PROBLEM - OVER EXCITEMENT WHEN GREETING VISITORS
Why does the problem develop?
Right from puppyhood humans tend to go down and stroke and fuss the very young puppy (thus rewarding it) when it jumps up at them. Therefore, the puppy learns very quickly that it is rewarding to jump up. Later when it is scolded it just works harder to try and appease the "masters" and carrys on regardless. The answer is to not fuss a puppy unless all four feet are on the ground. The minute it jumps up it should be igored. However, this is hard to do with an excited adult dog. Therefore, if your dog has this problem read on.
Pre-requisites to achieve successful retraining:
You must first practice with visitors who will do as you ask and not upset your training.
Fully brief your “practice” visitors and let them read these instructions so they know what you are trying to achieve
Preferably, your dog should know how to sit when told and ideally go down when told. This is ideally trained in prior to starting the programme.
If your dog does not have these skills you can still succeed but things will take longer.
If you have more than one dog you must practice with them separately to start with and vary which dog gets to great which visitor first.
Make sure the other dog is at least one room (preferably two rooms) away or put outside into the back garden if visitors are coming to the house via the front door for example. Otherwise his excitement will distract the dog being met.
At the start of the training programme try to keep the dogs away from visitors who are unlikely to be helpful to your training by not doing what you ask. Impress them later on when you have more control of the situation!
1. Introduce dog/s on lead.
2. Visitors must be instructed to ignore the dog/s. Ignore means do not make eye contact with the dog, do not speak or laugh at the dog, do not touch the dog.
3. Wait until the dog is calm (you can continue low intensity normal conversation with your visitor/s if you can). This may take 10 or 15 minutes.
CALM means all four feet are on the ground, the dog is not barking or whining.
VERY CALM means the dog is also sitting or laying down (actions which are less compatible with high excitement).
If the dog has trouble reaching the calm state or staying calm go out of the room and enter again after 2 or 3 minutes. Repeat several times if necessary. Alternatively you can leave the dog in another room or in its safe haven crate for 10 to 15 minutes and try reintroducing again.
5. Once the dog is CALM the visitor may reward the dog by using Low level rewards e.g. a quiet "good boy" or gentle stroke or small tit bit dropped on the floor.
6. Once the dog is VERY CALM higher intensity rewards MIGHT be OK e.g. smiling and making eye contact with or patting the dog.
Whilst carrying out this process you need to try and keep calm. Do not touch, fondle or keep talking to your dog or you may inadvertently reinforce his excitement behaviour.
If your dog jumps up at you or barks at you, at any stage turn your back on him, and ignore him. Do not keep giving him commands whilst he is being excited this will probably just mean he learns to keep your attention by repeated excitement. Give your SIT or DOWN commands once he has calmed down and is likely to respond otherwise take or put him out of the room and away from the visitors for 10 minutes and try again after this.
When introducing more than one dog to visitors. Keep the dogs far enough apart, to start with, in order that they cannot reinforce their own excitement by playing with or goading each other. You will probably need two people to do this.
Once you have had several successful opportunities to carry out stage one and the dog/s have learnt to become very calm quickly.
Introduce dog/s on trailing, double length lead and carry out the same process. If your have any difficulty or the dogs behaviour slips back pick up the lead and proceed as in stage one.
You may have to go back to introducing them separately to start with.
Once you have had several successful opportunities to carry out stage two and the dog/s are still becoming calm very quickly you can start introductions without the lead on.
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