Why Does My Dog Jump on Visitors, and What Do I Do?

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It is not uncommon for dogs to become very excited when guests come to the house; many even jump up on guests in their excitement. Unfortunately, many dog owners unknowingly encourage this kind of behavior. Once your dog learns to jump up on guests, it can be a difficult habit to break, but it can be done.

The Details

  • Dogs learn while they’re young. While your dog was still a puppy, you probably rewarded him for crawling into your lap by petting and cuddling him. When your dog gets older, you may not want him in your lap, but he has already learned that behavior.
  • Dogs can be easily excited. Some dogs are simply more energetic than others, and it doesn’t take much to set them off. The ringing of a doorbell signifies the arrival of guests, which for many dogs, is very exciting in and of itself.
  • Basic obedience training can help. Teaching your dog to respond to the simple commands, such as sit and stay, can be very helpful. Not only does this teach your dog to respond to you, but you also can use a “sit” command to get your dog to stay off your guests.

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dog jumps on visitors

  • Stop rewarding the behavior. If you want to stop your dog from jumping up on guests, stop rewarding him for the behavior. Instruct your guests to ignore the dog if he jumps up.
  • Desensitize your dog to the doorbell. Teach your dog to react calmly to the doorbell ringing by having several people outside ring the doorbell one after the other to desensitize your dog to the doorbell.
  • Teach consequences for the behavior. To really drill it into your dog’s head that jumping up is not acceptable behavior, have a few friends stand outside your house and ring the doorbell one at a time. Your friends should enter the house one at a time, and if your dog jumps up, they should immediately turn and leave.Don’t let guests pet the dog until he is calm. Instruct your guests that they are not to pet the dog until he sits down calmly. This will teach him that he only receives attention if he is sitting down.
  • Consistency is key. If you really want to break your dog’s bad habits, you need to be consistent about enforcing the rules. Do not let your dog slide. You should always correct him when he jumps up on guests, so he learns to stop.
  • Reward him for good behavior. Teach your dog that reacting calmly to guests will earn him more rewards than by jumping up. Praise your dog and offer him a reward for acting calm when the doorbell rings.

The Bottom Line

slide-3Many dog owners unknowingly teach their dogs to jump up on people by rewarding them for doing it when the dog is young. It can be difficult to break this habit once the dog has learned it, but with consistency, it can be done.

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