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We can help our dogs feel calmer around other people and/or dogs on walks if they have a predictable pattern that lets them know they can go say hello. (And that any other time they do not get to interact.)

Teach Your Dog the “Go Say Hi” Routine!

  • When you see another person or dog you’d like to give your dog the opportunity to say hello to, ask them to “sit”.
  • As soon as they sit, you can say “Okay, go say hi” or any chosen (consistent) phrase that you like. Then, allow them to approach!
  • At first, try and help your dog be successful with just having a quick sit, then move with them to let them say hi. For some dogs, a treat can help, but the big reward is getting to go say hi.
  • It can be helpful if the friend/dog is waiting and stopped (rather than walking toward you while you’re asking your dog to sit).
  • Over time, require them to sit for slightly longer and to approach others a little more calmly. (The reward for sitting and calm behavior is that they get to go say hi!)

Does your dog pull on leash for interaction after they sit? It’s a great idea to play “The Treasure Game” to help with this!

This is REALLY important for reactive dogs because it increases predictability of interactions around other people/dogs. (Your dog starts to KNOW that others will not be approaching them unless they do the routine, and so they have more control 🙂 )

This is also REALLY important for super social dogs because it helps them know when they get to say hi and when they don’t! This reduces their frustration and enthusiasm when they would otherwise think that if they tried hard enough, they could go say hi!