GREETING A FAMILIAR PERSON
Up next is a separate exercise that you can use when releasing the dog from his bed to let him greet a guest. Do as much as possible of this exercise. The goal is that even if the person helping you changes during the exercise, your dog will not excitedly charge at the guest. Begin this exercise outside where you have a lot of space. The person helping you should start 10 meters away. If the exercise does not go well, she should return to this 10-meter distance unless otherwise instructed here.
You have your dog on a leash while a familiar person approaches you. Follow your dog's reactions closely. If your dog starts to wag his tail too eagerly, move restlessly, whine or even tries to barge or jump at the person approaching you, your guest should turn and walk away. Your dog's biggest reward, in this case, is getting attention from the person approaching, which will serve as a good reinforcer in this exercise. Nevertheless, you are going to give your dog treats for good behavior so that there is no question for your dog what you want him to do. So, if your dog does not get too excited by the person approaching you, give him a treat while praising calmly. Even if your dog takes it easy when approached by the guest, do not rush through this exercise. Take small steps to make sure that your dog
does not build up his excitement to a point where he can not control it any more, thus failing the exercise.
Concisely: The person helping you starts to walk towards you. For every few steps she takes, give your dog a treat if he stays calm. At the midpoint, so about five meters, the person approaching turns away, even if your dog has remained calm. She goes to a distance of ten meters and starts to approach you again, stopping midway before turning back. Remember to reward your dog every other second when the person is approaching you. Your dog should remain calm in other to get his rewards. Repeat this until your dog does not care about the person approaching.
Here the person helping you start five meters away before approaching you. Again, about halfway she stops and turns back to a five-meter distance, from which she starts to approach again. She stops every time about two meters away from you before returning to the start point. Remember to reward your dog every 1-2 seconds if he stays calm. Repeat this until your dog does not care about the approaching person.
At this stage, the person approaching you starts two meters away from you. When she is right in front of you, she turns and goes back to a two-meter distance. After reaching a distance of two meters, she starts to approach again. Be careful to reward your dog when he stays calm while the person approached you. Repeat this until your dog does not care about the other person getting close.
At this stage, the person helping you starts one meter away from you before taking a few steps towards you. When she is in front of you, she looks at your dog and carefully crouches beside him without touching him. Reward your dog every two seconds as soon as the person starts to approach you. Continue rewarding when she crouches in front of him. Your dog should stay calm during this whole process. Repeat this until your dog does not react to the person approaching and crouching in front of him. If your dog, however, gets even a little bit excited, the person helping you should immediately retreat away from your dog. She can start to approach again when your dog has calmed down.
The person helping you is in front of you, crouches beside your dog and touches him calmly but quickly. If your dog does not get excited, give him a treat while the person touching him pulls her hand away and stands up straight. The second time she crouches beside your dog, she should touch him a bit longer. As soon as she stops petting him, you reward him while she stands up straight. When this goes well, you can start to add a cue when the person helping you is petting him, for example, "be nice". Be careful not to add the cue too early so that the dog does not associate it with the wrong behavior. Repeat this until your dog does not care about the person petting him and you have added a cue to this. You should do at least a hundred repetitions where you say the cue when your dog is getting petted. This way he can start to associate the cue with the behavior of getting petted while staying calm.
You can move on to this stage when the previous one is easy for your dog. At this stage, you need to move back inside. Ask your dog to go and lie on his bed and stay there. You and your guest should move to the couch and sit down. After five seconds, give your dog the same cue you have been giving him outside, for example, "be nice". Unfortunately, there is loud background noise in the videos, so this cue might not be audible. Stretch out your hand towards your dog when giving him the cue. The purpose of this training is to teach your dog to stay calm even if he approaches a guest. For this reason, avoid talking to your dog or otherwise touch him or make movements that might excite him. You want to repeat this stage a lot so that the dog learns to calmly greet a guest after hearing his cue. Be still on the couch until your dog decides to go away. Reward him for deciding to walk away by calmly praising him and throwing him a treat further away.
Move on to this stage when you do not have any problems at all with the previous one. At this stage, we are going to add some noise and movement distractions when greeting a guest. You and your guest should sit on the couch and you give your dog the cue for greeting a guest in an even voice while reaching your hand towards him. When your dog reaches you, you can carefully touch and talk to him. After about five seconds, both you and your guest stop talking and petting your dog and instead look away. Be still until your dog decides to walk away from you. Reward him for this choice by throwing him a treat further away while praising him calmly.
YOU ARE READY
When your dog succeeds in all the previous stages, you can add them all to one big chain of behaviors: A familiar person rings the doorbell and you open the door after your dog has gone to lie down on his bed. Your guest takes off her shoes before she moves to a couch or chair a couple of meters away. Talk to each other for ten seconds before you give your dog his cue to come and greet your guest. Your dog comes to greet the guest and if he behaves calmly, throw a few treats away from you on the floor while calmly praising him. After this, your guest gets up and goes to put her shoes back on before wishing you a good day and leaves, closing the door behind her. Repeat this a lot before you even try to make it more difficult by, for example, changing who the guest is. When you do change the
person helping you, start by doing repetitions outside and remind your dog on how to greet guests. After he successfully greets the new person outside, you can try this stage inside.
Continue to train and reinforce your dog for going to his bed at the sound of the doorbell. This behavior is crucial in this training and you want it to remain a strong one.