“I had a problem when I walked Max last night.” Max is a five-year old Aussie Shepherd-Corgi mix.
“Yeah? What happened?”
“Well, he looks really fluffy and cuddly and, as I was walking him across the college campus, one of the students spotted Max, swooped toward us, and, before I could say anything and at the same time she’s saying, ‘Oh, he’s so cute, may I pet your dog?’, she got right down in his face, nose to nose. She completely startled him. So, he snout-punched her.”
“What does that mean”?
“He lunged forward and punched her forehead with his nose. She was wearing glasses so they popped off. He booped her pretty hard.”
“Woof. That doesn’t sound good.”
“No! We talked it out. She’ll be fine. And it was just stupid. People make assumptions about dogs’ receptivity based on how they look or whatever they assume. Not good! Every dog is different and it’s just a good idea not to charge into their spaces or faces.”
“So, what do you do when someone wants to pet Max?”
“I introduce them. I have Max sit. I give the new person a treat to offer him and ask them to back up a few steps so he can see them clearly. When I let him up, I tell the new person to stand still and hold out the treat hand without moving it so he can approach and sniff. That way, Max sees that I trust them and that they’re giving first. When he takes the treat and signals he’s ready to be friends … which usually happens quickly… he loves being petted and cooed over. He just doesn’t like strangers invading his space with the obvious intent of doing him good without knowing whether they’re OK. He likes to be introduced.”
Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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