MemberDecember 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm314
I think you are right on both accounts. She is likely an assertive/dominant dog, so when confronted with a situation she is uncomfortable with, she is acting on it. She seems pretty appropriate as far as her reactions to situations where she is uncomfortable (she does the minimum amount necessary to communicate she doesnt like what is going on ie: growl or snarl) .
First thing to take into account is her personality. We know she does not like to be pet outright by a strange person, but rather after she is comfortable she will accept them. She also does not like to interact with other dogs. Generally if you know this about your dog, there is no reason to pressure them in a unnecessary situation where they are naturally uncomfortable. There is really no reason why she must accept a complete stranger touching her, and she doesn’t necessarily have to interact with other dogs as long as she is not acting inappropriately when she sees them. By not putting her in unnecessary situations, where we know she will be uncomfortable, she will in turn become more trusting of you and more relaxed in these situations. She will know that you will not put her in a position in which she needs to be concerned with people and dogs. Certain dogs are more distrusting of strangers. And it goes against nature to expect them to be carefree in these situations.
In situations where you need her to be touched by strangers (at the vet etc.) or when a unnexpected dog comes up to her, you can teach her an “Easy” command.
“Easy” starts with the people she trusts (you and your wife)
-say “easy” then touch her and give her a treat.
repeat this gradually petting longer and touching more invasively (such as progressing to lifting a paw or petting more briskly)
Once you have practiced with her, you can set up sessions with her wearing a muzzle and a stranger petting her. Start with non-offensive petting such as a quick pet on the side or under the chin after you say “easy”. The person can walk parallel to where she is standing, avoiding eye contact, give a quick stroke and move on. As she is more accepting you can ask the person to pet her more then once etc.
I wouldn’t correct her for approaching a person, but rather you can have them ignore her until she has had time to be comfortable and then call her over for a quick greeting (maybe even just a hand sniff).
Hope this helps!