New people are exciting to dogs. Whether you have an adorable Pekinese who fits in a purse or an eighty-pound Labrador, your pup might get excited when somebody new walks through your front door. A few people might find this charming, but it is not a habit to encourage. It is, in fact, a bad habit that ought to be discouraged. So how can you teach your dog to not jump up on people?
- The old turn-around. A dog will jump up and continue to jump up if the habit is encouraged. There are people who delight in dogs jumping up on them and give dogs positive responses. They do this by laughing or patting a dog as the paws are approaching the person’s chest. If you want to discourage this behavior, there is nothing wrong with telling your friend, “My dog is not supposed to jump on people.” But even better, nip that in the bud. Get a human buddy to help out here – the buddy acts like a guest. Every time the dog tries to jump up, turn around and say, “No jumping.” There is zero positive reaction from the person, and the dog does not get any encouragement.
- Practice with a leash and harness. If the turn-around is not strong enough, choose another time to have your buddy play the role of guest. Put a harness on your pup and attach a leash, then put him at sit next to you. As your friend walks in, keep saying “sit,” and offer treats to your dog for staying there. Any lunges towards the person will require you to firmly pull back with a “No.” Don’t let the dog continue to pull – you do not want to normalize that feeling for him. Put him back at sit, and continue to reward him for doing this.
- Keep the Dog At Stay. You’ll want to get to the place where you can greet your friend up close and not from a distance with a dog sitting next to you. This is where practicing “stay” is required. Again, you’ll need a buddy. The “stay” command requires you to show patience – your dog is looking to you for a cue. Your facial reactions will nonverbally communicate a great deal to your dog as well, so try to keep as calm a face as possible. One person can stay with the dog while you practice “sit” and “stay,” offering treats. Start with small increments, such as five seconds, then ten seconds, and slowly work your way up to a full minute or longer. Again, this is a job for the patient. But keeping a dog at stay while people enter the house will help prevent future anxiety.
Being able to have houseguests and visitors is something many of us aspire to as part of our “adulting” goals. Whether it is a stopover for a quick chat or a brunch party, your dog will want to participate. Having a dog with good, basic manners will make these visits more enjoyable for everyone.