This past weekend Iggy and I got to interact with a group of people who are frightened of dogs. They come from a culture where dogs aren’t part of the daily social interaction. Nonetheless, they were curious and drew near. I took it upon myself to provide these “could-be dog lovers” a positive experience with my dog.
About 10 children approached us. I could hear one say that he was scared of dogs. I stopped and asked Iggy to sit. The kids surrounded us, keeping a safe 5-foot distance, and leaned in to look at Iggy. Because Iggy responded favourably to my commands, the kids soon felt at ease and wanted to know more about the dog. They came out of their shells and asked some great questions like “what’s his name” and “what kind of dog is he”.
Later on, a lady and her daughter approached. They asked if they could pet the dog but seemed very hesitant. I turned Iggy around, held his head, and suggested they pet his bum. Petting the hindquarters works well with people who really want to pet the dog but are too scared to do so. Of course, I would only do this with a dog who was very comfortable being touched by strangers and having his bum touched.
Keys to being a dog ambassador
- Be sure that your dog has mastered the “stop” and “sit” commands.
- Absolutely no touching unless your dog is comfortable being touched.
Winning them over a little at a time
I am thrilled that Iggy and I got the opportunity to introduce people who were very uncomfortable with dogs to a great experience with a dog. Hopefully, with a number of good experiences these kids will grow up to at the very least be comfortable around dogs.