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Old 09-18-2019, 12:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can I pet your dog?

My boxer is very shy meeting new people and it takes him awhile to warm up. He is fine walking among them.
Recently, we were in a busy city and going for a walk. Person after person asked if they could pet him. I would say that he is cautious around strangers, but most would want to continue talking to me about him and end up petting him. His body language totally says he is wary.

I would like for him to become more comfortable with unsolicited petting so to speak but don't want to have it forced on him as such. What could I do for him and still be nice to people and little kids who want to pet him? Should I just say that he is uncomfortable with touch right now from strangers but you could help him by just giving him a treat?

So the long story is that he will show that he is uncomfortable but accepts the petting even so. This particular day, so many people were wanting to pet him. I think his tolerance level was shot. There was also 3 stabbings in that city one street over from us and a police shooting that we heard, and I'm pretty sure he must have picked up on the tensions in the air. Then, a homeless person came and petted him. My boxer showed he was uncomfortable and his hackles actually stood up. The man then stood up to leave him alone, bending towards my dog. My dog actually then at this point snapped up at the mans face! The man took it well, and just laughed, " ha you missed me"

Obviously, I do not want this to happen again. How can I better help my boxer?
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Old 09-18-2019, 01:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Your instincts are right that your dog is not comfortable and you should not force him to deal with people if he doesn't want to. Chip and some others will likely have some good input for you.

For the safety of your dog, it is best to tell people that he's in training and they can't pet him. You definitely do not want your dog to bite someone, and any dog will when put into a situation they don't feel safe or comfortable. You'd likely feel a lot worse losing your dog to biting someone than you would having them think you are rude or mean for not letting them touch him.

One of our boys is very shy of people and we used to believe that a well socialized dog is one that will tolerate people petting him and one that will get along with other dogs.

I've since learned that it's OK for dogs not to like other dogs, and for your dog not to like being touched by other people. I tell people Bandit is very shy and I stay between him and the person. It's easy because he'll get behind me. (Our other two boxers LOVE people....different dog personalities).

That's not to say that you should not try to get your baby to be comfortable with other people if you need to. But the outside environment you described can be overwhelming. If you want to introduce people to your dog, I'd start in a place he feels safe, like your house and let him warm up to the person on his own.

I'm one of those people who loves to pet dogs and I want every dog to want me to pet them. The unfortunate reality is that they don't all like it. If I ask someone if I can pet their dog and they say No, I can respect that. I think most people who ask are aware that some dogs or owners are not OK with it. I think the people who don't ask are the ones you really have to worry about....

That's my 2 cents. Trust your instincts and what your dog is telling you. I'm sure you'll get some good feedback and input on how to approach this going forward.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you. Yes, I would like to increase his tolerance," just in case." But I do not want anything forced. I want him to trust me that I have his back. People and kids happen. I was in a line up with him and a child asked if he could pet him. the parent was there and I said he was shy and doesn't really like it. The child proceeded anyway. I tried to show the kid that Chance was telling him that he was uncomfortable in the only way he knew how. Parents are bone heads too.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hmm OK about the only thing I see in the OP's proposed solution that sends chills up my spine is ... "you could help him by just giving him a treat?" My answer would be an emphatic and hard core uh ... "NO!"

No less than Michael Ellis a top level Malinios guy found out in a training class, that a dog can take a treat and still bite the heck out of someone!


Personally, l I never tried (treats and strangers) as it struck me, as not being a good idea?? And at the time I was dealing with 113 lbs of (over Size) Working Line GSD ... that did not much care for, "anyone" aside from me my wife and Struddell (Avatar.))!I know you threw it out as a possibility ...but with actual Strangers, just forget it!

The flaw with that approach is depending on the said treat (and if the dog is stressed, he won't accept treats anyway.) But if he does ... he can easily "focus" only on the treat, eats it up ... looks up and "suddenly" there is some "tool" in his face, WTH!! And said dog can then react badly...

Now, if it is someone that the dog routinely sees in his space ie at home. That is a bit different. That should be OK after a while and the dog is trained in "The Place Command!" And "I" still would not do it! But hey that's just me and I Roll Hard. It was years before I trusted family and friends to interact freely with "ROCKY" my GSD.

OK, I got's much much more!! So consider this an introduction! Your instincts are good and you know your dog! Your just getting "Steam Rolled" because people can be "Tools!" You will need to "modify" your approach and except the fact that your particular Boxer ... my never "like people??" Which is not the norm for Boxer's?? But whatever, he can be made safe in public and he will be able to go anywhere in public with you if you use the right approach!

It's a team effort and we'll get to "what you need to do in my next post" and it's all been dog tested and dog approved ... "I must say." So you know ... stick around and we can help you guys out.
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have had 6 boxers now and two of the previous females I had did not want strangers to pet them they were extremely protective over me and the house or car so I would just tell people that they preferred their own personal space and they did. This did not mean I could not take them out amongst people because I did that too I just made sure no one crowded their space. Both of them were fine and never snapped at anyone because they trusted I was in charge. I had a male that was pretty indifferent to strangers neither friendly nor aggressive and one male who only liked women to touch him he would growl at men. The two dogs I have now there are no worries with them they LOVE people they have better breeding than my others and better temperaments. I would not allow strangers to give any kind of treats if the dog is showing signs of discomfort. The dog may be picking up on some anxiety you are having as well in crowds you mentioned some violence in your neighborhood. Our emotions and feeling are transmitted to our dogs they pick up on everything. I don't think its necessary for your dog to love everyone or want to be petted by everyone that's your dog the worst thing that could happen is for the dog to bite someone which it has attempted to already that's a warning so I would tell everyone to give him some space! I have in the past had children run up to my dogs and had to play defense it seems a lot of parents are clueless or think all dogs like children and no one wants their dog to bite a child. I know you can work thru this , it doesn't mean you can't walk your dog in public you just have to be more watchful and careful and don't let anyone corner your dog or stand over top of him some dogs see that as a threat.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I have had 6 boxers now and two of the previous females I had did not want strangers to pet them they were extremely protective over me and the house or car so I would just tell people that they preferred their own personal space and they did. This did not mean I could not take them out amongst people because I did that too I just made sure no one crowded their space. Both of them were fine and never snapped at anyone because they trusted I was in charge. I had a male that was pretty indifferent to strangers neither friendly nor aggressive and one male who only liked women to touch him he would growl at men. The two dogs I have now there are no worries with them they LOVE people they have better breeding than my others and better temperaments. I would not allow strangers to give any kind of treats if the dog is showing signs of discomfort. The dog may be picking up on some anxiety you are having as well in crowds you mentioned some violence in your neighborhood. Our emotions and feeling are transmitted to our dogs they pick up on everything. I don't think its necessary for your dog to love everyone or want to be petted by everyone that's your dog the worst thing that could happen is for the dog to bite someone which it has attempted to already that's a warning so I would tell everyone to give him some space! I have in the past had children run up to my dogs and had to play defense it seems a lot of parents are clueless or think all dogs like children and no one wants their dog to bite a child. I know you can work thru this , it doesn't mean you can't walk your dog in public you just have to be more watchful and careful and don't let anyone corner your dog or stand over top of him some dogs see that as a threat.
Sounds like you did a "Good Job!"

And I want to be clear that "Dogs that don't much care for people" can be managed and can be taught to be safe in public! But ... I would consider them to be a "life time responsibility for there owners!" That does not necessarily mean a "burden" but it's best to "Never Forget that one has to "properly manage a bite risk dog."

And if one chooses not to do so?? Plan B, contact a rescue offer to "foster in Place" give full disclosure of the dogs issues, and ensure while he is still in the home ... he bites "No one!"

There are a few LE K9 handlers that did not quite understand that!! And saying that out loud on Germanshepardforum to uh a K9 ( handler and MOD) is how I got Banned! But I digress ....

But back on point a Boxer that does not like people .. is kinda of an abnormally to be honest?? But hey "crap happens!" And I don't know this dogs background?? Mostly it was not a hand picked, hand raised Prima Donna Puppy?? I don't know?? But whatever ... "proper management" is the key and yeah the "OP" is gonna to be a bit more hard core in order to "Advocate For Her Dog!"

It's a "thing" but that is another topic.
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I worked a lot with German Shepherds as well when I was younger (a lot) and I took a young male thru basic obedience and on up to tracking and protection work sadly after all of this work I lost him to bloat. My second shepherd I trained I used for Search and Rescue and she was not a "friendly" people liking dog. She would circle the "lost" person and come back and get me and lead me in. I took her in all kinds of conditions flew with the civil air patrol on airplanes and helicopters in close quarters with others and like I said she was never a people dog. It is possible only because your dog has to trust you that you are in charge at all times and they don't get to make decisions they should be looking to you for direction. This rule has applied to all the boxers I have had as well. I switched breeds to boxers when my Search Dog passed away I knew I could not replace her in my life and I came upon a boxer puppy in need and I was Hooked! I love boxers so much! I find they fit my lifestyle perfectly and if they don't have such a great temperament well that just means extra work!
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When I got Chance at a year old, we were his third home and he was fear aggressive. The vet didn't want me to keep him if we had small kids. Which we don't. So his background is iffy. But I have the time to work with him. I just kept taking him everyday, according to his tolerance to public places. ( He used to want to attack people that were far away..or dogs) If he was too tense, I backed off and just kept trying and kept it always ending on a good note. After a year now, I can take him into busy public and he is relaxed. He knows the " look at me" command for crossing roads and such. He is fine now in a off leash park. He will stop and "come" with whatever he is doing, even in the middle of play or a good sniffy. We practice a lot!! Safety first. ( I know many of you don't approve of these parks) He will go to people in this park for attention and pets. And he will go to people who come to my home for attention and pets.

It is with strangers on a walk, on leash that he tightens his body language if they try to pet him. Not all the time. Sometimes he will take it an be relaxed and then ask for more attention. Is it best to just say no to strangers while we are in a busy city? I do not want to loose him to him biting someone if he will be unpredictable. At the same time, I like to keep seeing him progressing and having more fun in all situations. I'm just wondering if I can still help him work through it. Maybe it was totally my fault for keeping up the walk that day after the murders happened a block away. Jeepers. I'm so upset with myself now. That was obviously overwhelming his tolerance. He still seemed relaxed walking tho.. Just strangers please don't touch me anymore today.
I have the time for him. I just want to do it right.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Also, sometimes out walking, if he is not healing, and we are stopped close to someone, he will go to sniff them. Their response is to automatically pet him. Should I not let him sniff others like this?
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I would let him sniff but not invite people to pet. I think part of his problem here is he feels the need to protect you, and he probably has some fear issues too with the aggression that's not an uncommon thing. I had a really hard time with one of my female boxers she would act aggressively to other dogs and even to people that were walking towards me in the park but she would behave differently in different situations like I would take her to PetSmart and other dog friendly stores she would not display the same behavior She was comfortable at the park since we walked there everyday and kinda viewed it as "her space" so she would act out towards other dogs there quite a bit the people thing if they maintained their distance she was fine so I started making a point of stopping and "chatting with other people and their dogs" so she would learn there was nothing threatening going on there so no need to be excited or on the defense she eventually got over it after about 2 years I could walk her on a loose leash around anyone there is no instant fix for this one. Boxers are stubborn that's a fact once they get a negative behavior going and its not corrected it is hard to get them out of it but possible. It sounds like your dog has had a rough start its going to take patience and understanding which its sounds like you are trying really hard with him know his limitations and work within that it will get better.
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