How to Keep Your Dog’s Four on the Floor with Visitors at the Door

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How to Keep Your Dog’s Four on the Floor with Visitors at the Door

One of the top training questions we are asked is how to stop dogs from jumping up to greet people at the door. We want them to be happy to see friends and family while also minding their manners.

There are multiple reasons why dogs jump on people: to say “hello,” express stress or frustration, or get your attention. No matter the reason, we can always help communicate to our dogs what we would like them to do instead of jumping up.

No one wants their rambunctious pup knocking over grandma when she comes over to visit. It’s not only a bad habit – it’s a safety issue. You can use these training tips when introducing your dog to people: in the home, on the trail or walking downtown. It’s always good for your pup to have proper greeting manners.

Tip 1: Help your dog stay calm stay calm and under control during meet-and-greets with people. To teach your dog proper greeting skills and prevent them from shooting over the threshold, ask your pup to offer an appropriate behavior, such as a sit or down, when someone is at the door. By giving them a simple alternative behavior like a sit instead of jumping, you can reinforce the behavior you want. Ask your dog for a sit before they meet someone or have the person they are meeting ask for the behavior. If your dog does not perform the task asked of them, they don’t get to meet that person.

Tip 2: Ask people to wait to greet your dog until she is calm and polite. By giving your dog a chance to calm down, you help diffuse an overzealous greeting. If your dog gets attention for staying calm and being appropriate, they will realize jumping up and acting out doesn’t get them anything.

Tip 3: Have your guests wait to greet your dog when you are in a larger, more appropriate area. This approach mitigates traffic jams in doorways and helps your dog understand that meetings don’t happen at the door.

Tip 4: Leave a note on the outside of your door telling visitors how and when to greet your dog. For example: “Please help me with Fluffy’s training! When you come in, do not greet her in the entryway. Please wait to pay attention to her until you are in the family room. Thanks!” This is a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page and there is consistency for your dog.

Tip 5: Keep treats handy to reinforce the behaviors you want your dog to do. Setting up your house for success is as easy as keeping a treat jar in the living room, easily accessible to guests. When Fluffy offers a calm sit away from the door, she gets a treat right away. Capturing and reinforcing good behavior is always easier than trying to fix an unwanted behavior.

Tip 6: Recognize that not all people are greeted as equals in the mind of a dog. We call this the “grandma card,” meaning that some people are higher value in your dog’s eyes, and it could be more difficult for your dog to act calm around these people.

Tip 7: When greeting a dog at the door, stay calm and discourage jumping. And if you find yourself in the middle of an inappropriate greeting such as getting jumped on, cross your arms across your chest (up and away from the dog), stay calm, quiet, and turn your back to the dog. You are essentially giving them “the butt.” When you ignore all frantic behavior, the dog doesn’t get anything out of it. When dealing with any type of overstimulation, it’s important that you do not add stimulation to the situation.

Once the dog has calmed down, turn around and ask for an appropriate behavior before they get the chance to try jumping up again. If you do not give them an alternative behavior, they might try what’s easy, which is jumping up on you.



About the Author

Amber Pickren, Gentle Canine

Amber Pickren, BA, CPDT-KA, is the owner of Gentle Canine in Durango, Colorado. After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Amber found her passion working with dogs and has never looked back. With a specialty in behavioral issues, she has been training dogs since 2004 and easily handled over 10,000 dogs in the span of her career. Amber and her husband Matt share their life with dogs Lilly, Imogene, and cat Dyno. They love getting out into the mountains and enjoy rock climbing, trail running and hiking with their four-legged adventure buddies.
Amber Pickren