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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Jake & Sweet- Caroline

Tricolored- Hounds for life!
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 12:20am PST 
So I took Jake and Caroline out for the first time to an outdoor mall. Jake used to go there with me all the time while he was in his service training. He did great. Sweetie being older moved slower but still great and great.

My question comes from how to handle people who seems to be afraid of your dogs?

I turned a corner and this woman literally screamed and jumped onto a bench. Jake was sniffing a bush to pee a while side walk length away. Sweetie tends to walk behind me. She's got some social anxiety. She acted like he was trying to kill her. He didn't even notice and was ready to step off after he peed.

I shook it off though I do have some social anxiety so that kinda threw me off. But Jake was attentive to me like he always is.

So we continued walking some more. We made our way down another row of shops and while I was sitting on a bench working with jake's issue about men passing us another woman saw my dogs. Mind you we are sitting on a bench off to the side. My dogs are tied to the bench and im' right there and she literally presses herself up against the way to get around them like they're going to Kujo her face off. I even got a "Oh Lord Jesus" scream from another woman when we were heading back towards the car.

This is the first time I've ever experienced this and Jake didn't seem to pick up on any of it at all which i was thankful for. But i was in a known pet friendly place. WE even passed two separate pack of service dogs in training with their handlers. And other normal people like me walking their dogs.

Has anyone else ever experienced something like this when walking their dog in a known dog friendly location? Or something like this? If so how do you deal with it?
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 12:43am PST 
One time, I was walking Charlie downtown and we crossed a street and began walking down another sidewalk. Some young group were standing outside of a shop along the sidewalk(which is at least two sidewalk lengths wide in that area to compensate for foot traffic during busy hours), and as we were walking by, one of the girls started squealing and like... curling into herself and lifting a leg all in the process of trying to make herself 'smaller'. It was... Interesting to say the least. I ignored it... Until one of the guys scooped her up and began 'teasing' her that he was going to take her over to my dog. THAT was the moment when I got mad, because he was dragging this squealing, squirming girl over who was either afraid of dogs, or trying to get attention(you can never tell anymore), and I didn't appreciate it. They COULD have freaked out my dog with her behavior and this guy carrying her over. "Leave my dog alone or I'LL bite!" They backed off pretty quickly and she stopped squealing as he put her down and they scuttled back to the other end of the sidewalk. I was MAD. He may have only intended to have been taunting her, but he could have easily freaked out my dog - if it had been Maya, she WOULD have lunged at them.

I've also had various people(usually women), gasp and back away instantly when they spot my dog walking on his leash. And he ignores them. I ignore them too, generally. If they DO freak my dog out, I get my dog the heck out of there.

Near my grandmother's apartments are the WORST. There's these children that are... clearly not very educated on canines. I was taking Charlie to visit my grandma once, and one little girl spotted Charlie, ran over(I was about to give her trouble because I don't allow any child to touch my dog without asking first, much less with an approach like that), stick her hand out, SCREAM when he looked at her, and RUN AWAY. Wth... She did this a second time before I said, "Leave my dog alone." and she ran off to hide somewhere. Granted... These apartments have the same children who like to lay down on speed bumps and play chicken with cars(NO OLDER THAN SIX/SEVEN TOO!). Boy, that was the day. This kid did that and played chicken. My fiance slowed down when he spotted him and all the kids that were off to the side of the road. The kid got up, and went off to the opposite side, and as we SLOOOWWWLLLYY crept our car by, he came around behind it, and reached out to touch our cars bumper! My fiance hit his brakes, I climbed out of the car and yelled at them about how dangerous that was, and to go back home before I called the cops. This same child did it one more time, but my fiance got out of the car before I had the chance the second time it happened, and he gave the kid a stern talking to about safety with vehicles. The kid got verrryyy quiet. He never, ever did it again.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I USUALLY ignore them and keep on going with my dog, or make a show of rewarding my dog for ignoring them(if their behavior is unruly), but if they get REALLY unruly with my dog and harass my dog at all, that's when I speak up for him.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 3:17am PST 
I just smile at anyone who looks nervous, put my dog in a tight heel and assure them I have him entirely under my control. If he does startle someone I stop and apologise. One time an old hippie came around the corner on a bike, he nearly ran into us and screamed 'WOOOLF!' I stopped and said sorry straight away, poor guy looked so freaked lol.

Riku (Forever Missed)

Heart of Gold
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 3:19am PST 
Everyone was afraid of Riku, except other German Shepherd owners. That is not an exaggeration either. I had Riku for many years and cured her of her reactivity of other dogs, her skittishness around children, etc. But even in the last years of her life people were afraid of her. We got the usual comments, "That looks like an attack dog!" "Does he bite!?" "Look at that mean dog!" (While she was walking obediently on lead and not looking at them...). I would normally tell people that she is not aggressive, and they would relax, but many people have a potent fear of GSDs that is not calmed no matter what you say! Really, when people are afraid of dogs or a certain breed, I usually resign to the fact that my dog isn't going to cure them.
Iris vom- Zauberberg

Service Werewolf
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 7:14am PST 
Even when my dog is in her SD harness, we come across people who are afraid of her.

I find that my own friendliness does much to put people at ease, in combination with the good behavior of my dog.

Awesome Dog
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 7:52am PST 
I don't really worry about it. Risa is afraid of people so she tends to keep her distance anyway. Her fears, coupled with the fact that not everyone loves dogs, made me decide to keep her close to me when we pass people. Risa has scared people because of the way she acts fearfully around them. It just seems to unnerve some people. Then again, one of my mom's friends is afraid of dogs but isn't afraid of Risa. Both of them just sort of ignore each other and all is good. smile

Edited by author Sun Apr 21, '13 7:53am PST


too old to eat- any more KD
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 8:08am PST 
I live in an area with a large ethnic population that historically do not like dogs & kids are taught to fear them. With 2 gsds I see the fear reaction at least 20 times every walk. Like others, I don't react. I put both dogs on one side (furthest from the people I'm passing) & give them a wide berth. There are times when a child might point & smile. Then I have them sit & invite the child to come pet/meet the boys.
But I have enough problems of my own, so I don't worry about changing anyone's mind.smile
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 8:36am PST 
I used to bring Gus to work with me in a retail store, there was a guy in his twenties who used to come in with his dad that was genuinely dog-phobic, he would run to the opposite side of the room if he saw Gus.

So when I knew he was there, or if anybody seemed afraid or uncomfortable with her, I would always put her up in the shop with door closed.

For the most part Gus couldn't scare anybody, she gives everybody puppy face and tail wags, but I try to be respectful and keep a distance from anyone seems afraid or simply has a look like they would prefer not to be touched by a germy, slobbering animal . . .

I even try to be proactive and have her switch sides away from a passing baby stroller to reassure mothers that I'm not going to let my dog put a nose near the baby . . .just in case they are worried.

I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 9:04am PST 
I too live in an area that has a large ethnic population that historically doesn't like dogs. Especially big dogs and when I walked Mikey around my neighborhood, I got a fair amount of people who would cross the street to avoid us. (Luckily I've never had a screamer). Or if they didn't see us in time or I didn't see them, they'd trot up someones driveway to avoid us.
With Moose, it's gotten even worse. Even when Moose was a little guy and total strangers would pull their cars over to get out and say hi to him, I'd get people crossing the street to avoid him. There's one lady who goes up onto peoples driveways or lawns to avoid us.
One woman did go a little overboard in her reaction to Moose when he was a puppy as we walked towards her. That shocked me. The Moose was so flippin' cute as 4 month old that I was totally taken aback by their reaction.

But, thus far, no one has screamed when we've come too close.

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Sun Apr 21, '13 11:04am PST 
A few months after we moved here, I was walking the dogs around town to get them used to "city" noises etc. Coming up to a busy corner, we were staying on the same side of the road so I looped them right around the corner.

I look up as the dogs are in a great heel, to see a woman frozen in the middle of the busy intersection freaking out, making some squealing noise, because of the dogs. The light is just about to change. This woman risks being hit by a car to avoid the dogs that didn't even give her a glance.
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