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Teaching your dog the appropriate way to say Hello.

Just as important as teaching your kids how to properly act around others, dogs need to learn the appropriate way to say hello to people, as this will inevitably be a part of their everyday life while living as a member of your family.  In fact, I have yet to meet someone who enjoys it when a stranger’s dog abruptly introduces themselves by jumping all over them – talk about HELLO! In short, it is simply good manners to teach your puppy how to properly greet people. This can and should be taught correctly from the very beginning of your training and it is never too late to get started – better today than next week, but next week is better than next month.

When a visitor arrives at your home, imagine what you want your puppy to do… I picture my puppy calmly walking over to the person, sitting at their feet waiting for the person to acknowledge them. In reality, it looks more like this… my puppy excitedly walks over to the person, tail wagging to the point that his little bottom is moving from side to side. He then sniffs their pant leg slightly and plops his behind on the floor looking up at the person as if to say, “Please, please, oh please pet me!” If he really likes the person, his whole body wriggles with excitement as he tries his hardest to remain seated for attention and that is just it – your puppy must learn to sit to be greeted and or acknowledged!

Even though my puppy’s actions may vary slightly from the nice and relaxed version in my mind, my puppy did in his own way exactly what I wanted him to do. There was no jumping, no pushing, no licking… he controlled his excitement and sat, waiting for attention and this is important.

Keep in mind that your dog is a living being with a mind of his own. As he is learning, always remain positive and reward the good, better and best behaviors. I would focus on marking and rewarding the polite greeting of sitting for attention, even though his version of sitting for attention is a bit more excited than what was pictured in my mind and I will continually work on fine tuning it as he gets more experienced; in the beginning making sure to reward his efforts as long as they are in line with what you are wanting him to do.

What if my puppy is too excited?

If your puppy is TOO excited to sit initially, try tossing a food reward AWAY from the person. Your puppy will turn to go get the food. Once they turn back to the person, toss the next food reward away from the person. Repeat several times until your puppy learns the game. Then try getting your puppy to sit to say please for the next food reward to be tossed. This game allows your excited puppy to move while keeping their attention away from the person and all four paws on the ground.

What if my puppy is very shy and timid around strangers?

If you have a puppy who is not so excited about greeting others, that is ok. Try this, each and every time your puppy sees a stranger, turn and walk away from the person as you feed your puppy food rewards. Once you are a distance away where your puppy starts to relax, ask your puppy to “SIT” then start feeding him something yummy while the person walks by at a distance. Continue feeding treats until the person walks by. When the person appears the treats start; when the person leaves the treats stop. If you do this every time your puppy meets a new person, he will come to associate new people with
yummy treats, which is a very good thing!

So, this week, think of how you picture your puppy greeting someone and begin teaching your puppy to do it better! Remember from our lesson on free shaping, you can break the behavior into multiple little steps and reward each one. Use treats to help lure your puppy into the behaviors you are looking for and
keep a leash on him in order to prevent any jumping. As always, to learn more puppy training tips, tricks, tools and techniques visit us online at www.baxterandbella.com today.
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