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Training To Meet People Nicely


Guest caelanarcher
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Guest caelanarcher

This past weekend, I went to a pet expo near our apartment. Collars, treats, rescue groups, etc. It was an absolute blast, and tons of people took their (very well-behaved!) dogs. Honestly, I'm hugely impressed with how well-behaved everyone was. I was really expecting it to be a hall full of jumping, jostling, barking terrors (mostly because my new neighbors don't believe in training/leashing/cleaning up after their dogs). All in all, a lot of fun. Would I have liked to take Aaron? Yes. Am I glad I didn't? Also yes.

 

There are two things that Aaron loves more than anything else: people, and food (in that order). The food issue we're actually doing very well with; at the pet store, he can walk down the treat aisle and sniff a few things, but not pick them up. "People" is harder though. Whenever someone walks toward us when we're out, Aaron gets VERY excited. He prances, wiggles, and perks up his ears. He tugs on the leash to get to the person, and if they approach to pet him, he gets jumpy. When he gets focused on a person, I can't break him out of it, even with a high-value treat. Distracting him before the person gets close works... up to a point. He'll sit and watch me, until the person gets close enough for it to be too exciting. Then it's back to the wiggling and lunging (which I'm sure can look pretty intimidating if you aren't familiar with him).

 

What's the best way to get Aaron more calm about meeting new people? Do obedience classes usually cover "public behavior"? Is there anything I can do on my own (or with a partner) to make people/crowds less exciting to him?

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Doc was like this when I adopted him, too, hoping to make friends with everyone we met. I suppose when he was in kennels all the people he saw did want to say hello, so he just had to learn that not everyone he met now would be the same. It was especially embarrassing if he tried to jump up at them!

 

In the house it proved relatively easy to change this by asking visitors to cross their arms and turn their backs, ignoring him until he calmed down. Now instead of trying to jump up he goes and fetches his favourite teddy bear to show them. :wub:

 

So far as strangers in the street were concerned, what worked for me was to keep walking at a steady pace and tell him firmly 'uh uh, no pester' if required. I didn't use treats, but if I had I would have given them after we had passed. Instead I would tell him what a good, polite boy he had been. He soon understood that not everybody was to be greeted and has actually become very good at reading oncoming strangers' body language and smiling back at them if they give indications of wanting to say hello!

 

We did some general obedience classes to accustom him to other breeds of dog and generally learn good urban manners and yes certainly this topic was covered. You could also set up friends to encounter in the street, though if Aaron already knows them it won't be quite the same as meeting strangers!

 

Persevere and if Aaron's half as eager to please as Doc I'm sure you'll soon have a dog you can take wherever you please, which will be fun for both of you and also a great advertisement for retired greyhounds... Doc is now a Pets As Therapy dog and over the last weekend showed great decorum while travelling on the train, tube and bus, meeting local children at an open day at our fire station, and helping with a greyhound meet and greet in Harrods Pet Kingdom!

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

You have answered your own question. You say he is fine until they get close, then at a certain point, he cant control himself. Clasic desensitization training. Since you have a pretty good idea of how close is his threashold, then what you need to do is to treat him accordingly. Have strangers get closer and closer, treat for good behaivor, as soon as you loose control and he reacts, then he is removed. You take him away from the stranger and start over. You keep this up until the stranger can stand and talk to you, NOT your hound. You should have the stranger approach you, not your hound for this exercise. Once you get to the point where your boy will not react when the stranger approaches, then have a stranger approach looking at him. Of course you need to find a stranger that will help with this training. But you have the toughest part of the battle won already, you know his trigger and have a good idea of the distance that he looses control. With some patience and training, you will have a nice calm boy in no time.

 

Chad

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Guest jaws4evr

Well a couple of things.. We have an "exciteable" too, and he's improved a TON since we've worked with him.

 

1. a training class i was at had a foundation of having the dog focus on YOU over all else. We started this in babysteps though, without distractions, with easy distractions, with food, squeaky toy, etc... And we've had a lot of success. The temptation is to start trying these techniques right off the bat in your training, which doesn't set your dog up for success. Just because you're unable to break his focus NOW, doesn't mean that you won't be able to with a bit of work with a different motivation/distraction ratio :)

 

2. One thing you could attempt right off the bat, is do not allow your dog to interact with humans if he's worked up. On walks you could start with this, as asking for a sit or whatever calm behavior you want to see, when the person is still a good ways away. As soon as the dog gets too worked up for your liking, immediately turn around and leave. He should learn that getting worked up makes him leave the other human, not go greet it.

 

3. Similarly, if you have a busy bike path, walking path, area with lots of people that are moving, go there and make sure to apply the same idea above. The dog will learn that not all people are going to be greeting him! Right now he probably believes he gets to meet all people, so can't help but get worked up when he sees one. If you teach him by taking him to a walking/biking path where people continue on by without interacting, it could help desensitize him.

 

4. This is a tough one but asking yourself, your friends and family (and strangers, good luck!) to ignore your dog until he's calm will help. I myself am not able to convince our friends to do this, so it's easier said than done. But teaching the dog that people WILL ignore him if he's rowdy, using your friends/family/self as consistent examples, can really set you ahead of the game.

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What worked for me was keeping Arrow on a short leash. When I would see someone coming towards us, I would take the leash and wrap it around my hand until I was right at collar level and when the person got close and I knew he was about to jump up, I held him down firmly saying the word "down" and treat him. He was a huge hugger and it took a while but now all I have to do is say "down" and he will stay with all 4 planted on the ground. It wouldn't have been so bad but he's really big (90lbs. and very tall) so when he would jump up, his paws were on your shoulders.:lol

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Guest GroomerGirl

I see this problem all the time at my work. Dogs enter the salon and are so excited to be there and meet new people they start jumping up on me. As soon as this happens I back away, fold up my arms and turn my back to them. I repeat until they realize that jumping up on me will not get them any attention. Obviously this isnt really something you can do at a store around complete strangers, but it is good at home training for when you have visitors.

Also, removing the dog from the situation helps just like others have mentioned! I remember a time when my friend brought her new doxie puppy over to my home to meet my dog(he is a husky border collie mix,this was before I adopted my grey). My dog was so interested in meeting this new pup he was climbing all over the couch and our guest to get a look at him. Everytime he went nuts we'd put him in the bedroom and shut the door. After he cooled down we'd let him out, he eventually cooled off and could greet our guests in a calm way. Do the same thing when out with your boy. As soon as he gets over excited, walk the other way.

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Guest Giselle

Yes, yes, and yes; I agree with the aforementioned "remove-the-dog" advice.

 

Remove the dog, let him cool down, then bring him back. If he's jumpy, remove him again, cool him down, and then bring him back. You don't even need treats because the reward is being able to greet the human. The punishment is NOT being able to greet him (being removed from the situation). If you do this quickly and briskly, it takes only a handful of times before even the most hard-headed dog gets the idea. You don't have to walk very far away or leave for a very long time. A quick circle usually suffices :)

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