Tag Archives: dog greeting company

May I Pet Your Dog? Let’s Ask The Dog!

I get this all the time, as I’m sure you do too. “Can I pet your dog? Is your dog friendly?”

Today as my daughter played on the playground with her friends one of them ran up to me, not even going to ask me if she could touch my dog. I stopped her & told her he wasn’t friendly. This stopped her dead in her tracks- mission accomplished. She turned and went back to the slide. I said to her a few minutes later she could say hi to him, that I was only trying to make her think before running up to a dog that he may not be friendly. I gave her a bit of advice I give to all my new employees “think of every dog here as going to bite you”. I told her I didn’t want her to be afraid of dogs, just more cautious.

Then I told her to stand still, take a deep breath & hold her hand out for my dog to sniff her. He didn’t. He was too interested in looking at everything else. So I told her to wait a minute to see if he’d sniff her hand. He finally noticed her & sniffed her hand. I then instructed her to touch him with one hand only. I said to never use two hands, as it can be too confining to a dog. He was fine with her touching him & she ran off on her merry way, hopefully a bit wiser, but I doubt it. She is, after all, only 7.

This brings to mind a question I ask in my weekend classes. What are the 2 main reasons a dog bites? Answer: offense & defense. Which dogs bite more? Answer: defense. Why? Because most people are smart enough not to reach their hand out to a snarling dog!

Meanwhile, if a dog looks scared or shy like this, we feel bad & think they need to be comforted. Not the case!

Apprehensive Look

Timid Wide Eyes










We want the dog to WANT to be touched too! If you went up to a person to say hi & they backed up- they are saying they want to be left alone, right? Well these looks are saying the same message in dog language! The dog is saying “I’m unsure of you & want to be left alone”. The best way to make friends with a dog like this? LISTEN TO HIM! Respect him! Give him space & by all means don’t reach your hands out to invade his personal space. If you love dogs, you must think of their needs & wishes & you should want to keep their record clean! Don’t give a dog a bite history that didn’t have one. Did you know that 85% of dog bites are from human error? -I’m making this number up, but it’s probably in that ball park 😛

Here is my flow chart for whether or not a dog wants to be touched:

Flow Chart

Dog moves in for more










If you are not in the New England area & are in need of a professional trainer, please visit the IACP International Association of Canine Professionals. Remember not all dog trainers are the same, so if you have not gotten the results you want, please do not give up on your dog. Find a competent, qualified trainer near you. And be sure to tell them Laurie Wagner sent you! 🙂

Managing your crazy dog around company

Start by waiting to feed your dog just before company comes. He will be more interested in food if he is hungry. Before company arrives, start dropping kibble into the crate & then have company come in. (He should start off in crate or on leash). I prefer a crate.

As my dog started to light up I dropped his kibble into his crate as a distraction. “Here think about this instead.” After a few minutes he was pretty calm. I continued to stand there dropping kibble, his whole meal.

After he was very chill I opened the crate to let him go out & greet my mother. (He had not met her yet). Normally I would recommend leashing a dog for this but I was being lazy!  You can imagine if you wait until your dog is totally chill to let him greet company how much better mannered they will be. Any bad manners (jumping, barking) will be milder & more subdued. Of course if your dog is aggressive at all you shouldn’t go this alone. To find a trainer in your area visit the International Association of Canine Professionals to find a competent trainer in your area.


Annyong in crate during superbowl

Dealing with Company and your dog during the Super Bowl

People ask me all the time what to do when company comes over. That seems to be a big challenge for most dog owners. Either their dog wants to charge to jump, lick & pester or, to see what they taste like! My new dog Annyong is more toward the latter. He probably would have been fine, but since I didn’t have the time or attention to focus on him 100%, I kept him in the crate for safety reasons. This is what I would recommend unless you are able to focus on his behavior. Why risk it?

So what I did was (video below):

Started with a dog comfortable in his crate, in a relaxed mood.

Next, as company comes in to watch The Superbowl, I drop his supper-kibble by kibble- into his crate to give him something else to think about. By using his meal I can give him hundreds of “rewards” or distractions without worrying about him overeating. I also don’t have to worry about him not being hungry & more interested in focusing on “intruders!”.

My sister, also a dog trainer assists me by giving some kibble to get him thinking about that rather than all the commotion. As time goes by, his outburst get fewer & fewer. Each time I give him some more of his meal, sprinkled in with some treats for good measure. If I was able to do this on a weekly basis he would be much more settled with company. My girl, Ziva barked a little when the family arrived but quieted down almost immediately.