Restrictions are being lifted! We can start to eat outdoors at restaurants, gather in small groups, venture out to parks and enjoy recreational activities. For many dogs, this is the first time they’ve been around new dogs and people in months.
But how should we handle our dogs as we venture out into the world again?
The key to getting your dog to be calm and quiet and polite when meeting new people, is to get them to be calm and quiet and polite in the presence of new people first. So often when owners start exploring with their puppies, and inexperienced dogs, the dogs are put in situations that are above their training level. This is a common one.
How can we get our dogs to be calm when a stranger gives them attention, if they can’t keep their cool when a stranger simply walks by?
We instruct our students to use training exercises to calm their dogs down before allowing them to greet, and to put the greeting behavior on cue so they can give their dogs permission to greet when it is appropriate to do so. Those instructions usually come with a disclaimer about people not respecting boundaries, and not being able to resist temptation when faced with a dog in public. The disclaimer warns our students to be prepared to stop people if they try to force interactions their dog before their dog has accomplished their training goal.
Now however, we have been given a gift! OK, sure, it may be a gift we didn’t want, but it is a gift nonetheless.
For the first time in the history of dogs, we have the opportunity to socialize till our hearts’ content, without having to worry about people approaching us or our dogs. This is a dream for reactive dogs, shy dogs, owners of exuberant dog, and dog trainers everywhere.
Strap on your mask, pack up your dog, and go find some parks and open spaces to practice ignoring people (and dog) distractions! We might not get this chance again.
When your dog has mastered socializing at 6 ft, we will have a really solid foundation to build on. THEN we can worry about our dogs behaving while greeting strangers.
In the spirit of remembering the good old days when we could practice greeting behavior in close proximity to other dog and handler teams, the LFL Day Training dogs worked on that very thing last week at school.
Check out the Day Training Enrichment Program if you’d like your dog to train with unique dog and people distractions everyday!