Training Tip Tuesday – Polite Greetings

TRAINING TIP TUESDAY – polite greetings

By: Margaux Meyer

Happy #TrainingTipTuesday everyone! Today I want to talk about polite greetings at the door! Dogs get super excited when they get to greet people, so its understandable that they express that excitement through jumping at the door! We can help them greet us more politely through practice, intentional skills, and management while they’re learning.
Practice: Dogs need lots and lots of practice – before expecting the dog to handle their excitement, they need to know what to do. Remember – “no” or “off” only tell dogs what not to do, but don’t help dogs know what to do.
Practice proper greetings not just when you or guests are coming and going. Spend 5 minutes every few days practicing the skills and desired behaviors in low stakes situations.
Start by standing by the door and asking for sit, then rewarding with treats and pets. Release the dog, then repeat 5-10 times for a few days.
Level up by standing inside and opening the door, then closing the door and ask the dog for a sit, then reward with attention and pets. Repeat 5-10 times until you’re reliably getting a sit when the door opens and closes. Note: This is easiest if you have a screen door to keep the dog safe.
Next: Practice proper greetings by leaving the house, then walking back into the house, and asking for appropriate greeting behavior. Go back outside, wait for a minute, then repeat 5-10 times.
Note: Practice at any door! If the front door is too hard, try the back door or even an interior door!
Management: While you’re establishing the routine of greetings, try to avoid repeating undesired behaviors.
  • Have dogs outside when guests are coming over
  • Keep treats by the door to always be able to reward and reinforce
  • Scatter a handful of treats on the ground as soon as you walk into the house to prevent jumping
  • Take time to decide what is an appropriate greeting routine and try to stick with it. This can be dogs need to “sit” before they get attention, but it can also mean all four paws on the ground. Some dogs do best if they have a matt or a bed to stand on.
  • “Off”: Be sure to practice off with rewards.
  • If the dog is jumping up, try ignoring the dog or stepping back before they can put their paws on you. As soon as their paws touch the ground, say “yes!”
  • Push the dog off (This can turn jumping up into a game)
  • Yell or punish
  • Expect too much too soon: Set your expectations low and know you’ll work your way up over time.
Blog and graphic by Margaux Meyer, one of Ruff Start Rescue’s volunteer trainers, who focus on supporting our fosters and helping create successful dogs. She owns and operates A Better Walk Dog Training (