if you’re looking forward to visiting relatives this
holiday season, you may not be happy about visiting
their dog. How can you make your entry through a
relative’s front door more joyful and less
are 78 million pet dogs in the country, according to the
American Pet Products Association, so your chances of
encountering one are high.
Coren, professor emeritus of psychology at the
University of British Columbia, dog trainer and author,
offers tips to guests and hosts on managing the average
family pet. (Aggressive dogs should be sequestered
elsewhere before guests arrive.)
pets have received some training, though not much, Coren
says. But the basic command is the most useful. "If
the dog is jumping, the simplest thing is to say, ‘Sit.’
That usually calms things down."
offers this to guests:
more slowly. Imagine the dog’s point of view, seeing
people pouring through the door and flipping off coats.
Quick movements can excite or be interpreted as a
aware of where the dog is. If you back up and tread on a
dog’s tail, it’s not a good start.
small children close to you and calm. Squealing just
ratchets up the dog’s excitement. You don’t want
toddlers running, because the dog will chase them.
a dog is frantic, fold your hands in front of you and
stand still. It’s a trick we use when we’re
bite-proofing kids. We call it Be a Tree: Fold your
branches and stare at your roots. No eye contact. You’re
not moving. You’re no longer a threat.
treats in your pocket. Treats are effective. When you
encounter the dog, tell it to sit, and follow it up with
a little treat. That makes the dog happy to see you. A
goldfish cracker, or a thumbnail-size piece of regular
cracker, will do if you don’t have dog treats. If the
dog has allergies, the host will say so.
should ask before they approach a dog. It’s polite, as
well as safer.
reach your open hand toward a dog’s head. That can be
seen as a threat. If you’re going to approach the dog,
close your fingers into a fist and let him sniff your
hand. Touch the dog’s chest, then slide your hand up
over its head.
you’re the host, Coren advises:
visitors know beforehand that you have a dog. I tell
visitors the barking they might hear is from a dog 12
inches high and not to panic.
treats near the door. When guests come, I put dogs into
a sit. I hand the people a treat and tell them, his name
is Ranger, tell him to sit and give him a treat.
greeting is nicer than shaking his paw. With repetition,
it teaches your pets not to go ballistic at the
you’re worried, don’t let dogs near the door. Put
them elsewhere. After I’ve greeted everyone and the
dogs have heard the voices, the dogs can come in and
greet. Or, bring the people to meet them.
dog is like a human 2-year-old, Coren says. "The
controls you put on toddlers work with dogs. You wouldn’t
let a toddler barrel through the door at the nearest
visitor. Most people are not dog experts, but they’ve
encountered enough toddlers to know what works."
your dog hang around the dinner table? Opinions differ,
even among experts. Coren lets his two dogs stay
puts them in a down-stay, and rewards them with a tiny
treat. "They know if they hold that, they’ll get
a little bit of something at the end of the meal, but
they don’t get anything during.
I feed the dogs before people eat, so they’re not
frantic," he said.
you’re quite worried, he said, "keep the dogs in
a different zone." Coren sometimes removes his two
to the gated-off kitchen or his office. "The dogs
are familiar with both places, and if I really want them
out of traffic, I put them there."