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The Singapore Dog Lifestyle Blog

Dog jumps on visitors at the door?

When somebody rings our doorbell, this is what happens :)

Are your house guests happy when your dog rushes up or jumps on them at the door?

Mine? Not always.

If your dog jumps at you, take a step back so the dog lands on the floor missing you. This is a no contact, force free method that ensures safety for both the human and the dog.

But what if your house guests are afraid of dogs or just annoyed by what they perceive as a badly behaved dog? They don’t know how to manage the dog appropriately like you, so it makes a better experience for all if you train the dog how to behave in advance.


Posed picture, lol. Eyes on the treat! Claws on human’s tummy, ouch!! 

Want to know what we did to get from having the dog rushing up to family members and friends (who sometimes don’t appreciate it) to dog running to the crate to wait patiently while the human gets the door?

It all starts with Stay

  1. Find a base. 
    The dog’s bed will do fine, especially if the dog loves to chill out on her bed. A towel can also be used.
  2. Lure the dog to the base.
    Example, if you lay a towel on the floor, the dog usually will come to sniff it and lay on it. I was training my dog to like her new bed, so I used her bed for this exercise.
    teaching the dog to stay at a spot when the door bell rings
  3. Say “Stay” and show the dog the hand command for Stay.
  4. Immediately say “Yes”, praise the dog and reward the dog for staying on the base.
  5. The dog is very likely to stay on the bed so say “Stay” and show the dog the hand command for Stay again. Reward the dog again for staying.
  6. Repeat this many times in short sessions so that the dog starts to associate the following:
    • staying on the base will lead to a food reward,
    • staying on the base is called “Stay”
    • When I hear “Stay” or see the hand command for Stay, I should stay because I will get a treat.
    • it is fun when I listen and “Stay” because I get treats
    • I’m so happy, I can’t wait for the next time the human says “Stay”
    • Why is the human going away? Come back and say “Stay”!!
      **Keeping training sessions short prevents the dog from boredom due to the repetitive exercise and makes him look forward to the next session.  
  7. When dog is good at responding to your “Stay”, experiment by slowly putting some distance between you.
    • This is because in real life, “Stay” comes into practical use when we want the dog to remain while we go some distance away. e.g. taking a picture of the dog, leaving a dog outside a pets-not-allowed shop while the human hops in to buy something.
    • Now if the dog is not very good at responding to Stay, he/she may leave the base to follow you because the treats are with the human. And it looks to them that the treats are leaving with the human. So don’t get mad or impatient, because this is a logical response.  
    • This just means that you started distancing yourself too early for the dog. The dog has not clearly associated the concept of stay with being on the base regardless of where the human is yet.
    • Continue to reinforce Stay at a distance the dog is comfortable with and then slowly start to widen the distance again, a bit at a time, depending on how comfortable your dog is the distance you are putting in between him/her and you.
  8. Your dog will start to get real good at Stay after you have been doing this consistently for sometime. :D

    Teach your dog to Go to and Stay

  9. Start teaching your dog the Go to command
    • At first, I just pointed at the bed, said excitedly Go to bed and walked toward it. The dog followed and recognised that usually I want her on it for the Stay command. So it was easy to get her on it. I rewarded her for Going to and Staying on her bed.
    • Again train the Go to command in many short, repeated sessions. This helps the dog start to associate that “Go to” with the intended result of going to the base.
    • Combine it with “Stay” so it helps you to reinforce Stay, while training Go to.
    • You may want to use a different word then Go to, if you anticipate having to tell her to go to and stay at different locations. e.g. you could use Bed for going to bed; and Kennel for going to crate. Keep the commands short and different sounding, so the dog is able to differentiate easily.
    • Like training Stay, you can start to widen the distance you are from the base when you say Go to. If you have been keeping the training session short and fun, you should see the dog bounding ahead of you to get to the base and waiting for you to hurry up to reward him/her.

      Cue the Doorbell!

  10. Set the dog up for success, when the dog is fairly reliable with Go to and Stay, start practising it every time someone rings the doorbell. So every time someone rang the doorbell, I gave Donna the Go to command. When she reached the base, I treated her and told her Stay. And then answer the door.
    • At first it will take a long time for you to answer the door, because the dog may not want to stay when the thing at the door is more exciting. But I’m ok with that because most of the time, it’s sales people whom I don’t really want to entertain anyway :P
    • If you don’t have people ringing on your doorbell every so often, you can still practise everyday, just by having a family member ring the doorbell 2-3 times a day for you. Or you can practise every time somebody comes home, even when nobody rings the doorbell. The key is being consistent so it becomes a habit for your dog to run to her crate and stay when somebody is at the door.
    • Eventually, you may find, just as I did that after a while the doorbell sends the dog briskly to her crate. On auto. When I never even said anything. :D

Additional Notes

  1. Help your dog to generalise “Stay”
    • The reason why I suggest a base for training Stay, is because I found my dog learnt Stay really fast, after days of fruitless training Stay without a base. You can try with and without and see if it makes a difference for you. Every dog and every human is different.
    • But the dog needs to start associating “Stay” to staying in one place, regardless of whether the base is there or no. So once he/she is reliable at responding to Stay, you should definitely start saying “Stay” to him/her and show the dog the hand command for Stay while she is on various other surfaces e.g. floor, stool, grass, etc. Reward the dog when he/she sits and stays.
    • More on training Stay here.
    • More on training Go to here.

Staying for a posed picture taken from a distance.
Staying for a posed picture taken from a distance.

But didn’t your dog come out of the crate to rush up to the door anyway?

She did because she knows my brother well, so we don’t give her any instructions to do otherwise.

And she still isn’t very good at staying in the crate for long periods because she is naturally curious about strangers in the house, which is normal for any dog. So when we know in advance that somebody e.g. repairman is visiting and prefers not to be interfered by a dog, I know to have her crated when she goes to her crate, before I open the door.

To learn more about Crate training, go here.

Comfy in her crate
Comfy in her crate

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8 Comments

  1. It is much easier to train with just one dog. With three of us, it is nearly impossible, but we are getting better about not getting all over visitors.

    • I don’t think I will ever be able to manage if it’s more than one dog at a time!! :D Wish I can get another sibling for Donna, but I just don’t think I can give the same quality of attention, food and vet care, considering the time and expenses involved. Of course, we’re only supposed to only have one dog in a flat per the housing regulations also.

    • Interesting, Emmadog. Perhaps it is a breed thing, but I found training two or three Shih Tzus EASIER than training only one (normally considered stubborn and one of the few breeds I’m not allergic to, so my sole choice repeatedly for over 30 years now).

      They practically trained each other as they competed for my attention as well as the treats — which consisted of being first and raved about with “Dog Yummies on [dogs name]!” as the other dogs get to share in the treats but don’t get to hear their name in my excited “good dog” tone.

      I never treat just ONE dog, btw – ever – and my dogs have never once fought over food or toys. When I called them from their yard or from another room, the first dog in is the “winner.” My last three did a very funny thing: as each slower dog entered, they first ran to the faster dog[s] and smelled their breath, then shot me a “look” before coming to me for their own reward.

      My latest, 11 month old TinkerToy is extremely smart, eager to please, and picks up new tricks practically immediately. But he is a stubborn little attention hound – simply loves to meet new people, most of whom give him great feedback for ignoring my commands on our walks in his eagerness to get to his “fans!” He still goes crazy when anyone is near the door – quite the problem with our first floor apartment in a building filled primarily with grad students who keep late hours.

      SO, I plan to try the tips in the excellent article above – with my sincere THANKS! I’m so glad I followed a comment links to this site left on Speaking for Spot.

      ~~~~~
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
      – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  2. I wish I could jump high-but no more.

  3. Maya and Pierson are both pretty good at sitting and staying when people come over. Some people, though, excite them more than others. If the person coming in ignores my dogs, they will stay. If the person coming in says something to them, however, it is a lot more difficult to get them to stay.

  4. So awesome! Great job training her to do this! We hardly get any visitors, so I don’t really have a routine for Ace these days, honestly. Thankfully he is not a jumper, but people still don’t appreciate a big dog barking at them or charging them. I usually tell him to go to his bed, and I have to stand there with a straight face and point to his bed so he knows I mean it. He stays there well, but sometimes he will still bark. I haven’t been able to get him not to bark at certain people.

    I think this post will really encourage people to be patient and take the time to train their dogs. So many of us want our dogs to change their behavior at the door, but maybe we don’t take the time to teach them another way.

  5. Excellent job. I must admit that the brown dawgs are not great when the doorbell rings. They don’t jump but they sure do bark.

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