Q: When I get ready to leave the house and when I first come in the front door, my dog is always underfoot. She wiggles her whole body, wags her tail a mile a minute, tries to jump on me, and gives me kisses. More than once, I’ve spilled a bag of groceries because I’ve tripped over her or tried to reach down to pet her in an attempt to quiet her down. I love Katie, but what can I do so that I can come and go without this over-the-top demonstration of affection?
A: Now you know how a rock star or other celebrity feels when surrounded by adoring but obnoxious fans. Katie is doing all she can to deliver canine love your way, even at the sacrifice of some groceries. Her slightly pushy behavior has worked so far in getting what she wants, which is your attention. Here is one way you can redirect Kathie’s enthusiasm to allow you to walk in and out without having to play dodge dog.
Situate a dog bed somewhere near your door where your dog can see you but not be in the way. Whenever you have five minutes and are in a patient mood, call Katie. Have her sit and stay somewhere else in the room while you toss a treat on the doggy bed. Make her stay until you excitedly call out Find your spot! as you point to the treat on the bed. Encourage Katie as she dashes to the bed to grab the treat. Praise her and have her stay on the bed for a few seconds.
Repeat this scenario several times. With each success, extend the time that she stays on her bed. Now, you’re ready to toss a treat and ask her to find her spot and stay there as you head out the door. Give her premium treats when she remains on the bed when you enter the house. Find your spot! works wonders when you greet someone at your dog, leave your dog behind to go shopping, or want your dog not to be underfoot.
In my house, find your spot! generates a lot of anticipation and excitement because Chipper never knows which of her favorite treats she will get until she lands on the doggy bed in the family room. Sometimes, I put peanut butter in a hollow synthetic bone. Other times, I give her a dental chew or a handful of dried turkey treats. We both know the routine. I grab the treats and my purse as Chipper waits on the stairway landing. Then, I call out in a happy tone find your spot! That’s her cue to race down the stairs where she does a triumphant leap onto the bed and happily awaits her surprise of goodies.
I keep a jar of treats in the garage so that before I even come in the door, I can say find your spot! and she will be waiting for me on her bed as I walk in. She knows to wait there until I toss her a treat. I use this command at bedtime, too, to get Chipper to tuck herself in her bed upstairs so I can brush my teeth and wash my face without tripping over her.
For more tips on improving your dog’s behavior, purchase The Dog Behavior Answer Book from Your Dog.