Knock Knock, Doggie Door Manners

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A dog with pet health insurance jumps in the air.

Arriving at my friend’s house, I prepared myself in anticipation of her 80 pound Chocolate Labrador Retriever waiting to greet me at the door. I knew Harley was inside because as I got out of my car I heard his enthusiastic barking and jumping at the door.

Harley loves visitors, but he truly needs to tone down his adolescent enthusiasm. When my friend opened the door, Harley bounded out to greet me, jumped up and grabbed my jacket sleeve. Being prepared for this boisterous guy, I grabbed a tennis ball out of my pocket and tossed it towards the porch. Harley released my arm and ran after the ball.

Once inside, my friend admitted to me that Harley was out of control when visitors arrived. She said while it was cute when he was a puppy, now that he’s full grown his behavior is no longer endearing. Her family was coming in town for a visit and she was concerned that Harley would hurt her elderly grandparents. Harley’s crazy greeting behavior needed to change.

What To Do
As a pet trainer, I experience overly exuberant dogs daily. Door manners are a very common problem, but easy to control with practice and consistency. My approach is to ask the dog to perform an incompatible behavior. What I mean by this is to ask the dog to do something in place of the unwanted behavior of running out the door and jumping on guests.

One solution is to ask him to sit anytime someone comes to the door. Once visitors come into the home the dog should remain sitting to greet the visitors. It is virtually impossible to sit and dart out the door or jump on someone at the same time.

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How To Do It
Put a jar of treats on your porch or by your front door inside. Hang a sign on your door reading, “We are teaching (insert your dog’s name) to sit nicely when greeting visitors. Please take a treat and ignore him until he is sitting nicely for you. You may then praise him and give him the treat!”

It is amazing how quickly your dog will learn that sitting will get him dog treats and jumping and acting silly will get him absolutely nothing. If you have lots of visitors coming to your house this behavior will be taught very quickly.

Results Can Be Quick!
My friend has two daughters who happened to be home from college for spring break. This meant there were lots of collage-age visitors at the house. Harley didn’t know what hit him! Within two days he was sitting at the door waiting for visitors to come in and give him a treat. It was fun to watch him anxiously anticipate the guests arrival. Now, instead of barking excitedly when he hears a car pull up he runs to the entry way and waits for visitors bearing a tasty snack.

Training your dog should be easy, fun, effective and force free. Next time you want to teach your dog to change an unwanted behavior, think about training a replacement behavior instead. Don’t forget to be consistent and you will get the behaviors you want from your dog.

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