My dog jumps. I hear it constantly. Over the years this one behavior is consistently on the top of the list of owners of the top three bad behaviors.  Puppy and dog owners alike are finding it difficult to conquer this battle. Everyone wants good dog behavior.  In this past Monday’s blog on “Out of Control Dog: How to Calm the Beast” I gave recommendations on working with your wild and crazy dog to teach him how to relax and become calm on his mat.  

Since the holiday season, with all its festivities, provides the potential for more visitors than usual, I wanted to give you another option for your dog – other than a sit. Most trainers will tell you that if your dog has a well-disciplined sit, he can’t jump. This would also assume you have done a swell job of distraction training your dog around many different people coming into your home. You just might like this one even better than a sit! 

Good Dog Behavior - Front Door Manners

Its not hard work – it just takes consistency and repetition

Teaching your dog to be calm and relaxed around you does involve remembering to set aside training time with your dog. Every dog owner should recognize the value of dog obedience training AND the value of working your dog on leash. Consistently practicing sits and downs daily is great training for you and your dog.  

But, teaching your dog other behaviors can prove very useful as well.  

For example, teach your dog name recognition. Looking at you when his name is spoken takes your dog away from any inappropriate behavior he may have been doing in the moment – like getting ready to jump on a visitor. Expand on it by teaching him that, in addition to turning around and looking at you, he comes to you. Now that’s even better.  If in the process of coming, you add prolonged eye contact, he is learning to have calm and relaxed focus on you. 

Now your dog needs to learn to greet calmly

 Are you embarrassed because your dog “bulldozes” your friends down? Not only is it embarrassing but it can be dangerous for some older people.  

But what if instead of his usual “bulldoze tactics” your dog walks calmly up to your friends and politely touches their hand as they say, “Hi!” with an extended hand? Wow! What a difference! How is this taught? 

Teach an additional calm greeting behavior by teaching your dog to touch your visitor’s hand as they say, “Hi!” and extend their hand. Trainers call this targeting. Holding out your hand for a “nose touch” by your dog is another great way to channel his energy. 

Here’s how

 What you’ll need: 

  • A six foot leash
  • High value food treats (feed less at mealtimes to avoid overfeeding your dog)
  • Your voice to praise or clicker to click
  • Time set aside for training (usually 5 minutes 3 times daily will do)
  • Plenty of patience

 What you’ll do: 

  • Begin by presenting the palm of your empty hand about 3-5” from your dog for your dog to nose touch. Most will automatically touch your hand since it will probably smell like treats.
  • When your dog touches your hand, click and treat or praise and treat your dog. Do this repetitively until your dog is doing it quickly.
  • Start presenting your hand in different locations to your dog’s face; i.e., in front of his nose at first, then on one side of his face, then the other and finally just over his nose about 3” so that he has to purposefully move upward to touch your hand.  Click and treat or praise and treat your dog.
  • Once you can reliably anticipate he will touch your hand with his nose, add the greeting by saying, “Hi!” as you extend your hand. click and treat or praise and treat your dog each time he touches your hand when you say, “Hi!”
  • Next you begin to build distance. As you see your dog across the room, say, “Hi!” and extend your hand (palm of your hand facing your dog.)
  • The idea here is to get your dog thinking about walking up to your visitor and nose touch their hand to greet with 4 on the floor instead of jumping.
  • Slowly wean your dog off food treats by treating randomly and then eliminating treats altogether. Continue to praise.
  • Eventually shift to working your dog off leash as he continues to give you calm and relaxed greetings.

Important:  train this greeting at first with just you and your dog. Later add a visitor. Low key greetings at first, then gradually increase the excitement of the greeting.

Remember to keep your training sessions short (5 minutes) and space them out with an hour in between your lessons. Have fun! Practice makes for a perfect greeting. 

Please comment below and tell us how you’re working on your dog’s manners! 

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Houston's Best Dog Trainer Jim Burwell  Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than   7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.  Jane Wagner  (c)Jim Burwell Inc.