2001-Wed Feb 22 12:39:52 MST 2017
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Some dogs seem to love to entertain. When guests come to the door, these dogs become delighted hosts, racing to greet their visitors with something — anything — they find to put in their mouths.
What’s behind this amusing behavior?
Vetstreet checked in with
Dr. Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist, to find out.
There are several different reasons your dog might be doing this, she says. Among them: They’re offering a gift, they’re looking for attention or they want to
show us they’re happy.
“I think some
dogs are so excited to see a visitor because it may represent a new person who will play with him/her, so the dog grabs a toy to try to entice the person to play, whether it is
tug or throwing the object,” Dr. Sung explains.
dogs, it may be a behavior that the owners taught them or encouraged to give them something more appropriate to do in place of
jumping on people or
“Other owners have recognized that
their dogs may appear anxious or worried, but if they get the dog engaged with
their toys, they appear less concerned about new visitors in the house,” she
says. “Some dogs may naturally grab a toy on their own, whether to solicit play
or to have something to do.”
The dog may also be reacting to your
own excitement and responding in kind.
Dr. Sung has seen the behavior mainly
in Retrievers but said it’s something any breed might exhibit.
In some cases, owners report some
rather embarrassing situations — like when the first thing their pooch spotted to
grab was dirty laundry or other “unmentionables.”
Dr. Sung says it’s best to be sure
those things are out of the dog’s reach. But if the arrival is a surprise and
the dog does get something he shouldn’t have, the owner should try to keep calm
and get the dog to exchange the contraband for another toy or treat.
should distract the dog, redirect to a more appropriate behavior, such as come
and sit, and then ask the dog to drop it,” Dr. Sung said. “Sometimes people
forget and raise their voices or go chasing after their dog and it becomes a
game to the dog. Then the next time visitors arrive, the dog remembers how much
fun he had last time people arrived and grabbed an item.”
It can be flattering to be the source
of a canine host’s excitement — unless he’s so thrilled, he’s jumping or
running into people. In those cases, Dr. Sung recommends putting him in another
room or in his kennel or bed while guests arrive to try to avoid the
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