How to Train Your Dog to Greet Other Dogs

Medium
6-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Imagine being out on a walk with your dog in your neighborhood, when you suddenly spot your neighbor out on a walk with her own dog. Now imagine being able to walk up to that neighbor with your dog and have a wonderful conversation with her, while your dog waits calmly by your side.

Training your dog to greet other dogs nicely can make walking your dog less stressful since you do not have to worry about your dog pulling on the leash and barking every time he sees another dog approaching. It can also enable you to bring your dog places where other dogs are present, such as pet stores and parks, and it is very important if you would like to pursue more advanced training with your dog, such as Therapy Dog training, Canine Good Citizenship Certification, and off-leash training.

Defining Tasks

Knowing how to greet other dogs nicely is a very important skill for all dogs to learn. Having a dog that knows how to greet other dogs is not only beneficial to you, the owner, but it can also benefit your dog by increasing the number of places he gets to accompany you and by preventing him from getting into dog fights that are due to poor greeting behavior.

Be patient with your dog while teaching this. For some dogs, usually those with calmer personalities, this is a relatively easy behavior to learn, but for others, like those with more excitable personalities, this can be a very challenging behavior to learn and it will take them more time.

The goal is to teach your dog to approach another dog calmly and to interact with the other dog politely and briefly. This is something that benefits dogs of all ages, and the earlier you begin training it, the sooner you can enjoy a polite dog!

Getting Started

To begin, you will need some small, tasty treats that are soft enough that your dog will not choke on them while moving. Something such as freeze-dried meat treats can work well for this. If your dog is not food motivated, a favorite toy or item can also work well.

If you are able to, recruit a volunteer with a calm dog to help you. If you cannot recruit someone, you will need to pick a location where you are likely to see other friendly dogs at various distances from you.

You will need to work at your dog’s own pace. Only increase the difficulty level once your dog is consistently succeeding at the current level. It is important to be patient for this reason, and to practice this several times a week to help your dog to improve.

The Passing Approach Method

Effective
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Step
1
Warm up
Practice walking your dog at a heel beside you, without any other dogs around. Reward your dog with a treat or a toy for paying attention to you and for staying by your side.
Step
2
Pass by
Once your dog is focused on you, have your volunteer and his dog pass you from across the street. Keep enough distance between the two dogs for your dog to remain calm.
Step
3
Reward
Continue heeling your dog past them, and reward your dog for acting calmly, for paying attention to you, and for walking right beside you as they pass by.
Step
4
Decrease the distance
If you dog remains calm, have them pass by again, but this time decrease the distance between you and them by a couple of feet.
Step
5
Repeat
Continue to decrease the distance between you very gradually as long as your dog is remaining calm and attentive towards you. If you dog begins to get distracted, work at the current distance until they are calm and focused again.
Step
6
Greet
Once you are close enough to the volunteer and other dog that the two dogs can almost touch each other, stop and command your dog to “say hi” while giving your dog enough slack in his leash to be able to greet the other dog. Have the volunteer do the same with their dog.
Step
7
Leave
Let the dogs sniff briefly, and then command your dog to heel again and leave. This will help your dog stay calm during greetings and will decrease the chance of fighting between the dogs.
Step
8
Practice!
Now practice, practice, practice with all different types of friendly dogs. Practice in different locations, such as neighborhoods, pet stores, and parks to help your dog generalize his new skills to many new dogs and locations.
Recommend training method?

The Walking Together Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Warm up
Practice walking your dog at a heel beside you, without any other dogs around. Reward your dog with a treat or toy for paying attention to you and for staying beside you.
Step
2
Walk together at a distance
Once your dog is focused on you and heeling, have your volunteer walk his dog parallel to yours from across the street.
Step
3
Reward
Reward your dog with a treat or toy for paying attention to you, acting calmly, and staying by your side while you walk parallel to the other dog.
Step
4
Decrease the distance
If your dog remains calm, then decrease the distance between you and the other dog by a couple of feet. If your dog does not remain calm, then work at the current distance until your dog is once again attentive and calm.
Step
5
Repeat
Continue to decrease the distance between the two dogs by a couple of feet every couple of blocks that you walk. Reward good behavior as you go.
Step
6
Greet
Once the dogs are close enough to each other that they can almost touch, stop and command your dog to “say hi”. Have your volunteer do the same thing with his dog, and allow the two dogs to sniff each other briefly.
Step
7
Keep moving
After the dogs have briefly sniffed each other, command your dog to heel, and have your volunteer do the same to his dog, then continue the walk with both dogs walking side by side with each other.
Step
8
Practice!
Practice this with many different dogs and in many different locations in order to teach your dog how to greet all dogs nicely wherever you go.
Recommend training method?

The Slow Approach Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Warm up
Practice walking your dog at a heel beside you, without any other dogs around. Reward your dog with a treat or a toy for paying attention to you and walking beside you.
Step
2
Introduce from a distance
Have your volunteer stand with his dog about a hundred feet away from you, where your dog can see them.
Step
3
Reward
Reward your dog for paying attention to you, for remaining calm, and for sitting.
Step
4
Movement
Take a step towards the other dog. If your dog stays calm and remains beside you, reward your dog with a treat or a toy. If your dog barks or pulls, then turn back towards the direction that you came from and take a step away from the other dog.
Step
5
Repeat
When your dog is calmly standing by your side, repeat taking a step towards the other dog. If your dog remains calm, reward your dog and continue to take more steps, one at a time, towards them.
Step
6
Take it slow
If your dog begins to bark, pull on the leash, lunge towards the other dog, or get too excited, take one step away from the other dog and wait until your dog calms down and is acting politely before taking another step towards them again.
Step
7
Greet
Once your dog is close enough to the other dog to almost touch him and is acting calmly and politely, tell your dog to “say hi”, and instruct your volunteer to do the same to his dog, then allow the dogs to briefly sniff each other.
Step
8
Keep it short
Once the dogs have sniffed for a couple of seconds, command your dog to heel and leave. Keeping things brief will help your dog to remain calm, and it will decrease the chance of the dogs fighting.
Step
9
Practice!
Practice this often with as many different dogs as you can, and in as many different places as you can, to ensure your dog will know how to greet all dogs calmly wherever he goes.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Remy
Kooikerhondje
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Remy
Kooikerhondje
5 Months

Do you have any advice for people who don't have access to a volunteer and another dog to practice on a regular basis? We have to walk our very excited, overly friendly puppy in a city every day. We try to get our puppy to sit before greeting another dog he meets, but we can't always prevent the other dog owners from approaching. Then once they meet, even if he was sitting, he goes right into playing and the leashes get tangled. What do we do on walks when there are other dogs present that we can't control?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I suggest joining an obedience class like AKC Puppy Star or Sirius Pup, or any other class that will specifically work on heeling past another dog while your dog pays attention to you. Being part of a class will also give you an opportunity to connect with other owners wanting to practice the same thing. Maybe try initiating getting together with a couple of them outside of class and practicing the exercises extra times together. You can also look on places like meetup.com, or local dog groups on Facebook that get together to practice things like walks and training. Many dog clubs offer dog training classes for less. See if one of those classes practices the calm greetings by calling and asking. To prevent other dog owners from coming over to say hi uninvited - and undoing your training, you can tell people that's he's in training or you are working right now. You can also get him a vest that says "in training" to deter people from bothering you when you don't want them to. If they ask about petting him, explain that you are working on calm manners and ask them to help with the training and feed him treats if he behaves, so that he is only rewarded when he is being calm. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Monty
Mastiff
7 Months
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Question
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Monty
Mastiff
7 Months

My dog doesn't understand other dogs social cue's. He's been going to the dog park every week since he was 3 months old however he doesn't understand a dog doesn't want to play when they growl or bark at him. How do I correct this behaviour?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Blake, I suggest teaching Monty the "Out" command - which means get out of the area. "How to Teach the Out Command": https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Many dogs who are pushy and have been socialized do understand when a dog doesn't want to play but they simply act rude and pushy to try to coax the other dog into playing. Its essentially a dog's version of bad manners - opposed to a lack of understanding, which some dogs who are not socialized do struggle with. If this is the case with your pup, then working on the Out command and practicing recalls around other dogs on a long leash (or vibration collar if needed due to his size), practicing commands that increase impulse control, and practicing calm interactions around other dogs can help his attitude. I suggest teaching a Down-Stay or Place command and practicing around friends' dogs, working on Out and practicing it around friendly dogs in your own yard (not the dog park because confinement with leashes can cause fights), practicing a structured heel, a Leave It command, and other commands that require him to be calm and self-controlled in general, so that he will learn that skill in life and be better able to stay calm in exciting situations. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Staying in open crate: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Leave It method - work up to harder things to really improve this: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would avoid the dog park for a while right now, and instead join a dog walking group where he can practice structured walks around other dogs, or an obedience class where he can practice things like a Down-Stay next to a lot of dogs. You want to continue socializing him with other dogs, but you want those interactions to be structured and calm for a while so that he learns better self-control and respect for their space. Look online and see if there is a dog walking group that goes on walks or hikes together somewhere nearby, or an obedience club or training facility with low cost group classes for intermediate or advanced obedience (the level will depend on his current training). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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