Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xeno-greeting


Xeno defintion: stranger, foreigner, different.

So this fancy word means we are going to talk about appropriately greeting strangers. :) Everyone comes into training class and says 'I want my dog to stop jumping on guests.' And that is great, but what is even better is to focus on what you do want instead of what you don't want. What do you want your dog to do when guests come over? It's much more efficient to teach your dog a desirable behavior than trying to teach them to stop an undesirable one. So choose the type of greeting you'd like your dogs to present to guests. It can be anything you deem appropriate, but decide on ONE correct response and train for that, rather than permitting different behaviors at different times. That'll make it much easier for your dog to learn :). For example, Monday always grabs a toy, for some reason that seems to anchor her to the floor, while Bourbon knows he must sit. You can always use your Go To Mat exercise I talked about in the Unwind post.

I also covered this in my CGC series for Test Item 1 and Test Item 2. :)


You can't expect to change a lifetime habit in a few short minutes; you'll need a systematic plan. Break down the training plan into small pieces to achieve your goals. For example, having your dog sit to meet guests:
  • Start with the basic sit - does your dog perform it reliably with or without distractions and in any situation (and I mean ANY situation)? This behavior needs to be generalized to a wide variety of places and distractions.
  • Then progress at your dog's pace, you want to be sure to continue the training in small increments. Start with having your dog meet one familiar person at a time then progress to strangers than progress to groups. Just remember to take it slow!
  • Remember this is hard work for most dogs, especially for enthusiastic dogs. Reinforce generously and often.
  • If your dog does happen to practice jumping up on a guest, have that guest turn around and walk away where your dog can't reach them (they should still be on leash so you can control the space if needed). You should calmly ask for the sit again and have your friend start approaching, if your dog stands up have the friend stop. Repeat until your friend can approach the dog without it getting up. Most dogs get this after several repetitions :).
  • If you have a dog like Monday, who finds it easier to have a toy in the mouth, just keep a toy by the front door. When a guest comes over, immediately direct your dog's attention to the toy or throw it for them to go get (away from the guest).
  • You want to refrain from shouting at your dog when they jump on you or others. Shouting will just make them more excited and generally cause more jumping up to happen. You also want to make sure you aren't grabbing them or pushing them with your hands. Dogs generally perceive this as playing, a type of wrestling, and it just causes more excitement and jumping up.

Ok, now who is ready to practice some greeting exercises?! Is your dog good at controlling themselves during greetings? What method did you find to work best?

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