OP said " Normally he's pretty skittish and shy around new people and will sometimes bark but only out of fear, and has never tried to snap at anyone. The hair on his back will stand up when he meets someone new and he is just very standoff ish."
The dog is shy, fearful , not stable . He is TELLING you . You need to be aware and take pre-cautions .
"Everyone has been telling me it's normal, he was startled, it was instinct"
It is not normal . You said his normal was to be fear arousal . That is a dog that will bite .
this "He's in intermediate training classes now and he's very well mannered"
I've seen this . The dog likely is walking on egg shells .
Don't molly coddle the dog or baby him . That will only reward him and nurture this state.
I would have dropped my items at the cashiers in mid transaction , don't care, would have said excuse me but I'll be right back , and that dog would have had my immediate pro-active attention. He would have been put into motion to focus on me so fast . If you can't handle the world then you focus on the small part of it that you can. I wouldn't let this dog's attention drift .
You can't be embarrassed -- the cashier can always void the sale , and complete the sale later.
Dogs are supported in their discomfort . See how fast you will be abandoned by the group that thinks it is normal , if the dog did bite .
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Last edited by carmspack; 06-05-2014 at 08:33 AM.