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Old 07-03-2014, 08:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What do you do when a passer by wants to chat?

So, working with my reactive GSD I ask for calm focus from her when people pass by. 9 times out of 10 this is great and we are seeing improvements, but she cannot cope when people stop and want to approach her. She goes in to full on panic with lunging and barking which starts from the moment I break eye contact or focus so I can politely ask them not to walk up to her. I'm looking for advice on what to do in those situations. We're doing BAT etc so it's really just the situations where the general public don't understand what we're doing and insist on approaching. She has a yellow dog bandana.


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Old 07-03-2014, 08:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If they are not dog people they will not understand the yellow bandana! Protect your dog and advise them "do not approach, she is in training & is not good with strangers". Most people will understand but be prepared to have to be flat out rude and turn and completely change your route. Also think about a training vest with big bold letters training DO NOT PET!!
Police Service Dog Black Vest Harness with 2 Embroidered 'do not Pet' Badges | eBay
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Keep your pace, walk like you mean it and simply pass
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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In the end I do what's best for my dog. If that means taking the long way around I'll do it, if it means being polite and smiling while swerving around someone and calling a "sorry, busy training!" behind me, or being an absolute nasty person and telling someone flat out to back off or get their dog away from mine. I'll do whatever it takes to keep both myself and my dogs and other people safe

I agree that most people even dog owners still don't know the concept of the yellow ribbon so a harness with clear written warnings like Athena'sMom suggests may be a good investment along with a basket style muzzle. While a muzzle may make her seem viscous to Joe Public you will hopefully see most people back off when they see it. A comfortable muzzle doesn't inconvenience the dog in any way so it doesn't cause any harm
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Or you can punish the reactivity and have your conversation and go on your way.
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Shade View Post
In the end I do what's best for my dog. If that means taking the long way around I'll do it, if it means being polite and smiling while swerving around someone and calling a "sorry, busy training!" behind me, or being an absolute nasty person and telling someone flat out to back off or get their dog away from mine. I'll do whatever it takes to keep both myself and my dogs and other people safe

I agree that most people even dog owners still don't know the concept of the yellow ribbon so a harness with clear written warnings like Athena'sMom suggests may be a good investment along with a basket style muzzle. While a muzzle may make her seem viscous to Joe Public you will hopefully see most people back off when they see it. A comfortable muzzle doesn't inconvenience the dog in any way so it doesn't cause any harm
I wish muzzles did back people off. For some it is a magnet. "He can't bite he has a muzzle"

Muzzles are good for reactive dogs, especially when there is a chance of a bite. Just be aware you have an issue to deal with on this as well.

When Woolf has his muzzle on is when I am an absolute witch about anyone approaching because I already know it is going to be one of those 'don't worry. I am good with dogs'
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I wish muzzles did back people off. For some it is a magnet. "He can't bite he has a muzzle"

Muzzles are good for reactive dogs, especially when there is a chance of a bite. Just be aware you have an issue to deal with on this as well.

When Woolf has his muzzle on is when I am an absolute witch about anyone approaching because I already know it is going to be one of those 'don't worry. I am good with dogs'
Absolutely, there are wack jobs out there anywhere.

When Delgado wears his Halti people will veer away, if he's just wearing his prong they are much more likely to walk up. That's just the Halti, I can only imagine what response a muzzle would elicit
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Not many know what the yellow bandana is.
Be clear with strangers. Its great you are working on it, in the real world were yes people do approach and frankly a good looking dog is a convo magnet! Everyone wants to say hello to a gorgeous beast. You are best to take an reactive moment like that and as another member said "correct it" or take the route less travelled and work on things in a semi controlled environment. There was a rottie in tys old ob class, he was a fearful dog that had no issues biting, his owner brought him every Sunday and worked woth him at a distance making sure not to overwhelm him and we all knew not to touch him, he did very well ! He even approached andrew at the end of a class for a pat.

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Old 07-03-2014, 10:10 AM   #9 (permalink)
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If you can keep your dog under threshold for a particular distance from the person, i would do this. It could be across the road, few yards away or just a yard away. Your dog is your primary concern, If i see a person coming, i go and walk on the other side of the road. OR i have her sit down and crouch down (This i find is what makes HER feel more secure when she is in sit position and i am crouched down facing her) and i do a "party" because people are walking by and its a no big deal, in fact its a "party!"

You have to find out what makes your dog feel secure, and work with that. Whether or not your standing on your head, you can slowly work it up from there. The other day i let somebody go past her threshold, my fault- and we learn from it.
If you have to ignore people in order to keep your dog from being reactive, do it. It's what i did for the first half year basically. Now i can talk to people and she doesn't reactive, where as she use to if they talked to us. TIME, patience and counter conditioning strangers to not being a big deal. The worst things you can do are to make a big deal out of it. Think about when you see a person coming, you probably start to tighten the leash (the dog feels this, and it tenses up the dog!) and also you probably without realizing it hold your breathe.. Which is another tense trigger for the dog. We do this without realizing it, so you have to be cognitive about when a person DOES approach, keep it calm, safe and fun. Sing happy birthday in a fun voice if you have to, to keep your own nerves down, that will help. Have treats if you can (high quality, like hot dog or cheese) to associate the person (the scary thing) to a good thing!

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Old 07-03-2014, 10:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Basically, you can correct swiftly right before the escalation into panic/pulling happens (it will stop the behavior in it's tracks) or avoid the situation from ever happening in the first place. Working up slowly to having your dog be able to be near people without reacting badly. Could also do a combination of both styles. Personally, I would correct the behavior right then and there but that's me. Do what you feel is right for you and your dog.
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