mbc1963 Posted July 26, 2007 Report Share Posted July 26, 2007 Brief history of my dog, Buddy: highly reactive to both people and dogs when rescued 2 years ago. Hard, intense rewards-based training for a couple months, exposing him to new situations and reducing his fear and reactivity. Two years later, he can now walk city streets and deal pretty well in most situations. Still reactive sometimes if I allow a situation to escalate until he crosses his threshold. Mischief managed, mostly. Last week, I was walking Buddy in the wooded park. He is generally fine there, though I monitor his meetings because he can be reactive when approached by other large dogs. Two big dogs (yellow lab, golden) approached him, and he got a bit tense, so I said, "Leave it," (his no-growl command) in a stern voice, and explained to the two owners, "He gets scared when more than one dog comes at him sometimes. He thinks he's being attacked." One of the women said, "I should try 'leave it.' Sometimes I feel like growling when I meet more than one American at a time." (I don't know where this woman is from - maybe Germany? - but we are in America.) I chuckled and walked on. So, tonight, I came upon her again at the swimming hole. The two big dogs ran at us, and I held Buddy back a bit so my sister's dog could do the meet-and-greet first. Buddy is less reactive the smaller the crowd. The golden retriever came toward me, and I called him over so my dog could greet the other dog one-on-one. The woman called, "Be careful with him. He has a fight scheduled later tonight." I thought I had misunderstood her, but she said it again. Then, seeing my confusion, she said, "Oh, I'm just joking... because of the football player fighting dogs... Americans are all so scared of pit bulls..." I said, "I'm not scared of your dog, but my dog isn't always friendly." After hearing this, the woman came right at us, and leaned down over Buddy, staring and saying, "Come here sweetie," etc.. I said, "He might bark at you." She brushed this aside and stuck her hands at Buddy's face, leaning over further, staring him right in the eye. This was a one-way approach: she approached him quickly, and Buddy obviously was NOT returning the approach. Buddy got very tense and did, indeed, let out a warning bark. This woman was apparently still interested in interacting, and tried to get close again, so I pulled out the old, "Would you give him a treat?" This usually helps with scary people who want to interact - most people seem to really want to give treats, and I can usually buy Buddy a little distance so he calms down and warms up to the person. Plus, it helps him learn that from tense beginnings can come pleasant endings. The woman said, "Oh, no... you can't bribe dogs. You shouldn't bribe dogs." She refused the treat and stuck her hand back in Buddy's face. I said, "It's not bribing him. It's teaching him that meeting humans means good things," which she poo-pooed again as she put her hand in Buddy's face and moved her own body still closer to my NOW-GROWLING dog. I said, "OK, We're going to keep walking now," and led Buddy away. As I walked away, she yelled after me, "You should watch 'The Dog Whisperer!' " AIIEEEE!!!!! Of course, I spent the rest of my walk composing the response I SHOULD have given this woman - the one that quotes from Patricia McConnell and Turid Rugaas and Ian Dunbar, the one that quotes from "The Dog Whisperer" himself. The one the describes warning signs and canine body language and the dozens of dozens of books I've read about working with fearful and reactive dogs. The one that tells how my dog meets new people EVERY DAY who can pet him and love on him, because they read body language well enough to approach slowly and gently. Most importantly, the one that says that any semi-intelligent SIX-YEAR-OLD knows how STUPID it is to get in the face of a dog who's growling at you!!!!! GRRRRR!!! ::Rant Off:: Feel free to toss me understanding, sympathetic eye rolls and tales of similarly ridiculous people you've met. Mary Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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