I got the chance to chat with Cesar Millan when he was in San Francisco before the holidays promoting his new book Cesar's Rules (and the Swiffer/ Macy's Holiday Pet Adoption Windows) and asked him all about entertaining with dogs at home. Since better behavior is a year-round New Year's resolution for many pet owners, learn his tips that you can try next time you have guests come knocking.
PetSugar: Why does my dog want to jump on new people that come in?
Cesar Millan: Every time something changes with a dog, an object or a human, they become curious. When the new humans come into the environment of the dog, if they don't know how to behave, then that triggers the excitement. The scent and the energy are two different things. The scent creates curiosity 'Who are you? How should I feel about you?' If the human is nervous, excited, tense or unsure, that triggers excitement in a dog.
Learn how to stop this and how to deal with more anxious dogs when you
PS: How can I stop this?
CM: What I always suggest to people, when you come into someone's home and you meet the dog for the first time, this is a universal rule: no touch, no talk, no eye contact. So it looks like you are ignoring the dog but you're actually allowing the dog to see you as calm energy. For the most part, people want a minute of excitement and then they just want the dog to calm down but, when a dog interprets a human as a source of excitement, he's jumping on those people the whole entire time. How can you work with Mother Nature instead of going against Mother Nature? Understanding that animals react to calm energy regardless of species and, in the dog world, it's all about the scent. So the first time they see it, they want to smell it. Stay by the door. No touch, no talk, no eye contact. Once the dog moves away from it, then you can come in. That's the meaning of 'OK, I'm down with you.' When you meet somebody new in your house, you say 'Hi, how are you doing, what's your name and who did you come with?' and then once you become acquainted with the person, then you let them in. We have a process. Our process is ears, eyes; their process is nose. Many people just want to come in really fast and so the dog interprets that as 'I shouldn't trust you so I should block you.'
PS: Now I know what to do when people come over but how do I make sure my guests are on the same page?
CM: I think you should send them an email — 'I would like my dog to maintain a certain state of mind or behavior. This is what I would like for you guys to do. This is the gift you can do for me.' What I know is that when you involve people to help you, they want to do it. Tell them what to do . . . they're not gonna do it.
PS: How do I minimize anxiety for dogs that don't like company?
CM: It's even better for that dog to be ignored because it allows him to even become curious about people. Dog lovers want to touch every single dog, they want to look at every single dog and the dogs who are unsure, insecure of people or shy, they would just become even more afraid of them. He wants you to give him time so he can do it on his own. That builds self-esteem in that dog. You can use holidays or company to build self-esteem for your dog if everyone is willing to do whatever is best for him. If you give affection to a fearful dog, you nurture fear, you didn't get rid of his fear. We need to become aware that it's not what we want to give, it's what he needs from us. There is no knowledge behind instincts, it's all reaction. We have to remember that they don't rationalize.