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Dealing with strangers...
Old 11-24-2012, 07:28 AM   #1
Alcibides
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Dealing with strangers...

Hi all. Lucky is a country dog mostly but we also spend a lot of time in the city. He's happy in both places, but walking in the city is a bit overwhelming. When he was little, he was excited by all the people and pretty sure they were out there waiting to meet him. He was very friendly with anyone who stopped to say hello (and folks always do, or to ask what kind of dog he is, or to say he has a wonderful face that makes their day, etc. etc.-takes a long time to get around the block-we all know the scene). Sometimes a little child will want to pet him and sometimes that is okay but if they come on strong, he hides behind my legs. I have two questions for those of you with city Hav experience:

1. It's normal right (seems to me) for him to be apprehensive with strangers on the street who want to reach out and pet him? He's not terrified; just careful I would say, and mostly there's not time to stop and take the time to warm up.

2. This is a big one: what do you do about the lovely shopkeepers who always have a treat for the dog? Is it safe to take them? It would certainly make Lucky more eager to go into stores (although he doesn't seem to mind it) and it feels rude to say no thanks, but with all the time I've taken finding the things that are safe for him to eat, a random Milkbone or whatever seems counter productive. My DH says it's silly and a puppy that can eat bully sticks will not be hurt by a dog cookie. He thinks I should leave it up to Lucky. What's your experience and what do you say to these kind folks?

Interested in your experiences as usual. Many thanks.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:11 AM   #2
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I can't help with question #1 but for question #2 one idea is to keep your own preferred treats with you and if someone wants to give Lucky a treat, give one of your treats to the person and they can give him that. You can say he's on a special diet or has allergies or whatnot. I am also extremely careful about Riley's diet so I understand how you feel. Actually a couple of weeks ago I caved in to a request from someone to give him a milkbone and he wouldn't even eat it. Smart boy.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by RitaandRiley View Post
I can't help with question #1 but for question #2 one idea is to keep your own preferred treats with you and if someone wants to give Lucky a treat, give one of your treats to the person and they can give him that. You can say he's on a special diet or has allergies or whatnot. I am also extremely careful about Riley's diet so I understand how you feel. Actually a couple of weeks ago I caved in to a request from someone to give him a milkbone and he wouldn't even eat it. Smart boy.
What a great suggestion. Thanks Rita. I'll try that.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:27 AM   #4
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I always tell them that she has allergies (even though she doesn't). I don't want her to have those large milkbones that don't have anything good in them but a lot of empty calories and who knows what else.

I would also tell people that the dog is a little shy, if they want to proceed and pet him then get down low to his level, make him sit and then let the stranger approach. Be very careful with children, because if he is nervous that they rush him he could snap and it is scary to think what could happen if the parents complained.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:43 AM   #5
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I always tell them that she has allergies (even though she doesn't). I don't want her to have those large milkbones that don't have anything good in them but a lot of empty calories and who knows what else.
Worse, whenever I go to the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee, they always offer Kodi a Munchkin (donut hole, for those who don't live in DD territory!) Can you IMAGINE feeding donuts to even a big dog, let alone a toy breed? Pancreatitis, here we come!

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I would also tell people that the dog is a little shy, if they want to proceed and pet him then get down low to his level, make him sit and then let the stranger approach. Be very careful with children, because if he is nervous that they rush him he could snap and it is scary to think what could happen if the parents complained.
I don't quite agree with this. I would not make my dog sit and allow a stranger to approach. I would make the PERSON sit, (or crouch down) and allow the dog to approach.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:56 AM   #6
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I've found people will usually ask if Bucky can have a treat. I'd have no problem saying no he can't, but Bucky is awfully picky even with treats. Fia, I'd definitely say no because her tummy tends to get upset. I don't think you should feel you're being rude to say please don't offer my dog treats. Rita had a great suggestion; give them one of your treats. I'll do that with little kids. Let them give Bucky a treat to get him to do a trick for them. But he's the opposite. He thinks the world wants to meet him and can be overly enthusiastic, jumping up, especially with kids. When I give them a treat, and he has to sit for it, then he learning he has to sit for the kids, and still gets a reward, but they are then also giving the command.
I was very impressed one day out walking with him when a whole group of kids, all ages, came running towards us. Each of them stopped in turn and asked if they could pet my dog. Most people don't understand, particualrly with a small dog, that they need to do that.
Telling people he's shy, and taking control of that situation, is an excellent way to handle it. Lucky may need to feel you have control of the situation.
Have you tried taking him somewhere just to work on the shyness? Somewhere that you plan to go and work with him on the shyness?
Fia's very tiny yet, and she can be shy but I'm going to need her to not be. I'm planning on taking her to the local hardware store today. They love dogs there and it's a good place to take her, with people around, and have a positive experience. It's also indoors and warm. lol.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:05 AM   #7
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I would call Quincy cautious with people, shy with other dogs. He's fine with dogs one on one and he's fine with people once he knows you're "okay." Once he sniffs you over, he is doing the jumping bean dance. Been trying to work on that, but it's hard with a cute dog! LOL People always say, "oh, it's okay." No, it's not! I don't want him to jump all over everyone LOL
Anyway, when I take Q out, he loves it. Everyone loves to pet him and he's great with kids and the elderly. We go across the street to the apple store and sit outside on their bench and say we're the orchard greeters. Everyone comes to pet him and he's great about it. The thing I've noticed the most is that small dogs don't like to be patted on the head. Maybe if people are going to pet your dog, you could tell them (especially kids) to just pet him on the side so he doesn't feel like someone is towering over him with their hand.
Re: treats. Usually people ask if he can have one, but don't feed it to him. They usually hand it to me because I tell them he can't have it until later. I also tell them that I don't like him to have too many treats because I don't want him to get fat
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:17 AM   #8
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here's a little article that I can't recall the author. Although it is a little hard to implement all these steps with a stranger, it's good to know this yourself and ask the key ideas for others to follow, . The key is to watch your dog's body language to know whether he wants to meet this person. I am leary having people give Molly treats. I would carry some treats with you all the time when you're out and about. There are always great opportunities for classical conditioning. Give the stranger your treats to give to your dog. I think 99 percent of treats people might want to give out are crap. JMO. Here's the article on greeting .
1. Donít approach the dog. Pretend you are ignoring the dog. Dogs prefer not to be zeroed in on by strangers. Have you ever noticed how well-mannered dogs meeting for the first time turn their heads away from each other?

2. Ask the dogís person for permission to meet their dog. Assuming they say yes, follow the steps below.

3. Stay relaxed. You can yawn, put on an easy smile, or slowly blink your eyelids. Keep you body loose. All these signal to the dog that you are not a threat.

4. Do not look the dog in the eyes. While eye contact signals trustworthiness to most Westerners, in the dog world it signals aggression or threat.

5. Turn your body so you are not facing the dog. Again, being face-to-face is polite to most of us, but can signal threat or aggressive intentions to a dog. Notice how well-mannered dogs greet Ė as they approach they make a half-moon curve as they pass each other and turn nose to butt.

6. Stand straight or squat. Do not crouch over the dog. I doubt you want to be crouched over by a stranger and neither does your dog. Itís threatening.

7. Allow the dog to come to you. Most dogs are naturally curious and they will let you know if they are interested in you. If not, donít take it personally.

8. If the dog shows interest by sniffing you with a relaxed posture, tail wag (not all dogs will wag and not all wagging is friendly), perhaps looking at you with soft eyes Ė then you can slowly offer the dog your hand for investigation.

9. Let the dog sniff your hand, if she wants to, and then gently touch the dog on the shoulder, neck or chest, not the top of the head.

10. The dog will clearly tell you if she wants more interaction or if she is finished with you. Listen to her.

11. If at any time during the interaction the dog backs away, stop what you are doing.

If you take one thing away from this post, make it this: NEVER bend over and reach your out-stretched arm to a strange dog. Dogs will love you for it.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:26 AM   #9
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Mine don't usually even want the treat. As for strangers Zoey is my shy one. Most people don't like the way she is acting and just avoid her. When I lived at my sisters she was exposed to a lot of good socialization. People that know her say she has improved.
I handled the situation by saying she is shy and could they please take the time to let her sniff your hand. And then maybe give her a little pat. I never had the person get down to her level because she would usually be barking and hiding behind my legs. I would pick her up and tell her she is okay and bring her up to the strangers level. It worked at least to get her to stop barking. I also think it has helped her shyness.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:27 AM   #10
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Thanks Dave
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