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Discussion Starter #1
Bobby has had a hard time with one particular neighbor when it comes to greetings. I really think it’s the smell of his dog who is not friendly. While we definitely could just skip it, he is such a nice neighbor and he loves dogs and we think it would be nice for Bobby to know he is a friendly neighbor. He generally barks and backs up when we try. We are always both respectful of Bobby’s concern and never force it and we just move on.

During training, we have always been taught to have the dog sit or stand calmly with greetings and Bobby, as a young dog, was an excitable sort of greeter so that seemed like a good approach. As he is maturing though, he is definitely more cautious with some people. Today, when walking by this neighbor we thought we would try again. I gave the neighbor a treat since Bobby did seem interested in greeting. He was hesitant though as he’s always been with this neighbor. I decided this time, to let Bobby move toward the neighbor, with his own timing. His tail was very happy so I felt ok trying this. He was a bit shy and unsure but happily for all of us, he had a very positive and happy greeting and took the treat. We didn’t linger and no petting took place as we wanted it to end positively. I was thrilled though as I think they are now on the road to being friends. My question, was it ok to have Bobby initiate the greeting in this situation? I think having the neighbor come toward him has spooked him so I tried this approach with the hope that Bobby would do better with making the decision to greet or not greet.
 

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I think since Bobby seemed fearful, it was wise to let him work at his own pace.

It is possible that your neighbor has a funny smell. Cigarettes, a medication, could be anything. We had a similar problem with a rescue dog who was afraid of men. She finally worked it out, then had a problem with one of the workers building our house. Realized he was the only person who smoked. We think whoever abused Daisy was a man who smoked.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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My gut feeling is that Bobby should always be allowed to initiate greetings, especially with someone who’s previously spooked him. I wouldn’t even have your neighbour coax Bobby forward with treats. Just ask him to toss a few without eye contact, while you chat. Then when Bobby does get up close to investigate him (as he’s likely to do), have more treats appear like a miracle.

The one personal experience I have for reference was 9-week-old Peggy and the vet, and this is the method our trainer advised us to use.

I think the goal is to grow Bobby’s comfort zone rather than push him out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
It is my gut feeling that we should allow Bobby to initiate greetings too. When he was a pup and as a younger dog he rushed up to people and wanted to jump so we worked hard to have him sit or at least stand and people would go to him. That was the only way trainers would greet him during class too. I totally get that. And in all honesty, I also worked hard to have him be able to walk by people and not be greeted. I was careful and limited with actual greetings. He would just get too excited. I wanted a dog who didn’t feel he had to say “Hi” to every person he saw. I do like that and it makes our walks quite pleasant. But maybe I inadvertently taught him to be a bit cautious although I do see that cautiousness really is a part of his adult personality.

Now that Bobby is more cautious it makes sense to let him go forward and greet as he feels comfortable, unless of course he gets too excited. He is a dog that is so observant and takes time to decide many things. He’s always been like this to some degree but as an adult it’s very much his personality. He has to assess almost everything it seems so I’m quite sure this plays a part in greeting certain people too. Anyway, great idea PTP to toss treats. That’s a fabulous idea and this I will definitely start doing during greetings.
 

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We also let Trixie, who is very nervous, initiate greetings. She went to work with my mom for years. The people who allowed her to come to them she learned to adore. The people who approached her, she remained afraid of even after knowing them for years. We did/do let some people bribe her with treats, but Trixie is a special case of nerves (it took close to a year before she would approach her first person). Trixie tends to do better with cat people.

I find with Annie that an enforced sit tends to make her more nervous or over excited with greetings. I usually just require 4 feet on the floor and no lunging.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, today we are out walking. It’s pretty wet, yet snowy and somebody built a giant snowball near the park sidewalk where we often walk. Well, despite being a dog who loves snow, who has forged “snow mountains” and traversed into the “snowy depths” he thought this was one big and bad snow ball. He started growling, backing up, barking, more growling. Decided it was a the perfect time to practice “greeting a stranger.” He was quite spooked and worried about this snowball. I thanked him, let him make the moves, told him Mr Snowball is very nice. PTP, I used your idea of throwing treats out and that worked fabulously! Eventually he walked, quite cautiously at first, up to Mr. Snowball and once he and I touched Mr. Snowball, it quickly became became his “friend.”

On our way back, he went right up to Mr. Snowball and amazingly and miraculously there was a treat! He sniffed Mr. Snowball like a long lost friend! I’m guessing next time we pass by he will just lift his leg. LOL!!!
So between throwing treats and letting Bobby move ahead to greet we may have solved his neighbor greeting issue.
I am at least encouraged and we have a good plan. 😊
 
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