Good manners for dogs apply both inside and outside the home. Inside, it begins with teaching your dog how to greet people coming in the front door.
Begin with your dog on leash so the dog doesn’t dash out the door or jump on the new arrival. Greeting the guest needs lots of practice so the dog comes to understand what is expected.
Have the dog either Sit/Stay by your side leashed, or tethered to a piece of furniture away from the door. Once you invite the guests in, instruct them not to pet the dog unless the dog is sitting.
Once you and your dog and the guest are away from the door, have your dog Sit/Stay. Give the dog a hard crunchy treat and then ask the guest to pet the dog. Repeat Stay to your dog. The reward is getting attention with petting and also the treat.
If you have used the tether method, then approach your dog and pick up the tether and repeat Sit/Stay as necessary. Also give a treat.
Once the dog is sitting you can invite the guest to pet the dog. Practice when you can get neighbors and friends to visit. Keep reminding your dog to Sit/Stay as you imprint this pattern.
If you prefer to keep the dog on the leash as you approach the door, then walk back into the room with the dog before you have him Sit/Stay. Then the guest can pet the dog.
The hard treat will help to distract the dog from the excitement of the guest. Be patient, as all of this takes a long time. No one pets your dog unless he is sitting and not near the door!
Over time, the dog should stay in his spot or go to that spot when guests come.
There are currently difficulties teaching this skill to your dog. Like many other things that have changed in our lives, we are not having many – or any – visitors in order to practice.
Because of this unique situation you might want to practice with other family members if possible. Have someone go outside and ring the bell or knock so another family member can practice the greetings.
Mix it up so the dog is not anticipating the same person doing this. It also helps to practice this way to desensitize the dog to the doorbell.
If you are lucky enough to live in a community with neighbors close by, ask them if they can stop by for you to practice. Of course both you and they can certainly wear a mask to keep safe.
If you are at home a lot, this is a perfect time to work on these manners with your dog.
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com