This is how to work on polite greetings when you’re out and about with your dog

Man stopping to pet woman's dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dogs are often very sociable animals. You’ve probably seen either your own pup try to approach people, be they strangers or otherwise, on walks, or had other dogs say hello to you while you’re out and about yourself.

If you have a friendly dog who loves to introduce themselves to others, that can be great! However, it’s important that your pup greets people politely, and that they know they can’t approach people all the time. Not everyone likes or is comfortable around dogs, and if your dog says hi to absolutely everyone they meet, it’ll take you all day to finish your walk!

So, what can you do? Fortunately, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has offered some advice in a recent Instagram post. Why not grab some of the best dog treats, and begin putting it into practice?  

“I strongly recommend limiting your dog’s interactions with people out and about,” Goodman says. “Letting your dog go up to everyone they see can make them way more interested in everyone else than you, which can create other challenges.”

Goodman says that the dog in the video, Georgie, has a lot of friends in the neighborhood. As he has quite a mellow temperament, Goodman explains that she’s just “fine-tuning” how he greets them. 

“Petting is kept to a minimum so he doesn’t get overexcited,” she says, “And he is rewarded any time he chooses to pay attention to his mom.”

By rewarding your pup when they decide to pay attention to you rather than other people on walks, you’re teaching your dog not to expect too much from others – and showing them that other people just aren’t that exciting compared to you! (Here are 15 helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off-leash walks, just in case you do need to get your dog to pay attention to you again!)

Sure, your dog can say a quick hello to people you pass on a walk, but they should be comfortable amusing themselves if you bump into somebody and have a chat, preferring to engage with you over the other people present. 

If you do let your dog greet someone, Goodman emphasizes the importance of working your pup through the interaction. You don’t want to undo your training when faced with a real-life experience, and a chance to put the things you’ve been working on into practice. 

And if you think a situation might be too challenging for your dog, don’t put them in that situation. It’s fine to keep working on things at home for now and just not interact with other people on walks – you can always politely tell someone that you can’t stop for a chat, or for them to fuss over your dog. If there’s someone you do need to speak to, there’s no harm in leaving your dog at home when you have the conversation. 

When some dogs greet people, they can jump up at them. If this is something you’re dealing with, you might find this article useful: I tried everything to get my dog to stop jumping up, here’s what actually worked

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.