Training Your Dog to Meet New People

>> 10/31/09

Most dogs love attention so they have a natural desire to seek out new people who might provide more attention. While it might be cute to see your dog excited to meet someone new, it can be quite terrifying for the other person. Remember it’s hard to tell an aggressive dog from an excited one, especially for people who don’t know that much about animals.

For this reason, you need to teach your dog the proper way to meet and greet new people. You don’t want to stop him from meeting people. After all, this is a critical part of healthy socialization. But you do need to teach him the right way.

Meeting New People at Home

When a new person (new to your dog – not necessarily to you) visits your home, your dog might have a couple of different reactions. Some dogs are a bit threatened by the presence of a stranger so they may bark or seem a bit standoffish. Other dogs are eager to get to know the person so they may rush forward seeking out attention.

In both cases, you need to establish proper etiquette. First, you should have your dog sit and stay before you open the door for the new visitor. This is something you’ll need to practice a great deal. Staying will be a huge challenge for any dog in this situation. Just remember to practice and reinforce your desired behavior with treats and praise.

You should also instruct visitors not to have any contact with the dog – not even eye contact – until they have gotten comfortable in the house. At that point, you can release the dog from the stay command. If the dog is too excited or too forceful in getting attention, make him sit and stay until he calms down. Make sure your guests never give your dog attention until he is calm so they don’t accidentally reinforce a bad behavior.

If your dog barks at the guest, make him sit and stay. If he continues to bark, take him out of the room until he calms down then bring him back out. Again, don’t give him any attention until he is calm.

Try to bring over as many visitors as possible so you can practice these activities a lot and so your dog can become socialized with as many new people as possible in the home.

Meeting New People on the Walk

Dog walking is a great activity for meeting new people. If you go to the park, for example, don’t be surprised if people are eager to pet your canine companion at least once or more during the excursion.

The excitement of the other person, particularly if that other person is a child, can really excite your dog and cause him to be a little too energetic about getting attention. However, you must stick to the same type of routine as described above.

Make sure your dog is in a calm, sit and stay position before allowing anyone to give him attention. You may have to ask the other person to wait, of course, while you do this. Don’t be embarrassed about the time this takes. Your responsibility is to your dog and making him well-behaved not to the rest of the public to let them pet your dog on command.

Jumping Up on People

One of the most dangerous greetings dogs can give in an excited state is jumping up on people. You don’t need a very large dog to knock someone over when the dog is coming at full speed and the recipient of the greeting does not expect it.

You can teach your dog not to do this, and new people not to allow it easily.

When the dog is preparing to jump, the person simply turns around so their back is facing the dog. They don’t say anything to the dog and do not make eye contact with the dog. Because no attention is given, the dog quickly loses interest. At this point, you can make him sit and stay so he can receive the attention he wants.

If you don’t mind your dog jumping up on you at some points, you can train them to do it on command. This will actually reinforce your rule of not jumping on people because the dog will only do it when asked if you practice consistently.

Author Resource:

David Beart is the owner of the Our site covers pet related topics from cat and dog information to raising tropical fish and caring for birds.

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