Even dog-lovers agree: it’s no fun to have an overly-enthusiastic dog knock groceries or toddlers from your arms when you come into a friend’s home. We love our pets, but it’s embarrassing and can be annoying or even dangerous for your dog to be a rude greeter so it’s important to train your dog to greet guests properly.

A pet gate set up between two walls near stairs and a dog and baby on one side and a hedgehog on the other
@marandabrakenhoff

Dogs naturally want to jump up on people to lick our faces and get our attention. And we often accidentally reward our dogs for this behavior because it’s so cute when they’re puppies! Even scolding a jumping dog can backfire because “any attention is good attention,” right?

But turning your back on a jumping dog or ignoring her until she calms down isn’t always possible. Plus, it can be a confusing lesson for your dog that really doesn’t get the point across. While ignoring a rude dog can be part of the training plan, it can’t be the only component of a good plan.

A puppy sitting in a crate with a toy waiting to meet guests.
@raisingmytribe12

How to Train Your Dog To Greet Guests:

  1. Inform your guests that you’re in training. A sign on your door asking your guests to be patient while you contain your dog can really work wonders!
  2. Practice polite behavior and impulse-control games in general during your dog’s daily life. If your dog can’t politely sit and wait for his meals, he probably can’t wait politely for guests to greet him either!
  3. Make a game plan for door greetings. Generally, I keep a dog on a leash or behind a baby gate until he’s calmed down enough to greet more politely. Baby gates are really my go-to. When someone comes over, use the extra time that your sign buys you to put your dog away behind the gate and prepare some treats.
  4. Avoid people on the street who will allow jumping. You can’t trust strangers to train your dog, and letting your dog pull you across the sidewalk to jump all over a friendly stranger won’t help your long-term training plan. It might feel rude at first, but you’ll get the hang of telling people that you’re in training and just walking on by! Ask your guests to be quiet and polite as well – that really helps!
  5. When your guests come in, your dog might be very excited and barky. That’s ok – just toss treats to him when he’s quiet with all 4 paws on the ground. This is where those impulse control games come in handy!
  6. Once he’s settled down enough, you can let him out to greet guests. You can ask him to sit if you’d like, but pestering him with repeated commands to sit won’t help! You want him to learn to greet politely on his own accord, not just to get you to stop nagging him.
  7. As your dog improves at this skill, you can have your dog greet guests on leash instead. You might want to step on the leash so he can’t jump. Reward your down with treats on the floor so he doesn’t have to jump up for the food. Reward any time he’s got all 4 paws on the ground and he’s quiet. If he jumps on your guest, have your guest move away.
  8. If you’re not ready to be in “dog trainer mode,” don’t have your dog greet the guest! It’s just not worth the bad habit-building. 
Dog standing up with paw on the top of a pet gate waiting to greet guests.

Want to learn more training tips and tricks for your pet? We’ve got a lot more on our blog!

Author

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from Colorado. She has spent most of her adult life training troublesome dogs in shelters, private settings, and online. She owns Journey Dog Training, an online pet behavior help service that focuses on helping people around the world with their pets. Kayla loves working with tricky dogs almost as much as she loves hiking, running, and skiing with her Border Collie, Barley. You can learn more about Kayla and explore her training programs at JourneyDogTraining.com or by following Journey Dog Training on YouTube and Facebook.

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