Recall at the beach
Here's a discussion of the options from our very own certified, Fear-Free (R+) trainer, Andrea! Lessons on teaching greetings (and many other topics, co-written with experts) will be available in the brand new Pack Animals app that will be launching soon. And if you'd like to have a private virtual or in-person training session with Andrea, click here to schedule!
A) Humans and dogs tend to be much better about responding to body language over verbal cues. Stretching out your arm to signal “stop” is a great choice for people who are softer spoken, tend to feel shy, or are uncomfortable verbally advocating for themselves/their dog. This is also a great way to signal your intention before someone can get close enough to insist.
B) If the person approaching is already within earshot, and you are comfortable speaking directly and clearly, saying “stop please, we need space” can be a neutral statement that stops the person from continuing to approach. Saying “we’re training” can sometimes be met with confusion and result in a person still lingering, which could communicate an uncertain energy to your dog. Saying “we need space” can be followed up with “please step back” if the person doesn’t do so on their own.
C) Be prepared for the approaching person to not actually ask first. In that case, you should be prepared to advocate for yourself and your dog (either option A or B) if the person comes within your comfortable range without asking clearly. This is a higher risk choice and depends on your/your dog’s ability to handle uncertainty up close.
D) If you think your dog will bark, trust your instincts. It’s okay to evaluate your dog under different circumstances, however it should be done in a way that sets your dog up for success and is on your terms. Don’t worry about making another person feel bad - what matters more is your bond with your dog.