Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: S. Florida
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Photo Submissions 36 Times in 36 Posts
Working with a trainer and, at a later point, a behaviorist vet, the best advice I got:
If your dog is nervous with people, don't force your dog to let people touch her, even well meaning, friendly folk, though the vet is, obviously, an exception. Find favorite treats and carry them with you. You can do a combo of having others give her a treat, treating her for not backing up if people approach, treating when she sees someone or something scary (sometimes rapid fire) while saying "look there" or something similar while at a safe distance. I worked with a "touch" command, teaching her to touch my hand in different positions, then taught "go touch" where she got treats for going toward and touching someone else's hand (I told them what we were working on prior). I then taught "go pet" where she'd get treats if she let others pet her, never pushing her towards someone she really didn't want to touch her. Whatever you do, don't reward her or coddle her for being anxious and growling or scold her. Treat her for staying calm. Distraction is another choice. Most importantly, get her socialized as much as possible.
My boy dog can be very protective of both me and Lola. He never gets to sit on my lap in public, as he'll perch there, and start guard duty. We, sadly, rarely can sit on a park bench together, as he'll jump off and want to bark at or chase people or dogs who dare to wander by. The first sign of that, we're done. He goes through phases, but I do have to control his environment, and I wish I'd known more about positive behavior training when he was a puppy. He was my first dog and I did a lot of things wrong that I thought were right, like soothing him and picking him up when afraid, rather than working on him being confident.
My Lola was afraid of strange women, and gets worried around children. I worked daily with her for about six months and I'd say she's had a complete turn around with all adults. She still likes things to be on her terms, but she's confident and not afraid anymore. She'll even jump up on a park bench to sit next to them and let them pet her. I still won't let her near children unless I'm right there, and won't let them touch or pet her unless I'm also petting her at the same time and she's showing signs of being okay. Better safe than sorry. She's always loved men and seeks them out, even preferring boys to girls with kids.