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How to Teach the Social Butterfly Polite Greetings

Most puppies and dogs love to meet people. Whether it’s new people, friends or family, the social canine is always happy to see everyone! The trick is to teach your pup the polite way to greet people.  When a puppy or dog jumps on someone and is rewarded with attention – positive or negative – we inadvertently teach them that jumping is a good thing.

Jumping on people can be scary and dangerous. Your pup doesn’t intend for their over-excited greeting to be that way, they just want to get as close as they can, touch you and make eye contact. It is self-rewarding so we need to discourage jumping on people by teaching our dogs the right way to meet and greet people. There are several things you can do to help them learn proper greetings.

1. Low Greetings

Because jumping up is self-rewarding, as stated above they get to touch you and make eye contact; we need to greet our pups at their level. Come in low so that you are at their eye level and pat gently. I usually try to pet my dog under her chin or chest.

By doing the low greetings we are taking away the need to jump.

2. Turn and Ignore

If the low greetings only amp up your pup stand up and turn away. Everything stops when your pup is jumping! There is no eye contact, no verbalization…we ignore until the pup sits. As soon as your pup offers a sit, turn back to them and reward with a treat and praise. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Positive offered behaviours like sitting instead of jumping require positive reinforcement to become the “go to” for your pup.

3. Say Hi

I teach all of my clients to “Say Hi”. This is a great trick for your pup to learn for greeting. Here’s how it works:

  • Start by picking up one of your dog’s front paws (just like you would to teach shake a paw), give the command “Say Hi” and release a treat. Repeat until your dog is offering a paw.
  • Once they are consistently offering a paw for the command “Say Hi” put your hand just out of reach. Your pup will raise their paw. Reward each time they offer the paw.
  • The next step is to stand up, ask your pup to “Say Hi” and when they offer the paw Reward. I use a hand wave as the signal.

Now get out and practice. Make your pup sit and “Say Hi” to everyone they meet. Always praise and occasionally reward with a treat once they are good at this trick.

Practice these simple greetings and you will soon have a dog that knows the proper way to greet humans.

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