5 Basic Tips For Introducing Dogs To Strangers
A stranger is just a friend your dog hasn’t met – make a good first impression with these tips for introducing dogs to strangers
Meeting new people is an important part of your dog’s ongoing socialization training. Since every dog has its own personality, the way they react and interact with people in different environments can differ. When it comes to introducing dogs to strangers, you’re in for a variety of scenarios depending on where the introduction is taking place. If it’s at home, your dog may be protective of you and your home. Or your dog could be overly excited to meet new people – jumping up and licking them may translate to your dog’s version of a hand shake.
No matter where you are, you want your dog to be relaxed, calm and gentle when they meet a stranger. We’ve put together some tips on how to make both strangers and your dog more comfortable when meeting for the first time.
You’re in control. If you know someone is coming over to your home, prepare yourself by keeping your dog on a leash. Once the doorbell has been rung, it’s important to correct your dog’s unwanted behavior (barking, charging the door) in a calm but firm manner. Because your dog is on a leash, you’re in control of the situation. Once the stranger is inside, greet them first, making sure they acknowledge you before the dog. Then it’s your dog’s turn. Let your dog gently sniff your guest once they are settled down. After a few sniffs, your dog should feel more comfortable with the situation.
Lots of rewards: If your dog exhibits a behavior you like, reward him! When he is calm, sitting or lying down when a stranger comes into a room, he deserves treats and praise. Even better – let the stranger give your dog the treat. That way, not only will your dog learn that calm behavior earns him om nom noms, but so do nice strangers!
Keep it short at first: These meetings should be kept short, especially if you have an anxious or easily excitable dog. If you’re getting the feeling that your dog is getting aggressive or agitated, take the process slow. He’ll still be on his leash, so you’re in control of the situation. He may need to stay on the leash for the duration of the visit. No matter how anxious your dog is, it is important that you set a good example for him. Stay calm, don’t yell commands and offer lots of encouraging support.
Calming commands: The basic obedience commands of “Sit”, “Stay”, “Off” and “Lie Down” should already be part of your dog’s vocabulary. And it’s not just about commands; it’s also about calming behaviors. Ask your guests not to make direct eye contact with your dog for a minute or two, and approach your dog slowly. Your guest should always direct the conversation to you, especially at first. Your dog will take this as a sign of disinterest, which will help to calm him.
A little space does a lot of good: If you’re in doubt, a doggy gate that keeps your dog securely away from guests may be your best option, at least when you’re getting started. The gate allows your dog to observe the stranger at a safe distance. Once he realizes that this person is harmless, he’ll be more open to an introduction over time.
If your dog exhibits overly aggressive behavior in the presence of strangers, you must bring in a trained profession to correct the issue. Failure to do so could cause serious issues – your dog could bite and seriously injure another person, which could result in a mandatory muzzle or dog seizure by animal control.
What tips do you have to share? What do you do when you introduce your dog to new people? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.