For a dog, meeting someone new is incredibly exciting. It’s an overwhelming overflow of senses, new smells, new sounds, someone new to play with. Meeting someone new or even meeting the same person after a while apart can manifest in lots of jumping up, licking and hyperactive behaviour.
Ideally, we want to teach our dogs to greet new people calmly and politely, especially if they’re strangers. This takes some practice and often requires a second person to assist you in training, but by showing your dog how to act correctly and reinforcing positive behaviour, your dog can learn how to greet people calmly.
Here are our top tips in improving your dog’s greetings:
Calming your dog:
A calm dog is always the best place to start when introducing new people, however, there are often triggers that get them over excited before a new person arrives, such as the sound of a doorbell.
Identify the first trigger
What is it that gets your dog so excited? Is it the sound of a doorbell, a knock at the door, the sound of a gate squeaking open? If there’s a certain noise, that’s what you need to focus on.
Ignore bad behaviour
This is where getting a second person to help comes in handy. Ask a friend to open the gate or ring the doorbell and ignore your dog until it settles.
Ask for controlled behaviour
Once your dog starts to settle, reinforce that behaviour by saying “settle” and praise your dog for doing so.
Reward the right behaviour
When your dog associates “settle” (or whichever word you choose) with being calm, reward them with a treat.
Repeat this process not only multiple times that day, but for as many days in a row as you can, until your dog learns that calm is the correct way to behave.
Introducing new people:
Once your dog is calmer around the trigger sounds, it’s time to answer the door!
Put your dog on a loose lead
This should give you more control of your dog, should any incorrect behaviour occur.
Tell your dog to ‘sit’
Again it’s best to use a friend during training, so that you can repeat the process easily. Before you open the door, ask your dog to “sit”.
Teach your dog the correct behaviour
When you open the door, keep telling your dog to “sit” and “wait”. If they jump up or get excited, ask your friend to move backwards until the dog settles again.
Ask your friend to help with this
Give a treat to your visitor and ask them to drop this on the floor as the dog approaches. This will focus the dog’s energy downwards, rather than jumping up.
Reward good behaviour
Continue to give your dog treats when they remain calm and to keep them focused on you rather than the visitor. The dog will begin to understand what the correct behaviour should be.
Using these training tips will help to make new greetings much more manageable for both you and your visitors.