Greeting Humans on the Street

Again, you'll need to make special concessions if your dog is reactive or defensive in situations involving greeting on the street. Never allow anyone (including your dog!) to be compromised!

Socialization is *everything*. I can't stress that enough.

​The more people, situations, and dogs your dog is socialized to, the more well-behaved she'll be, in *every* situation. Think of it on the same level as you do your children: if you don't take them to restaurants, you'll never be *able* to take them to restaurants -- they won't know how to behave! (Ever seen a kid like this? It's not pretty.) Always try to make sure that only Good Things happen, when trying out new situations... and there are LOTS of ways that you can set up socialization exercises, without running a business out of your home (as I do): take your (non-aggressive) dog to the grocery store, and sit on a bench outside. Encourage people to pet her -- but ONLY after she sits (when she sits, the reward is attention from a stranger). Take her to the mall, and walk her on the sidewalk in front of the stores (there are several Strip Malls here, and I do this with mine. Zoe went with me, this morning. We had a great time!)

​I *start* the exercises by "introducing" the dog to already-known people... use a consistent word, clicker,  or phrase, repeated during the greeting process, to "mark" his response to them in his mind, so that I can later (with strangers) use this same word or phrase to let him know how I would like him to handle the same greeting procedures with *UN*known people. Rally as many of these already-knowns as you possibly can, and invite them in over the first week or 2 (providing, of course, that your dog is responding well to their presence). Try to have several per day (and, it's very good to have several duplicates in this, as it gives him -- and YOU -- "practice time"), and have them repeat the greeting repertoire at the front door several times during their visit. Keep things light and happy, with a constant supply of feedback for him (talk to him! {grin}).

​It happens... you've had a bit of a bad experience, in greetings. It's okay... don't allow this one experience to stop things. Don't seek out new opportunities to take him into public situations, but don't *deny* him opportunities that you would have normally given him, either -- providing, of course, that you can *safely* do so. Again, you'll need to play this by ear... if he's responding well at home, then take him out.

​My own dogs aren't getting much in the way of "public appearances" right now, because of my back problems (NOT dog-related, by the way {grin}), client load, and the heat... but I'm still managing to get them out individually, and an average of 2-3 times each week, by taking them with me on little errands -- the post office, my chiropractor visits (I schedule them for 8 a.m., so that it's not too hot for them to stay in the car). They look forward to these visits, and the little bit of "one-on-one" that they get with me. Allow his responses to let you know what he can handle.

Brenda Rushman, CCBC

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