Promoting good interactions between your dog and visitors

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019


K9 Corner

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “dog-proofing your child.” This is sort of a sequel in that it is about protecting your dog when visitors want to play and interact with your animal.

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This is the time of year when neighbors, family and friends take time to visit. There is a strong possibility that among these visitors, there will be one or more that want to play with your dog.  This is when you take the lead and advise according to your dog’s age, temperament and ability to interact with people they have never or rarely met before.

With my last two pets, a 5-pound Papillon and a 12-pound mixed breed, I would suggest they let the dog come to them; and inevitability they would find the little toy breeds in their laps begging for pets.

If the visitors have children, I would suggest that they sit on the floor and let the animals approach them. However, I would never leave the room while they were interacting with my pet.  That is what I call supervision to protect my dog and advise if the child starts doing something I think might frighten my pet. So far, by following this rule of mine, my current dog is happy, loving and enjoys visitors.

Things are different when the family dog is larger. I started with medium sized dogs: standard schnauzers and border collies. When I had visitors that wanted to interact with those dogs, it was usually rougher and more active, often out-of-doors. However, even then unless I knew the person well and the type of play they anticipated with the dog, I went with them to supervise, as well as visit with them.

I remember my golden retriever that delighted when a certain visitor arrived as he knew he was going to have a glorious time retrieving balls thrown the length of my yard.  I just got to enjoy the activity and the sheer happiness between the two ball players.

This also happens when someone brings their own puppy to visit. One visitor wanted to see her dog play with my three medium size dogs so we went out into the yard and the pup just sat.  This was very discouraging to the owner and I could see her getting agitated. I tried to encourage the pup to move around and got nowhere. In the meantime my three dogs were romping around by themselves ignoring the pup and us.  

All of a sudden, one of my border collies noticed our efforts and decided to take a hand.  Prancing up to the youngster, she gave a play bow while watching from the corner of her eye.  She had to repeat this several times before the pup understood and off they went racing up and down the yard with my dog executing a U-turn with a jump over the pup at each end of the grassy expanse. Finally the pup flopped down totally exhausted. The owner and I had been laughing at the activity and she was delighted to see her pup in action.