Tuesdays are busy days here at Casa de Pulga. We all have busy days. And if we’re honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure we have days when we waste too much time. Can I get an amen? Mine usually involve reading one novel after another. *sigh*
My favorite days, which are both busy and relaxing, are the days we have visitors. The best ones just drop in.
My dogs, Flash and Patches, are Australian shepherd mixes, meaning they are territorial, protective, sometimes nervous dogs. Aussies need socialization from the get-go, like many dogs do. We’ve worked hard, the last seven years with our babies, to get them out of the house and into the general public as often as possible. But it’s not always convenient or possible to get the dogs out. Go ahead. Say it. You know you want to. Who let the dogs out?
Socialization is important for nervous or protective dogs. If they’re not exposed to the general public regularly from a young age, they get ugly with strangers. Guests are barked and growled at. It’s almost impossible to have company over. You risk having a dog bite someone, then having your dog put down. And they’re more anxious in general, I think. We didn’t socialize our first Aussie as much as we should have and she never did get used to having company she didn’t know.
So with Flash and Patches, even though we don’t get them out and about as much as we’d like to, we have visitors nearly daily. My three teens have friends here day and night. My own friends and acquaintances drop in to have coffee and visit chickens. Strangers at stop lights lean out of their cars to say hi to the babies when they sit in the front passenger seat. I’m slightly biased, but they are gorgeous dogs.
How do we deal with our dogs when we introduce them to someone new? I’m so glad you asked.
- Encourage strangers to kneel, lean or squat and put their hand out, back first, for a sniff. Towering over the dog is intimidating. The back of the hand doesn’t typically strike.
- Have a treat ready. Windee Rings from Jones Natural Chews make the perfect treat for this. They’re a great size for any and all dogs, and they’re all natural, straight from the cow. A dog biscuit will do, too, but not all dogs are wild about a biscuit. I haven’t met a dog yet which doesn’t like a Windee Ring.
- When someone is coming to the house, I put the dogs in a back room until company is here and established. After a few minutes I’ll let the dogs out to say hello. They’re far more accepting when someone is already in the house and making themselves at home than when someone is AT THEIR DOOR, TRYING TO GET IN THEIR HOUSE. GRRR! It’s important the dogs know they can do their job when someone comes to the door, to guard the house. I try and keep strangers and guests separate this way.
- We let people know, straight up, what sets the dogs off. Flash, for instance, doesn’t like anyone but family to go into the kitchen, He’ll walk in, stand over his food bowl and growl. Like anyone wants to eat his food. *smh*
- When we’re out, we keep the dogs on short leashes when anyone approaches. It helps to have them sit and stay before that someone is close. And I speak soft, sweet words to my dog. Non-threatening things.
None of this is stuff I learned anywhere other than through trial, error, and listening to other dog owners. I’d encourage you, if you don’t already, to socialize your dog. They’re more pleasant, easy going. And it’s nice to have grown up company, even on busy days, without having to stress about how your dogs will behave. Socialization is good!
Until I write again …