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Dog Behavior: Tips to Train Your Dog for Social Situations

Dog Behavior: Tips to Train Your Dog for Social Situations

Some dogs are exuberant and excitable—always anticipating the next wonderful thing or new person that they’re going to encounter, and sometimes they get a bit out of control in the process. Other dogs struggle with fear and timidity, and shy away from new situations and unfamiliar people. Help your dog to be on her best behavior in social situations by following these tried-and-true-tips for social success.

Be successful in the art of greeting people

You might think it’s cute when your dog greets you by jumping on you and licking your face, but guests in your home might not find the behavior quite as endearing. Teach an over-exuberant dog to behave respectfully by training her to politely greet people—not lick, nip, or jump up. You may have to instruct your guests to greet your pet in a calm, low-key way that won’t encourage your dog to increase her level of excitement.

Overcome fears

You may automatically assume that boisterous dogs are more prone to socialization problems, but fearful dogs may have socialization issues as well. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition to fear people, while others are fearful due to traumatic events, inadequate socialization or medical problems.
Help your dog to overcome her fears by exercising patience and understanding. Never force your dog to greet someone of whom they are afraid. Instead, let your dog take the first step while the new person pays no visible attention. If your dog is allowed to investigate the new person without enduring lots of attention or a frightening experience, it can help to alleviate her fears.

Teach good manners

If you’re serious about improving your dog’s behavior, consider enrolling her in classes designed to teach polite behaviors. A professional dog trainer can provide valuable guidance and advice for solving behavioral problems.
You might also want to check out the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program offered at Petco, which is designed to “reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community.” The program is open to purebred and mixed-breed dogs alike, and teaches important aspects of polite behavior, including sitting politely, accepting friendly strangers, walking through a crowd, and other valuable skills. Dogs who pass the 10-step testing process receive official CGC certification.

Interact with other dogs

It’s one thing to teach your dog to behave around people, but it’s not always easy to teach her to behave around other dogs. After all, what’s more fun to an excited dog than the chance to interact and play with another excited dog? Because of this increased level of enthusiasm, it’s especially important to watch for problem behaviors such as pulling, barking, and jumping, or aggressive behaviors such as lunging. Always take introductions slowly and evaluate your dog’s reaction to the new dog while both pets are safely restrained at a distance from each other. If both dogs seem comfortable, playing should take place off leash in a safe area. Reinforce positive behaviors and keep the play dates short.

If you train your dog to behave with polite manners in all types of social situations, you’ll ensure that they’ll be welcome around your family and friends, and in your community.