Dogs can get very excited when they hear the knock on the door or the sound of a doorbell. As an outlet for their energy, they may excessively bark or jump on whoever comes walking in your home. For owners, over-eager dogs can lead to a headache when guests have to push your dog away or have to walk inside cautiously as they assess whether your dog is friendly or aggressive. With enough training, you can teach your dog to curb these behaviors and make your home more welcoming for guests. These techniques are corrective behaviors and as such, they should be taught after your dog understands basic commands (i.e. sit, come, stay).
Teaching Your Dog to Wait by the Door
Full disclosure: this command may take some time for your dog to learn.
- Have your dog sit at a location you would like them to be when guests come over. This spot is essentially their welcoming spot. You want this spot to be close enough to the door so that they can see who comes away, but far enough where guests do not have to trip over your dog.
- Tell your dog to wait and take a step towards the door. Make sure that your dog holds their wait. If your dog breaks the wait, command them to wait again and start over. If your dog holds the wait, take another step.
- Start opening the door. If your dog breaks the wait, close the door, start over, and give the wait command again.
4. Have someone behind the door start to come in. Your dog should continue to wait in their spot. If your dog breaks the wait, close the door on the person, and start over.
5. Have the person come into the house and greet you. Your dog should continue to hold their stay. If your dog breaks the wait, have the person leave and restart the exercise.
6. When you are finished greeting the person, give the release command so that your dog can greet the person. In their eyes, the reward for waiting is that they get to say hello.
Dogs are curious animals, but you want to make sure their curious energy does not cause stress for your household. If your dog follows all the steps, remember to give significant praise. As an informed owner, it is important to understand that dogs and puppies jump and bark at the door because they are excited to see who is coming inside. It is easy to confuse barking and jumping for aggression. By following these steps, you are not stopping your dog’s behavior, but rather you are substituting the behavior for one that is acceptable. Good luck!