|Barked: Sat Sep 22, '12 8:30pm PST |
|I agree, if any of those things are dealbreakers, make sure you know what you're getting into. It's devastating to have to give back a dog, and you are probably better off picking a rescue that will do behavior testing if that one won't.
If not, the best advice I can give is to learn about body language, so that you know when she's getting uncomfortable before she resorts to undesirable distance-increasing behavior like lunging or snapping. All dogs are a little different, but often they will freeze up and stare at something they feel threatened by (also when they're hunting squirrels et al, so don't worry about it if she's restrained and it's toward small prey). Growling or a short, frantic tail wag are also usually signs of discomfort. A dog who's sort of dolphin-diving along the ground with relaxed face and tongue hanging out is probably comfortable and just excited to say hi. On the other hand, one who alternately bolts forward and freezes and stares is probably less comfortable. Playbowing, approaching at an angle, body oriented toward but eyes looking away, butt sniffing, and face sniffing are all friendly greetings (although playbowing is a great indication that you are about to get hog tied by the leash). You may want to avoid getting within striking distance on your first walk, and just see how she responds to other dogs. If she ignores them or displays happy/comfortable body language, next time you can try getting a little closer. If she seems anxious, fearful, or aggressive, you can start doing reactive dog protocols at a distance she's comfortable with. Same deal with spastic children. See how she does with them from a distance. Many dogs, although not aggressive, will play bow and jump when they see kids running around, which can be unsafe for little kids or kids who are fearful of dogs. So, even if she's not reactive, just give her some time to show you how she responds before you put her through potentially difficult encounters. Many owners are incompetent, so understanding dog body language will also help you to avoid problem dogs. I've had people smile and tell me their dog is friendly while he is overtly snarling. And that was a puppy, so I shudder to think of what kind of adult they turned him into.