Most people have probably been in the position of seeing their dog morph from mild-mannered and calm to a raging Tasmanian devil, capable of mass destruction and completely alienating your friends in a matter of seconds — all triggered by the innocuous sound of the doorbell.
Your guests have been subjected to just about every embarrassment you could possibly think of. They’ve been blanketed with dog hair, bowled over into the coat stand, slimed with drool and subjected to repeated and intense crotch sniffing.
It’s all a bit embarrassing. If you want your friends to come back over, you’ll want to control that devil within your dog.
Most dogs are super curious about people who visit because it’s something new and exciting. The sound of the doorbell or a knock at the door means a new experience, and dogs love to investigate these things.
One way to demystify the doorbell is to train your dog to understand that these sounds don’t mean anything special. Here’s the quick version of how to remove the mystery:
- As you are going about your business during the day, randomly or ring the bell or knock on the door, then continue what you were doing.
- Your dog will soon learn that the sound does not mean anything special.
Next, Find a Quiet Spot
Ready for the next phase of training?
Designate a quiet place, such as a dog bed, crate or even just an old mat, as the training area. Then enlist the help of a friend or family member. Follow these three steps:
- Have your friend ring the doorbell or knock at the door.
- Take your dog to his quiet place. Give him a favorite toy or blanket, and praise him for lying there quietly.
- Then go answer the door.
- Repeat several times, on different occasions.
Obviously, at first your dog will pop right back up and chase you to the door. This is why you want a patient friend or family member to help you with this, because they’re going to be standing outside on your front step for a while. Just take your dog right back to his quiet place and repeat the process.
Don’t give up! This is the hardest part, and you are going to have to do it repeatedly before your dog is fully trained. The goal is to have your dog react to the sound of the door by going to his mat and lying quietly until you give him permission to get up.
Meetings and Greetings
Once your dog is handling the quiet place well, you’ll want to expand the training to learning how to comfortably greet guests.
Again enlist the help of a friend or family member. In fact, get several people to help you so that your dog learns that this behavior you are teaching him applies to all people, not just the one person he is repeatedly seeing.
Be sure that your helper remains neutral during the training. No patting, cooing, speaking approvingly and so on when your dog is jumping.
This video demonstrates some more ways to stop your dog from jumping on guests:
When your guest comes in the door, your dog will be in his quiet place. You should leash him so that you have control of his actions. Then allow him to get up, and take him to the guest.
Watch carefully and correct any bad behavior right away, such as jumping. Reward your dog when he does well. Positive reinforcement is just as important to the training process as corrective tone of voice and actions.
Don’t Expect Instant Results
Be patient because this “visitor training” will take a lot of practice.
In the end, though, your dog will catch on, making both your life and the lives of your visitors so much easier. You’ll be able to have anyone over with confidence, from your 2-year-old niece to your grandma.
As for your friends and family members who are helping out, I strongly recommend you buy them a nice gift. They’re going to be doing a lot of standing on your front step, ringing the doorbell and getting showered with love by your pooch during this process!