Greeting your dog calmly

When we greet a dog, whether it is arriving home or on the street we want to aim to create calm and positive associations. Overexcitement often leads to jumping up, while ignoring them can often lead to them becoming desperate for feedback. Dogs want and need feedback in order to feel safe, secure and to able to predict what is about to happen next. By giving them them the information of what we would like from them when saying hello, we can create a calm and consistent routine for our dogs to take comfort from.

  • When we arrive home, pick up treats before going to greet the dog - we are going to use these rather than interaction (stroking and hugs) for a reward in these moments- they bring more focus and clarity.

  • Approach the door or where the dog is and gain their attention with the food rewards.

  • Remain standing upright (avoid bending over or crouching down) keeping the treats out in front of you at hip height in your hands.

  • Stand still, ask the dog to ‘sit’ – giving the dog a known behaviour rather than telling it what not to do such as ‘get down’ or ‘stop it’

    • When we are asking them to ‘sit’ what we are really doing is using a known behaviour to gauge their arousal levels. If they are over stimulated they will not be able to complete the behaviour and are not ready for us to continue. If they are calm then then will, and they are ready for us to come towards them. What we are really asking is:

      • Can you hear me?

      • Can you process the information?

      • Can you complete the behaviour?

      • Can you settle into it?

  • Once the dog is sat say ‘good’ but reserve the treats until the dog has settled fully, we are waiting for:

    • The paws to stop fidgeting

    • The head and shoulders to stop swaying

    • The eyes to be able to concentrate

If our dogs learn that sitting is the fastest way to gain your attention and interaction, it will find sitting more rewarding than anything else. Jumping up will decrease, confidence will grow and the relationship between you and your dog will develop. Below are some tips on what to avoid to help keep the consistency.

  • Avoid giving the dog the treat and then immediately putting your hands in their faces and personal space, this will overstimulate them again immediately.

  • Avoid continuing to move into the home when the dog is over stimulated. The movement will increase their arousal level and compound the problem

  • Avoid harsh reprimands, this will create fear and compound the heightened state of arousal it may have already learned while greeting people. While the dog may stop jumping up at yourself, it will continue to do so with guests and other family members.