I generally try to avoid stopping to chat with strangers on the street, or allow my pup to approach other dogs while he's on leash. You're distracted and it's easy for your puppy to make mistakes. Saying that, it's often really hard to avoid people, especially when you're in the company of the world's cutest puppy.
You do want your pup comfortable meeting people on the street, but that doesn't mean you have to stop and introduce your pup to everyone. You want to make sure you're setting your pup up for a safe/fun encounter, with people and children who are calm and gentle. No sudden movements, or overly excited behaviours just yet, and remember you can always say No if you don't feel comfortable stopping. A good excuse to use is "Sorry, my pups sick at the moment", or "I can't stop, I'm running late".
- Never hand your pup over to a stranger to hold, or allow them to pick your puppy up. Not only does this put your puppy at risk of being dropped, but it takes away their escape route. Instead, I like to crouch down to my pup's level, which will encourage the stranger to join you, also preventing them from leaning over your pup, which can also be intimidating.
- You can try giving the stranger treats to feed to your pup, especially if your puppy is a little on the shy side and doesn't want to be touched, saying that never force your pup to say hi. If your puppy wants nothing to do with the stranger, even after you've stopped, just apologize and move on.
- The best place for a stranger to touch your pup is on the chest and shoulder, or near the base of their tail. Try and avoid hands over their head or ear scratching as this is a pretty vulnerable part of the body for your pup - it's like jumping straight in at Second Base!
- If your pup is super excited slid a couple of finger into their harness, or shorten their leash to prevent them from jumping all over the stranger with full force. If your pup put their paws up, gently place your hand on their chest and guide their paws back to the ground. The aim here is to show them that all good things come to them while their four-paws are on the floor, preventing your puppy from self-rewarding by jumping-up.
Find The Cookie
One of the best games for a rainy weekend, and a great way to strengthen your puppy's Sit - Stay.
I like to start off with my pup in the same room as me, so they are able to watch what I'm doing. Once they understand the rules of the game you can then ask them to hold a Sit in another part of the home while you hide The Goods.
- Either have you pup hold a Sit, or attached them to a piece of furniture on a short leash.
- Show your pup the treat that you will be hiding. Let them sniff, lick and lightly nibble it - we want them focused, excited and ready to go!
- Quickly move across the room and place the treat behind an object. Come back to your pup, and release them with the cue "Find the Cookie".
- Move across the room with your pup, offer a little help if they get distracted. Celebrate with them once they find the cookies...and quickly eat it!
After a couple of easy rounds you're now ready to mix things up a little. Ask you pup to hold a Sit while you walk around the room, randomly touching the floor behind a few objects. Hide the treat at one of these stops, but be sneaky about it.
Want to play "Find the Car Keys"? It's the same setup as above, but this time let them sniff the keys before you hide them. Release them with the cue "Find the Keys", then follow them around the room. As soon as your pup touches the keys with their nose, Click or "Yes" and place the treat on the floor next to the keys.