We have an English Springer Spaniel puppy. Well she's 7 1/2 months old. She goes berserk when anyone comes in the door! I mean she really loses it! We don't know what to do with her. She's the smartest dog I've ever known, and really sweet, but she just has this problem.
I've heard keeping them on the leash until the calm down and having the visitors (and you) ignore the dog. The first 10-15 minutes is the most excitable time. Once they calm down allow them to greet the visitor but only if they are on all fours or sitting.
Also training them to sit to be patted is a great thing, however this needs to happen once calmed down as when they're in the excitement phase it's nearly impossible to get through to them. It CAN get better with age, but with the dachshunds and springers I've known, they can keep this excitement well into adulthood. So rewarding calm behavior is a very good thing!
It's much easier if everyone in the household is helping too, if not everyone is on board they will be slower to learn or not learn at all.
Excited greeting is a normal canine response for a good natured dog, especially a puppy. Liz is right on with her suggestions. Things to consider......
... Your dog is entering what most pet owners consider the worst behavioral stage of its life. It is becoming a teenager. Instinctually it will "forget" previous commands that it did so well with. It will try out new behaviors, often exactly what humans don't like. It often "won't listen". They may begin to run off. They may challenge you. They may try new crazy behaviors. Not every dog shows the same behavior, of course. But it's the terrible teenage stage where so many owners begin to hate their dog. I've advised hundreds of dog owners to persevere and continue calm training because eventually the dog will come around and they will once again love their dog. But it takes time for the dog to grow up some.
Unless you and your family members take steps to modify her behavior, this berserk greeting ritual will get worse and become established. But training will make a world of difference.
... Your dog is a breed noted for some behavioral problems. Many Springers live up to their name...they spring with energy. Right now your dog is growing an adult sized body but still has a puppy brain, so to speak. So it has all that puppy energy that we think is so cute in a smaller sized body. Eventually her brain will catch up with her body, but that will be a while yet.
...Unknowingly your family may have actually taught and encouraged this excited greeting ritual. The common scenario--- the pup was allowed to run to the door and greet the newcomer when you opened the door, often before you have a chance to say anything. Often the newcomer greeted the puppy before talking with you, because it's so hard to resist a cute puppy especially if you know it. The people loomed over the pup, bending over to pet the pup, triggering an instinctual submissive greeting response from the pup. Some pups at this stage will urinate, "smile", or "give kisses". Often the pup jumps up in order to be pet or give a kiss. All this is cute in a tiny pup and people unwittingly encourage it. We tend to talk louder and more excitedly when we greet friends at the door. We hug, we kiss, we shake hands, all signs of excitement.
It isn't long before a smart dog knows the cues. Door bell rings and they run to the door. As time goes by they get more and more excited. Owners now get upset and either speak loudly, shout, yell, act jerky jerky swatting things, swatting the pup....all of which serves to increase the excitement mood going on. It all just reinforces in the pup's mind that it's a time to get excited and greet people.
Your job will be to break the cycle. First step is to get everyone in the family to agree reconditioning needs to be done.
The first step is to work on some basic obedience training. If you can do this on your own, great. If you need advice or help, enroll in a local dog trading course. Tell the instructor what your goal is. Practice basics......sit, come, walk on a lead, down. Even training cute tricks will help, like shake hands, play dead, rollover. The idea is to establish communication and have your dog look to your for instructions. Mix it up sometimes so the dog doesn't anticipate what's coming next or get bored by the routine. When I would work with a dog who can't focus upon the owner or listen to a command, I like to walk them about in a lead. Over and over again I abruptly change direction, change speed, stop & go, always keeping their dog guessing. If the dog is struggling to walk reasonably in a lead, I'll introduce the gentle halter instead of using a collar. Sometimes that helps until the dog starts looking to me for instructions. I prefer using a lead and collar because with the gentle halter the dog is often thinking about the halter too much.
Once your dog is under control..... In a week or a month depending upon the dog.....the dog needs to learn how to stay. It needs a good firm stay. I usually would work on a good sit-stay first then introduce the down-stay. But each dog is different. For example, one of my own dogs would never down-stay, but he would sit-stay for an hour if need be. If your dog has too much energy to stay, then make a spot in the house where it can be clipped to that location. Use the stay command when it is clipped there. Say for example, in your foyer by the front doir there is a coat closet off to the side. Install an eyehook there with a very short lead. Practice clipping your dog's collar to the lead and use the stay command. Only for a few seconds to start, but gradually build up to several minutes after a few weeks. Randomly clip her there then release her. Be calm. No excited praise. A simple quiet "good dog" when she is released, if even that. The whole idea is that this is a normal fact of life, nothing to get excited about. I've done this with dogs and randomly mixed up my pre-warning signals and timing so that the dog sees no set pattern as to when it will be clipped, whether it will be praised or not, what time of day it will happen. For dogs that have a good stay command under their belt, I don't bother clipping them to the wall. But youngsters often can't get a solid stay at first.
Once the dog is under some control, listening, looking to the owner for instructions, getting use to staying in the vicinity of the door, then it's a good time to greet the arrival of newcomers with the stay training. Quite honestly, most dogs are ready for this in a matter of days or a couple weeks. In not looking for perfection in staying. In just looking for some control and the dog's attention to me. If they are still wiggling when clipped, that's he fine. I just ignore it. I will next practice having family members or any other uninteresting (to the dog that is) person come to the door. First they will enter without ringing the bell or knocking. Each time the dog will be put on stay briefly. The newcomer will NEVER greet or acknowledge the dog for the first couple of minutes. Then the greeting is a very low key pet on the head or a hi. No more. The dog needs to learn that it is routine to be clipped or on stay everytime someone comes through the door and that it never partake in the greeting until several minutes later. Next the person will ring the bell or knock and wait for you to open the door. Again, everybody is calm and almost bored. Next enlist a neighbor or friend to help with practice occasionally. Again, dog is calmly clipped or on stay, greetings are calm and low key. It may take several weeks with a young dog to get the idea that greeting time is not excitement time. The dog will take its cues from the humans. If the humans speak loud, act excited, so will the dog!
I hope some of these suggestions help. Keep in mind that every dog is different. I can't see your dog or your situation, so I'm just trying to give you someplace to start with the training. But have heart because just about every dog that I saw with this problem improved dramatically with reconditioning.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
I do something alike with my dog, a "tscht"-sound (or a snap of fingers) and a pointing finger, for when the dog should withdraw. The human sets the rules, the dog obeys. It can be done without sound or touch at all, by standing in it's way. When the dog withdraws or lays down, it's alright. (but it should stay withdrawn until you give permission) In fact when people ask what the name of my dog is, i answer: "i only say "come" or "tscht" to it.... but i think she's named (name). But that's just because of people asking what her name is."
Those two commands are used for everything. Everything! (so they are context-sensitive, which the dog figures out)
In regards to puppies (although 7 months is NOT a puppy, just a young dog, in my opinion), they are misbehaved because they haven't yet learned manners from a grown dog primarily, secondarily from a human. They learn a lot by watching grown dogs, grown dogs in relation to human, being corrected by grown dogs or corrected by human.
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