Help with problems greeting people
So, I have a ritual at my house before any visitors are allowed to meet the dogs. My boyfriend thinks it's ridiculous and a pain, but so far I think it works for them. I am happy with the progress I have made with Xena especially but I'm sure there is room for improvement with both dogs.
This is what we have to do anytime someone comes over who actually wants to hang out with the dogs (if not they are crated):
1. Put Eko in the bedroom before the person even gets to the door. Otherwise he lunges and snaps, we were working with a trainer on it but then he jumped up and almost bit a girl in the face and for a long time he was crated when people came over, period. We recently found out (on accident) that after a little while, he settles down, can come out and be his normal, friendly self. But when people knock and come in the door is when I feel it is not safe. My boyfriend feels it is not safe at all and he should still be put away when people come over.
2. After they come in, they have to let Xena come sniff them before they can say pet or say hi to her. She sniffs their shoes and legs for a few minutes, then when she nudges their hand with her nose it's okay to touch and pet her. If they move suddenly, look at, or talk to her she bolts behind me and waits for them to stand still and ignore her again before she starts the whole sniffing thing all over. They can talk to us, just not to her.
3. When Xena is done and Eko is quiet (no more barking or growling), Eko comes out of the bedroom and he is usually very excited and ready to come say hi to everyone.
We do this every time someone comes over, it works for them and up until recently haven't had any problems. I guess the biggest thing is they do this to everybody, every time. Even family and good friends who have known the dogs their whole lives and come over often. Eko is worse than Xena, though, because Xena remembers more people. There are maybe 3 people Eko won't be aggressive to (me, my boyfriend, my roommate) when coming into the house and a couple he barks at, but doesn't lunge or snap.
A few times lately, Xena has been very testy with a few people who tried to pet her over her head, too soon, or took steps toward her before she was comfortable with them. Last night she got so scared because a friend kept trying to pet her before she was okay with it. She was jumping at the guy then jumping back, growling, barking, I had to pick her up and sit her next to me on the couch. She gave the guy a pretty hard stare the whole time until he left, and my boyfriend and I are debating over whether I should have picked her up. He said don't do that, you're rewarding her for being scared; I say that it's okay to comfort her when she's afraid because I have read it here before in some articles. We are both concerned about it because unlike Eko, Xena actually has bitten before, even though it was provoked and didn't break skin, only bruised and a small scratch. This was totally unrelated to greeting people.
So, long story short, I have a two part question: Do you think it is safe to let Eko out after he settles down, and do you think petting Xena when she's scared is making her fear worse?
Mr. Eko 2/14/2012 - My first GSD and my little Romeo
Xena 11/30/12 - My first APBT and my little warrior princess