Fearful of Strangers
Copyright Sally G
Unfortunately it is usually the human that is not educated enough about dogs. The person who was reaching out to pet the dog did a no, no. Dogs see that action as a challenge as they do making eye contact with them and talking to them. As a human it is natural to us to do all three of the above to make an acquaintance, but in the dog world it is a threat.
Dogs that are alpha or fearful will take that threat on if the person does not back off.
So I would not be putting the dog down,. I would be educating those you come in contact with that the dog is a bit fearful and so should not be approached. They actually make leashes and collars with the word caution on them specifically for dogs that are nervous around strangers.
What you can do is try to get the dog used to people in the area as being a good thing. Train the dog at a safe distance from where there are people such as a grocery store and praise and reward the dog for keeping its mind on you while obeying commands. Gradually move closer to the action as you see your dog is okay with it.
When people come to you they should not look at , talk to , or try to pet the dog but you can give them a treat to drop on the ground for the dog then have them walk away. This will have the dog begin to see strangers as approaching meaning something good coming its way. You can actually set it up first with friends who will listen to you as to what to do, this way you don’t have to worry about the general public to start with.
Have that person approach without doing any of the three challenges and just talk to you briefly then drop the treat and walk away. You would also do this with people who come into your home if your home is a problem. The dog should be completely ignored, but something dropped on the floor upon entering the home and leaving the home.
It may also benefit the dog to be in an obedience class because there the instructor can have others practice this with you in a controlled environment. Sometimes the local ASPCA gives Reactive Rover classes which deal with dogs that nip or are frightened of people or who lunge at people when walked.
When you are training the dog put it in a down stay at your side when people approach and as long as the dog is acting appropriately ,make sure to praise and reward the dog for that behavior so it understands this is the behavior you want to see.
As for the treats left behind by strangers it should be something the dog will only get from them, such as hot dog slivers or chicken slivers so the dog sees it as special. Keep in mind that the dog may not pick it up at the time the person is there at first but as time goes on the dog probably will once it people they are not there as a challenge .
Below I will include a link that will take you through positive obedience training step by step.
Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm