Seek professional training for any issue you may have with aggression. These tips are not meant to be all-inclusive or the only options available to you. This information is educational only.
Despite what you may think, there is no need for you to pet a dog you do know know. No matter where it is, or how cute he may be, or how experienced you think you are.
Not all dogs enjoy petting.
Teach your children to ask permission and to not get upset if the handler says no. That’s a rule you should follow as an adult too.
Never reach over a fence or through a fence to pet a dog you do not know or who is excited, nervous, fearful, or otherwise under stress.
And do not open a gate or door to enter a space with a dog without having the guardians explicit permission.
If they are in their own yard or crate or other safe space, it’s selfish of you to invade their space, and they will be the one to pay the price. Have respect for boundaries.
Many dogs will feel territorial or threatened by the experience.
When workers and first time visitors are at your house and you cannot keep your attention on your dog, the safest place for your dog is in his/her crate / behind a secure baby gate.
People do silly and unpredictable things. They leave gates open, move too fast, make unfamiliar noises, etc.
Not everyone likes dogs and I’d just rather keep the dog protected from any risk.
Your dog may be uncomfortable, even if they never have been before.
If we know where the dog is and the dog and others are less stressed, everyone is happier in the experience.
Why risk it?
Dogs who spend excessive amounts of time on a chain or in small confinement spaces can become frustrated and very agitated. They are often very under socialized and territorial.
Dog's that spend most of their time without human interaction / supervision can fall into this category as well. Frustration and arousal in a dog without social skills is a very dangerous situation.
Teach your child to never approach the neighbor’s, friend’s or family member’s chained or “penned” dog.
Teach your child to never taunt a dog in any way. No rocks, no sticks, no whistles, no yelling, no food, nothing. Ignore the dog.
It’s a lot like bullying and very bratty behavior. And it’s dangerous. The dog is going to create and association of frustration and anger with children.
Chains break. And dogs escape enclosures. Everyday.
If you have a neighbor with a dog living on a chain or poor conditions call animal control to have it checked out and know your risk.
It may not be an easy conversation to have with a neighbor or even a family member or friend, but it’s a conversation worth having when the well-being of humans and animals are at stake. Meet the guardian with kindness and you may just create a change.
Too many pet guardians rely on these beliefs:
🐾 He's never done that before
🐾 He's extremely tolerant
🐾 He loves children
We all have a threshold of tolerance and reach a breaking point. You have one yourself. There comes a point for everyone where we just can't take it another second.
While your dog may love your children, he may not love all children. Even if it's just one single child with the wrong energy that pushes your dog too far. You know you've met people before that you just didn't vibe with -- well, your dog will too.
Forcing your dog to interact and expecting him to be patient and tolerant with every interaction is unrealistic. While you're socializing and training your dog, let him know that you will be his advocate.
Patience can wear thin as the duration of interaction becomes too long. Whether this is a child petting your dog constantly while you're out at the cafe, or whether you have someone who has come to visit for the holidays and the energy in the house is elevated for much longer than normal.
Let children know "that's enough now". Allow your dog to retreat to his crate or safe space and be left alone.
Your dog is getting older everyday.. We don't want to admit that and none of us are every prepared for it.
As your dog ages, his tolerance and patience may be less than ever before. Even if he has previously been a dog that loved everyone.
Not feeling his best, creaky joints, sensitive backs and hips could lead to not wanting to be be touched or bothered, or it may shift where he will permit petting.
Again -- be your dog's advocate and know how to read your dog's body language in EVERY SINGLE interaction.
What he enjoyed yesterday or with a specific individual, may not be what he will allow today.
No shame in the muzzle!
Wear it proudly and who cares what anyone else thinks!
Many people fear going out in public, even a walk in the neighborhood. Don’t be afraid! And don’t restrict your dog’s opportunity for progress.
When the time comes in your training you must get into the scenarios! The dog and you both need to have the engagement and exercise to work together to address social issue.
Your dog may never make friends, but that’s ok. Having a muzzle on gives many owners confidence to know nothing bad can happen if a dog or person catch you by surprise and it gives you opportunities to practice the skills a trainer is teaching you.
If your dog has situational risks wear a muzzle to work through advancements. At home when company comes over, the beach, mountain trail or right on into the local retailer. Go for it!
And don’t be in a hurry to not use it.
Build many successes and see your dog’s and your own energy and confidence shift in positive ways.