Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Not To Greet A Dog

When you walk into the house and see those sweet eyes of a puppy, it's easy to start the baby talk and the face smooshing. That's why she's there at the door, right? She wants the love and attention as much as you want to give it, right?

Maybe, but this kind of human behavior is what makes puppy behavior go terribly, horribly wrong. It's what tells her that it's ok to jump, run around and bark instead of sitting pretty and waiting for good attention.

Here are just a few ways not to greet a dog:

1. Do not stick your hands out toward her. Imagine how you would feel if somebody walked into your personal bubble with their hands waving in your face. She's already excited you're there, but now she's also a little concerned about your intentions.
Instead, keep your hands at your sides and temporarily ignore her. This will give her the chance to inspect you on her terms, which is better for everyone involved.

2. Do not lean over and start petting her. Again, even if she knows you, this is a little personal. It's also intimidating to have this tall human towering over her, regardless of her size. (Yes, it's not so bad with Molly because of her incredible height, but this goes for all breeds.)
Instead, ignore her for a few moments when you walk in. It will be calmer for everyone if she can approach you instead of you running for her, no matter how much you want to.

3. Do not squeal, shout or begin baby talk as soon as you walk in the door. No one does this to you - I hope - so why would you do it to a dog? A change in the voice she normally hears will get her more stirred up and more likely to jump, run and bark, which are the exact opposite of what you'd like her behavior to be.
Instead, at the risk of repeating myself, ignore her temporarily. When I get home from the grocery store, for example, I bring in the first bags and ignore Molly as much as possible. (Again, this is difficult because of her size, but I do it anyway.) On the second trip, I'll let her walk to the car with me and I'll give her a little bit of a greeting. As I finish, I'll stop and let her sniff for a minute and give her chest a little rub. This way she's getting used to everything I'm doing and is not overly excited. Usually.

4. Do not offer a dog treats when you first walk into the house. This trains her to think that everybody coming to the door is going to bribe her with food, so she's even more excited to get to the door and see what they brought her.
Instead, wait until she's calm and relaxed again before interacting with her. And then only give her treats for obeying a command. Have her sit for a treat or fetch a toy in return for the treat. You can help train her brain to relate reward with obedience.

With just these few hints, you can create a calm, friendly dog reaction to your arrival. If it's your dog in your own home, you'll be thrilled when she doesn't jump or run away from your visitors. If you're visiting someone else's home, you can be a positive influence on their dogs, showing how much you love and respect their puppy's environment.

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