The number one rule for training your dog: be consistent. Seems pretty obvious, right? Imagine you are training your girl Petunia to stop charging your guests as they come in the door. She's a friendly girl; she loves to kiss them right on the smacker. Not everyone's favorite greeting, even for a dog lover. To amend her behavior, you make her sit calmly when the doorbell rings and wait patiently for the guest to come through the door before nicely greeting them with a wagging tail and maybe a small lick on the hand.
Now, imagine that your Aunt Sue stops by, comes through the door and squeals with delight when she sees Petunia. She throws her arms open wide and calls to Petunia to come and give her a hug. She encourages Petunia to go ahead and jump up for a kiss. What kind of message do you think Petunia is getting via these mixed signals? Not a clear one, that's for sure. It is absolutely essential for successful training to be consistent. So how do you maintain correct greeting etiquette without hurting Aunt Sue's feelings?
Start in the Home
It's not easy training Petunia and getting everyone else in her life on board, but if you want her to behave well all of the time, you need to make it happen. The most urgent thing to do is to get everyone in the household on the same page. If you and Petunia live alone together, job done! If there are others in the house, make sure they understand what you are trying to do with Petunia and ask them to go along with it. Any time you try a new behavior routine or a new command, share it with the rest of the family so they can use it as well. For example, if you are teaching Petunia to come to you by saying "here", but someone else is telling her "come", poor Petunia is going to get confused. Choose the commands and make sure everyone is using them.
Training Aunt Sue
That was the easy part, now it's time to get your occasional guests to play along with training. Aunt Sue clearly adores Petunia, so the key to getting your way is to ask her to get involved. Tell your aunt that you are working on training certain behaviors in Petunia and that you would love it if she could help. This way, you make Aunt Sue feel special rather than berating her for encouraging bad behaviors in your dog. Set up a time for her to come over and show her all the different commands and training techniques that you are using with Petunia. Aunt Sue will feel like she has a purpose when it comes to Petunia and will not only be willing to use your training methods, but will be excited to do so.
What about the rare visitors or the strangers you meet on the street? With these, you may just have to live with a few inconsistent moments. If a little girl runs up to hug Petunia in the park, you're hardly going to lecture her on proper dog training are you? As long as Petunia is not going to hurt anyone, these little missteps should not hinder your training efforts too much.
On the other hand, if you are training her not to jump on people because she has a tendency to knock down and accidentally hurt small children and frail old ladies, you should intervene. If someone approaches you when you are out for a walk, politely stop them and explain that Petunia can be a little too enthusiastic when meeting new people. Show them how to approach her and eventually Petunia will stop her inappropriate jumping.