|Barked: Mon Nov 19, '12 12:17pm PST |
|Really one of the best things you can do is to walk forwardly (not hurriedly or anxiously, just purposefully and at a good clip). I think a really common mistake as people try to acclimate their dogs is that they slow, which is immediately cuing the dog that something is afoot.
Regarding the forward walk, dogs don't receive the world as we do. They have more awareness. They are surely picking up the smells, which is in many ways how they "see" the world, and have their eyes and ears as well. If you walk your dog purposefully passed a bus stop, you are still acclimating him to that bus stop, but in that you are not walking really slow or altering your stride means no cue that "oh wow, this is really remarkable, I think we better go sloooow."
Dogs generally focus on things less with a forward walk. The motion is the main thing they are gearing their energy too, so while they are aware of what they are walking by, they aren't really able to concentrate on it. And the fact that you aren't adjusting yourself as you approach = it is not a big deal. It's just a backdrop thing, nothing really to have much concern about.
Particularly when we are dealing with a dog we really don't know....what are their points of reference? is this genetics? lacks of socialization? actual bad experiences they are drawing from?....and more frontal/more direct exposures can be a social stress, create a social anxiety. Some people, in example, use food as an introduction technique to strangers, see the dog take the food from this stranger and think "great!," but a lot of dogs have to be pretty freaking stressed to not take food, so you don't really know the level of social anxiety you just put your dog through, you know?
The best start with a rescue pooch is to be content if he will simply walk past without incident, and a very forward clip helps accomplish this. That's a good place to start to get him acclimated to these things. So walk past bus stops, walk through a group of people, etc. Pay attention to his body language. When it seems he is shifting a bit, pretty relaxed, you can walk slower. See what he does. Maybe he looks, maybe he tried to sniff, maybe he walks over. It could be many things. But now these things are more a part of his backdrop, more familiar, and you are still allowing him to talk as to what he'd like to do. When he is ready for something more direct, he lets you know. That is when the "stranger with a treat" approach is better employed.
I know that when I get fosters in, in example, I basically ignore them. I let them make the overtures. That makes them come around a lot faster. I had a bluetick in who was supposed to have a profound fear of men. I told my husband to please ignore her and not make direct eye contact, which he did. In no time at all....I mean in less than two minutes....she was following him around bug eyed saying "well aren't you going to say hi????" I really think part of the reports we had on her is that her original foster did a more forced introduction to the girl when she arrived. Very nice, I am sure. Just told him that he had to go over, give her lots of cookies and lots of pats. So he did, and because she was nervous, it probably weirded her out. This same foster had a lot of problem with this girl meeting men generally. Probably was thinking "oh crap, here's a man this chick seems so freaky about....I just KNOW he's going to come over!" and started to bark and get uncomfortable. Irony is, she had no man issues. Did great with Dennis, and was adopted into a home with a husband, who she loves dearly. It was simply putting her under that pressure that gave her concerns about these situations.
Edited by author Mon Nov 19, '12 12:19pm PST
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