This post was most recently updated on January 9th, 2020
Dogs tend to get excited when someone enters the door. However, some would be in defense mode and will show signs of resentment toward a visitor. Here, I will discuss how to train your dog to greet visitors so there wouldn’t be jumping or barking the next time you ask some friends to drop by your home.
An excited dog can cause physical harm. Also, they may damage belongings. To shape your doggo into a more disciplined and polite canine, here are some of the proven steps that you can take.
Why your dog jumps at the sight of a visitor
There are two main reasons why dogs react strongly to a stranger at the door: excitement and resentment.
Dogs who are kept indoors most of the time may get bored. When someone comes and rings the doorbell, it becomes an enticing distraction. Since it’s something new, they will be excited to see who’s behind the door.
When the guest enters, they may jump or lunge over to be noticed. Remember, most dogs want to be noticed when you have a visitor.
One big problem here is that most guests will tolerate negative behavior. They will pet and praise the dog which leads the canine to think that its’ a reward for being excited.
Lastly, your dog might be flustered to see a stranger. They may bark or growl to show resentment. Both behaviors shouldn’t be tolerated.
Not all people will be treated as equals
In the mind of a dog, not all people it sees will be treated equally. Some dogs won’t budge with a stranger but the sight of a friend or a family member will send them bonkers.
Sometimes, dogs can’t calm down around specific people. For example, our dog is fully trained to greet visitors politely. But when my brother visited from college, our pooch just can’t sit down. Just like people, dogs may not contain their emotions on some occasions.
The Leash Method
This method is ideal for dogs who really get touchy when someone steps into the door. Here, you’ll need a leash and some patience:
Step 1. Have a leash waiting by the door. When someone knocks or rings the doorbell, leash your dog and hold it tightly.
Step 2. Use a ‘stop’ gesture using your palms and say a firm “wait” to your pooch. Say it repeatedly while you open the door.
Step 3. Greet your guest. If your dog tries to lunge over, repeat the ‘stop’ gesture with your hand and say “wait”.
Step 4. Once your guest leaves, reward your dog for responding to your commands.
Step 5. Repeat the process every time you have a visitor. It will help to practice it with many people so your dog will get used to the process until it no longer needs a leash.
In this video, dog trainer Adriana teaches Atticus how to calm down when it sees a visitor:
This method works for non-aggressive canines. If your doggo has basic obedience training, this should work well.
Step 1. Ignore your dog if he tries to catch your attention by jumping or barking.
Step 2. Ask your guests not to touch or pay attention to your dog until the pooch calms down. You can also post a note on your door to let everyone know.
Step 3. The moment your dog calms down, you can pet and praise it. Your guests can do the same.
Step 4. Before paying attention to your dog, train it to sit first. Once he learns how to sit on cue, you can now pet and reward the pooch. Dogs just want to be noticed and they will yield to consistent training.
Step 5. If the dog follows well, give it a reward of snack or affection. You have to do this repeatedly until the dog gets used to the drill.
General tips you can do
In case these two methods didn’t work for your dog, here are some general tips you can practice:
Desensitize your dog
Whenever someone rings the doorbell and your dog jumps in excitement, say a firm “no”. When the doggo stops, give him a reward praise him. Ask your friends to ring the doorbell for you until your dog no longer gets excited.
However, this can get tricky for guard dogs. If you want your dog to be alert when someone rings the doorbell, this tip isn’t for you.
Invite guests one by one
Some dogs tend to become confused when a group of strangers comes by the door. This can lead to aggression or too much excitement.
To avoid this, ask one friend at a time. This way, you can introduce the idea of having visitors slowly to your dog. If your dog learns to behave in the presence of a single individual, ask another one to accompany the person on their next visit.
Add more people until your pooch gets used to it.
Train your dog to stop jumping on your lap
Some dogs think that they can lunge over anyone else because they can do so with their owners. Start with yourself. Whenever you’re sitting on the couch or arriving home, say “no” whenever your dog tries to jump into you.
Practice ignoring your dog until it calms down. This way, your pet will know that jumping is not acceptable behavior. Doing this consistently should fix the problem.
Use a greeting mat
Teaching your dog to be polite whenever it enters the door can be a good way to teach it how to treat others. Use a greeting mat where your dog should sit first before being greeted and allowed to enter.
Use verbal commands like “sit” and “go”. This will take a lot of practice and patience to master, but with consistency, your dog should learn fast. When the dog learns the process, it will expect the same from other people.
Take note that this technique can be challenging for very energetic dogs. Explore other ways on how to train your dog to greet visitors.
Training puppies to behave when visitors arrive
Preventing a puppy from lunging into visitors’ laps can be a challenge. This stage is full of energy and some breeds are born with a very playful attitude.
You can start by crate training your pup. Whenever a guest arrives, you can slip him out with a leash and teach it slowly to greet guests politely. Always reward a good boi for following orders.
Know your guest
Yes, even if your dog is well-behaved, the guests who don’t like dogs can make problems. When the dog sees a nervous guest, it may remember the smell and body language of the person. At some point, the doggo may growl due to frustration or uncertainty. Some would misinterpret it as resentment even if it’s not.
If you’re expecting guests who don’t like dogs, it will help to place your dog in a room where he can’t see the people. This way, you can prevent negative behaviors from growing. Just make sure that you keep the doggo busy with some toys.
A dog who rarely sees people or guests tend to become overly excited when someone steps into the door. It will help to desensitize your doggo with the presence of people around. This way, the pooch will internalize that being with people is just a typical event.
Even as your pup grows old, it’s important to expose it to other people. This will help dampen negative behavior while training them to behave when guests arrive.
When all else fails: ask for professional help
If you can’t take control of your dog’s behavior when a guest arrives, the pooch may need a stricter training. Obedience training might do the magic here.
Professional dog trainers know how to fix negative behavior, including excitement and resentment when a visitor arrives on your doorstep.
This will cost a fee depending on the kind of training your dog will need. Still, it’s guaranteed to fix the problem without the guesswork
Take note that even with professional intervention; you need to do your part of continuously training your dog at home. Corrected behavior can resurface if the pet owner isn’t responsible enough to maintain the progress.
Do you need more help with training? Here’s Zak George as he teaches Zeus how to stop jumping on people:
Alternative: set up barriers
If you really can’t contain your dog whenever a visitor arrives, it will help to set up baby gates or anything that your dog can’t get passed to.
Whenever you’re expecting visitors, place your doggo behind the barriers and distract him with some toys. You can also toss some chewy treats. This way, your dog will be forced to look on the ground and keep its paws on the floor.
My only warning is that this may not work for large breeds. Also, if your pooch is an aggressive chewer, it’s best to explore other methods.
Knowing how to train your dog to greet visitors can be challenging. With patience and consistency, your pooch should learn to follow commands. In case your doggo is stubborn, you can tap the help of a professional trainer. What’s important is you continuously maintain the progress after the training.