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 he’s still pulling like crazy, abandon this attempt and try again with someone else later or another day.
2. Four on the floor.
To greet anyone your dog should have all four paws firmly planted on the ground. If she 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. And for goodness sake (!), don’t ask for a sit AFTER your dog has jumped up…you will get a perfect chain of “jump up, sit, get a cookie” and your very smart dog will figure this out quickly.
3. If you jump, you lose.
If your dog jumps up on someone walk her away. Your dog needs to learn that the only way to get attention is to keep all her paws on the ground or to sit. Watch your dog closely and try to catch the jump before it happens. If you see her paws start to leave the ground, tell her, “uh oh.” If she aborts his jump, allow her to continue the greeting. If she fails to heed your warning, too bad: she 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 or strangers on the street at all. If you think your dog would be happier in a quiet room working on his kong while you celebrate New Year’s Eve 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.