Dogs often have problems by greeting strangers in an unacceptable manner, be it jumping on them, repeated barking or displaying aggressive behaviour.
But don’t fear as here are some tips that will help. Remember to reward all calm behaviour and the progress made by the dog. Use verbal praise immediately to reinforce positive behaviour.
You can also use treats, toys or whatever the dog finds rewarding.
Inside the home
Put the lead on your dog before opening the door for visitors. It is up to you to keep control of the situation. Advise visitors not to look directly at the dog, approach him/her, speak to him/her and raise their voice or ty to touch the dog. Keep all movements calm and slow. They should only interact with the dog when he/she is clam.
For non-aggressive dogs, you can have the visitor offer a treat to the dog as soon as the dog does asit or stay or goes into the down position. Keep a container of small treats near your door for this purpose.
If you have more than one dog, try to avoid having them greet visitors at the door. Even if the dogs show acceptable greeting behaviour individually, when they convene at the door, they may excite one another while competing for the visitors attention. Do not open the door until things are under control with all dogs in a down or sit-stay position.
Place the dog in a crate or a separate room. This practice alone does not change desirable greeting behaviour however, it guarantees safety. Keep the dog outside the room until the visitor has come in and settled down. Allow the dog in only when the visitor has settled.
Meeting New People and Dogs Outside
Start at the distance where your dog is clam. Don’t let people approach too quickly. Only approach if your dog can stay calm and focused on you (one or two steps then sit as practised in class). Ask any strangers to interact with your dog in a calming way as follows: take a sideways stance instead of looking at the dog head-on. Dogs perceive the sideways stance as less threatening in general. Avoid direct eye contact until the dog displays signals that he/she is comfortable.
If your dog is fearful, keep him/her on a leash and at a safe distance from strangers. Act calm and natural. Otherwise, you may telegraph your anxiety to the dog, which will cause the dog to believe there really is something to fear. If a person is approaching in a way that might scare or overexcite your dog, use your flat hand out held and say “stop” to hold them back until you have gained control of the situation. Then explain how you want them to approach and greet your dog.
When greeting other dogs, again approach slowly and only if your dog can keep his focus on you. Once you are within about 6 feet of the other dog and both dogs are calm, allow them to meet for 3 seconds, then move away, praising your dog well.
Legally, you have the right to do whatever is necessary to stop other dogs pestering your dog. An umbrella that ops at the push of a button can be useful (though desensitise your dog to it first). In an emergency, throwing a handful of dog treats just in front of the approaching dog(s) will give you time to retreat and keep your dog safe.