Jumping on Guests and Strangers
Updated: May 6
Some dogs are just thrilled about people! People coming over is super exciting! Strangers on the street? Also amazing!
If you've been trying to stop your dog from jumping on other people, you may have noticed that they often pet your dog and give him attention, even if you ask them not to! Here are our top tips for helping this, without relying on other people listening to you.
Greeting Anyone, Inside or Outside
Help your dog learn that having four feet on the floor is what gets him what he wants! You can do this with the YoYo Game!
Hold your dog’s leash and allow him to approach the other person.
As long as he has four feet on the floor, his reward is getting to continue to greet and be with the person!
Any time he jumps, immediately say “uh oh” and gently take 1-2 steps backwards, so that he is moved out of reach of the person.
Ignore him completely, including no eye contact. Wait at least 5 seconds until you give him an opportunity to say hi again.
He should be calm before you say “okay” and let him approach the guest again. (If he's not, try waiting a little longer or rewarding him for paying attention to you for a minute or two.)
Build on success! If something is too much for a dog and he jumps on your guest/friend more than twice in a row, make it easier. (Move away from the front door, have your friend act calmer, or give him a different task to do for a bit.) With strangers, it can be best to carry on!
If your dog is SUPER excited, you can also reward behavior that isn't calm but is just...calmer! Sometimes we can build frustration if we ask too much of them too quickly.
Your leash is like training wheels! Practice on leash until your dog is an A student. For indoor greetings, you can then let him just drag the leash. Once he’s shown he’s reliable, he can graduate to greeting people without his leash!
Visitors to Your Home
It can be helpful to set your dog up for success when you have visitors.
Have your dog in another room or in a crate, away from the excitement of the front door, before your guests arrive. (This is, for many dogs, just temporary!)
It can also be helpful to have guests call or text instead of ringing the bell or knocking.
Once your guests are settled, bring your dog out on his leash to play the YoYo Game! (See above.)
As your dog starts to do well with this, you can graduate to front door greetings, too!
Some dogs might need some extra help here, and that's okay. If it's been recommended, you might play the Mat Game when you bring your dog out, before he gets to greet your guests.
You can also help your dog keep four on the floor by tossing treats on the floor while he’s greeting people.
First, teach him that “Snack” means there will be food on the floor. Say “snack!” and then toss a few treats to the ground. (You’ll only need to do this another 1-2 times for 10 repetitions or so, he’ll get it!)
Now, when he is greeting someone and looks like he might jump, you can say “snack” and toss a few treats on the floor between you and the guest.
This step should only be used for dogs who do not resource guard/food guard. :)
To keep "snack" really effective, occasionally give your dog treats like this when he's not greeting people.