How to teach your dog an alternative way of greeting

Dog greeting

It is polite and safe to teach your dog to greet people appropriately.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Dogs jumping on people is a normal canine trait. It is how they say hello and it is also an assured way for them to get your attention, therefore, getting your dog not to pounce on you and your guests is something you have to train them to do.

Most guests view dogs jumping to greet them as annoying and dangerous. The dog may soil the visitor’s clothes and may even knock over children and the elderly. It is therefore polite and safe to teach your dog to greet people appropriately.

Dogs greet by jumping because it earns them a reward. The attention you give your pet when they jump at you, whether negative or positive is a reward to them. When you pat their head when they jump at you or yell and grab their paws taking them off you; that is attention you are giving them, and this continuously reinforces their behaviour of jumping to greet. Many dogs view pushing them away as a wrestling game.

To get rid of this habit, you have to take away the reward that dogs associate with this behaviour and teach them an alternative appropriate way of greeting you and your guests.

Other forms of saying hello

Theoretically, ignoring your dog when it jumps on you should lead it to eventually stopping to jump on you, however, not every person who comes to your home will know they should ignore the dog when they come in. This means you need to teach your dog another way of greeting everyone.

The most appropriate one is to teach your dog to keep all four paws on the floor during greeting. How do you train them to do this? With your dog on a leash, have somebody approach your dog. Before the person gets to the dog, toss some treats on the floor, and when they are eating them, let the person greet the dog then. And before the dog can finish the treat, let the person walk away.

Keep doing it, reducing the reward, which is the treat, and eventually, have the greetings as the only reward. The trick here is to make sure you give the treats before the dog can get to the visitor.

Another appropriate greeting behaviour is having your pet sit during greetings. Repeat the training method above and have the dog learn that when their backside is on the floor, that is the only time they get attention. Before you finish training them and a guest visits, put them on a leash or send them to their crate as soon as the visitors arrive.

It can be particularly hard to prevent the jumping of dogs, but with patience and training, you will get there.

Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]