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Messypig

Worrying behaviour? Please help?

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Messypig   

Currently posting late at night but I’ve been thinking about this encounter all day and to say i’m worried is an understatment. I’m really sorry if this is on the wrong forum, especially considering Messy isn’t a ‘puppy’ (3 going onto 4 y/o)

 

Background:

I’m 19 and just finished high school, my living situation dictates i can’t really find professional trainers for this. Messy is a blue heeler stumpy mix and is a medium sized dog (comes up to my knee), he’s had problems with barking and was weaned way to early in life. He’s a family dog, so other than knowing how to sit he doesnt have any extra training. Despite this, he’s exceptional on his walks, not barking or lagging to look at dogs or kids and simply watching them as we walk by. He’s never (to my knowledge) been approached by someone wanting to pat him while on the leash. He doesn’t take well to loud noises but he likes to meet people. He gets very excited and over active when new people appear. He responds very well to food. I’d say he’s a very nervous dog in general.

 

So what happened was while on his walk an elderly women approached wanting to pat him. This was fine, and because she had raised dogs in the past she did all the right things when approaching my dog, however by dog reacted really badly to her approaching him. He started to bark at her and growl, from what I remember he did not raise his hackles or curl his lips, but he did constantly look back at me to check on me and he was wagging his tail. 

 

The women was fine with this, as I said she raised dogs before, but I want to do something about this behaviour- What if it was a kid? I don’t want it to turn into more aggressive behaviours in the future. 

 

If anyone has any advice it’s much appreciated, I want him to be happy and healthy which involves making sure he’s properly socialized.

 

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Rebanne   

so Messy is nearly 4, walks nice on lead but no one has ever tried to pat him before?

 

He is a cattle dog, a working breed. What I recall about cattle dogs are they are not keen on strangers approaching them. Messy obviously found this a bit much so next time someone asks to pat the dog just say no. It is your job to protect the dog. Not all dogs are social butterflies nor should they have to be. In fact I like the sound of your dog, happy to walk with you and take no notice of others.

 

You idea of properly socialised most likely differs from mine. Maybe you could start some training at home with him, or go to a local obedience club, they are usually not too expensive.

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juice   

Yep , agree , I had a cattle dog and he didn’t wish to speak to every human or other dogs on walks . He stayed by my side and looked to me for direction which it sounds like yours did . 

Dont worry about upsetting people , just say no he isn’t fond of being patted and keep moving . 

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RuralPug   

I'm so glad that you realised that your dog was looking to you for direction.
Dogs don't always react the same way on leash as they do at home, especially those working dogs which have have a very strong guarding instinct, which is the case for for both sides of Missy's heritage.
If you do want her to put up with unwanted pats/handling by strangers when on leash, then do take her to obedience school. Most clubs are non-profit community clubs, there is an annual fee but it is quite doable for most people out of work. Once  a week attendance on weekends and short daily practice at home other days. plus a lot of fun and meeting other dogs and people in your area!

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Tassie   

Agree with all that's been said.   Kudos to you for paying attention to what Missy was telling you …i,e, that she was not comfortable with the situation .. (and probably that she would like you to increase the distance between her and the other person … so backing or turning away).      Never be worried about advocating for your dog and her needs.  So things like saying "Sorry, no, she doesn't like being patted"  and straight away moving away if the would be patter keeps coming.  Turn and go is a very useful strategy, particularly if you see an out of control child making a beeline for Missy and there is no parent to apply some control.  

As you do all of this, you can just slide your hand gently down the lead, (without tugging on it), so that you have closer control of Missy's head, just in case you need that.   Try to do all this smoothly and without panic.  Don't worry what other people might think .. your obligation is to your own dog.

 

Agree too about the benefits that might come from a community obedience class, if you're interested in doing some more training.  Just make sure it is a club that uses positive reinforcement/reward based/relationship based training, and don't hesitate to mention that Missy is probably not happy to be approached or patted by strangers.   Many community clubs will have student or concession card holder discounts for annual membership .. our club for instance is $25 for a year, and $4 a class.

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Dogsfevr   

Has the dogs hearing been tested there are some things you list that could be signs of hearing issues which is an issue in Cattle Dogs

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tdierikx   

You mention that the lady was older... could she possibly have had some medical issue going on that we humans might not have noticed?

 

I had a Rotti some years back that picked up something from people who weren't well, and she'd go into a barking/growling and backing up mode if approached by them. Also, if I was unwell, she'd go into defensive mode towards anyone who approached me. All other times, she was perfectly social with humans and other dogs.

 

Case in point... an elderly friend who my dog absolutely adored, came over one day, and she reacted by growling, barking, and backing away from him... we were all perplexed at this sudden change in behaviour towards him... until 2 days later when he had a massive heart attack and required quintuple bypass surgery. The dog appeared to have realised that something wasn't right and reacted to it...

 

Just putting it out there...

 

T.

 

 

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