Respecting passers-by involves getting used to people and other dogs, and being polite to them. Pups need to get used to all kinds of people while they are young - including children, men with walking sticks, and paperboys with bikes and bags, and all kinds of dogs, like big, long-haired dogs and little dogs with coats on.

Learning to be polite means your dog learning that not every other dog or human wants to play with him. It's very important to keep pups and young dogs under control in public places, only approaching strange dogs with permission. Youngsters don't always sense when another dog really wants to be alone, and can be too pushy and get their noses bitten. Even if other dogs are obviously friendly, it's worth rationing interactions, to help your dog focus on you, rather than every dog he meets. Playing should happen when you give permission. Being socialized doesn't mean playing with every dog you meet, it's about being polite, and includes respecting dogs that prefer to be alone.


The same applies to people. Young dogs need to learn to walk past people without making a fuss. They can get pushy if everyone fusses them when they are little pups, and can frighten people if they think they have the right to greet every human effusively. This especially applies to children. Pups generally like attention from children, but can get overexcited when kids run around and scream. A pup chasing a child may seem like fun, but a young dog can be scary for children, so young dogs need to learn to focus on you, and not be overexcited by kids. As with guests, your youngster needs to learn he can't always be the centre of attention, so teach him to sit quietly while you’re talking to friends you meet on walks.

Teaching a dog does take time, it's not instant, and a thinking dog will sometimes chose to ignore you. This can cause you some embarrassment if your dog ignores your call to come back, and bothers people. Be apologetic if this happens, and stay friendly and polite, even if they get cross. You often need a good sense of humour when you walk young dogs, and you need to think ahead and leash them up if you spot temptations ahead, like running children.

You can teach your youngster to cope with moving children in manageable stages. Get him used to one or two well-behaved children, for example, before taking him to a play area where there are children running around shrieking. Get him involved in an on-leash game with you, rather than looking at the kids. If he can't handle it, go back to a level that he can handle, rewarding him when he is paying attention to you and obeying your commands, with praise, cuddles or tidbits. Try to get your him to experience as many different walking situations and stimuli as possible, including joggers and cyclists, getting him to focus on you, and what you want him to do, rather than what is going on around him.

Sometimes adult dogs need to be socialized, for example if they have never met other dogs or children. You will need to be cautious, because adult dogs can get into fights, or startle children, but the principles are the same. Take it gradually, perhaps putting him through a training routine with other dogs near. Try walking him at a safe distance, on a loose leash, with sits, stays and 'walk ons'. Or let your dog watch other dogs training from a distance, again using calm, well-behaved dogs for your first interactions. Reward him for obeying your commands rather than focusing on other dogs. You can work out what his 'comfort distance' is, ie how close to another dog he gets before he starts to misbehave. Once he starts to relax, his 'comfort distance' will be closer.

Sensible older children can help if your dog is nervous of kids. Ask them to walk past, and say nothing, or just 'hello using a soft, gentle voice. They can also just sit, quite close, but not too close, and not look at the dog, but pretend to be absorbed in something else. Again, the dog's body language will tell you his 'comfort distance'.

Dogs may bark at passing dogs because they are nervous. Shouting at a nervous dog and jerking on the lead may just make him more wound up. Dogs can also get a kick out of being rude to each other, just as humans can. This especially applies to dogs on the lead with an owner protecting them, or dogs behind fences, which allow them to hurl insults without risk of being attacked. Even if your dog is being a brat, you are more in control if you stay calm than if you bellow at him. Get him to focus on you through a smart about-turn, or other manoeuvre.

Prevention helps, getting your dog to focus on you before he starts eyeing up his 'enemy', as does nipping trouble in the bud, for example with a 'chsst' and sudden change of direction, before he starts barking. Certain dogs are very easy to read when they plan mischief. Collies, for example, will sometimes go into stalk mode when they see a dog they don't like. Humans have the advantage of being taller than dogs, so you can often spot and avoid potential trouble before a dog can. The goal is to keep him focused on you rather than allowing him to get into bad habits.

Some dogs can handle crowded parks, while others find them stressful. Sometimes someone else's off-leash dog comes running to you and your on-leash dog, and wants to play. You can put your dog into a sit stay so that the other dog isn't rewarded for being 'naughty' by getting to play. This also prevents the other dog humping yours, something young males often try. Standing between your dog and the other dog can help, if your dog is upset by the attentions. Then ask the owner to retrieve their dog please, if they are showing no signs of doing so - novice owners don't always realise that not all dogs want to play. It's more difficult if your dog is followed a long distance and plagued by a dog with no owner in sight. Some owners resort to arming themselves with water pistols! Nervous dogs who are bothered a lot may learn to overreact when any strange dog approaches. If parks are often too crowded for comfort, try walking at quiet times of the day. First thing in the morning is often a good time, because there aren't many people about, and morning walkers tend to keep their dogs with them, so they can get home and to work on time.

Recall is the most obviously useful command when you are out in public places, though other commands, like 'stand' can also be helpful. Asking a dog to 'stand' for people to pass you on narrow paths means that they can see the dog well, won't tread on his tail by accident, and it's quicker and easier to do than a sit, which dogs may not always want to do if the ground is wet or muddy. 'Stand' is also useful when you'd rather children didn't fuss your dog, since children tend to see a sitting dog as less intimidating and so want to pet them. A 'stand' shows that your dog is obedient and well behaved, so people feel safe passing you, and allows you to get on with your walk as soon as possible.