For the Fear of Dogs...? How do you handle people afraid of your dog?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 4:00pm PST 
Daisy is my public dog. So I get people scared of the "big, black dog". Mostly I ignore them and put Daisy on the far side from them. She is usually ignoring them as well.

If I'm sitting still and the person needs to pass I'll say a quick "she's friendly, but i've got her" while i show I'm holding the leash so they can pass.

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 5:09pm PST 
I'm used to people being afraid of my dogs, I guess it's a breed thing. Usually I either ignore them or try to reassure them. But one day I caught some lady telling her pre school age son 'Stay away honey. Those kind of dogs are mean' I flipped! And I mean laid into her. Told her parents like her created lifelong phobias in children. Said if she had nothing intelligent to say she should shut it. Then I let Sabi give hugs and kisses to her giggling, delighted son. I also told him he needed to always ask before going up to any strange dog. Sabs even got a quick pet from his very apologetic mom as we left.
My mother was attacked my a GSD as a child and still has a scar the size of my fist where it tore a chunk of her thigh out. Not once did she ever allow her understandable fear to impact me. She adores Sabi and is Shadows biggest supporter. We had Shepherds when I was young and although she clearly wasn't comfortable, she never said a word.

Spoiled Little- Girl
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 9:12pm PST 
I am not sure how to make people not be afraid...other then to leave them alone. I went over to my friends house with my 5 lbs chiweenie, Hazel, to visit her brother. My friends Mother noted how cute Hazel was and how cute she played with her brother Bandit, but she kept her distance, I assumed she was being polite. So as I am getting Hazel ready to go I pick her up and bring her over to the Mother and go to hand her over and she flinches back and screams a little bit. I could not understand how someone would be afraid of my little dog, but still have my dogs brother living in their home. shrug


Do you even- lift?
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 11:34pm PST 
Onyx gets kind of a double whammy because he's a "dangerous" breed and he's an all black dog, so even people who aren't afraid of dogs in general often avoid him. I definitely get comments/questions with him I never got with my Golden Retrievers (Is he dangerous?, Does he bite?, ect.). Even other German Shepherd owners have told me they find him intimidating; that's how apparently terrifying he is.

Most of the people I've seen that, as far as I could tell, seemed to be afraid of all dogs have been children. I have wondered how much of that fear was created by their parents telling them to avoid dogs like the plague. It's like the opposite of the parents that encourage their child to run up and pet every dog they see.

If possible, I always put him on my far side when passing people in close proximity, just in case they don't want a large, unfamiliar dog within biting distance. Beyond that, I don't particularly consider it my problem if people are scared of him. If I'm in a public space that allows dogs and my dog is leashed, behaved, under control, and ignoring them, there's not much more I can do to alleviate their fears.
Auda abu- Tayi

Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 3:55am PST 
I was in a dog friendly hotel, going down in a scary elevator to go out and pee. The door opened and a group of ladies started shrieking, it scared me half to death and I hid behind my person.

The ladies were pretty stupidnaughty We were in a hotel that had a sign out front that said pets welcome.

Unfortunately one can't cure dumb. Being afraid of something and acting like a fool are too different things.shrug

My person picked me up and gave the ladies a dirty look. They apologised for scaring me.

Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 4:45am PST 
Yesterday we were practicing some disc in the park behind our home (supposed to be an on-leash but even bylaw has stopped in and told a few of us it's fine as long as we understand the risks and keep a good handle on the dogs in our own little space)

I see 2 women and a little girl walk into the park. So I throw the disc in the opposite direction as I sure wouldn't want strange dogs running toward me regardless of what it's for.
Then all of the sudden I hear this screaming. I call the dogs back and have them down next to me, I then look for the commotion.

I guess the little girl decided to try and make a beeline for the dogs.
The mother is screaming at the little girl that "Those dogs will bite you, they're mean!"
On one hand, how the heck can she say my well trained dogs that are lying at my feet mean? But on the other, I suppose it is good practice to ensure your kid isn't running up to every dog she sees? shrug

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 7:13am PST 
I guess some people are just afraid of any dog, can't quite imagine someone flipping out over a beaglelaugh out loud But I'm used to people over reacting. Sophie looks more GSD than pit but she is a big girl. Poor Callie, even with a big smile and stump wagging, he can clear a whole street.

When we're at the park or reservation I try to seek out kind people in a group. If one or two people realize Sophie is sweet word gets around. With Callie I kind of announce as we're walking that " It's OKAY, he really is quite friendly!"...and if you'd come down out of that tree you might realize that...

I'm not lazy,- I'm just waiting- to play..
Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 8:18am PST 
Even with a 15 pound dog I get adults that are scared. I have just ignored them and kept going. I don't think I have ever had a person scream though. That would get at least a dirty look. The dog is on a leash right next to me so stop being ridiculous. If he is on a flexi I do always reel him in when people walk by just in case and then they don't have to worry about an 'uncontrolled' dog.
Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 8:29am PST 
Like many others, we do encounter people who are afraid. We don't exactly ignore them... I make sure we give space and that Charks looks absolutely under control.

Last summer, we had a group of teenage girls break out into the scream-of-terror as we passed on sidewalk (crowded setting). To her credit, the big dog just passed on by. I've had kids attempt to distract/get a reaction from Charks just for jollies. Charks can be very disappointing laugh out loud

Mostly I aim for a pup that behaves like the Buckingham Palace Guard... and MY job is to protect her when needed.

To the question... I generally don't handle them. I handle the dog so that their fears are groundless wink

Barked: Mon Apr 22, '13 8:38am PST 
I try to observe basic courtesies like keeping my dogs on the opposite side of passing people, and keeping them behind me when we turn corners or pass through doorways. Even if someone isn't afraid of dogs, they don't necessarily want dogs on top of them - and in my case if the girls even brush against someone that person will end up with a fair coating of white fur.

If someone has a legit fear of dogs and will talk to me about it, I have no problem being as accommodating as possible. I have crouched down, had my dogs face into me and hugged their chest so only their waist and rear was visible to allow scared people (and comfortable people with scared dogs) to pass in close quarters. More often I'm able to just cross the street, or the scared person just crosses the street.

But if someone is going to act like an idiot, they're on their own. There is no cause at all to scream and run from a dog that frightens you, ever. Common sense 101 says to remain quiet and back slowly away from a threatening animal. Which makes me believe the majority of people who do scream and carry on are trying to cause a scene. In which case the best thing you can do is keep calm and call them out on it ("You know, she's on a 4ft leash in a down/stay and hadn't even noticed you until you started screaming at her. There's no reason you can't calmly walk past us 10 feet away.).
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