I have a rescued Chihuahua. Pepe wasn’t treated so well in his former home and now has some issues. Understandably, he can be a bit snappy when approached suddenly by a stranger. Because he’s so little, parents often let their kids rush up to him, hands in his face. No one has gotten bit yet, but I want to set Pepe up for success rather than always be worried about what could happen. What’s the best way to handle this without seeming overly dramatic or limiting Pepe’s people interactions all together? He likes people and wants to be social, but he needs to go at his own pace.
Children Hovering Over My Pup Elicit Rising Stress
Dear Children Hovering Over My Pup Elicit Rising Stress:
Be vigilant. If you’re walking an unpredictable dog out in public, especially when there are kids around, it’s your responsibility to be hyper-aware at all times. That’s the reality. But the good news is, you can make it a very positive experience for both the enthusiastic human and timid canine.
If the little ones are coming at you too fast and furiously to ask them to slow down, casually pick up Pepe and tell little Johnny or Susie you’d love their help. Explain that Pepe is a little shy and he’s frightened by sudden movement. Then say, “Could you help me teach him that kids are really nice? Just kneel down and be sort of still and let him come over and sniff you. He likes people, but he’s most comfortable when he can approach you first.”
Of course, edit your request, C.H.O.M.P.E.R.S., to create the optimal scene for Pepe, but that’s the idea. And probably friendlier than that “walking lawsuit” t-shirt you used to make him wear.
Got a petiquette question for Dear Labby? Email firstname.lastname@example.org