Here's how one trainer keeps their dog calm when there's someone at the door — and it's very effective!

Dog at door
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Does your pup love people? Often, dogs will get excited when there’s somebody at the door – they might bark, or run up to the door ready to jump up and greet the person waiting to come in, whether it’s someone in their household, a friend or relative they already know, or even a stranger.

However, it’s a good idea to teach good door manners. What if your guest is frail or elderly, or carrying a baby or young child? Or, they may simply be wary of dogs or just not want an intense greeting from one. And if your visitor is happy to fuss over your dog, there’s no harm in waiting until they’re inside and can grab a couple of the best dog treats for good measure!

But, how can you teach good door manners? Certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has explained just what to do in a recent Instagram post, which you can take a look at here. 

Break down the steps of somebody coming to the door into small steps – in Goodman’s video, there are three people all working together to help teach the dog, Bruno, but if you don’t have as many people on hand to call on, you can work on this skill with just two. Meanwhile, here are 25 practical tips for training your dog on your own if there’s nobody else to hand. 

In this scenario, Bruno’s mom is working on the skill while his dad has his foot on the leash in case Bruno tries to run. Meanwhile, Goodman is playing the role of the person at the door. “I start with just my movement in and out of the doorway,” she says, “And then including the door.”

Bruno gets a reward each time there’s movement from either Goodman or the door, as well as for the sound the door makes, because they indicate that somebody is about to enter. It’s important that your pup has a strong ‘stay’ on a particular spot before you begin teaching this, so they’re more likely to remain in place. 

Once your dog has been able to get the hang of this, you can begin to close the door all the way and, importantly, bring in the element of knocking. 

As Goodman is able to enter from this position, without Bruno breaking his ‘stay’, his dad releases him to greet her in a calm manner, which is another thing to work on with your pup. 

She summarizes in the caption, “Teaching door manners and calm greetings at the front door is hard! There are a lot of elements to teaching this skill and the secret is that there is a lot of foundation work that needs to be done first before involving a person at the front door.”

There’s definitely plenty to consider, from teaching your dog the ‘stay’ on a particular spot, to teaching calm greetings, to desensitizing them to predictors of people entering, like the sounds a door makes. But gradually, you’ll be able to put them all together for a dog who greets people politely. 

If jumping up is something you’re struggling with, you might find this article from someone in the same situation helpful: I tried everything to get my dog to stop jumping up, here’s what actually worked.

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

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.