You may be the biggest dog lover in the world, but that doesn’t mean everyone in your family or circle of friends is a fan of canines “” even your cute Havanese may look scary. They might have had a bad encounter with a dog as a child or they might simply have an irrational phobia.
Or, it’s possible that they may be frightened by specific behaviors your dog may exhibit. It’s important to not only learn what is causing the fear, but then to figure out what you can do, as the dog owner, to cut it off.
The Source of the Fear
Step one is to talk to your family or friends about what is going on. Imagine if you were afraid of someone’s dog because it growled at you. How would you feel if the dog’s owner blamed you for the problem, assuming you have some irrational fear?
So, you shouldn’t do the same to them. Always start by assuming there is a sound reason for their fear and talk to them about it. Ask if they have seen something in your dog that causes the fear or if they were attacked as a child. The second you can figure out what started the cycle, you’ll be able to start dealing with it.
If Your Dog is Causing the Fear
If you find out that something your dog is doing in particular is causing the problem, keep an open mind. Most dog owners have blinders that keep them from seeing the negative things their dogs might be doing. You look at your Havanese and you see a perfect little angel.
If they happen to be growling whenever your friends go near their water bowl, you have a real problem that needs to be dealt with. It cannot be written off as the person’s fault.
To start with, address the behaviour. If the dog is showing aggressive tendencies based on their space or territorial actions, you need to take control of the space and show the dog that you’re in charge. Once you’ve done that, make sure no one is treating your dog improperly. If they’re up front or physical and that makes your dog uncomfortable, it can create an environment where fear is bred.
If the Fear is from a Past Incident
If it turns out that your dog is not causing any of the anxiety and fear that your family or friends are having, it very well may be the result of a past incident. In this case, it can be easy to simply blame them and tell them to “deal with it”.
But, again, would you want someone to be that callous with you? Probably not. I’m not telling you to hide your dog in a corner and keep him there until they leave, but you can introduce certain safeguards to maintain the safety of your home.
First, teach your dog to stop jumping at strangers. Make them stay calm and well behaved when new people enter the house. Second, make sure they understand that they do not have to pet the dog or greet him.
For most dogs, being ignored will breed ignoring. They will respond the same as this is a clear body language signal to be left alone – presuming there is no direct eye contact or touching.
With time, if you can show them that your dog is well behaved and patient, you may be able to communicate to them that the dog is not going to do anything bad. But, first you must show that the dog is under control.