Advice From Thelma

Advice From Thelma

Dear Thelma,

I have the sweetest dog who normally loves hugs and pats but very often when we are out for walks and we meet dog loving strangers who want to give him affection, he will back off and sometimes growl.  I am beginning to think I should not walk him.  Any advice?   Pooch’s Mom


ICHBA Thelma final for Connection


We are known for being pretty tolerant, easy-going creatures, but there are certain things that can bother even the most docile of us.  Intentions may be good when giving us a hug or a pat on the head, but sometime we don’t appreciate these actions and they can result in fearful or aggressive behavior. Below are five things not to do that often make us dogs uncomfortable:

A stranger who tries to hug us:  Dogs don’t express affection in the same ways that humans do. While some dogs will tolerate hugs from their own family, a hug from a stranger can be interpreted as threatening. If a dog tenses up or disengages from your hug, he’s clearly uncomfortable.

Pats on the head:  Reaching for the top of a dog’s head can be a recipe for disaster. If it’s a dog you haven’t met before, let him greet you first and then opt for a chest rub instead of a head pat.

Direct eye contact: While people may see eye contact as a sign of connection or good communication, dogs can perceive it as a threat. Be aware that eye contact is a sign of dominance in the canine world and sometimes can lead to aggressive behavior.

Getting in our faces:  People often do this to express affection, but this behavior can be intimidating and make a dog tense and uncomfortable.

Exposing us to a noisy environment:  A dog’s hearing is at least twice as sensitive to that of a human, making noisy situations uncomfortable and sometimes anxiety inducing So think twice before turning that music way up, exposing your canine companion to a large get-together, or leaving him outside during a thunderstorm or fireworks.

Thelma and family

Thelma with Dana on adoption day



  article edited by ICHBA from Vet Depot


“THELMA” picture by The Farnival


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