We are all more socially active this time of year. If you are expecting guests this season, or if they just show up without so much as a warning bark, will your dog’s manners get you compliments, or complaints?
It’s really all about the initial greeting. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, and so do their greetings. You’ve got jumpers, barkers, herders, circlers, whiners, etc. All these behaviors reflect a state of high excitement. Because of this state of excitement, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to ask your dog to sit and stay as people enter your home. Besides, a wagging tail means the back end is in motion. Our first instinct as embarrassed owners may be to yell “No!” or “Down!” or any one of a dozen ineffectual volleys at our leaping dog. This reaction serves only to make our guests uncomfortable, and causes them to think they have caused some trouble for the dog, which can be a real wet blanket on your evening.
An excited dog is already moving, so we ‘ll use a command that requires action to improve the dog’s greeting manners. Instead of asking your dog to ‘stay’, try the ‘come’ command. The ‘come’ command interrupts the undesirable behavior, the jumping, circling and barking, and brings the dog right back to you. Your dog can still say, ‘hello’, but he has to come back to you right away when asked. Your job is to make it worth his while with a great treat or new toy. Of course, it is wise to practice this command well before the doorbell rings and guests arrive. Ask an understanding friend or neighbor to be your trial guest, and have them knock while you practice redirecting your dog with the ‘come’ command. Once you open the door and your helper comes in, allow your dog to greet briefly, and then call him back to you. Results will come faster if you rehearse exactly what you want your dog to do in a specific situation. Soon your dog will expect the ‘come’ command when he greets a guest, and he will turn and come back to you when asked. Then, bask in the compliments you receive on your well-behaved dog.