Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG TRAINING

Rude Crotch Sniffer

Dear Cesar,

My friend has a dog who is a very rude crotch sniffer. We work together, and she brings her dog to work every day. She doesn't do it to me, but our clients sometimes get the business end of her nose. I usually catch her before she goes for it, but her owner can't always get there in time. She says, "That's what dogs do!" And, "Cesar says you should let them sniff you."

I say, "Cesar wouldn't approve!" What do you think?

Sylvia
Tucson, Arizona


Dear Sylvia,

I do agree that, to a dog, your "name" is the scent you project - and in the dog world, that begins with the scent of the "private parts". In that regard, your friend is correct, but we, as owners, can and should learn to regulate the intensity of this very natural behavior and set limits to how close we allow a dog to get to a new visitor. The truth is, a dog is able to get "scent information" from us from as far as three or four feet away! They don't have to be too "up close and personal" to find out what they need to know about us.

The most important way to create new boundaries is for the dog owner and other pack leaders in the office (as you appear to be!) to stay consistent with supervision of the dog and, of course, to stay consistent with correcting the behavior you don't want. It seems like sometimes you are catching the dog and sometimes you aren't. That creates instability because it becomes a competition about who is faster, the human or the dog. That is why it is so important to have hard and fast rules about these limitations that everyone follows. Once you are consistent with reinforcing the behavior that is acceptable, the dog will eventually catch on.

While you are simultaneously working with the dog, you have another great opportunity - the option to teach visitors to your office to move forward, to claim their space, to let them know that it is ok for them to walk toward the dog without hurting the dog or its feelings. You are just letting the dog know that you want your space. That's a form of communication with the dog. If you can accomplish these things, then this dog will be getting rules and boundaries from the person who owns the dog, from you and your co-workers in the office, and from the new people who come to visit. He will get the same message three different ways, and it will make it very clear for him. But remember, at least one person has to be consistent with it - every time it happens.

Stay calm and assertive,
Cesar Millan

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