Friday, June 9, 2017

Let's Shake on It

People are always asking to pet my dog. I get it. Jedi is gorgeous. His thick, luscious coat begs to be caressed. However, Jedi doesn't really care for strangers touching him. He's not a lab who wants to be everybody's friend. He's a German shepherd -- wary, aloof and very judgmental.

Jedi's feelings towards strangers causes some anxiety for me. I want him to be friendly, but at the same time I want him to trust me, believing that I've got his best interests in mind. That means sometimes I tell people "No" when they ask. You'd be surprised how many people get ugly when I say it too. (Even worse are the people who just walk up and stick their hands in his face without asking. They're lucky *I* don't bite them!) Articles like this one from Dr. Jen's Dog Blog make me feel better about saying no.

We have found a happy compromise to stranger interactions -- The Shake. I'll ask Jedi "Would you like to say hello?" and then ask him to sit. Sometimes he'll look at me and refuse to sit. I'll tell the greeter "I guess right now is not a good time" and give Jedi a scratch behind the ear, telling him it's OK. I think it's important that Jedi has the choice to interact with strangers. If he sits (and most of the time he does) I'll tell the greeter "His name is Jedi. Ask him to shake." Greeters always squeal when he does. I then tell the greeters "Scratch his shoulder. He really likes it there." They comply, we'll chat and then everybody leaves happy.

So why is this so great? Jedi REALLY doesn't like it when people lean over him or get in his face. Shaking keeps people out of Jedi's personal space. It teaches him that interaction with people can be pleasant. An unexpected bonus: He trusts me more in other unpleasant situations too (i.e. the vet's office and ear cleaning).


Does your dog have ambivalent feelings towards strangers too? See if The Shake works for you! This training tip is part of the Positive Pet Training blog hop hosted by Wag ‘N Woof Pets, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Travels with Barley. Click around below and see what others have to share as well. TTFN, -- K