New small dog owner (with a mini rant)

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I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 9:25am PST 
"Authorities would not have excused the dogs reaction because the clerk acted irresponsibly, the only thing they'd have cared about is the bite itself. Clerk would have quite the case in court to sue too if his claim was that he was merely trying to offer it a friendly gesture in the form of pets."

Sadly, this would be the outcome. That's why management for a dog that reactive is all important. A dog like that generally should not be in a petstore. And if it is, the person taking the dog there needs to have quick interference skills.

The hard fact is that few people really are dog savvy. It's easy to forget that on a website like this where most of us know dogs intimately. It's up to the handler to know what situations and interactions are safe for the dog and any people that might encounter it there. Think clueless people around the dog...

I personally would never take a bonafide human aggressive dog to a petstore. The benefits don't outweigh the risk. To that dog's life.

If the pup in question here is just really nervous around people, maybe it just needs some positive experiences with people who know dogs well before it goes to a pet store. Ask your vet's office if you can drop in with the pup and visit the folks at the counter for a few minutes, or even the vet, too. That way the pup not only gets a positive visit (explain that the dog doesn't need petting, just exposure, they'll very likely understand) but they get used to the vet's office before a procedure needs to be done. That can be very helpful. Good luck!

bitches love- pantaloons
Barked: Fri Aug 26, '11 8:45pm PST 
Ah yes, welcome to small dog ownership. Where your dog MUST love everybody just because it's small and fluffy naughty Nicky has huge stranger issues so people grabbing at him does not sit well at all with him. He will react. I actually had to practically jog up and down aisles one time because this kid would not get it through his thick skull that I *clearly* did not want him interacting with Nicky. Prior to his approach I could hear him screaming from across the store. Oy vei.....

Vigilance is key and I am always scanning for potential issues and quick escape routes. If I see a potential problem closing in, I turn away, walk quickly, and don't make eye contact. Don't be afraid to get rude to people if needed. That was hard for me to get used to because I am SO not confrontational, but my dog is more important than an strangers feelings. If people ask, I just tell them no, he gets scared when strangers try to pet him, but they can give him a cookie if they want (which he is fine with). That way they can still interact with him without crossing a line with him.

Nicky is my first dog, I've had him 3 years and I'd say in the past year I just started really getting the hang of this management thing. With the help of training I've seen huge improvements. I greatly limit his interactions to guarantee that they are all positive, and the rest of the time I work on maintaining an illusion that he lives in a bubble.

Edited by author Fri Aug 26, '11 8:51pm PST


Barked: Sat Aug 27, '11 7:52am PST 
I think I'm going to respectfully go against the majority on this one.

Yes, as you know, you have to be her voice. However, I think if you want to help her build confidence and trust, it is important to gently expose her to people and new situations.

If she is at the store with you, I do like the bandana idea posting "please don't pet". If someone seems calm and interested in her, ask them to let her smell them and proceed accordingly. If she's into treats, treat her. Praise her. Let her know it's okay. If she seems interested in the person and willing to allow a pet give the okay.

I often see well intentioned people protecting their frightened dogs by overprotecting them, thus reinforcing the behavior of the dog. My dog Maddy was severely abused, neglected and over bred but over time learned to trust people and loved everyone. She always needed one of her people near when strangers were present but her progress was amazing once I stopped over protecting her.

Good luck with your amazing little dog and she's lucky to have a new person who obviously adores her.wink

Sandy Baby- ♥

I may look- little, but I'm- ALL dog!
Barked: Sat Aug 27, '11 2:56pm PST 
I'm on both sides with this one. She probably shouldn't be at a pet store yet as she sounds like she isn't ready for that socially. She obviously does need socialization, though. And where it concerns strangers petting your dog and getting in your dogs face, it is often (not always, but often) preventable.

I had Sweeney in PetSmart the other day and he behaved so well. The first person that wanted to pet him was a little girl, couldn't have been older than 8 or 9. But she was a smart little girl and had obviously been taught well. She asked first and when I gave her the okay, let him sniff her hand and then gently stroked him. However, another little girl on the food aisle saw him, shouted "Puppy!!" and ran for us. So, I scooped Sweeney up, turned around, and went down a different aisle. I heard her parents say something about it being "rude" (frankly, I find their child charging my dog and myself to be much ruder, but to each their own) but the situation was avoided. I realize not all situations can be as easily avoided, but many of them can. With small dogs it's easier because we can scoop the dog up and walk away. It might come off as rude, but better to get out of the situation than let it turn ugly. I don't care if it comes off as rude, I'm just trying to avoid my dog/s getting scared. If you cannot turn and walk away, simply give as firm a "No" as you can and if they want a reason, think of something. (You don't have to say the dog bites, a simple he's not completely socialized yet will often suffice)

This isn't just a small dog problem. I'd gotten it with Cinnamon quite often! I have, however, noticed that in my area it does seem to be more prevalent with small dogs. I get it way more often with my small ones than I ever did with Cinnamon. I hardly ever get it with Lilo since most people around here won't approach strange pit bulls. It was always harder to escape with Cinnamon because she was bigger.

Edited by author Sat Aug 27, '11 2:58pm PST


As long as they- think they're- the boss
Barked: Wed Aug 31, '11 11:05am PST 
I know I'm going to get slammed for this,but for her safety and your risk of being sued if she should bite someone I agree with the bandana thing but I would also seriously consider muzzling her when you take her places such as the pet store. There are people out there who can't read or choose to ignore what they've read because "All dogs like me"
You did a wonderful thing in rescueing this dog it would be a shame to lose her now because she bit someone and they insisted she be euthanized because of it. Good Luck and keep working on the socialization eventually it will pay off.
Lucy Mae

Miss Priss!
Barked: Thu Sep 1, '11 6:47am PST 
Whenever I take the Cavaliers anywhere I can't get 2 feet before someone stops me to pet them. They are fine with it and are retired therapy dogs BUT Lucy is another story! She was a rescue and eventhough we've had her 9 years she still is a little hand shy. She's come along way, but she cannot always be predictable. She is very obedient trained and I don't think a muzzle is warrented because she never leaves my side so I can monitor her easily. Well, to get to my main point in the story lol....me and Lucy were at Petsmart a few years ago and I was checking out at the register. She was sitting to me right and very close to my legs. The cashier was a young "boy" and before I knew it he came around the register to pet Lucy. He reached over her head and she snipped at him!! He was taken aback by this and I told him he should've asked before petting her or any dog for that matter. And I also told him it's not exactly a good idea to reach over any dog's head anyway. Lucy didn't bite, just warned...but it was unnerving. And this is with a dog that was held very close on a leash being very obedient. I had my hands on top of the register getting ready to pay and this clerk surprised me, too. I'm surprised Petsmart doesn't intruct their employees in proper dog etiquette. I also watch Lucy even more closely now and tell people when I go to the register "please don't attempt to pet my dog".

I do agree with Timmy and we've done that with Lucy over the years to bring her to where she is atm. But, I can't read her mind (just her body language) and sometimes she may react (like in this store clerk incident) without any body language. Lucy will always be a work in progress but she has come very, very far. Btw, in the 9 years we've had Lucy this is the only incident that has happened.

Edited by author Thu Sep 1, '11 6:52am PST


Barked: Thu Sep 1, '11 10:07am PST 
Oh yes. The "what a cute dog" response. With my Keeshonds people used to be afraid of them thinking but with the Poms people are all over them.

Mandy is VERY good with strangers and kids, so I have no problem taking her anywhere. I walk her in Center City Philly and we can't get down the block before people want to touch her. She thinks people just worship the ground she walks. smile She does so well we're thinking she would be a good therapy dog.

Lola, OTOH, is still traumatized from the puppy mill (we adopted her in May). Half the time she won't even let me touch her. She just in the past week started letting my husband touch her! I've haven't taken her to Petsmart - I found a local holistic pet store and take her there. The people that work there & shop there seem to understand her better and will wait for her to approach them (and then I encourage a treat). I walk her around Philly and she skitters away from people - I flat out tell them she's a rescue and still adjusting, and they usually back off. She is a fear biter so I will stop them from touching her.

You just have to put your foot down. And if it's bad, leave. But you do need to socialize - maybe just in a quieter place with fewer people and work your way up.

bitches love- pantaloons
Barked: Thu Sep 1, '11 7:53pm PST 
Mandy, taking the dog to a holistic shop instead a chain is a really good idea actually. I've noticed Nicky is much more relaxed and willing to be closer to people than normal there than when I take him to PetSmart. He seems a bit overwhelmed whenever I take him to PetSmart.
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