Can My Dog Learn to Greet Visitors Politely?

By Laura Sutherland
May 8, 2023


My favorite trainer says the best place to start is with good basic obedience training.

Once your pup has mastered the basic “sit” cue, everything else becomes an offshoot of that simple behavior.

The problem most of us have with our furry friend is really a problem in ourselves: Inconsistency.

We don’t always demand the same behavior when someone enters our home. Typically, we roll our eyes and apologize to our visitor when our pup jumps up or greets with a wet smooch. If a new person visits, we may try restraining the dog. This is called “intermittent reinforcement.”

Here are the three most advantageous ways to train your pup to be cool, calm, and collected while greeting politely:

1. Perfect the “sit” cue.

As I said above, all training extends from the “sit” cue. You MUST make sure this cue is rock-solid by training and reinforcing with treats so your pup sits immediately on cue and stays until rewarded — every time.

2. Manage your dog’s behavior before guests enter.

Ask your visitors not to encourage jumping or other exciting behaviors. Putting a baby gate or another barrier between the front door and the area where your dog stays is also a good idea: He can’t get to the guest right away. This method allows Rascal to settle down before greeting your visitor.

Once the pup settles down, enable the guest to toss a treat you conveniently keep by the front door. The guest should throw the treat after Rascal has performed the “sit” cue, and it should be thrown just behind him, which makes retrieval more fun and distracts him just enough to change the greeting behavior pattern. If he is still excited once the guest is in the room with him, ask him to sit again until he settles down again — and only then can he greet your now-seated guest.

Your dog will soon realize good things happen whenever he complies.

You might also consider putting the leash on when you know a guest is due. That helps control the dog’s immediate environment and may assist in getting him to sit quickly on command. You might also invite guests to remove all attention toward Rascal until he has executed the sit and a reward is given.

3. Practice polite greetings with just you and your dog.

Tether your dog to a solid, heavy object, and repeatedly approach him. When he gets it right, feed him a treat as a reward. This will take several practice sessions, but it’s worth it.

Have everyone in the family practice with him, too. Once Rascal perfects this training, untether and repeat the process. If he starts to jump up, say “Oops!” in a cheerful tone, turn your back and walk a little bit away from him. Repeat until he gets it!

Practice this tethering technique with friends or anyone who would like to greet your dog. To do it this way, leash Rascal and hold it firmly, not allowing him to stretch your arm toward the greeter.

As your friend approaches, tell her not to interact with or give the dog a treat until he sits and shows a calm demeanor.

So there you have it. Simple, right?

It’s a matter of consistency and compliance from all who enter the home. But isn’t having Rascal greet everyone nicely instead of rambunctiously worth it?

I’m betting it is for most of the people who visit!

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