Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.
Does your dog like to say hello to everyone they see, whether it’s the postman, the neighbor, or simply someone you walk past in the street or at the park?
If so, you’re not alone – many dogs just love to be sociable! However, learning that you can’t say hello to everybody can be beneficial for all pups, and learning to ignore, and pay attention to the best dog treats in your hand, is just as important as learning to engage.
Certified dog behaviorist Flurina Stocker, of Canine Sense, has explained why in a recent Instagram post...
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“The number one reason why I don’t let my dog say hello to everyone is exactly because of this situation of people walking past in the background,” she begins.
She explains that she doesn’t want her dog to learn that they need to rush over to everybody they see. Rather, she rewards her dog when she gives her the engagement she’s looking for despite there being other people around.
“This then builds up to your dog having better recall around distractions,” she finishes.
It might seem counter to your instincts – after all, surely you want a friendly, sociable dog who feels comfortable around people? But it’s important to strike the right balance. It’s not about never letting your dog say hello, but making sure that they’re happy to engage and focus on you when you need to.
And remember, even if your dog is the friendliest, most gentle canine out there, not everybody is a dog person, and not every dog is as friendly as yours – here are six reasons why “it’s okay, my dog’s friendly” is the most irresponsible dog owner phrase ever.
One way to think about it is to imagine yourself. Even if you’re an extrovert who loves socializing and meeting people, you aren’t going to approach every single person you see on the street and give them an enthusiastic greeting. And likewise, your dog doesn’t need to do that, either.
Ideally, it’s good to teach this when you first get your dog – particularly if they’re a puppy. But it’s never too late. If you’re getting an older dog, or you want to start training your adult dog to learn to engage with you rather than everyone they pass, there’s no time like the present. Grab some treats, and show your dog that if they pay attention to you they’ll reap the rewards!
If your dog gets so excited to see people out and about they jump up at them, you might find this dog parent’s story useful: I tried everything to get my dog to stop jumping up, here’s what actually worked.
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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.