Dear Miss Behavior: Recently my husband and I adopted a young dog from a local shelter. He’s such a nice dog, and surprisingly well mannered. We frequently go away for the weekend and on short vacations; we like to take our dog with us. Raleigh loves going and travels well. He also loves people and is sure everyone wants to pet him. He doesn’t jump up on people, and seems to know to be gentle with small children, yet many people seem annoyed by his friendly approach. How can I help Raleigh get over being so outgoing?
I’m so glad Raleigh loves people. You don’t need to make him less outgoing; you need to teach him when it’s okay to approach people. Teaching Raleigh to walk with you and to sit and stay on command will be a good start.
Keep him on a six foot leash instead of a retractable lead, encourage Raleigh to walk with you by rewarding him when he’s next to you and stopping all forward movement when he pulls. If he’s not rewarded for pulling, he’ll stop. You said he already knows how to sit on command. That’s great; now tell him to stay wait a second or two and then release him. If he moves before you release him, put him back where he was and try again. As he gets the idea, extend the time until he can sit for a minute or two before being released.
When you’re out and about and see a person, have him sit and stay. Then ask the person if it’s okay for Raleigh to approach. Sometimes people are afraid, or allergic to dogs and don’t really want to meet them. Of course, there are a lot of people out there who will be happy to meet and pet Raleigh. If they say yes, then tell him to go and meet them. Since he does doesn’t jump on people you’re half-way there to a great dog. For more help on teaching him to walk with you or to sit and stay, contact Greater Lincoln Obedience Club to sign up for an Obedience Level 1 class.
Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.
If you have a question for Miss Behavior, please post in the comments below and we’ll feature it in a future column.