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Old 11-14-2012, 08:19 AM
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Dog's reaction to People

Hi I have a one year old golden Phoebe. She is very gentle, sweet loves everyone and never barks or jumps at anyone, except one. I have an uncle who is mentally slow and excentrick. When he comes to the door she barks like crazy and jumps behind me. He went to pet her and I thought she might bite. This is so out of character for her as she normally never even barks. Is this normal?
Phoebe's mom
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:30 AM
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Your uncle may make sounds or movements that frighten her, or at least act completely different from what she is used to. It sounds a bit like what I experienced with Tess in the beginning of our outings to the hospital where we volunteer. There can be patients who scream or have weird machines next to them or make strange moves...it all had to be trained. You have to help her see that he is a good person, even though he reacts differently. Take it slowly, have her on a leash and guide her step by step. Don't reward her shying away by babying her, but make her see it's normal. Have him sit down, where is is stable, and let him give her a treat. But slowly, slowly...
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:34 AM
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Thanks, I will try that next time he comes over.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:34 AM
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Dogs sense an imbalance. We were at dog park one day and a Great Dane, who was always the essence of gentleness, became very tense when a boy who was mentally challenged came near.

Not every dog will respond positively in that situation
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:29 AM
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I've had at least one situation with each dog when they went from gentle docile Golden wagging a tail, to alert, distrustful and guarded in a flash when a certain type of stranger approaches. One was a homeless man wanting a handout, probably drunk, another was a threatening looking teenager in the dark and the third is a man we see walking who has a reputation in the neighborhood for being trouble and taunting dogs. They sense things we will never understand and in some cases they can sense our insecurities as well. I think that somehow I am also sending out subtle signals of distrust of those people my dogs reacted to because they each made me uncomfortable.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:29 PM
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Thanks, I was wondering if it could also be his smell. He works as a hired hand in a horse stable. He has very bad hygene and I do cringe when he trys to hug me. It is probably a combination. I will try and be more aware when he comes to the door.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:08 PM
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I think it depends on the dog and exposure. My sister (RIP) was mentally/physically challenged. My dogs and my brother's dog have always loved her and weren't intimidated at all but they have been around her since puppyhood.
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