The holidays are just around the corner and now is a perfect time to work on your dog’s manners.
Greeting holiday guests calmly and politely can be quite the challenge for many dogs and a potential source of embarrassment for their owners. No one wants their dog knocking over a friend or family member.
So how do we help Fido learn to greet guests like a perfect host? To begin, it is important to understand that your dog is probably really excited to meet new people. To set your dog up for success, make sure you help him burn off any excess energy. A tired dog is a good dog. For many dogs, a calm walk is not enough exercise to tucker them out. Try games that encourage your dog to run (like fetch).
When you have drained your dog’s energy, it is time to start working on holiday manners. The best way to get your dog to greet guests with all four feet on the floor is to teach him that sitting is the proper way to say hello. A dog that is sitting is not jumping up. Start by reviewing the sit command with your dog. If your dog does not know sit, you can quickly teach him by putting a treat in front of his nose and moving your hand up toward the ceiling and slightly backward (toward the back of the dog’s head). When a dog’s nose moves in this way, they will naturally sit. When your dog sits, give him lots of praise and reward him with the treat. Review this command with your dog until he sits consistently on cue.
The next step is to practice with another person. At first, it is best to practice with someone the dog already knows. This makes it less exciting for the dog. To start, instruct the other person to stand across the room. Put your dog on a leash and ask him to sit. When he is sitting calmly, ask the other person to approach. If your dog gets up, instruct the other person to ignore him and walk away. Ask your dog to sit again. Repeat as necessary until your dog can sit politely for the greeting. If your dog is struggling with this step, you may need to practice sit with the other person in the room before they attempt to greet him.
When your dog can maintain a sit while the other person approaches, then he is ready to greet!
Instruct the other person to give your dog plenty of attention and praise. This is his reward for sitting. If at any point the dog gets up, instruct the other person to ignore the dog and walk away. The goal is to teach the dog that sitting nicely gets him lots of attention, but getting up does not. It also does not give the dog the opportunity to jump up. A dog that is sitting cannot jump. With enough practice, your dog will learn how to greet holiday guests politely.
If you do not have time to prepare your dog for guests, or if you find that your dog just can’t contain his excitement on the big day, don’t worry. Put your dog behind a baby gate or exercise pen until he his calm. When the dog can sit calmly on the other side of the gate, then he can be released to greet your guests.
This article was provided by Cobber’s Pet Pantry, 1415 Blake St. in Enumclaw. The shop can be reached at 360-825-7387. Website: cobberspetpantry.com.