- Interact with the human first. Dogs are usually comfortable meeting strangers but if they don't know you then they are going to take their first cue of your status by checking in with their parents. Dogs have been proven to read your facial expression 10 times more than you project it. If you rush up on someone and the dog sees that it makes their human uncomfortable you may be in for some trouble. What should I do? When approaching a dog and their human say hello first and make eye contact. Ask to pet their dog and by then you should have a general idea of how the dog will react because they were taking you in already and have decided if they like or will tolerate you.
- Forcing an interaction. Most of the times my dogs will interact with people and be happy about it but if someone is unusual to them they may not want to be petted by them. Sometimes my dogs don't want to play or to socialize with anyone and some people will take this to heart. Following the dog around or getting even more in their face will not change them being tired or cranky and not wanting to be bothered. In many respects they are the same as humans and this is one of them. What should I do? If you are trying to interact with a dog and they yawn or lick their lips over and over or stiffen up they are wanting to be left alone and the best thing to do is be nice and walk away.
- Overreacting to a dog. When you meet a dog for the first time you may think about how the dog you have at home likes to play and try to draw a dog out by getting them excited. Some dogs are mistrustful of this sort of behavior. Often people come up and try to get my dog to play and are nonplussed when they don't respond. Usually when I have my dog with me either they are working or I am or both and even though this is not the case for everyone it can be very frustrating when someone amps up your dog and then walks away leaving you to deal with the aftermath. Some dogs will strike if they feel your play is dangerous or too unusual. What should I do? If the dog isn't already playing then they are probably not in a position to. Assess the situation and don't push it if the dog growls or show aggression like fast head turns or staring.
- Patting a dog on the head. Dogs DO Not Like This. When you approach a dog and pat them on the head and it's not something the owner does you immediately get a negative reaction. Because they don't understand why you would hit on them even playfully, some breeds will defend themselves against this type of behavior. Some dogs have undiagnosed illnesses and it's not fun being the one to find it out. What should I do? Being respectful goes a long way on this list and this is no different. If an owner treats a dog rough by patting them or aggressively rubbing them it's not an invitation for you too. If a dog is older then avoid rough interaction altogether even if they are well known to you, no need to be the one who finds out he pulled a hamstring when he nips you.
- Giving a stranger's dog commands. This a big pet peeve of mine. I train my dog to listen to my commands promptly and execute them with precision. I don't even allow my friends to command my dog. Usually I won't say anything but if someone continues to try to get my dog to do something for them and I'm trying to walk away I will explain it to them. Most people aren't as rabid about this as a trainer would be but it will still annoy someone working with their dog. What should I do? It's not a big deal to get a dog to sit by pestering him but beyond that you usually are pushing your luck. Ask the owner what they can do and allow them to demonstrate if they want to but don't try to get the dog to do it all yourself. When a dog doesn't know you they usually won't listen to you.
professional dog trainer with Artisan
Lexington / Nicholasville