Please and Thank You

We wouldn’t dream of raising children without at least attempting to instill some basic manners in them – but some of us live with dogs who have no manners whatsoever. It is really easy to teach your dog to say “Please” and to make it clear that demanding does not work on you. So how do you teach a dog to say “Please”?

Step one is to ignore all demanding behaviour. That means ignoring your dog when he insists “Greet me NOW” by jumping on you, bumping you, nudging you or barking at you. Ignore, “Open this door NOW” attempts like scratching, whining or barking. “Feed me NOW” by barking and performing. You get the picture?

Now in the place of the “Open the gate NOW” demands we need to teach your dog another way to get what he wants. Tell your dog to sit (watch me, down or whatever you choose) and when he does, give him what he wants. Remove the reward if he starts his demanding behaviour. For example, if your dog gets really excited when you get the lead out to take him for a walk, ignore his performance and ask him quietly to sit. If he does, attach his lead and off you go. If he doesn’t hear you (or ignores you) because he is dashing around madly, hang up the lead and walk away. Wait a few minutes and try again. Reward sitting quietly with continuing the process of getting out the door to start the walk and go back a step if he gets pushy. Don’t give in and walk out the door until he is sitting calmly. 

If your dog tries to knock the bowl out of your hands when you feed him, you need to teach your dog that jumping around delays the meal. Prepare your dog’s food and ask him quietly to sit. If he does, move to put his bowl down, if he jumps up, take the bowl away again. Keep doing this until he gives up and complies. Only let him eat his food if he keeps his bum glued to the ground until you tell him to move.

The variation of this technique can be used for many situations. Insist your dog says, “Please” before:

  • Putting on his lead
  • Taking off his lead 
  • Going out the door
  • Coming in the door
  • Jumping in the Car
  • Jumping out of the Car
  • Getting a cuddle
  • Having the ball thrown
  • Having a game of tug
  • Being allowed to jump on your lap/bed/couch
  • Receiving a treat.


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