You're taking a walk with your dog and you run into a friend or neighbour who wants to have a quick chat. Your dog has not signed off on this plan and is eager to get where they're going.
As soon as pleasantries are exchanged, your dog start barking at you, jumping up, pulling on the leash, and otherwise embarrassing you.
"She's not usually like this" you say and then you chant a variety of cues, like "sit", "down", "quiet", while you try to focus on the conversation. It's not working. Your dog is bored and wants you to know it! So you give up and get on your way.
It's a common problem, but we can certainly get on this like a dog on cheese! Here's how:
Randomly on walks, stop and stand there. If your dog looks at you as if to say "what the heck...?" grab a treat and feed right beside your leg.
You have a few options here.
- You can ask for a sit if your dog knows it well and it's not freezing cold or roasting hot outside
- You can simply let them stand if that's more comfortable for them
Now, as you stand there for a few moments, you can do one of two things, depending on your comfort level and what works best for your dog:
- You can play the elevator game while you hang out for a minute or two
- You can simply feed one treat beside your leg every 1-2 seconds, gradually spacing the treats out more and more until you're only feeding one treat every 15-30 second and eventually one every 60-90 seconds.
Both exercises build impulse control and teach your dog to stay close despite you having a conversation.
When you feel like you've knocked this one out of the park in practice, take it on the road and use it when you stop to talk to people, or even while waiting at a stoplight to cross!