Please Ignore the Dog Behind the Curtain

I was reminded today that any dog can bite, even yours, even mine. Gavin, my male Aussie, wasn’t socialized nearly enough when he was a puppy. He is protective of his family and he is generally suspicious of strangers. However, if ignored by strangers, and allowed to investigate them at his own pace, he warms up quickly.

Normally when strangers come into my house, I ask them to ignore the dogs, especially Gavin. I tell them that if they want to meet him, just ignore him and in a few minutes he will come over on his own and say hi. I give them a few treats, to give him when he does come over. It helps him to associate meeting new people with something good. The tactic works very well, and Gavin is very polite to people if they are polite to him. But sometimes people don’t listen.

My house is for sale, and was recently shown by an agent who had never been here before. Before letting everyone in, I told them about the dogs, “Please ignore the dogs, and they will ignore you and won’t get in your way as you look around the house.” When they came in the house, the agent, who was a dog lover, saw Gavin and let out an “Aw he so adorable.” and then bent down, RIGHT IN HIS FACE, despite all the growling! I called Gavin over to me and he came, but she followed him all the way. Luckily, he did not bite her, and I put him in another room while they looked at the house. Then tonight, I had a teenager come over to see a guitar I had for sale. I told the kid about the dogs, and he seemed to listen. Nevertheless, while I was helping him carry stuff out of the house, he passed by Gavin and quickly bent down to pet him, hand outstretched, looking Gavin directly in the eye. If he had not been a teenager, with quick reflexes, he probably would have gotten bit!

In both these cases, even though I had warned the people beforehand, It would have been my fault if they had been bitten. However, it’s not the people that I feel bad about. Both times, because of bad judgement on my part, I allowed my dog to be put into a situation where he could bite. It’s my responsibility to know my dogs and their limits. I need to make sure that my dog doesn’t get put into a position where he feels he needs to bite. That means, if I even suspect someone won’t follow my rules about the dogs, either I don’t let them in the house, or I put the dogs away before they come in.

It’s our responsibility as dog owners, to make sure that other people aren’t hurt by our dogs, and that our dogs aren’t hurt by the ignorance of people, including our own!