Work Your Plan at the Front Door

This is the second installment of front door chaos or lack of it – hopefully.

The following advice is for people whose dogs tend to get over excited when someone comes to their home because they love interacting with people and not because they are concerned about who is in their home or dogs that are apprehensive about interacting with a “stranger”.

From my perspective there are a few options to try. Or it is also possible to mix and match depending on your dog. Let’s get started, shall we?

I like to categorize people that come to my home based on their reason for being there. Are they friends? Clients? Contractors of some sort? This will determine how I deal with the front door. So I suggest my clients do the same.

Dogs jump on people because they want to access their faces – their mouths in particular because this is how dogs say hello! It is hard-wired. The idea then is to give dogs what they want, which is social contact and once that need is met, they can move onto something else.

So… if you think your guest will be on board to lowering herself/himself to allow your dog to have contact with their face then suggest this. The person should gently hold on to your dog’s collar to prevent the dog from potentially jumping up and hitting the person on the face. You and your family can try this too. You will see that it only takes a few minutes to assure your dog that you both are “okay”.

I have found that this strategy stops jumping in its tracks because there is no need to do so since you are lowering yourself to the dog’s level and satisfying their need to access our mouth/face. Their interest in accessing our mouth/faces is a result of their genetic past. Wolves will come back to the den and regurgitate food for the young pups. The pup will lick the adults in order to solicit the food. So this is why our dogs jump up to say hello.

The second idea works also very well if your pup is keen on chasing a ball or playing with a toy with you. Place  a basket with toys or balls as the case might be next to the front door so there is always a ball or a toy.

As you come into the home ask your dog to go get his ball or toy. As he does, you can set anything that you might be carrying down and engage in playing with your pup. Once again, you will see that it only takes but a few minutes of this interaction for your dog to feel you have politely said hello to him. It is possible that you might have to face in the direction of the ball or toy if this is the first time you try something like this with your dog. You can also walk a bit in the direction of the basket so that your dog has a clue that you want him to interact with some object kept in there.

Now, if your dog jumps at guests and your guest is not eager to allow face contact or even play ball with your dog, the best advice I can give is to make sure that your dog is put away as the guest comes in through the front door.

Front doors are magnets for arousal because the physical space is reduced from a more spacious room leading to the front door. Dogs are very sensitive to space and their use of it. It becomes with a doubt a “double whammy” if you have more than one dog since there is less space and competition to access the guest.
Once you have said hello to your guest, have them enter a larger area and then go get your dog. Bring your dog out on a leash to meet the guest. You have previously coached your guest to remain neutral: No reaching for the dog, bending over, talking to the dog. Just ask them to stay put while you and your pup walk in their direction.

If you have a dog that tends to drag you on leash to say hello do not permit this. Instead throw treats in front of your dog as you say something like find it.

Practice this a bit first without a guest. Once your guest is home, do the same and walk towards the person, as your dog is keen in finding the kibble or treats. Again, you will see that once your pup has had an opportunity to smell and greet your guest, he will relax and move on.

Practice makes permanent so be consistent and practice every single time you want your dog to greet a guest. If you go back and forth between letting your dog approach at all cost and managing the situation you will not reach success. Instead you will have a confused dog, which will only lead to more frustration for both of you.