How To Teach Your Dog Not To Jump Up On House Guests
People and dogs communicate differently, and it’s never more apparent than when our dogs jump up to greet us.
We can speculate as to why they do it — perhaps they are way too excited to see us and their excitement is just so overwhelming and uncontrollable that all they can do is run around, jump, vocalize, and give us a big ‘ol lick to express it — but in the end, what might have initially started off as adorable puppy behavior, can easily turn into (in certain scenarios) annoying, inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior, if the puppy is never trained. For example, your dog jumps up and knocks over a child or an elderly person, or ruins your outfit, scratches your legs, etc.
Traditionally, dog training has been focused on how to punish unwanted behaviors like this, which might give you some satisfaction that at least you’re attempting to do something/anything about it, but punishment ultimately leaves dogs confused, scared, and, counterintuitively, unsure of what you actually want them to do.
So, how should we go about this?
First of all, for the purposes of this article, I invite you to eliminate punishing your dog as an option to change this behavior.
Second of all, I encourage you to envision the behavior you actually want your dog TO DO in these situations. It comes very naturally to us to complain about the behavior we don’t want, be it from dogs or other people, but thinking deeply about the ideal behavior you do want, can be surprisingly difficult.
Lastly, I ask that you envision yourself as an ideal teacher. Think about all the teachers in your life who’ve had a transformative effect on you. While many words may come to mind, weren’t many, if not all, of them kind, nurturing, and patient? As such, I invite you to become, and see yourself as, a kind, nurturing and patient teacher to your dog.
The Behavior We Want
When we really think deep about the behavior we want from our dog(s) in these situations, many people commonly think of these “polite greetings”:
Sitting to greet a visitor
Laying down to greet a visitor
Engaging in a play session with the visitor
Going to a designated spot when a visitor comes to the house
Your desired behavior might be in line with some of the options above, or maybe not. Regardless, once you’ve decided on the behavior that you want, work with your trainer on the best way to consistently practice working on this behavior with your dog.
A tip for success: Exercise your dog before guests arrive. You can take him out on a long walk, play fetch, get him to run after a flirt pole, engage him in a tug game, engage is a training session or anything else that would make your dog tired and happy.
In this post, we’ll explore a couple some training tips for success! Let’s start training!
Training Tip #1: Keep your dog behind a baby gate, or in a playpen.
Your dog would probably be excited to see that guests have arrived.
Wait until your dog gets used to the sight and smell of the visitor while still behind the gate (keep track how long that takes -- it could be 5 or 15 mins). This will allow you to track your progress.
Once the dog gets over the initial excitement and looks relaxed, let him out to greet the guest. He can engage with the guest as long as he doesn’t jump up on them.
If the dog gets wild once he’s out, ask him to go back behind the gate until he calms down again.
He’ll get the concept after enough repetitions.
Training Tip #2: Teach your dog to go to a designated spot.
Your dog should know well the alternative behavior (sit or lay down, go to your place) you’ve chosen.
Warm up with a training session of sits, downs, sit & stays, down & stays & place training before any guests arrive.
When a visitor knocks at the door/rings the bell, ask your dog to go their designated spot and sit or lay down. When they do, ask him to stay.
Once you open the door, you’ll switch your attention back and forth between the visitor and the dog to see if he’s maintained his position and rewarding him for it, if so.
If the dog gets up, ask the guest to wait a second and step out, close the door and reposition your dog.
Keep working on it until your dog is able to stay in position until the guest enters your home.
Release your dog to say hi once the guests are inside the house.
Training Tip #3: Use Tethers and Leashes in the Home
Have the dog on leash and ask him to sit or lay down.
If the dog sits or lays down —> he gets petted by the person. Yay!
If he breaks the sit or down and jumps up —> the person turns around and moves away.
Wait until the dog has calmed down and gone back to sitting/laying down. Then approach and try to pet the dog again.
Repeat as many times as needed until the dog is able to sit/lay down politely to meet the new person.
Tether the dog to a secure spot and practice sits to be greeted by visitors:
The visitor approaches and the dog jumps up —> the visitor moves back.
The visitor approaches and the dog offers a sit —> the visitor pets the dog. Yay!
Try this for the next month — let each person that comes to your home know that your dog is in training and that you need their help. Decide on how you’d like your dog to greet people and practice it with many different visitors.
Sooner or later, your dog will grasp the concept and would happily trade jumping up for sitting, if this is what gets him the attention he so desires.