Who Pets Your Puppy or Dog
Reasons for Not Allowing People to Touch Your Dog
In both my basic DVDs, Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months and Basic Dog Obedience. I advise people to not allow strangers to touch their dog. This has generated a lot of email questions so I decided to write this article to expand on the reasons and exceptions for this policy.
To understand this you must first understand what I expect from a relationship with my dogs. I want a dog that sees me as the center of its universe. I want my dog to focus on me and I want it to ignore other humans (and animals).
I don’t want a dog to look at other people as “PETTING MACHINES or TREAT DISPENSERS.” In other words I don’t want my dog running up to every Tom, Dick, and Harry and expect to engage them. I want my dog to accept people as fixtures in the environment. I want my dog to be aloof to strangers at the same time I don’t want my dog to be suspicious or aggressive to strangers (unless I tell them to be that way).
We carry this concept into our home where we have several dogs that are trained by a different family member.
We expect our personal dogs to completely accept other members of the family as pack members.
The Family and Your Dog
- Family members don’t train or play with another family member's personal dogs.
- Family members can greet another member's dogs with a pat on the head when they come home but they don't gush over them.
- Family members can even feed the dogs, but they simply put the food down. They don't try and take food or bones away from a dog of another family member.
- Each member of the family can take all the dogs outside to pee and poop. But we don’t PLAY with or engage each other's dogs when we do this. It's treated in a sterile exercise. In other words, go outside - do your business and come back inside. No games or play while outside.
- The PLAY and training comes from the person who is the leader or handler of the specific dog.
When we walk our puppies and people try and pet our dogs we politely but firmly ask them not to touch our dog. If questioned, we simply tell them the dog is being trained as a service dog.
As long as you are not trying to disguise a dog as a service dog and take it places normal pets don't belong, there is nothing wrong with this.
A year ago I had a number of aggressive threatening emails from a disabled attorney who had a dog. She disagreed with this concept. She thought I was breaking the law when I told people this was a service dog in training.
This woman could not bring herself to admit that she was wrong.
I recently received a second email from another disabled attorney. This email is below (with this said I want to point out that my web site is not a source of legal advice):
I own two 2 1/2 year old German Shepherds. I was just browsing your site because I plan on ordering some of your products from you. But I am emailing because I wanted to comment on the "aggressive threatening emails from a disabled attorney who had a dog" who thought you were breaking the law by telling people your dog was a service dog in training in the "Who Can Pet My Puppy" article.
I am an attorney, I have an ADA recognized disability AND I used to have a Golden Retriever as a service dog. I am very familiar with the laws regarding a service animal. You are NOT breaking the law by telling people your dog is a "service dog in training." The attorney who wrote you was wrong.
The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA. There is nothing else in the law. PERIOD. Nothing in the law as to what kind of animal, nothing in the law as to how animal is to be trained, nothing in the law as to who trains an animal, nothing in the law about what type of assistance the animal is to provide. (This is a very good thing since there so many different ways an animal can be trained and so many different things an animal can be trained to do.) The only thing required is – an animal, specifically trained, to provide assistance, to an individual with a disability (the disability is usually looked at as an ADA recognized disability, however, there are some cases where the disability is not recognized by the ADA but the animal is still recognized as a service animal).
What is missing from the law, important in your situation, is any discussion on how an animal is to be trained or who is to train the animal. In addition, what is missing is ANY definition as to any definition or special status for a "service animal in training." Therefore, you are completely correct in stating that as long as you are not holding out the animal as a "service animal" and taking advantage of the status and special privileges for a "service animal," you can say that your animal is a "service animal in training" to your heart's content.
I hope that my comment was not too convoluted but I felt I just had to write because I am appalled that an attorney would tell you anything different. I cannot think of a reason why another attorney would tell you something that is so against the letter and spirit of the ADA laws.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please feel free to contact me. I will provide further clarification for you on this point of law – free of charge!
Train Your Dog to Ignore Strangers
If I have a puppy or a dog that is leery of people I train the dog that every time it gets into a situation that makes it nervous I feed it very high value food treats. In dog training terms I "engage the dog." This means I connect both mentally and physically with the dog by making myself more interesting than the environmental things that make the dog uncomfortable. The training for this is covered in detail in the first 45 minutes of my DVD titled THE POWER OF TRAINING DOGS WITH FOOD.
The basic concept is that every time I see my puppy or dog act a little nervous I redirect the puppy back to my using an excited tone of voice and I jackpot rewards until I se the dog is totally focused in on me.
Pretty soon the dog will see something that makes his a little uncomfortable and he will look to me for a high value food treat.
Anyone with a dog can practice this work when they are on a walk. If you see another dog coming on a walk with his owner, or a person on a bike coming, or even someone who is out for a walk - you simply stop and engage your dog and start to reward with high value treats. It doesn't take long for the dog to learn that his owner is a lot more interesting than strangers.
The question often comes up about service dogs. I am asked "Isn't this philosophy counter- productive to service dogs?"
The answer is "No - it does not have to be."
Potential service dogs can (and in my opinion) should be raised with the NO PET POLICY. The difference is that the handler can train the dog that it is allowed to go to strangers when the handler gives it a command to go get petted. This can be done with MARKER TRAINING.
The handler also has to be able to stop the dog and RECALL the dog from being petted. This work can be started at a very young age when the pup is going through the groundwork.
Problems with the No Pet Policy
The biggest problems I have seen with this no pet policy is with family members who have not bought into the marker program.
There is no easy answer to this one. In my opinion this is a serious problem that can only be solved by you and your family.
I can tell you this - if you work this out and follow these concepts you will have a dog that accepts you as a pack leader. Your dog will also get along better with your family because it clearly understands its rank within your family pack.
This brings up another important subject which confuses allot of new owners. They think they need to make their dog look at their children as a higher rank in the family pack than the dog. This is not the case. How can a 3 year old child or a 2 year old child be a higher rank than an adult German Shepherd. The answer is they can't.
When dogs are raised like we raise them they learn who their pack leader is. Becoming a pack leader is a natural part of our pack structure program. It's during the establishment of pack structure that we teach the dog that one of our pack leader rules is "ignore small children" and another is "don't be aggressive to anyone unless we tell you it's OK."
Dogs that are raised like this are easier to train because they don't get mixed or conflicting signals as a result of being trained from more than one person in the family. A dog should have one trainer. It can have more than one handler, but it should only have one trainer.
New dog owners need to understand that training and handling are two different things. Family members handle a trained dog when they take the dog outside or for walks, but this is not training.
For dog training to be clear it must be presented to the dog in a BLACK AND WHITE method that is easy to understand. Allowing two people to train the same dog adds a lot of GREY into the process and this just adds confusion and confusion leads to behavioral problems.
If you have a puppy and you don't already have my DVD Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months, I recommend that you consider it.
I also recommend that you get my DVD titled Basic Dog Obedience - I tell people to get them both at the same time because you have more to learn than your dog. Even though your dog is only 8 weeks old and the information in the Basic Dog Obedience DVD may not be used for several months, the time to start to educate yourself is now - and not the night before you start distraction training.
I compare this to a school teacher who does a lesson plan for class the night before she has to teach - it's not the best way.
Thanks for listening and good luck with your dog. Take advantage of the rest of the information on my web site.