To prevent this embarrassing situation, my favorite “cure” is teaching the dog to go to a special bed or mat whenever the doorbell rings, and stay there until his owner gives him permission to leave. Think Pavlov.
1. Start by placing a nice dog bed or mat about 10 feet from your front door. Pick a spot next to something that can serve as an “anchor” for a leash, which you will attach there as your “back-up”.
2. Elicit the help of your family or friends. Have them ring your doorbell, and before you open the door, take your dog to his bed, give him a tasty treat, and attach the waiting leash to his collar.
3. Tell him to STAY in his bed, while you answer the door. If he gets up, the leash will prevent him from reaching your “guest”, enabling you to quickly put him back on his bed.
4. Before you leave him a second time, SNAP his leash, and softly repeat the STAY on your bed command. Sometimes this correction works with a flat collar, sometimes a more formal training collar is needed. In any case, you are making it clear that your dog’s only and best option is to remain on his bed while company enters. Do this many times and praise him softly for him compliance.
5. Require that he stay on his bed until the excitement of your guest’s arrival has calmed. By then, the dog will be calmer, too, and far less likely to jump. Allow him off of his bed and supervise his greetings. Keep a leash on your dog if necessary. Softly and calmly praise is good manners.
Soon, through these repetitions and the help of your friends, your dog will have learned a new habit (conditioned response) and a new, more acceptable way of greeting your guests when they enter your home. Then you will be ready for real guests and unexpected arrivals. Now, you’re ready for the Holidays!