Training a Pup to Be Polite

Warmer weather will soon arrive, and there are few things more enjoyable than an outdoor outing on a sunny day – especially with a well-behaved four-legged friend by your side. We asked Karen Quillen of dog daycare and training center All Things Pawssible for advice on how to teach our dogs to have good manners when they join us for a walk. Here are her recommendations:

  1. Teach your dog early on that playing while on a leash is not allowed. This will prevent them from getting over-excited each time they see another dog and thinking it means a play date. Only allow your dog to play when you have removed the leash and told her to “go play.”
  2. Not all dogs like to greet other dogs, so make sure you check with their human prior to letting your dog greet a new friend. Train your dog to wait and get permission to greet, and keep encounters short and sweet. Better yet, train your dog to walk by another dog without engaging by getting your dog to follow the “Look” command, which prompts them to make eye contact with you, whenever they see another dog. Pair this behavior with a tasty treat for best results.
  3. The same behaviors for greeting other dogs can be taught for greeting humans. Dogs should wait politely for permission to say hello, so pulling and jumping cannot be rewarded by allowing them to greet. If your dog cannot be calm, simply walk on without fear that you are being rude. It would be ruder to allow your unruly dog to jump on people.
  4. Please consider a no-pull harness for training rather than a choke or pinch collar. If a dog gets pinched or choked when they see another dog or person they may begin to have a negative association to dogs or people. Leash aggression is the number one reason that I get phone calls. It is a preventable behavior if we take the correct measures early on.
  5. Remember, we cannot expect our dogs to know better unless we have taught them otherwise, and unfortunately we often allow unwanted behaviors without fully understanding the consequences. Teaching your dog what you want from him is not only fair, it works.

Expert tip from Karen Quillen of All Things Pawssible in Charlottesville, VA.