“Welcome, I’m so happy to see you! Please come in,” I said to our dinner guests as I opened the door. Heathcliff and Freya barked furiously, hackles up, and rushed in front of me.
“Hi there, puppies,” John and Fran addressed the dogs with enthusiasm while trying to get out of the rain. Heathcliff and Freya blocked their entry. Grabbing the dogs by their collars, I pulled them back and told them to ‘stay’ then hung up wet coats and hugged our neighbors.
OK, that was chaos, not at all a proper greeting, I thought, and it’s my job to find a better way.
It rained on Saturday, so my plan was to put the dogs in a ‘stay’ when I heard John and Fran’s car, then run downstairs to open the garage door for quick entry. But the rain picked up just before Fran and John arrived, and we didn’t hear their car drive up the driveway. Heathcliff and Freya were just as surprised as I was when we heard the knock on the door.
OK, just like having to cook the kabobs under the oven broiler instead of outside in the Big Green Egg, it’s best to have a Plan B.
Next time we expect guests and it’s raining, I’ll open the garage door in advance. But that doesn’t address the problem of greeting. Time to consult Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.
Our dogs naturally want to defend the house and us, and that’s good but not with visitors we wish to welcome. When Heathcliff and Freya are on leash, they respect boundaries – so that’s step one. Another option is for one of us to put the dogs in a ‘stay’ while the other opens the door. ‘Stay’ is a particularly difficult command – at least for our dogs. As Heathcliff and Freya practice, we’ll try proper greeting with treats then occasional treating, then with one person doing both ‘stay’ and guest greeting.
Part of greet training also involves our visitors. “No look, no touch, no talk…” the Dog Whisperer recommends. We should tell our guests to ignore Heathcliff and Freya until the dogs are calm enough to visit on invitation.
For the most part, Keith and I reinforce the same training, but there’s always room for improvement. Just like being a good hostess, thoughtful preparation, like setting the table and having food ready, and post-event assessment are part of our training.
What dog greeting experiences – good or bad – have you had?