By Celebrity Dog Trainer, Joel Silverman
Probably one of the most common behaviors we see is the issue of a dog jumping on guests. It seems like this often happens within the “first few minutes” of someone walking in the house. With this problem, there are two different ways that I like to handle it. The first is finding a way to redirect the dog to another place or area, which involves positive reinforcement. This is something that’s great for smaller dogs, and will be covered in another blog. The other way, we will be covering in this article, and it involves using a correction.
It seems more times than not, dogs get excited when people either ring the doorbell or knock on the door. Over the course of time, those two events really seem to act as triggers, which can increase the dog’s reactivity and make him more excited even before people come in the house. Having an understanding that this reactivity lasts for just a few minutes both prior to the door opening, and after people come in, we need to find a way to control the dog.
Before I show you how to train your dog not to jump on guests, you must first understand that the completion of any bad behavior is reinforcing to the dog. In other words, letting your dog play out those actions is actually a reward to your dog. So what is needed is to find a way to correct the dog so the dog is no longer able to complete that action. In this case, the dog must not be allowed to put is feet up on the guest that comes in. If the dog does not complete the action, he is not rewarded.
You first need to control the dog prior to the guests coming in the house, and the best way to do this is to put a leash on your dog prior to the door opening, as this insures control.
• In essence, what will happen is the doorbell will ring or someone will knock on the door.
• The dog will run to the door, and possibly start barking.
• At that point the leash goes on the dog prior to the door opening, so now you have some sort of control.
• You are probably going to want to use a good training collar or one my Alternative Training Collars for this.
When the door opens up, you are going to want to keep the dog close to you using small corrections. When the dog goes to put his feet up on your guest, you need to correct you dog. You want to make it a quick pull, in a direction back towards you. It is essential that your dog does not make contact with the person. Have the person go back outside, and repeat the chain events which starts with them knocking or ringing the doorbell. Again, when they come in, be ready to correct your dog. Sometimes within a few sessions the dog begins to understand that if he jumps up on the guests he is corrected. At the same time, if he stays down and does not jump up, he is rewarded.
After a few days, when you feel that the dog is not jumping, the next step would be to put the leash and collar on, and just let the leash drag. You are going to want to do this for a few days.
If after a few days, the dog is still not jumping up, you are going to want to remove the leash. This way when someone comes to the door, you are now simply putting the collar on his neck just in case you need to correct him. And after a few days of doing this, you can remove the collar altogether, and the behavior is trained!
Joel Silverman has trained animals for Hollywood films, TV, amusement parks, and he now devotes his forty years of professional experience to helping thousands of pet owners train their dogs. Joel has worked behind the scenes on lots of shows and films, but he’s best known for Good Dog U—his top-rated Animal Planet series that ran from 1999 to 2009. Joel has also authored three books to share his expertise: What Color Is Your Dog?®, Take 2 – Training Solutions for Rescued Dogs, and Bond With Your Heart; Train With Your Brain®.