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Go Say HI 1-2-3 for Dog-to-Dog Introductions

Go Say Hi 1-2-3 involves:

  • giving permission (Go say HI!)
  • counting to 3
  • calling out dog and away from the other dog

In that 3-second interval, dogs get a lot of information about each other, much as people learn a lot with just a simple greeting and a handshake.

At the same time, the interaction is so brief that it’s hard for trouble to arise ifboth dogs were under control and responsive to their handlers before being given permission.

However, one of the dogs involved must have a reliable call out. If that’s true, no matter what happens, one dog is left standing alone.

TO TEACH THE CALL OUT:  the handler steps towards the dog’s head, gently taps dog on the shoulder, claps hands near dog’s face and calls the dog’s name in a very excited happy tone, drawing the dog’s attention to him and back, away from the other dog.

The tap & clap helps interrupt the dog’s focus on the other dog. The tap is a tactile signal, and the clapping is both auditory and visual (be sure the handler claps in the dog’s visual field). The handler’s voice alone may not be enough.

NOTE: Roughly 800-1000 repetitions will make this a very strong, reliable behavior. 20-30 repetitions a day done in sets of 5 repetitions per set will accomplish this easily in 4-6 weeks.

TEST THE CALL OUT:  offer the dog a treat or toy but do not give it to him. Have the owner call the dog away from that offered treat or toy. If the dog will come away smoothly, he has a reliable call out.


  1. Both dogs sitting quietly on a loose lead. No tight leashes! They should be about 1-2 handler steps (roughly 6-8′) from the other dog.
  2. When both are ready and agree, handlers say, “Go say hi!” give hand signal/gesture and step with their dog towards the other dog & handler as they begin counting 1, 2, 3. Leashes must remain loose.
  3. Each handler calls their dog out and moves away. Do not pull on the leash!
  4. Use praise/treats generously afterthe dog turns and moves away from the other dog. (Using food to lure the dog can cause serious conflict between the two dogs.)


Go Say Hi-1-2-3 can be done just once as a quick greeting, or it can be repeated several times to evaluate how the dogs feel about each other.

  • If by the 2nd repetition one dog either acts aggressively (growls, snarls, lunges), do not put these dogs together again without working with them in ways that build their relationship.
  • If by the 2nd repetition, one dog simply ignores the other dog, do not put these dogs together as playmates at this time. The dog doing the ignoring is telling you how she feels! No more repetitions are necessary for such dogs.
  • If the dogs seem friendly during 3 repetitions, even eager to meet each other each time, and you see no unfriendly posturing, these dogs will probably be okay as playmates.

Practice Say Hi-1-2-3 with familiar dogs many times so that the dog learns to quickly turn towards you for generous rewards whenever he hears his name.

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“Go Say HI 1-2-3 for Dog-to-Dog Introductions” by Suzanne Clothier

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