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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.

« How Dog Training Imitates Life | Main | Do Dogs Know Right From Wrong? »

January 15, 2009


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Rick Smith

hosting a dog...i'd like to add some details that might help the process...
overall, I would stress to let the dog meet/greet the hosts on the dog's terms; usually it's the other way around :-)
- for example, when the owner brings the dog over, have everyone in the family calmly take a seat and -wait- let the dog approach first rather than have the guests surround the dog...keeping stationary allows the dog to make the first moves and relaxes the dog quicker...let the dog decide what/who/where they would like to look and sniff in the new environment
- this could apply to the treating suggestion....pass out the treats, let the dog approach guests and then reward the approach with an immediate treat rather than just walk up to the dog and hand it over. almost all dogs will catch on to this quickly and they will be surprised how quickly the dog will greet everybody and make friends once they learn there's a treat involved
- if it's a small dog, remind all hosts to crouch rather than stand over the dog, and if it's a small dog be SURE they know how to properly pick up a small dog. many don't (even small dog owners). and of course, clarify with the owner if it's ok to pick it up in the first place ! unfortunately, many people (even owners) pick up small dogs by their front legs
- avoid eye to eye stares. it's common for people to stare at a new dog, especially if it's cute :-)
-ask the owner if the visitors can give commands to the dog, and if it's ok, find out the exact same commands and hand gestures the owner uses, and copy them exactly
- if the owner prefers that you don't command the dog, ensure that preference is respected. some don't. I for example do not like other people to ask my dog for high fives, shakes and other common commands, nor would I want them to "teach" my dog new tricks in my absence. I gladly tell them how to play with my dog, and how not to play with my dog. it's easy for a dog to pick up bad habits like jumping up and mouthing :-) case in point : I once had a dog who stayed with friends for a week, but unfortunately it took more than a few weeks to break him of his (new) habits of chasing young children and barking for treats :-((
- along the same line, I prefer people ask me first if they can pet my dog, and then I tell them how I prefer that is done....which means do NOT thrust their fist in his face so he can supposedly "sniff" them first, and do NOT pat my dog on the top of the head (patting is often more of a "thumping"), which I consider inappropriate handling.
- I would also add that even though an owner will probably tell the host family details about their dog, it never hurts to ask more questions before the owner leaves. it may help prevent a later comment like, "oh, i'm so sorry I forgot to tell you he just hates people who walk with a cane" :-(

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