Does your dog love having people over? Does he believe they come solely to play with him? Does he jump up, bark, and make any kind of normal seem greeting impossible? Are you embarrassed to welcome your friends?
You’re not alone, and the good news is that there are things you can do to stop it. Find out why your dog behaves this way and how you can fix it!
Dogs Love Interaction
The reason that your dog greets visitors in this seemingly rude way is because it works for him. He’s getting what he wants out of the greeting: (a lot of) interaction!
Dogs are social beings that love to have people talk to them, touch them, and look at them. So, when your dog is obnoxiously bouncing up and down at the door, he draws all eyes onto him and gets to be the center of attention. He gets to soak up all that engagement that he is hoping for.
Why Can't My Dog Stop?
You probably tried to reprimand your dog for his rude behavior at the door without much success.
Scolding or even pushing him down often does nothing except potentially making the situation worse. Your dog is in such a high state of excitement that being shoved around seems like a game to him! If you are trying to physically move your dog, then he might only perceive this as a fun game of wrestling.
If you raise your voice, he may think it is you playing loudly. The more wound-up your dog is, the harder it is to get through to him with words and actions. But, don't get discouraged and think that all your training was for nothing. Your dog still knows his commands; he is just too excited to follow them.
Your dog is much like an overexcited child when visitors come to the door. The best way to help him relax is to actively calm him down. Once your dog is calm, he should not jump or bark. This is much easier than trying to give a dog in an excited state commands such as "sit" or "down." The more wound-up your dog is, the harder he is to control.
On the other hand: the calmer he is, the easier he is to control! So, introducing calming strategies and techniques should be your main goal.
Sniffing, Chewing, and Licking
Nature has given us some wonderful ways to help dogs relax quickly, including sniffing, chewing, and licking. These activities don’t just focus the dog on the treats in front of him (and when he is focused on them, he cannot jump up), but they can also quickly calm him down.
In this way, you can divert your dog’s attention by presenting him with treats or puzzle toys. (This is, by the way, not only a way to calm your dog down during the greeting situation, but in other situations as well!)
Keep a bowl with treats close to your front door. Every time visitors come, grab a handful of those treats and scatter them for your dog. You can either do this nearby (such as in the living room), or you can run to your yard with your dog and scatter the treats there. If he is food-motivated, he will be immersed in using his nose to sniff out the treats and will be more likely to invest his attention there instead of with the visitors. By the time he is done eating, he will be relaxed and calm, and you will have completely avoided the door hysteria.
The Frozen Treat
Get a couple of Kongs for your dog, fill them with treats from your kitchen, and freeze them. It is important that you freeze them—many dogs are such skilled chewers that they will finish an unfrozen Kong in a matter of minutes. If you use a frozen Kong, however, your dog will have to work extra hard for at least a half hour to get everything that's inside!
When the doorbell rings, go to your freezer with your dog, take out a frozen Kong, and give it to him. Ideally, he will take it, lie down quietly with it, and not notice your visitors at all! Not only do you not have to manage a wild dog at the door, but you are introducing a new behavior and emotion that your dog links to guests arriving: that of relaxation and quiet.
It is much easier to help your dog calm down instead of telling him what to do when he is in a very excited state. Train smart by utilizing treats and frozen snacks to help your dog relax.
He, you, and your guests will be much happier with the new, peaceful greeting ritual in which your dog is relaxed and you get to welcome visitors without any wild jumping.