If I didn't cue "puppy Max" at only 8 months old, he would naturally want to bolt out a door, steal food off of the counter, and generally be a goon on a leash, going wherever his nose took him with no regard for how my body feels. But overtime, and with training, he learned. If I tell him "Wait", and bring all my groceries in, he will sit in front of an open door and wait for 20 minutes if I need it now. If I cue him to walk by saying "with me!", he would pop right back into a great heel position. With learned cues, he's a dream. However, when left to his own devices, to make his own choices, in situations he hasn't been in, he isn't always a dream dog who makes great choices. If you're ever curious, I'd be happy to tell you some fun stories.
Many find that unusual in the moment when I explain some of his anecdotes (his "dog choices" are particularly hilarious naturally!).
But, I would argue all dogs think like this.
I shudder to think where many of Max's "dog choices" would take him, if he made them all on his own (ask me about the sunny day, and the sunroof)! However, he's learned to make the "human choice" a large majority of the time.
Why? Because in our daily interactions, all of these choices were positively reinforced far more times than the "dog choice" was naturally! His natural behavior of barking at the door (the "dog choice" from puppy Max) would become extinct if it never, or almost never worked, but sitting quietly always earned him the freedom of the great outdoors, and the occasional treat. He has simply gained a greater reward over and over again from the "human choice". I chose sit for so many things because it's almost never a problem behavior, and a really easy to understand "human choice" that can apply to so many situations.
When the communication isn't clear, he just doesn't get it and makes "dog choices". Dog choices are what he finds fantastic and rewarding to do in the moment. These include when I haven't taught him a cue, and I expect him to politely walk with me on the beach (the "human choice")--- But "WHAT IS HE DOING? Oh, he's chasing that seagull all over the place" (dog choice), right? My "human choices" don't carry nearly the reward of "dog choices", unless I've taught him with plenty of rewards that they DO. "Dog choices" may change with breeds, drives, and previous experiences in all sorts of situations, but this is where the fun lies in dog training.
Is your dog's "dog choice" greeting to jump up to the face of a human visitor? How do we teach them to get to the "human choice"? We teach them that their "dog choice" of jumping gains no/limited reward (ahem, no instant attention of any sort, pulling them down, and general interaction), and that the "human choice" of sitting politely will get them all the food, us dropping to their level, and plenty of praise/attention. Our goal in dog training is to align the "human choice" and the "dog choice" to mean the same thing.
We continue communicating consistently in our every day interactions to reinforce that the dog choice and the human choice should align. We manage behavior (using leashes, crates, separation from certain stimuli like wildlife as needed) so the "dog choice" doesn't gain a bigger reward than the "human choice" and become a habit. We increase the frequency of the "human choice" gaining bigger rewards than the "dog choice" consistently enough for the choice to become the "only choice" until the great behavior we are looking for is a pattern.
One of my favorite dog trainers used to refer to dogs as our "gullible best friend" and it's totally a great analogy that stuck with me (Thanks, Andre!). They only do what we've taught them to, but they are easily convinced (once we've taught them) that this is the way the world works.
On the plus side, you also don't need to use anything forceful or any real addition of a punishment to teach them that the "human choice" is the right way--- generally speaking. But, that's a story for a different day.