How does your dog react to strangers?

If you only know Eko you would never believe me when I say Rhodesian Ridgebacks are stereotypically aloof with strangers. When we’re out, you would think everyone we walk past is Eko’s long lost relative with the way he tries to smother them with love.

Known you for two seconds? Here’s a smooch

When Emily and I have friends over, Eko is a gleeful host. He bounds to the door to give an extensive welcome to our visitors. Actually, I’m pretty sure he thinks they’re his visitors and we just happen to live here too.

“Welcome to my humble abode.”

Now that our apartment is being sold, we have a steady stream of new faces coming through to spruce the place up before it goes on the market. There’s a realtor, a carpet guy, painters and a cleaning crew. The experience of having these strangers in the apartment has been a fascinating study on the behavioral cues and subtleties Eko notices.

Nothing comes through that door without Eko noticing it

First, Eko is immediately aware that these new people are not “friends.” My guess is he notices there are none of the typical embraces or vocal tones he associates with friends. When these strangers arrived, I recognized that Eko was a bit wary.

The realtor is a woman (Eko prefers women to men – I’m probably to blame for that) and as soon as she gave Eko a big hello, she transferred directly from the stranger column to the best friend column in Eko’s eyes. The carpet guy carried tools and needed space, so I did not allow Eko to sniff him out at the door. Once he was set up, the carpet guy gave Eko some love and Eko visibly relaxed.

What was most interesting was that Eko never fully relaxed with the painters. They had lots of gear/paint, and they had a lot of work to do on a tight timeline so we stayed out of the way. I sat with Eko on the couch and could tell that Eko was put off. Why would anyone come to his house and not shower him with love. Something must be amiss.

“What are those guys doing and why is it not playing with me?”

The painters have to come back at least once more, so as an exercise in ongoing socialization I’m thinking of asking them to say hello to Eko and to give him a treat. My hope is that he will relax just as quickly as he did with the carpet guy and realtor. Anyone else have experience with acclimating their pup to strangers?


39 thoughts on “How does your dog react to strangers?”

  1. My three are all barkers and seem most annoyed when strangers visit. However, once they are in the door it’s a different story. They all want to be petted and stroked, particularly Millie. They definitely know they aren’t ‘friends’ hence the barking beforehand, and once they have had a stroke they are happy to go off and settle. If they were friends, they wouldn’t settle anywhere but ON them somehow!
    Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  2. Dakota is super leery of strangers and barks his HEAD OFF. Dakota works “24hr security” and when a stranger enters, he is all about protecting us! I have often given people coming in to do work a treat to give him and that DOES settle him down. Once the people are here, he HATES to see anyone leave so he barks when they exit as well!

    • Haha, full time security staff you have there. No one gets in or out without Dakota announcing it. (I don’t know how you juggle multiple accounts/blogs by the way. I’m all hands on deck trying to keep one afloat)

  3. We love people, strangers, whoever. They can be anywhere or in our house we love them all, we are wary of dogs, though. Odd they are fixing up the place before you move out. It would make more sense after the moving is done because of possible damage, but not my call 😉

    • Nice to have a warm welcoming committee for whoever swings by. The realtor wants new carpet/bannister for the stairs and some quick touch up paint, so we’re just following marching orders. Eko has offered his services for the open house to “add some charm” but I think we’ll probably just head out for dinner.


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