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March 26, 2014

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
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 theย 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 toย 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 themย 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?  

Comments for How does your dog react to strangers?

  1. Victoria says:

    well the bug man who comes quarterly, the directv installers, the internet/phone line guys -they all know that i have really big dogs and that those dogs sound like they will take off any limbs within reach so they all work with me to make sure the dogs are no where near them. If i let them meet them the dogs -the dogs would do a menancing bark and then lick them all over until they were soaking wet. But it works in my favor to have people think i have big ferocious attack dogs (in reality big, dopey love bugs) since i don’t have any security system and live way out in the woods.

  2. Kuruk says:

    I am usually very shy with strangers, unless it’s a cute girl! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sisfur Nalle is the oppawsite! She wuvwuwvuwvs efurrybuddy!

  3. We have some real challenges with Jack because he thinks he has us all to himself all the time, so visitors offend him. Our fault because we work from home and are around all the time and don’t socialize him enough. He does absolutely recognize the differences in how we interact with people that do come in – friends? great, female friends? totally welcome. Men with weird looking equipment or funny smelling apparatus? not so welcome. Good idea with getting them to say hello and give him a treat. Bet that will change his mind.

  4. mollieandalfie says:

    Mollie being a Border Collie is a psycho, she hates Strangers, will bark at them. People coming in the house, will bark at them. Our other dog hated other dogs, so that was a nightmare in the park, when we got Mollie, I thought great she loves other dogs but now has this hatred towards people, it is because she is scared and nervous. So I have gone from one the another LOL.. Eko, wanna come live with me and show Mollie some manners ๐Ÿ™‚ Hay, Eko, don’t forget to chuck up on the floor when perspective buyers are turning up LOL xxxooxxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  5. Caitlin Gath says:

    You wouldn’t know it by looking at Chick, but she is super wary of new people. She even barks at the dog walker and sometimes us until she can see who we are. I get a kick out of her little bark though — she’s a tough lady!

  6. Circus is quite pathetic when it comes to strangers. If they give him any attention, he will shower them with kisses. If they are stand off-ish, he will follow them around the house, show them each one of his toys, do a bunch of random tricks in front of them, and sit at their feet and just stare. It’s not really an option whether or not to say hello… his obsession over strangers quite often trumps his love for even me!

  7. KDKH says:

    It’s no surprise that such an outgoing man would have an outgoing dog. All my pets are introverts. What does that say?

  8. scarlybobs says:

    We have both sides of the coin here…

    Kasper is terrified of strangers, especially men. He turns into a quivering wreck around them. We’ve learnt pairing a stranger arriving with a dog walk (so Kasper actually meets the stranger outside) works really well for him, and then when we return to the house they chuck treats to him until he is 100% comfortable.

    Zoey is the exact opposite…she loves everybody but is SO full on!! She jumps to face height, nibbles on people, and is generally an over-excited mess hahaha! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wish Eko could lend Kasper some confidence and Zoey some manners ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. When we’re out and about Boomer and Dottie can’t wait to meet someone new, especially Boomer. But, if a new person comes to the house it’s another story. There’s tons of barking and hissy fits being thrown but once they are acknowledged they’re OK.

  10. All visitors are just here for me, that’s for sure. I supported the plumber-guy once as he crouched under the sink. I sniffed on his butt and he was scared, jumped up and he crashed with his head on the sink. Even with the generous tip, I have some doubts if he is brave enough to enter my crib again :o)

  11. Not a bad thing to be wary of people until they’ve proved their worth. Treats should do nicely ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Emma says:

    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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. 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!

  14. ooops! Commented with my other blog name, should have been this one!

  15. pawedblog says:

    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

  16. Sometimes the animal knows best. If they’re put off, it could be that the individual dislikes animals. I’ve seen that before. I hope that isn’t the case. We’ll see what plays out.

  17. Sasha adjusted nicely to all the people coming to met her new puppies. I’m sure Eko will be more rounded personality after all this.

  18. What a gorgeous boy! Definitely very interesting behaviour, shows just good he is at picking up subtle cues. You’re right, it could be that he’s a bit put off by their getting straight to work and not getting to know him first. Also possibly he thinks they’re trying to mark his territory? The dog brain is a mysterious and complex thing!

  19. Marcela says:

    Lol. Great post like always. Eko is just like Alex. She loves people and all she wants to do is give them, what I call, a saliva bath. Bella, on the other hand, prefers to keep her distance, but we are working on that. I am so glad that when you have guests Eko is also included. A lot of pet parents put their dogs away because they do not know how to interact with people and by doing so they never learn to be relaxed and balanced. Great job Will.

  20. Gail Simburger says:

    Leo thinks all people were put on Earth to pet him. He is totally excited to see new folks no matter where we are. Once workers have given him a quick pat and a Hello he relaxes and allows them to work. He’s a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and our prevoius one was the same so it must be the breed.Love that he’s so friendly but it can be a pain sometimes!

  21. Boomdeeadda says:

    Buddy was pretty smart with people. For example, he’d never go to our next door neighbour for a pet. I wasn’t a fan either, so maybe he picked up on my demeanour. I worried about his friendliness at times because not everyone is comfortable with dogs and he was a big guy. But he never gave us a moments worry or show any aggression to anyone, he was just a loveable lump and I think that amused everyone straight off. We allowed him to announce the door with one woof (not even a bark). We’d thank him and pet his head but he’d remain on his pillow. He’d usually wait till they came over to him and he’d start wagging his little tail (it was a stump). Then you probably couldn’t get rid of him the rest of the visit. He’d stick to you like glue ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. nerdgrl (Kim S.) says:

    Why wouldn’t I be excited to see people come to the door? They’re coming to see me, of course. Mommy has to remind me that not everyone loves puppy/dog kisses. What? I don’t understand. I am a pampered princess. Everyone loves kisses from princesses! Mommy and Daddy tell me that all the time when I kiss them. After everyone is in the house (that is, if they stay. Sometimes, Mommy and Daddy don’t let them in the house if they’re just selling something) I’m more than content to watch the action from Mommy’s arms…as a mini schnauzer, Mommy doesn’t mind holding me. Sometimes I even fall asleep and start snoring; Mommy’s embarrassed but everyone thinks it’s cute.–Steffi

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