OMG! Where Have You Been All Day?!
Updated: May 18
Many of my clients’ dogs are very social and love to enthusiastically greet family members returning home. It’s a beautiful thing to be greeted with so much love and enthusiasm, even when you’ve only been gone a couple of hours. How lucky we are to have dogs in our lives!
Problems arise, however, when the dog’s style of greeting is too physically exuberant. Though a tiny dog is probably not going to be a safety hazard if he jumps up on you, bigger dogs that jump up can actually hurt you, knock you over, tear clothing, etc. Children, or adults who aren't steady on their feet, are at even more risk.
If this is an issue you’d like to address, here are two simple approaches you may find helpful.
FOR DOGS WHO LOVE FOOD AS MUCH AS THEY LOVE YOU
The first minute or two of arriving home is usually when you see the most exuberance and jumping from your dog. Here’s an easy way to manage this with food-loving pups:
Come to the entry door already armed with very tasty treats. (This will mean having a supply of treats in your car, in your garage, or in a secure jar just outside your door.)
As soon as you open the door, show the dog the treats in your hand at his nose level, and then scatter them on the floor 6’-8’ feet away. If you always scatter in the same location, with repetition the dog will begin positioning over there. (If your dog is new to hunting for thrown treats, practice this skill in calmer contexts first.)
While the dog is busy hunting for those tossed goodies, you’ll have time to put down your coat, purse, briefcase, keys, etc.
If your dog approaches again with a little too much energy, be proactive about scattering a second handful of treats before he gets close enough to jump on you.
Now crouch down, or sit on a chair, so you’re ready to give calm attention when your dog approaches again. By being crouched or seated, there’s less need for the dog to jump. (Use the method below to help shape calmer greetings over time.)
If you have a small dog, consider inviting him up onto a chair instead, and then give attention while he’s in that position. Once the dog is on a higher level, the need to jump is reduced.
FOR DOGS WHO RELISH PHYSICAL ATTENTION ABOVE ALL ELSE
Put down whatever props you have in hand before you open the door to enter the house.
As soon as you enter, crouch and extend your hands to your dog so that you’re making immediate contact before a jump can even take place.
Be very calm and quiet, both in your voice and body language.
Spend a few minutes calmly massaging him. Find those magical spots on his body that help him to melt to the ground in a gooey puddle of contentment.
If your dog tends to get very excitable any time your hands touch him, practice massaging him at less exciting times of day so he develops a new and calmer response to hands on his body. Remember, the goal is for him to relax so completely he just oozes to the floor. The more you practice the massage and hone the technique to your particular dog’s preferences, the sooner he’ll develop a calmer response to hands on his body.
If small children are in the home, an adult may need to have the dog on leash initially to manage his behavior in order to keep things safe.
All family members need to apply these techniques consistently if you want to achieve consistent results!
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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