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Hello all,
I am new to this forum and am REALLY hoping you guys might be able to help me out. I am traveler and spend most of my time on the road. I travel the country with my girlfriend and our 2 dogs. We have one momma dog named "Chili Dog" and a male puppy, from her litter, named "Mooby.

Chili Dog is 2 1/2 and Mooby is 5 months old. They are both great dogs, and on a day to day basis we spend 24 hours together with them. Since we are out on the road, they both need to be ESPECIALLY well behaved, and for the most they both are. Mooby is still a puppy and is still learning, but I don't have any serious behavior issues with him... at least nothing I can't handle.

Chili Dog is extremely smart; I never had any problems teaching her the basics: sit, stay, walk, don't pull on the leash, don't overeat, come here, ect... She can run through courses like a show dog, roll over and spread her legs when I say, "What do bad girls do for money?", and she even lets me pad her down as she stands up against a wall when I tell her, "Spread Em'". I LOVE my dog and she is a awesome in every way. When we are camping, she will let me know when strangers are approaching by turning in the direction which they are coming from and growling quietly.

But... enough bragging about how great she is... Obviously, I am making a post... so there is a problem I have been having with her. Like I said, we are out on the road, so we need our dogs to be on their best behavior. Well... Chili Dog generally is... but ever since she had a litter (5 months ago), she has been acting more and more protective... both of her son, Mooby, and us... which is alright FOR THE MOST PART.

The thing is, she acts funny towards certain people... 95% of the time it is towards strangers on the street... She mostly just doesn't want CERTAIN people anywhere near her... she will growl and show her teeth if they try pet her or get too close... and SOMETIMES she will lightly nip at people she doesn't feel comfortable with. In all reality she is being a GOOD dog... she doesn't ever break the skin and only lightly nips at people... I think mostly to let us know that she isn't comfortable with them... She never actually hurts anyone or even leaves a mark...

UNFORTUNATELY, we live in a society where this sort of behavior is not always accepted, and people exaggerate like it's their job. So, this seemingly minor problem can become a very major one. I am worried that one of these days, she will nip (or even try to nip) at the wrong person... they will call animal control... she'll be impounded... and my biggest worry of all... euthanized.

We recently had a close call in this department. We stayed a few nights at a Motel 6 in Pocatello, Idaho and were getting our things together the morning of our checkout. We took a bit longer getting everything together than we planning and the maid was highly irritated with us... apparently she REALLY wanted to clean the room RIGHT THEN. So, I tied the dogs outside and started taking everything out of the room as fast as possible. As we were in the process of carrying our stuff outside, the maid was pacing around in circles, pouting, in a foul mood. As she paced... she ended up getting REALLY close to Chili Dog. Chili probably sensed the disgruntled maid's mood and didn't want anything to do with her... She nipped at the air to show that she wanted her space... the maid freaked out and called the police on us. In the end, everything turned out alright... the animal control guy asked the maid if my dog had ACTUALLY bit her... and eventually got her to confess that she had not been bit... but just felt like she COULD have been bit...

Well the problem is... she was right... She COULD have been bit... I don't think Chili Dog would have bit her hard... or even broken the skin... but if the angry maid had continued getting close to her... she would have nipped her... She would have been taken to the pound... and because she has pit in her... they probably would have treated her like an extremely aggressive dog.

I NEED Chili Dog to understand that nipping is NOT alright in any circumstance. I have tried flipping her on her back to show dominance and biting her ear... talking to her in a disappointed tone, and telling her that what she is doing is wrong... but still she continues to nip... the only thing that has changed... is now... she tries to be sneakier about it... she generally won't nip unless I am not looking... or she thinks I am not looking... I NEED her to understand that this is for her own good... and that if she keeps nipping... she could get herself put down...

Any advice would help...
Thanks in advance
 

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It might be better if people also tries to respect her space. Someone walking angrily and then walking by so near can be scary. :( Unfortunately, some people seem to not have danger sense at all. We can't simply invade a dog's space and pet them, specially right on the top of their heads. Also, how can we be sure if a certain dog won't bite or react to our fast movements? When I was a kid, I've always been taught to respect the dogs, be careful with stranger dogs and never approach them when they eat or sleep.

But well, I can understand that, sometimes I'm also afraid of my dog accidentally hurt someone. Not coz he is human aggressive, but he can be rough, and some people just don't learn nor keep their children safe. But well, it's better to avoid letting other people interact with your dog like that, maybe tell them that your dog is insecure and afraid of strangers, and then in situations where it's harder to avoid closeness (like small rooms or roads or shops), maybe you can put a basket muzzle temporarily.

But the best is to avoid people invading her space like that, while desensitizing her by meeting many strangers that tries to interact calmly and positively (like handling a high value treat to her but let her take initiative sniffing and taking treat).
 

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Honestly, I wouldn't let my dog near someone in a mood like that. (if you understand how maids are treated and paid at hotels, you'd appreciate her irritation more.) don't set your dog up to fail. If she starts growling, remove her from the situation.
 

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I have a female dog who has always been reactive and needs her space. Not every dog likes to be approached by strangers and petted and I don't think it's required for a dog to enjoy that.

The key is to manage the dog's space and protect her from peoples' unwelcome approaches. If someone is heading for her I tell them, "she is not friendly, please don't pet her". Some people can be a PITA, "Oh, don't worry, all dogs like me!". Sorry, chances are this one doesn't and I won't risk a bite. My dog does not just go after people, she ignores them, it is only if they approach her or get right in her space that she gets worried. It's defensive, not aggressive.

I don't leave her outside unsupervised, not even tied to anything. If there are strangers around, she is with me, right at my side, with my full attention or she is secured in something...the house, the car, a crate. Since you travel with your girlfriend, you can hand Chili Dog off. In this instance, your girlfriend could have been holding Chili Dog on a leash, away from the area of activity, while you got stuff out of the room. Or, Chili Dog could have been waiting in the car.

Having a reactive dog means more attention and less flexibility, it's just how it is. It is a responsiblity. I don't actually believe any dog can be trusted with strangers 100% of the time anyway.

And, in general, don't let other peoples' stress and foul moods rush you to the point that you make mistakes...their mood is their problem, attend to your business with your full attention and let them raise their own blood pressure, not yours.
 

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She's probably about ready to come into heat again, if she hasn't already been spayed. That can make a dog cranky. And if so, be sure to keep her away from her son. He may be old enough to get her pregnant by now.

And aggression begets aggression. Flipping and biting her is almost certain to make her worse. She isn't going to understand that humans don't approve of normal dog behaviors, that can't be explained to her. You need to manage the situations so she doesn't have the chance to bite anyone, and contact a behaviorist to help you learn how to teach her the proper way to behave in human society.
 
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