Lisa is one of our neighbours and has a history of dog ownership. When we brought Ray home in March of 2013, she was naturally excited to meet him, but that meeting was not particularly amicable (If only we knew then, what we know now!).
He was greeting everybody with his lunge and bark routine however, Lisa did eventually manage a relatively social interaction with him by simply being aware of her own body language. Occasionally, however, she would forget and not only approach him “full frontal”, but would then bend over to touch him. Most of you are no doubt aware that this can be very threatening to a dog and Ray, predictably, resorted to his lunge and bark routine!
Over the course of time, Ray became more secure and once again allowed Lisa to approach him, albeit with reservations, as he did with everybody. Much of our training with Ray has focused on improving his social skills and this was done by teaching him to associate people (and other dogs) with good things happening (treats!)*. While we have noticed a huge improvement compared to how he behaved in 2013, for reasons of work schedules and life in general, we have not focused specifically on Lisa.
Being our neighbour, we have occasionally bumped into her when going out on, or coming back from, a walk and his reaction was the now expected look up at whoever is holding his leash because he is expecting a treat. He also understands that “Say Hello” or “Ray touch” means he has to get up close to the person and perhaps even touch with his nose. This has been the status quo for some time now and 99% of the time has worked well.
Just recently, Lisa was in her front garden and as we were crossing her driveway, Ray decided that he wanted to go and say “Hi” to her (or possibly, I can get some treats here if I play the game). The meeting was very amicable and she was able to stroke him and “doggy talk” to him for quite some time before he was agreeable to going home.
The following day, we were going out on a walk and as we were going down our driveway, we heard Lisa’s voice coming from the other side of some large cedars which separated our respective properties. Ray immediately started pulling quite hard and he was clearly on a mission. He cut across our front garden and went straight up Lisa’s driveway and onto her front porch ……….. to say “Hello!” Not only was this the first time that he had shown any initiative towards making friends with her, but he even acknowledged her boyfriend who was with her!
They had a great social interaction, and that was probably the most relaxed that we have ever seen him when in the presence of somebody other than us and his OMHS trainer buddy**! Way to go Ray. You keep surprising us!
*See “The Lululemon Touch” – November 24, 2014
** See “Ray and Heather” – April 21, 2015