How to Train Your Dog to Greet Visitors Calmly

How to Train Your Dog to Greet Visitors Calmly
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Ignore Your Dog Method

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1

No attention

Do not give your dog any attention from anyone if he is jumping to greet your guests.

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.

3

Praise and pet

Once your dog has calmed, pet him and praise him for being a good dog.

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.

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.

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.

The Wait on Mat Method

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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.

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.

3

Treat

Open the door and give your dog the treat on his mat as soon as the door is open.

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.

5

Count

As you are greeting your guest, count to three and then reward your dog with the treat for waiting.

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.

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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.

The On a Leash Method

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Keep leash by door

Keep a leash by your door, so when the bell rings, you can attach the leash to your dog.

2

Tight leash

Answer the door, keeping your dog on a tight leash.

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

4

Open door

Open the door for your guests and use the command wait.

5

Keep dog away

While holding the leash tight, continue to use the command ‘wait’ and greet your guests.

6

Reward

Reward your dog with affection once he's calm and ready to greet your guests.

7

Practice

Continue to practice asking your dog to wait until he no longer needs the leash.

By Stephanie Plummer

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Chase

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Bichon Frise

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5 Months

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Question

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He jumps all over guests sometimes dashes out the door to greet people.

Sept. 27, 2021

Chase's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tamera, First, start working on a reliable Come. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Premack Principle and long leash sections especially (the premack principle can be used with pup being allowed to greet people also if you recruit someone to help you during training sessions). https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ While working on Come also work on the door bolting itself. Attach a thirty or fifty foot leash to a padded back clip harness that he can't slip out of. Attach the other end of the leash to something sturdy like a stairway banister (the leash is a safety measure). With the leash slack and only there "just in case", act like you are going out the door. Start to open the door and whenever pup tries to go toward it quickly close it. Your goal isn't to hit him but he may get a slight bump if he is especially pushy. Practice opening and closing the door until you can open it and he will wait until it is open further. When he is waiting a bit, then get between him and the door and play goalie with the opening. Opening the door wide enough for you to get through, then whenever pup tries to get through firmly but calmly take several steps toward him to make him back up. By doing this you are communicating that you own that space and asking for his respect. Don't worry about bumping into him a bit if he won't move out of the way - your attitude needs to mean business without being angry at all. Once you can open the door and he will stay back and not try to rush through, then you can click and toss a treat. You will gradually practice opening the door more and more and blocking him from getting through and walking toward him to make him back up and wait. Take steps toward him until he is at least two feet from the door AND two feet away from you - those two distances often equal him giving you respect (and not simply waiting to get past you when you move), and waiting at the door (instead of trying to bolt). It will feel a lot like you are a soccer goalie, having to be quick and focused. When you can open the door completely and he will wait, take a step through the doorway. If he tries to follow, rush toward him, making him backup again quickly. This serves as a natural consequence and encourages him to stay back. If he waits patiently, then click and toss a treat as his paws. Practice at that distance until he will stay back. As he improves, take more and more steps, moving outside, onto your porch and into your yard eventually. Be ready to quickly rush toward him as soon as you see him start to move, to keep him from getting outside (this is why you back the long leash on him, just in case he gets past you, but for training purposes the goal is to keep him from getting out so he isn't rewarded for bolting). When he will stay inside while you stand in the yard, then recruit others to be distractions outside. Expect to stay a bit closer to him when you first add a hard distraction - like another dog walking past, a walker, kids playing in the yard, balls being tossed. Imagine what types of things he may one day see outside and choose distractions that are at least that difficult to practice this around. Expect to practice this as often as you can, along with Come for several weeks, not just a couple of sessions, until you get to where he is completely reliable with distractions like dogs and kids in your yard and the door completely open. Another attention increasing command to teach pup to stay with you more, is walking around places like your yard or a field and changing directions frequently without saying anything. Whenever he takes notice (at first because the leash finally tugs, but later just because you moved), then toss a treat at him for looking your way or coming over to you - without calling him; this encourages him to choose to pay attention to where you are and associate your presence with good things on his own, so he will want to be with you. The combination of practicing door manners, Come, and willing following works best. Anytime you want him to go outside with you, give him a command at the doorway that means it is okay to exit, like "Okay", "Free" "Outside", "Heel", or "Let's Go". For the jumping, check out the Leash method and Step Toward method. I would use the Leash method with those who are less comfortable with pup, and have people like roommates/family who live with pup and yourself also use the step toward method for times when pup isn't leashed. Leash method and Step Toward method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 4, 2021

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Barney

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Pit bull

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3 Years

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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!

Feb. 12, 2021

Barney's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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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!

Feb. 15, 2021


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