February 12, 2019 Photos by: dezy/Shutterstock
Part of the reason you got a dog is so he can interact with your family and friends, right? Yet, in reality, some dogs aren’t comfortable around unfamiliar people. Perhaps your dog is genetically predisposed to being wary of strangers on the street and guests in your home. Maybe he had negative experiences with humans before you adopted him. Or maybe he wasn’t given adequate socialization earlier in life.
Regardless of the reason, your dog has a right to his own personal space. If he doesn’t want to be approached or pet by unfamiliar people, we have to respect his feelings. When we force a dog to tolerate unwelcome advances, it can backfire. If your dog feels he is pinned into a corner (whether literal or figurative) and his warnings telling people to back off are ignored, he may have no choice but to lunge or bite. Can you blame him?
Fortunately, people can interact with your dog from a comfortable distance. Teaching him to “wave” hello or goodbye is one adorable trick that serves this purpose. Your guests will get the enjoyment of interacting with your dog, while your dog will enjoy a stress-free moment performing a trick in the vicinity of new people. It’s a win-win for everyone, and can be a small step towards the larger goal of teaching your dog that new people are a source of fun, not stress.
Before teaching your dog to wave from a distance, he’ll need to learn Give Paw.
How to teach Wave
It may take some time before your pup can get all the way to the final step, as it includes distance from the person cuing Wave, plus the distraction of people in the vicinity. The trick to having a successful Wave is taking your time and enjoying the process of training. By having fun along the way, your dog will learn to love this trick as much as your guests will.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer at Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY, and author of the training book, “BKLN Manners.” She draws upon her experience as an educator and dog trainer to apply positive training techniques to a challenging urban environment. Kate is a rescue advocate drawn to special-needs dogs and currently has two Chihuahua mixes, Batman and Beans.