as a show of dominance or territorial behavior - like trying to mount a person and keep them from entering, OR if he is doing it playfully because he is excited to see people. The two types of jumping are VERY different and need to be dealt with differently because one is dangerous and the other is just rude. Assuming you are describing the most common type of jumping and biting - playful and overly excited (you need to do something different than what I am about to suggest if the behavior is aggressive instead)...Assuming the behavior is playful and just rude, check out the video linked below and work on some structure and appropriate corrections to teach him that it's unacceptable to jump and mouth. Once he is calmer, then reward him for sitting and greeting nicely instead by dropping a couple treats at his feet or feeding them below his chin - not holding them above his head which encourages more jumping. Rude dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg Finally, working the Step Toward method for the jumping from the article linked below, and the Leave It command for the biting from the second article linked below. Step Toward method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When he gets really riled up, use the Out command to make him leave the room completely. Follow the section in the article on teaching the Out command, and the section on using Out to deal with pushy behavior. If his behavior is aggression you need to take a different approach though - feel free to ask another questions with more details about the behavior if the jumping and mouthing seems aggression and not just rude and excited. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ When you practice all of this, when he can stay calm when you get home normally, then practice acting silly and super excited (think jumping jacks) and use the methods to correct any jumping that happens then, and reward him for staying calm then...then when he can handle your silliness, recruit friends to come over and practice the training with him until he does well with volunteers too, and is ready for real-life visitors. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Simba
Labrador Retriever
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Simba
Labrador Retriever
11 Months

He jumps on the guests

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
220 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on jumping: Teach your dog that they receive no attention for jumping on you or anyone else. Teach your dog to do something that is incompatible with jumping up, such as sitting. They can't sit and jump up at the same time. If they are not sitting, they get no attention. It is important to be consistent. Everyone in your family must follow the training program all the time. You can't let your dog jump on people in some circumstances, but not others. Training techniques: When your dog… Jumps on other people: Ask a family member or friend to assist with training. Your assistant must be someone your dog likes and wants to greet. Your dog should never be forced to greet someone who scares them. Give your dog the "sit" command. (This exercise assumes your dog already knows how to "sit.") The greeter approaches you and your dog. If your dog stands up, the greeter immediately turns and walks away. Ask your dog to "sit," and have the greeter approach again. Keep repeating until your dog remains seated as the greeter approaches. If your dog does remain seated, the greeter can give your dog a treat as a reward. When you encounter someone while out walking your dog, you must manage the situation and train your dog at the same time. Stop the person from approaching by telling them you don't want your dog to jump. Hand the person a treat. Ask your dog to "sit." Tell the person they can pet your dog and give them the treat as long as your dog remains seated. Some people will tell you they don't mind if your dog jumps on them, especially if your dog is small and fluffy or a puppy. But you should mind. Remember you need to be consistent in training. If you don't want your dog to jump on people, stick to your training and don't make exceptions. Jumps on you when you come in the door: Keep greetings quiet and low-key. If your dog jumps on you, ignore them. Turn and go out the door. Try again. You may have to come in and go out dozens of times before your dog learns they only gets your attention when they keep all four feet on the floor. Jumps on you when you're sitting: If you are sitting and your dog jumps up on you, stand up. Don't talk to your dog or push them away. Just ignore them until all four feet are on the ground. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Shortie
Lab/bassett
5 Years
0 found helpful
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Shortie
Lab/bassett
5 Years

Amy dog loves people. She talks to them bad she she’s them
Coming in the street. By the time we reach the neighbors , she is screaming. Once she greets them
She loans and frowns and gets belly rubs. The same behavior is repeated in our house when guests come also. I’ve tried distracting with food, ques, turning around prior to escalation but doesn’t consistently work. She’s very sweet and this is on no way aggression. But she’s loud, anxiety level is not healthy at this point . I’ve tried clickers to keep attention on me with rewards . Help??

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karyn, It sounds like pup is becoming overly aroused before reaching people and when pup forst anticipates people coming to your home. I suggest desensitizing pup to the things involved in each situation, like sounds and events the proceed a guest even before one arrives, and things leading up to a close encounter on a walk, like spotting a person far away or even starting the walk over excited. Check out the video below and the video series below. Guests: https://youtu.be/bpzvqN9JNUA Barking series - for outside desensitizing: https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a I also suggest working on a structured heel and requiring pup to sit or calm down and wait patiently before opening the door to even begin a walk, to help start things off calm. Heel - Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best or luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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hershey
Bluetick Coonhound
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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hershey
Bluetick Coonhound
10 Months

He gets way to excitable/hyper when guest come over. He will not obey commands and doeant stop pulling when leashed to control him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mariette, First, I suggest teaching a Place and Down Stay command. Practice these commands and work up to pup staying on Place for an hour, and with pup staying on place while you while in and out of the door, then while family members go in and out of the front door, then recruit people pup finds more exciting to go in and out of the door while you practice - pup is only allowed to greet when calm, even if that's after an hour of staying on Place. Having people go inside and back outside and repeating that over and over again can help people entering become more boring for pup, while also working on pup's self-control as you enforce Place. Start will a simply short place and work up to the hard one gradually. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Second, work on desensitizing pup to people arriving using the steps from the video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Third, check out the Leash and Step Toward method from the article linked below. With guests, I recommend the Leash method, but if pup does not have a history of aggression, you can use the step toward method with those he knows, and that will also communicate that you want personal space and more respect. Leash and Step Toward methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump

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Ford
Australian Shepherd
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ford
Australian Shepherd
3 Years

I need Some tips on training my dog to stay and come when called and teach him not to door dash not to jump on people

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
220 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you information on potty training, as well as teaching recall for running away. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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Barney
Pit bull
3 Years
0 found helpful
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0 found helpful
Barney
Pit bull
3 Years

We were told that Barney was a Bassett Pit mix. He was very submissive, calm and good with cats. Two problems; first, he has very quickly become protective of me and if anyone comes to the house his barking goes off the charts and he bolts to the door. There is practically no quieting him down. I’v tried getting between him and the door to get his attention and once eye contact giving him a treat but that doesn’t stop him. I have him on a leash and that just makes him worse. Second, at first he kind of ignored the cats until they saw him and bolted. Now they can’t come within sight and he is chasing them under beds, trying to go through gates to get to them. Needless to say, the cats are very scared right now. What can I do to help solve these problems. I made this commitment to Barney an will give him whatever help/tools he needs to fit into our family. This commitment will not be broken. He has my heart already. Please help!

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
220 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct these behaviors. We will start with the protective behavior... You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Now for the cats! Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Your dog needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less reactive by the cat. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking him around the cats while on leash. Any time he even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cats, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cat, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until he is no longer interested in the cats. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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