Thursday, July 28, 2011

Conflict regarding Greeting People

We talked about this at training yesterday and it's been a constant source of....conflict... for me.

How should young and enthusiastic dogs be greeting people?  If the dog is super enthusiastic and it ultimately best for them to be meeting and socializing? Will enough of that calm them down...eventually? Or do we want them to be primarily in work mode?

From when Griffin was 10-18 months (or so)...we tried different ways to get him greeting appropriately. Sit for treats from strangers. Strangers being still if he jumped. People leaving if he jumped.  People walking closer if he was sitting.  He got more and more and more frenzied.

Since then... for the most part, he's not allowed to socialize with people. If we're in public we stay far enough away that no one will ask or we are so focused that people are not likely to ask. If they do?  We're in a hurry, maybe next time.  I'm not willing to bet $100 Griffin will greet calmly and I don't want to compromise his training. I also don't want him to be very distressed about the greeting.

When we do camp and events.... he is great being pet by the kids. Because he is working.  He's watching me, or getting a pet and turning back.  If one kid came over...he did try to jump up and be all over the kid.... but if there were many and the kids were training him or if I was right there?  Work mode.

Greeting people just isn't something we allow happen (same for greeting dogs when on leash). If greeting people happens, we try for it to be completely work, serious, focus on me... (or we try. There are moments where I misjudge!).

We are seeing measurable progress. He's much improved since we took away the greeting. The thought that he  might get to greet had been taking over his head.....and that potential exciting event was just too much.  But now he knows exactly what will happen and the interactions are less stressful for him, me, and the people.


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I've taken that approach with my dogs and I really like it, especially the difference when I'm teaching puppies that from the start. They're still being "socialized" but from an approach that tall men, young children, etc are more like furniture too be ignored rather than sources of treats and petting. The other people generally don't like it since when I do allow them to pet my dog they do so with my dog offering me the eye contact instead of them.

Kristine said...

This is such great advice. We've been working on polite greeting since the very beginning. When Shiva was dealing with reactivity, I generally never allowed anyone to get close. But now that she has conquered many of her fears, I tend to not mind so much if strangers try to greet her. However, we now have a big problem of her jumping on almost every single person who stops to say hello. It's why we failed the Canine Good Neighbour test.

Perhaps it's time to go back to the beginning.