You had me at Hello!

Teaching an energetic, friendly dog to greet people politely can be a difficult training challenge. It’s tough to get your dog to listen when they’re in full-blown “look at me, pet me, pay attention to MEEEE!” mode!

One strategy that I’ve found effective is giving your dog something to DO rather than telling them what NOT to do. In addition to or instead of “NO!” or “OFF!”, try teaching them an ABC – Alternative Behavior Cue. This cue will be something that they enjoy doing AND is incompatible with the act of jumping up on people, such as “Sit” or “Down”.  

Or you can get a little more creative and teach them to wave….

The attached video was shot after working with these three “Little Rascals” for about 15 minutes. Each of them already know “Sit” and “Shake”, so I built on those behaviors to add the beginnings of a doggie wave. The verbal cue is “Hi DogNameHere” and is accompanied by a wave hand signal. 

Forewarning: the video is a little over 2 minutes and completely unedited, so all FOUR of us make some mistakes. Some things to watch for:

  • Zach offering his “roll-over” move instead of trying this newfangled thing that he doesn’t quite understand yet!
  •  Snickers being her sassy, class-clown self and trying to distract the others!
  • Oscar being the model student, watching intently and even offering a wave when I was working with Zach!
  •  Me not even noticing Oscar’s offers until I watched the video!

Admittedly, a group lesson isn’t the most conducive environment for teaching a new behavior and each of these dogs will need individual follow-up and proofing to make this a solid cue for their repertoire. However, I still think they all made a pretty good start of it today!

And last but not least, Jackson wanted me to say that he also learned this cue in those 15 minutes but is too cool to be in the group demo! (and he takes up too much space in front of the camera!)

Posted on April 1, 2014 and filed under General Training.