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Introducing Your Dog to New People

A man introducing his dog to a father and child.
Some dogs are leery of strangers and others may be protective of their owner and home. It is important that you keep these things in mind when introducing your dog to someone new. This is a guide about introducing your dog to new people.
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November 14, 2011

I have 2 Labs that are inside children. Marley never meets a stranger. Macey, on the other hand, is a shy little girl. They have the big wire crates in our game room. So before someone comes in, I tell them to kennel up.

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After the person sits down, I will let the girls out. Marley is not as prone to lick them to death. And Macey is not as scared to come in the living room and be social, after a few minutes of them talking to her.

By Debbie S. from McAdams, MS

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 9, 2012

Does anyone else have an overly protective Saint Bernard or dog of similar size and power? And how do you deal? My Saint is between 1-2 years old and still growing at 130 pounds. We adopted him in December and he's been wonderful! He is very well mannered, pretty obedient, and has bonded well with the family.
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I guess you can say too well! He does not allow visitors unless my bf is home and says it's OK. If he is outside when someone pulls into the yard I have to run and bring him in the house so he doesn't break his cable or collar trying to keep them away. He's never been aggressive or harmful, but he intimidates by barking in your face and I don't know that he won't do something more with a wrong movement. Any suggestions?

I considered professional help, I just worry he won't let them close and since he weighs as much as me I don't feel that I can anchor him should he decide to freak out.

By Carebare from Houghton County, MI

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 9, 20120 found this helpful

I raised AKC Boxers for years-also a protective breed that can go just a bit over the top in 'guard dog' mode:) The best way to prevent it becoming a problem is to take the dog through a training programme designed to 'socialise' the dog so that you are the one in control when you are out in public, or when you have company.

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There are trainers, classes, and great books available in your local book store-it's never too late to take a dog back through remedial training as though he were a young pup just starting out. There are also great websites, start your search by using a search term that includes the name of your breed and the words too protective to find some good sites that will help you retrain your dog.

Most importantly, don't be angry with him for protecting his loved ones, but do protect the public and your friends from his indiscriminate protection. If need be, muzzle him in public and always have him on a leash to avoid prosecution as having an out of control dangerous dog.

When company comes over, muzzle and leash him, or put him in a stout crate-pricey and worth every penny for the peace of mind.

Check the laws of your state, town, and county to make sure you are in compliance with what ever statutes they have enacted concerning large aggressive breeds. I had to move from two different complexes with my last (ok, he was HUGE) Boxer due to newly enacted 'dangerous dogs' laws.

When we finally found a place to buy, I still had to comply with muzzle/leash/insurance bond laws, even though the dog was so old he was nearly toothless, and couldn't have hurt a butterfly if it landed on his snout, lol!

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March 9, 20120 found this helpful

Thank you for the advise i will definetly look into it.. Next question would be how do i anchor us? And will the muzzle upset him more? I love him and adore his loyalty and protectiveness. I ALWAYS feel safe. I jus worry about the ''intelligent dog ppl'' that come up saying ''oh ur soo cute'' as hes spazzing at them and i repeatedly have to tell them ''step away'' as im hanging on for dear life lol he listens if i say sit or down even if hes warning ppl away but ppl dont always listen n think they can meet him. When really he wants to chew em up. With my bf around hes COMPLETE OPPOSITE.

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March 10, 20120 found this helpful

Muzzles are comfortable for the dog if properly seated but it takes practice.

There is a combination harness and muzzle called a 'Halti' that is fantastic for retraining a dog who is unruly on the leash, but until you feel 200% sure you can control him you might want to let your BF be the walker. I saw a St Bernard drag his diminutive walker a quater mile down a street once, the scrapes on that poor teen were not pretty when we finally got the dog stopped.

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The halti works by pulling the dog's nose to the chest area if you apply resistance to the leash. It takes a lot of practice but it's a highly recommended training and walking aid. Using one could mean the difference between you being able to walk the dog, or the walker always needing to be your BF. This is a UK link but the product is available in the US at pet stores, vets, and on Amazon:

http://www.pets  of-animals-37019

It's got a good description of the product, and several reviews that are very informative.

Your dog sounds as if he is aware of his size and weight and is comfortable using that against you to do and go where he wants. If you have access to a fenced yard you can try short sessions where you have him leashed and muzzled and walk him next to the fence line for practice in understanding that you are the boss, not him. When he acts up, the walk is over and you go inside. Keep scolding to an absolute minimum, all it does is scare the dog-he will not understand why you are so angry, only that you are.

Treats as a motivator and reward will help you get the retraining ball rolling-when he does what you want, praise him extravagantly (dogs are so eager to please that the praise means almost as much as the treat). Gradually ease off the treats and increase the lavish praise, he'll start behaving for the reward of your praise alone.

When he acts up simply end the activity. He'll see that as punishment enough, and eventually (sooner rather than later as St Bs are smart) he'll connect the misbehaviour with the punishment of fun time being over-and he'll be very interested in learning what you want from him.

One product you want to avoid unless your vet recommends it is the spiked choke collar. You can Google to find out about those, they are awful control devices that in the wrong human hands can cause terrible cumulative damage to the dog physically and emotionally.

As for people wanting to cuddle your adorable St Bernard, if you see people coming towards you simply put your hand out in a 'stop' gesture when you are sure they are really heading for you and your dog, and say something along the lines of "Please don't approach us, we're in a training session".

Then turn around and go the other way because sure enough they will want to ask if he is training to be a Guide Dog or something, lol, or at least it will take them a few more steps for your words to penetrate their well meaning interest in getting too close for you and your dog.

People used to be the same way with my Boxers. OK, they were gorgeous, and very well behaved, but I still worried what might happen if an admirer made a sudden gesture or move the Boxer misunderstood. So unless we were in a super controlled environment, I never let anyone approach us.

People who understand dogs will hang back-they'll nod at you, maybe say "He's gorgeous" but they won't approach without an invitation. You'd think that a no-brainer but some people will just fling themselves on your dog, it's a little shocking.

So as the human part of the dog-people team, it's your responsibility to protect the dog from the public, the public from the dog, and you from the one in a thousand who never got near your dog but insists he went berserk and attacked everyone in sight. I'd laugh, but it happens.

He looks like a beautiful and loving dog! He might not like the changes at the beginning but he will soon:)

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March 10, 20120 found this helpful

I would check out leerburg.com and find the answers to the question you have. There are many videos for sale, and free podcasts and free articles, and a huge database of questions that have been answered!

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March 11, 20120 found this helpful

Please contact The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan, he will surely help you. He is in Los Angeles,CA and has a website. You must change the way you act with your dog and his actions.

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March 16, 20120 found this helpful

Prong collars are useless, and you are right; in the wrong hand very destructive and abusive. Can't find a halter big enough. Walking him and controlling him isn't the huge struggle. Trying to get him to understand that it is not ok to lunge and bark at people is the issue.

What happens after that point I haven't chanced to find out. He is very respectful overall (to his family). He is still growing and eventually will completely over power me without a doubt, we been working manners of no paw, no pull, no bark, and no pushing, all is going well. And when my bf is around new people are welcomed with a happy tail and nudges.

When I'm alone is the issue and I cannot rely on my bf to walk him, he is out of town 5 weeks of the summer for racing; not mention 2 full time jobs. So either way I have no choice but to work with what I have. Or re-home him for caring to much about his owner. That's ridiculous, and I would never give up on my teddy bear that easily.

He's my buddy, listens to me, snuggles, kisses me, Loves my son, and I cant unlove him for protecting me. But I do need to find a way for him to at least deal with people being around me. Even if he just sits there crabby, that'd be fine. Lunging and barking has got to stop.

I've been working with dogs since I was 7. I've dealt with the abused, fear biters, feral dogs, behavior issues from separation anxiety to potty training and chewing, unruliness. Aggression and protectiveness is the one thing I've never dealt with.

I'm not looking for criticism on ''need to change how I am with'' when you don't see the work I put into him, and all the love and praise he gets for his good deeds through out the day. I'm looking for advise on how to socialize him safely and teach him the world is not out to hurt me. I'm open for ideas and will try anything that I haven't tried yet if I can find the tools to fit, and I'm not putting someone in harms way. I know where I went wrong.

I rarely have company, he knows this and freaks when it happens. Being 20 minutes into the middle of nowhere we don't see a lot of people, and I had to work with manners before I could bring him anywhere to socialize him, getting dragged thru town wasn't appealing.

We're past that for the most part and the ice is gone so I have gripes again. Thank you to those who gave me some helpful advice and I am working on some ideas and gonna make a halti to fit:)

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December 16, 20130 found this helpful

I have the same problem as you. My boyfriend has had his St. Bernard since a puppy (she's now almost 7). We've only been together for 2 years but she is extremely over protective of me. I can't be alone with people without the dog freaking out. One thing I have learned is that we meet new people together and with Molly off her leash.

If she is able to meet the new people unrestrained with my boyfriend and I together she has no problems with the person if I'm left alone later with that person.

We're still working on when we take walks but the plus side is she does very well with children, just not adults.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 11, 2012

How do I best get my dog to like others that come to visit us? He is very overprotective of us and will not settle down until they leave. This is beginning to cause us stress and to think way too much before we have company over.
He is 2 1/2 years old. He is on edge and becomes very pushy, insisting on attention and petting, non-stop. He pushes his weight around, literally and it can get on our company's last nerve. He will bark if we leave him in another room.

By patricia27 from OH

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January 13, 20120 found this helpful

Sounds like my 4 year old dachshund. After awhile my dog will settle down but only after the company gives him a little attention and pets him. My dog has gotten so much better since I started "laying down the law" so to speak. Maybe you should just let him bark until he gets the message he's not coming out till you say so.

Find one of your guest, maybe a relative; one who has a lot of patience and have them visit while the dog is in the room. Don't know if it will work but I'd give it a try. We love our pets so much that we sometimes let them get away with most anything. I had to get really firm because of the biting. Mine is not perfect but a whole lot better.

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January 14, 20120 found this helpful

I've had dogs like yours and yes, it can make the company very uncomfortable.

He won't like it, but the very best thing to do is to snap the lead on every time you have a guest. You will then be in control-he won't like it, so let him greet the guests, get a bit of a fuss, and then make him sit at your side during the visit. Do this whenever you have company, regular visitors and the new guest so that he understands that whenever there is any sort of company, he is expected to show company manners.

Whenever he tries to use his body weight (or whines and barks) to regain his position of control, restrain him at your side by returning him to the sitting position with your hand, and holding him there if needed.

You may have to enlist several different and patient friends to role-play several times to get him through the initial, difficult change to his routine of being in charge when company is around.

Using treats and praise to reward him for even a few seconds of 'sit-stay' is going to be a big help readjusting his manners, too.

Be patient, this method does work on 99% of dogs.

You might consider using a crate if it doesn't; you put him in his crate before opening the door to company-he'll fuss and whine and carry on, though, even if the crate is in the same room as the company.

Or you can crate him after trying to keep him well mannered with the leash. Have the crate in the same room as you are entertaining company, and speak to him now and again so that he understands he is not being totally excluded, just restrained from being too physical with the company:)

Locking him in another room and letting him howl (and possibly destroy the 'containment' area in his unhappiness at being kept away from the guests) will be more painful for you and your company.

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