|Barked: Thu Dec 20, '12 4:05pm PST |
|It sounds to me like you are misreading her signals and like she doesn't WANT to say hello at all. Just because her tail is wagging doesn't mean she wants to say hi or that she's happy or comfortable. In fact, she may also wag her tail during fear, aggression, insecurity, agitation, etc.
I have to agree with Scarlet. By allowing strangers to try to pet her at all, you're setting her up for failure and a potential bite. She's clearly very uncomfortable with strange people, and by pushing her boundaries by allowing people to interact with her, it very well could lead to a bite which could lead to euthanasia for her - which is something you absolutely want to avoid at all costs. I wouldn't take her on the bus at all. I take my Beagle on the bus regularly, but he also adores people and people try to interact with him so much that I NEVER would have forced that on my Rottweiler, Maya who was very much like Bailey with strangers. That's asking for trouble and setting your dog up to be even more uncomfortable than she is.
I honestly wouldn't allow people to pet her at all - even in your own home. Let them toss her treats or hold treats out in the palm of their hands, but let her go to them and not make her more uncomfortable by petting her. Earning her trust with baby steps is the BEST way possible to go, and this includes no petting to start off. If she doesn't like contact or people being too direct with her or touching her, then stop people from doing it and only allow them to hand her treats or toss treats in her direction. It's up to you to advocate for your dog and make sure she feels safe and right now, it doesn't sound like she feels safe at all. It's awesome that you want to work through it, but I do think you are going about it the wrong way.
I'll be honest, she simply sounds fearful of people.
If strangers want to pet her, I'd be upfront and say, "She's afraid of people, but you can hold out this treat and see if she'll take it from you." or better yet, "She's very scared of people and it would make her very uncomfortable for you to pet her." and continue on your way.
I would also muzzle train her as a precaution. This is NOT a discrimination against her whatsoever - I love bullies and mastiff breeds. I fully believe every dog should be muzzle trained as a just-in-case, whether aggressive or not.
Instead of taking her into crowded places, why not get the help of a friend who she doesn't know, or someone you trust that she doesn't trust yet, and go outside to work on outdoor interaction with her, simply tossing pieces of hot dog or various other types of high value rewards while going by and ignoring her. You want her to feel like these strangers make good things happen, and that they aren't so scary and letting them touch her isn't going to make it go any faster - in fact, it will only send you two steps back in trying to help her with this.
As soon as you can get a behaviorist, get one. This would be the absolute best way to help her so if you can start saving up for one and get one, the sooner the better.
There's also a few books I'll suggest too:
Click to Calm by Emma Parsons
The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell
Scaredy Dog by Ali Brown
I'm sure others will have some great advice to add!
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