by Karen Brady // August 2017

Dog Social Etiquette

We’ve all been there. Walking our dog on lead when a bundle of enthusiasm races up followed by an owner in the distance shouting ‘he’s friendly!’ He might be, but he’s not being very polite! And lets be honest some of us have had dogs do this to other people!

So what is polite behaviour? Well there are some golden rules around dog interactions. The first being, always call your dog back to you and put your dog on lead, or have them under close control when you see a dog on lead. The other dog may just want a peaceful walk, may be poorly, old, overly playful, in training, or a little grumpy. Their owner is being responsible keeping their dog on lead, so we should respect that.

Collie puppy Sniper is waiting patiently on lead while his owner asks ‘can my puppy say hello to your dog?’ to the owner of the big friendly Rottweiller!

If your dog is off lead you should have excellent control over them, and that means a fab recall! Just in case you need to call your dog away from another offlead dog, or a dog on lead who wants to be left alone!

Mr. Cuddles and Mr. Bruno enjoying some time off lead together. It’s important they respect each others space so they can both enjoy their environment.

The second rule is to always ask before you’re dog goes over ‘is it okay to let them say hello?’, and if they say no just give them space! They will thank you for it.

The third rule is to only let your dog say hello if they are calm! This may seem tough for some, but if you’re dog is unable to do a polite sit and look at you to ask permission to greet another dog they will probably end up barreling in too excited and getting themselves into trouble! Racing up to another dog is not polite, a steady and relaxed approach allows both dogs to judge the situation and have time to decide if they both want to play or sniff or just walk on by. You can also teach your dog a cue for greeting another dog such as ‘say hello’, a ‘not today’ for dogs they can’t meet, and a ‘say goodbye’ for when the interaction needs to end, maybe they are over excited, the tables have turned or you just want to carry on with your walk!

Bruno started to get silly, and Mr. Cuddles wanted to be left alone, so Bruno’s owner is asking him to come away using a ‘say goodbye’ cue. This way the dogs learn to respect each other and keep their friendship.

The same applies to letting your dog greet people! Some people don’t like dogs, are scared or dogs, allergic to dogs or have young children who are worried by dogs. You can teach your dog to sit politely to greet people, and only say hello to people when invited to do so.

Dogs also need to learn to be calm in public, to settle quietly and calmly while people pass or we enjoy a meal in a dog friendly pub! You can teach your dog to settle by rewarding them for calm quiet behaviour at home, and then starting to transfer the exercise into busier locations!

Mr. Cuddles the Rottweiler is a professional settler! While Betty the puppy is still learning to transfer the skill out into public!

We teach all these skills and more in our classes so sign up to find out more and practice! Call the Dog School East Midlands team on

01509 882316 or email us at emidsdogschool@dogstrust/.org.uk