For most clients, "visitor manners" (what the dog does when a visitor or guest comes in through your front door) are a big goal. And every time I show up at your house, it's a golden opportunity to practice! (Especially since I'm an "exciting" visitor, coming over with lots of treats and fun activities.)
So I'm putting together a more-or-less "standardized" visitor greeting routine which we can follow every time I come over, and that will give your dog so much practice!
If your dog is in training for fearful or aggressive behaviors toward visitors, you can just move on to the next blog post -- for those dogs we will have more customized plans. This one is for the dogs who are just "so excited!"
There are two good options when it comes to polite doorway greetings. Which one you use just depends on your own personal preference, neither is "better." The first option I'll write about is when the dog goes into a sit or down-stay a distance from the front door, and remains there until released to greet the visitor. I am happy to work these steps with you when I arrive, even if the doorway greetings aren't the main portion of our training together!
Here's how it goes:
1) Leash up and unlock your door about 2-3 minutes before I'm scheduled to arrive. The dog can just drag the leash on the ground, you don't need to hold it for now.
2) I will knock at the door. When you hear the knock, cue the sit-stay, down-stay, "go to your mat" or whatever it is you want the dog to do. I will only knock once.
3) Once your dog is either sit-staying or down-staying or is on its mat, move towards your dog and shout "Come in!" so I can hear you. In the early stages you will be heavily reinforcing your dog for maintaining the sit-stay or down-stay, and I will let myself in while you stay close to and work your dog. When you are satisfied with the stay, then do a verbal release ("Okay" or "Say hi".)
4) Trail along behind your friendly dog as he approaches me to greet. If he jumps up on me, step on or pick up that leash, "Oops," and move him away from me. When he demonstrates that he is calm again, the leash can be set down and he can try again to greet.
I'd suggest that you do a ton of practice with the stays around a lot of other distractions so that the dog is familiar with holding position even when something exciting happens. It's also good to practice with other people who live in the household -- they're exciting, but not as exciting as a new person.
Any questions? I'd be happy to practice this with you!
Next blog post will be about another option for greeting visitors -- if you don't really need a sit or down stay, and don't mind the dog greeting the visitor at the door -- you just don't want him to jump up on them!