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Friday, December 9, 2011

Dog Greetings-How To Teach a Polite "Hello"

Nearly every dog gets excited when people come to visit, but some go completely overboard. They run around in circles, bark excessively, or jump as high as they can, leaving dusty little paw prints on your visitor jacket. Even people who love dogs don't enjoy being greeted with so much exuberance. Your visitor will appreciate even less the intrusion of inquisitive noses into embarrassing places.

Apart for walks and meal times, most dogs don't have a lot of high points in their days, so it's not surprising that hey get a little worked up when visitors drop by and liven things up. It's easy to train puppies to greet people with manners, but it's more difficult to teach older dogs to behave more soberly. Not only are they set in their ways but also there may be other reasons for their assertive hello.

In order to understand these dog greetings we need to understand a little about dog behavior. Among people, the most socially unacceptable kind of dog greeting is to have a cold nose pushed into the private place. But among dogs, this is simple the way they do things, and they can't figure out why people get so uncomfortable.  When a guest visits dogs have two things on their minds. First, they are excited about someone new entering the house. Secondly, they are also wondering how this new person will fit into the group, and they aren't quite sure how to respond.  So they display a whole variety of behaviors like jumping up, barking, and nudging in order to test how this new person is going to react to them.

In order to prevent the embarrassing nudge to your guest, quickly distract your dog as soon as you see her make a move. Use the "off" or "no" command and be consistent. An easy solution is to distract your dog as soon as people arrive. Never let One way to do this is to make her sit or lie down straight away. By going into traing mode, you will focus attention more on you than on the new arrivals. When she does what you tell her, give her a treat. Soon she will learn that acting calmly and following commands gets her something good to eat. It will reinforce a desired behavior when visitors arrive. Once your dog has calmed down and is sitting quietly you can let her satisfy her curiosity by sniffing your guests' hands.

When Ashley was young I had friends willing to help me with training stop by so that we could practice this. At first she would get so excited that following a "sit" command was just not working. So, I learned to put her on a leash before opening the door to guests. This gave me a little more control while we worked on the behavior. If she still had trouble I would stand on the leash so that she was forced to stay in the sitting position. I made sure that a reward was ready by keeping a jar of her favorite treats near the door.

Some dogs catch on quickly. Unfortunately, my Ashley took a little time. Remember to be patient. You want a guest visiting to be a positive experience for your dog. Greeting problems can be awkward because you can't deal with them in private-you can only work on it when someone is visiting. Although, at first, you will feel like you are paying more attention to your dog than your guest, over time you can have friends and guests visit without having to apologize for your dog's embarrassing "poke"hello.

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