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Okay, so where I live, pretty much everyone you meet is TERRIFIED of dogs and will practically run to the other side of the street to avoid you if you have a dog.

So, Perkins hasn't met many strangers in his life, at all. I walk him, and he sees people, but no one ever asks to pet him or anything. I also don't know anyone except my boyfriend's family and all of them are scared of dogs, except my boyfriend. (He used to be, but I got him used to them.)

Killian met more people when he was young because I lived in a different state and EVERYONE asked to hold him, and pet him. So he loves strangers, except he jumps on them if I don't kneel down and hold him.

Well, today I was walking Perkins and two young girls came over to see him, with what I assume was their babysitter. They were all very nice and polite. The girls asked to pet him so I kneeled down, and gave them a treat to feed him. They offered the treat, but he didn't want it. So I told them "Just pet his back, but don't pet his head because it might make him nervous."

They both pet him for a couple seconds, but he was unsure. I had my arm around him, and was watching for any signs that he was done. Well he scooted closer to me and I was just about to say "he's had enough" when he let out just a very short growl. Both of the girls backed away, thankfully. He didn't bark, or act mean or anything once they stopped touching him and I even stood and talked to them a few more seconds and he was fine.

I know how important socialization is and I tried to let him see people when he was a puppy but with everyone being scared, and me not knowing anyone, he just isn't too sure of strangers.

How exactly can I try and combat this problem? I know everything would be so much easier if I knew people, but I just don't.

Is walking him good enough? So he can see people.

The last thing I want is for him to attack someone, or for him to have to be afraid of people.

I'm not an outgoing person, either, and I homeschooled, and I don't work, so I really have no way of meeting anyone.

Any and all advice is welcome. I know how big of an issue this is, and I know how much I messed up in this department, but I really want to fix it.
 

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Walking him is apparently not going to be enough, since meeting these people triggered something in him... he'll need positive contact with people if this is a fear thing.

Do you have any pet stores? Best place to go for dog lovers to socialize their dogs with other people who love dogs just as much. Even if you have to drive an hour or so... I did it numerous times a week with Frag as a puppy to socialize him at petsmart. Sitting before being pet, strangers petting him, giving him treats, asking him to do tricks, etc. Sounds like that will probably be your best bet... and even if there isn't a heavy traffic of people wanting to pet your dog, you can ask the employees; explain what you're working on and what you want them to do.

Maybe try to find a grooming shop or something else like that, too? Boarding facility, dog day care... anywhere dog people may be. Good luck!
 

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We don't have any real petshops, the only thing we have is a place downtown where people keep a few pets, no dogs or cats, and sell 'em. I couldn't take them in there though because they could get to their small critters. I don't drive, yet either so I can't take them to the pet store often, sadly.

We live in a smaller area, and there's nothing except a vet's office, which I suppose I could take them to sometimes just to stop in and say hi if they didn't mind. My fear with the pet store is I honestly have no clue how he'd act with other dogs, either. He always tries to go see them when we're outside but sometimes he barks, and lunges, and I can't risk a dog attack either.

I'm very limited on what I can do it seems, but I really need to get this situation fixed obviously. Perkins is already over a year, as well.

I need a way to reach out to other dog lovers who will understand this situation and be willing to work with me and Perkins, but I have no clue what that could be.

Walking him is apparently not going to be enough, since meeting these people triggered something in him... he'll need positive contact with people if this is a fear thing.

Do you have any pet stores? Best place to go for dog lovers to socialize their dogs with other people who love dogs just as much. Even if you have to drive an hour or so... I did it numerous times a week with Frag as a puppy to socialize him at petsmart. Sitting before being pet, strangers petting him, giving him treats, asking him to do tricks, etc. Sounds like that will probably be your best bet... and even if there isn't a heavy traffic of people wanting to pet your dog, you can ask the employees; explain what you're working on and what you want them to do.

Maybe try to find a grooming shop or something else like that, too? Boarding facility, dog day care... anywhere dog people may be. Good luck!
 

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We don't have any real petshops, the only thing we have is a place downtown where people keep a few pets, no dogs or cats, and sell 'em. I couldn't take them in there though because they could get to their small critters. I don't drive, yet either so I can't take them to the pet store often, sadly.

We live in a smaller area, and there's nothing except a vet's office, which I suppose I could take them to sometimes just to stop in and say hi if they didn't mind. My fear with the pet store is I honestly have no clue how he'd act with other dogs, either. He always tries to go see them when we're outside but sometimes he barks, and lunges, and I can't risk a dog attack either.

I'm very limited on what I can do it seems, but I really need to get this situation fixed obviously. Perkins is already over a year, as well.

I need a way to reach out to other dog lovers who will understand this situation and be willing to work with me and Perkins, but I have no clue what that could be.
You don't need to be letting him meet other dogs. There are plenty of people out in pet stores without dogs that love them enough to give a dog a treat and say hi. :) My dogs are not allowed to meet any dogs (with the exception of puppies vs. puppies) that I don't know in a pet store or otherwise. They ignore them when we walk near them and if the owner asks to meet I decline. I don't know their temperament and there's NO reason they need to meet or be friends. My dogs have plenty of other dog friends or are on a leash and don't have any reason to meet them.

The vet's office is a great idea. Phone ahead and tell the receptionist you're working on some socialization because your dog growled at a stranger; be honest about it. Most will be completely understanding, and I'm sure when you go in any staff not busy at the moment would love to TAKE TURNS (don't surround him of course) giving him some yummy high-value food and a pet. Dog people are generally pretty understanding.

Do you have a local craigslist for your immediate city? You could try posting an ad; looking for someone to help with dog socialization... maybe if you have some cash offer to pay them for gas + a meal, or trade something you don't want for their help.
 

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the dog meeting people who are afraid of him is bad, he will sense that they are afraid and it will be un nerving to him, can't say I know what goes on in a dogs head, but it will cause a negative reaction for the out come and experience for a dog who doesn't have previous good experiences to fall back on. Always tried to bring my Darien to show dog classes and they were afraid of him, and they would act werid and hesitant that would set him off. Bring him to a working dog group of people who loved admired him and he was the biggest ham having a blast never any out burst. You don't need several poor interactions, haveing a few really positive interactions are better and will go a long way in what your dog learns for a foundation. Live in the middle of no where, my guys see great people months apart, and no one during the winter .. If your ok with people, then your dog will be ok with you being ok.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If your ok with people, then your dog will be ok with you being ok.
This is very true, I've seen. The first time my boyfriend came over after we got Perkins he was a bit nervous, but because we were all okay with him he's good with him. He doesn't come to my house often, but Perkins is always okay with him when he does.
 

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So he loves strangers, except he jumps on them if I don't kneel down and hold him.
"Holding him" or firmly restraining him is probably a large factor in this scenario. Many dogs will feel overly-defensive when the possibility for escape is restricted or removed.

The girls asked to pet him so I kneeled down, and gave them a treat to feed him. They offered the treat, but he didn't want it. So I told them "Just pet his back, but don't pet his head because it might make him nervous."
Actually, he was already nervous when he refused the treat on the initial offering. That probably should have been taken as the warning sign to back off without proceeding any further.

Have you read the sticky on how to politely greet strangers ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The "holding him" thing was me talking about my other dog Killian, who doesn't have a problem meeting strangers, except he jumps on them as I said.

I wasn't holding Perkins when he met these girls, I was just kneeled down beside him. I haven't actually seen a sticky for greeting strangers, just greeting politely at the door. Could you link me, perhaps?

Either way, I know that if he doesn't seem comfortable with people, or won't take a treat from them from now on, I won't be pushing the issue, or letting them pet him. I honestly figured he just wasn't interested in the treat because of the environment (he normally doesn't take treats on walks).

I will be calling the vet sometime soon and asking them about bringing him in to at least start meeting people, even if they don't touch him for a while.

"Holding him" or firmly restraining him is probably a large factor in this scenario. Many dogs will feel overly-defensive when the possibility for escape is restricted or removed.

Actually, he was already nervous when he refused the treat on the initial offering. That probably should have been taken as the warning sign to back off without proceeding any further.

Have you read the sticky on how to politely greet strangers ?
 

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I haven't actually seen a sticky for greeting strangers, just greeting politely at the door. Could you link me, perhaps?
I can't link you ... because there isn't a link, lol.

You're right, though. That particular sticky is geared more towards meeting strangers at the door. But many of the same principles still apply whether there's an actual door in the equation or not.

Sorry for my somewhat lacklustre response, and the lateness of it. Least I didn't forget about you. :)
 

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I have the same problem in the area I live in. I can walk my dog all day in the town and not have one single person interact with my dog. The one Pet Store, you would be lucky to see another person in it at the same time. There is not another business where dogs are allowed. You can't even walk them in the one small mall we have. I have found taking them to Obedience or Agility classes is the only way to have them around strangers.

I even had Lucy in Obedience classes in the park with a trainer who used the old style, choke collar, jerk and push methods. I did not do that, used a flat collar and treats but I was desperate to get her out around people and dogs before she got too much older. It did really help and I have her in Agility foundation classes now and she is quite confident.
 

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I ran into a similar problem. People tend to be scared of big dogs and well, Harley is huge! At first I had a really hard time trying to socialize him. Then I learned that my town has a huge outdoor flea market on the weekends that allows people to bring their dogs on-leash (you gotta clean up after them of course). I take Harley there every Saturday. We walk the trails at the city park, but rarely run into anyone so the flea market gives him the chance to meet people. The first trip was pretty scary though, I'll admit. He growled several times and I had to keep him on a very short lead. After a while though of just people passing by in close proximity he calmed down and started letting people pet him. If he does well with the interaction and doesn't show nervousness I'll let the person give him a treat. It took about a month of this, but now we can go anywhere and he's super friendly with everybody (he figured out that it nets high quality rewards!). Just a suggestion though, if Perkins is acting nervous or unsure I wouldn't treat him. I would only give it when he shows the desired behavior. That way he associates that behavior with getting a treat.

I would suggest seeing if maybe you have something like that near you. Also, I find that if we are playing around and it looks like fun (playing fetch or something) it tends to draw people who are actually afraid of dogs because they are curious.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Again, thank you all so much for your suggestions. So far my only option is taking Perkins to the vet for socialization, but I think this is a really great place for him to start. We should be going over there for the first time next Wednesday (the 28th) or Saturday (the 1st), depending on work schedules.

I feel that once he is confident and okay with the people here I can work in more public locations (not around kids, of course) and this will really help.

He absolutely loves people if they're in our house after a few minutes of his initial barking and he won't stop begging them for attention, so I know he can be good with people, given time and practice.
 
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