Pet parents have heard this one many times: “It’s okay, I love dogs!” Guess what – it’s not okay! Here’s how to deal with friendly strangers who undo your training.
You’ve sunk hundreds of dollars into obedience classes for your dog and spent countless hours teaching him not to jump on people. And all your efforts seem to wash away as soon as an overly enthusiastic dog lover crosses your path–arms flailing, baby voice squealing, exclamations of “It’s okay, I love dogs!” as your pup covers the person’s chest in muddy paw prints.
While there’s not much you can do to train the human in this scenario, you have some options to keep your dog under control during a greeting.
First, be prepared for the encounter well in advance. You often get signals that someone is excited to greet your dog well before they reach you; it’s as if your dog has a magnetic pull holding certain people’s gaze and drawing them in for half a block. The moment you see such a person coming, body block your dog. This means if the person is approaching on your left, bring your dog to your right side, shorten your leash enough so your dog won’t lunge in front of you, and be prepared to use your body as a barrier between your pup and the friendly stranger.
From there, you have a decision to make: should I let my dog greet this person? You are under no obligation to stop and say hello to a friendly stranger. Granted, it’s a little cold to ignore someone who clearly wants to greet your dog, but keep in mind that the person won’t think twice about undoing your training simply because they want to pet something fluffy. So it’s perfectly fine to keep a fast, forward pace and walk right past the person, giving a friendly smile and a quick “I’m sorry, we’re training” as you pass.
Make Politeness Rewarding
If you choose to let the person greet your dog, have a plan to keep your dog under control through the encounter. Here is one strategy:
This article ran here at petguide.com.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant and certified dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY and in Southbury, CT.