Features May 2008 Issue

Train Your Dog to Greet People

Teach your dog to greet everyone calmly and politely.

Recently, I switched the group class format at my Peaceable Paws Training Center to “Levels.” Instead of a progressive curriculum with new exercises introduced each week, dogs and humans learn and practice a small, fixed set of behaviors until they’re ready to progress to the next level, where they begin working on new skills. One of the Level 1 skills is “polite greeting.” Because it can be a challenging behavior to teach, it’s often the one that keeps a student in Level 1 the longest. Because it’s an important good manners social behavior, it’s also a Level 2 and Level 3 skill. The polite-greeting skill difficulty increases with each level. For Level 1, the dog must sit for greetings and not jump up in at least 8 out of 10 times as someone approaches. For Level 2, the dog sits for greetings, and the greeter pets the dog on his head or scratches under his chin without the dog jumping up at least 8 out of 10 times. In order to complete Level 3, the dog must be able to walk up to another dog and human, with dogs walking on the outside, further away from each other, human on the inside, closer together, as they approach. Both dogs stop and sit while handlers stop, greet each other, shake hands, and walk on. (This is one of the 10 tests a dog must pass in order to achieve a Canine Good Citizen certificate from the American Kennel Club.) Here is you can teach this desirable good manners behavior so your dog will know how to greet anyone politely.

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