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.
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!
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.
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?
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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