Top 5 Tips for Dog-People Greetings

It’s holiday season and that means lots of visiting and visitors. Follow these tips so that your dog is welcome to say hi to anyone on the street or at home.

1. No pulling to say hi. The goal is a polite, composed greeting, so it won’t do to rush in like a sled dog crossing the finish line at Iditarod. Insist on a loose leash approach. If your dog strains at the leash, change direction for a few steps and then try approaching the person again. Give it three tries, then, if there’s still rampant leash pulling, abandon this attempt and try again with someone else later or another day.

2. Four on the floor. Insist that your dog says hello with all four paws firmly planted on the ground. If he has been learning obedience, this is the ideal time to ask for a sit—it’s always better to proactively ask for a behaviour that is incompatible with the unwanted behaviour (Fido can’t sit and jump up at the same time) and then reward that, rather than wait and see what happens.

3. If you jump, you lose. Any jumping should result in your dog being walked away. He needs to learn that the only way to get attention is to keep his paws on the ground or sit. Watch your dog closely and try to catch the jump before it happens. If you see his paws start to leave the ground, tell him, “uh oh.” If he aborts his jump, allow him to continue the greeting. If he fails to heed your warning, too bad: he loses the chance to say hi.

4. Don’t force it. Some dogs are social butterflies; others are wallflowers. Let your dog choose for himself who he is. Don’t force him to be petted by unfamiliar people, however well-meaning. There is no rule that a dog must meet your house guests at all. If you think your dog would be happier in a quiet room working on his kong while you celebrate the incoming year then that’s OK.

5. Manage like crazy. That means using things like leashes, crates and baby gates indoors to control where your dog is, especially if he’s a manic door greeter. After your guests have been made comfortable your dog can come out (on-leash) to mingle.

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