When you’re home alone, it's easier to ignore some of your dog's embarrassing behavior. But when guests come calling – or even in public?
Whether it’s leg humps or unwanted jumps, you may be left stumped for solutions...and certainly red-faced.
Darlene Arden, animal behaviorist and author of “Rover, Get Off Her Leg! Pet Etiquette for the Dog Who Pees on Your Rug, Steals the Pot Roast and Poops in Improper Places,” offers these tips on changing the five most embarrassing dog behaviors:
You might say to your mortified guest, “You should feel flattered, he really likes you!” But what can you do to nix the behavior?
Enlist a friend’s help to ring the bell, or knock – greeting you but not the dog until his feet and butt are on the floor. With that achieved, your friend can acknowledge the dog with a pat and a happy “hello” and you can reward him with a treat. “The dog will learn that if he sits patiently he will get rewarded. This will reinforce the desired behavior.”
Barking when the doorbell is rung
When the doorbell is rung or there’s a knock at the door and your dog goes nuts, don’t do what we may be inclined to do: “Yelling at the dog to stop increases the barking because the dog will think, ‘Oh! You’re barking, too!’ Keep in mind that dogs are supposed to be sentries, they want to warn us if there is a stranger at the door.”
As you walk toward the door, thank your dog for a job well-done. “Then distract him by giving him a chew toy, chew puzzle or a Kong stuffed with treats.”
Jumping on guests
Jumping up is a normal dog greeting behavior because he wants to greet your face. But in our world, this can be dangerous. “If he jumps on Grandma, Grandpa or a child, they could be knocked down and injured,” says Arden. “The dog must learn to sit for greeting.”
Have friends help you by coming to the door, ignoring your dog until he is sitting. Only when calm and sitting should friends pet your dog and provide a treat. He’ll learn that he only gets the attention he desires when he sits.
Begging at the table
“It’s best to feed the dog when everyone else eats and then have him go to his place — a rug, mat or bed, or an open crate. Then he can be taught to wait there until he gets an after dinner walk. While training, he should be lavished with praise when he does the right thing. And it helps to reinforce the praise every so often when he is doing this routinely.”
Peeing with excitement
This common reaction – called “anxious urination” – can be minimized with some proactive due diligence: “Be sure to take him outside before company comes, so he can empty his bladder. But keep in mind he’ll probably still have some left for the occasion.”
So use the same technique you would use for teaching him not to jump on company. When the doorbell rings or there’s a knock on the door, have him sit and wait to be greeted, ignored until calm. Then reward him.