Buzz! Stomp, stomp, stomp. Knock, knock. Door opens and OH MY GOODNESS, someone’s here! Someone is here! Someone IS HERE! Does that sound familiar?
Well, that’s the scene in my house; no matter who it is, friends, food delivery or the plumber. And, I admit, I absolutely adore the wiggle, wiggle, wiggle that comes from Gavin’s back-end the minute the doorbell rings. For a dog like Gavin who thinks every person who walks through our door deserves to see his shimmy-dance enthusiasm, tail-whack on the shin greeting; a sit/stay would be very difficult. In the meantime, my guests (and yours) might be standing outside for a long, long time. Here’s a few tips that help my bouncing dog.
Break it down. Most folks wait until the door is actually open to utter any cue. That’s far too late. And, likely, your pup won’t take a treat because he is just so excited, and food is soooo boring. With people your dog sees all the time; ring your actual doorbell or play a recorded version of the doorbell on your phone and have them practice walking in a few times. I always suggest having the dog with you when you ring the doorbell and someone else inside recording the sound so you don’t record barking. Doorbell, treat for calm. What “calm” looks like is different for each dog. But, a good start on the road to a chill canine is four paws on the ground. Being alert is fine in the beginning stages; perky ears are WAY better than ricocheting off of your hardwood floors. You have to be quick with your “yes” the instant those furry feet hit the floor or else they are right back in the air again.
Think about what your dog will actually engage in while excited. When Lil’ Big Head first came home with me; I could have sauteed hamburger in bacon grease, wrapped it in cheddar cheese and stuffed it in a hot dog. Gavin would have still jumped on every person who came to the house, without even a backward glance towards food. So, I got creative. My boy loves squeaky toys, Gavin goes absolutely bonkers for anything that squeaks, squeaks, squeaks. I had some friends over not long after Gavin came home; and while he had plenty of other training, exercise and play that week, no squeakies until party night. I waited until the first guest arrived to give him his first squeaky toy in a week. I am so mean, aren’t I? Instead of throwing himself onto each person, Gavin chomped and squeaked with delight and ran up to each guest, wiggling and showing off his toy rather than knocking them down three flights of stairs with excitement. We went through two toys that night but over a dozen people came over and Gavin practiced what I want, not jumping.
Sneak in practice. Many dogs learn quickly not to jump on their family, good humans! So, how do you practice when your dog already knows what to do around you? If there is more than one person in the house, whoever is last to come home should ring the doorbell and come through the door like a guest. Not only does your pup get practice with all the sounds that indicate someone’s here! Someone’s here! Someone is HERE! But, he will be excited to see you. Training while pup is excited, check! It also helps to simply play the doorbell, knock, open and shut the door; then just reward for four on the floor or “find”.
Remember, guests are exciting to some dogs. Scary to other pups; but, if your dog does the SOMEONE’S HERE dance like mine does, say more “yes” for good behavior and shout less “off, off, off, no stop”. You will help him understand what you would like to see in the future. And, because we all know what happens when we assume; you should never pet your dog for jumping if you do not want him jumping on others.