What’s The Truth About Excessive Greeting?

So if your dog goes bonkers when you get home, he’s got separation anxiety, hasn’t he?

Well, we definitely used to think that was the case. But just because he’s jumping around like a kangaroo when you get home, doesn’t mean he was stressed while you were out.

We mustn’t assume that a bouncy welcome is a cause for concern. And what’s excessive for one dog, might be nothing out of the ordinary for another.

The first thing I ask clients when they tell me about their ‘OTT’ greeter is “What’s the norm for your dog?”.

We need to establish a baseline of how the dog typically greets. Then we can assess whether the greeting after being left alone is excessive and potentially a sign of stress.

Here’s how to do a baseline comparison of his greeting

1. Make a note of what he does when you come back after some time alone. What does he do – bark, jump up, pant? How long does he take to calm down?

2. Say he stayed at home with someone else in the house, (could be family, could be a sitter). You come back. Does he act:

  • Worse than when you leave him on his own?
  • The same?
  • Better?

3. Now consider how he reacts when HE goes out (with a dog walker or family). How is his greeting when he comes home? Use the same scale i.e. Does he react:

  • Worse than when you leave him on his own?
  • The same?
  • Better?

4. This time, think about what he’s like when people he knows (not people in your household, but friends or other family members) come round to the house. Again, using the same scale, when they step in the door, does he react:

  • Worse than when you leave him on his own?
  • The same?
  • Better?

If he always greets more excessively in scenario #1, there’s a good chance it’s caused by the stress, or even the panic, of being home alone.

And in which case, the best way to tackle the greeting is by working on his anxiety.

If your dog isn’t stressed on his own, and he's just the super-excitable type, then you can try other tactics.

These might include:

  • Teaching him a rock solid sit or down – he can’t jump while he’s doing one of these!
  • Setting him a task, like finding a toy, or picking up your shoes and helping you put them away.

We used to think that ignoring your dog was the best way to calm him down.

But if you’ve ever tried to do that, you’ll know

a) how tough this can be when your dog acts really giddy,
b) that ignoring him doesn’t seem to make much difference and
c) it’s hard on you too when you only want to ruffle his ears after not seeing him all day!

Getting him to do something else is much more effective. And way more fun for both of you. After all, isn’t the smile on your dog’s face as you walk through the door, one of the best parts of the day?

So is your dog an excessive greeter? Post up and tell us about him!