Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.
For many dog parents, your pup getting overexcited when there’s a guest at the front door is a common sight. Sometimes, it might be cute, but other times it can be a little annoying, or even dangerous if someone more frail, or carrying something, is trying to get inside.
But, what can you do, when even trying to distract with some of the best dog treats won’t work? You might think it’s just part and parcel of having a dog, but there are some things you can try if you aren’t happy with your dog’s behavior at the front door.
Juliana DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training, has offered some tips in a recent Instagram post...
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You need some “creative and thoughtful training choices,” she explains, as putting in too many distractions too soon can mean that training can fail.
When your dog is ready for a real-life visitor, ask your guest to ring the doorbell or knock on the door – when you’re training and there’s not actually a person on the other side of the door, your pup doesn’t have this trigger.
In the Instagram video, the guest wasn’t somebody the dog knew well, but was a worker who’d already been in the house that day and left to get something from his car. This is the sort of scenario that can provide an extra challenge for your dog, once you’ve made some progress in training.
But it’s perhaps best not to jump straight to this. Instead, DeWillems outlines some steps to follow to gradually improve your dog’s behavior at the front door.
First, just open the door. Then, when your dog’s comfortable with this, open the door and speak quietly, as if there’s somebody there. The next step is then to speak more animatedly.
Once your dog displays good behavior here, you can progress to ringing the doorbell and opening the door, without speaking.
When it’s time to add another person, make it somebody who lives at home, and has just been at home. While your pup may love them, they don’t have the added excitement of a guest, so they’re ideal to start with.
Then, open the door to a visitor, without speaking, before progressing to opening the door to a family member coming home. This way, you get the excitement of an entrance, but with somebody your pup knows well.
The penultimate step is to do a full sequence with a worker or delivery person who isn’t entering the home – this way, you get a relatively unknown person, but without the distraction of them coming inside.
Finally, you can then get to the sequence with a guest coming into the home – good behavior here is the end goal.
As with training any new skill, teaching your dog to stay calm at the door takes time, patience and consistency. For more advice on how to keep all four of your dog's paws on the floor, check out our guide to how to stop a dog from jumping up.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.