Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sit to Greet

As a dog owner you've probably been on the giving and receiving end of a jumping dog, I know I have. Most people are annoyed when a dog jumps on them even if they're saying it's okay. My Beagle/Basset mix is a jumper and when someone wants to pet her she inevitably tries to jump. It’s not only rude but it's dangerous. The polite thing to do is to ask your dog to sit for the greeter and then allow the person to pet your dog.

Wyatt is my sit to greet star when we're out for walks in the neighborhood. I'm able to give a soft command to him to sit and he immediately sits. Josie on the other hand looks at me with her cocked head and those droopy Basset eyes like she doesn't understand or maybe she thinks her cute factor wipes out her rude behavior. The champions of sit to greet are therapy dogs and if you've ever watched one walk through a hospital they sit automatically when their owner/handler stops. I want my Josie to do that and I know she can because when we're in training class she does. The key for me is to keep working Josie and to stay calm and consistent.

Allowing new people to approach you dog is great for their socialization, but if your dog is a jumper it could hurt the greeter, so when the new person approaches if your dog jumps it's up to you to back away as soon as he jumps. Have the greeter wait until the dog sits before they approach again. It's important not to jerk the leash or force your dog into the sit, let him figure it out. I know from experience it won't take long for your dog to understand that if he sits he gets attention from the new person. If your dog jumps again as the greeter approaches have the greeter retreat in the opposite direction and wait again for the dog to calm and sit before approaching again. When the greeter approaches again and your dog stays seated the greeter may pet your dog if you think your dog is comfortable with the person.

Praise and reward your dog for allowing a stranger to approach and pet him. Sit to greet is also a good time to use your focus command from the Zen Game. One thing I've learned since bringing Wyatt into my life is I always need to pay attention to what he's doing, even if I am talking with someone. That person might think I'm rude, but it's important for the safety of my dog, them and those around me. After all I don't want Wyatt to jump on a passerby because I'm not paying attention. When we're out and about he's my responsibility and just as I keep my kids in line at the grocery store I keep my dogs under control too.

So while you practice your sit to greet be sure to review sit, down, focus and name game. Keep your session’s brief and fun and next time I'll share my release command. Until then Woof, Woof and a Roo!

(Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or behaviorist, I am sharing what has worked for me and my dogs. I strongly advise all owners of dogs regardless of age to participate in positive dog training classes with certified or proven trainers. You can find trainer in your area by visiting APDT.)

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