A few days ago, Eric Goelbelbecker of DogSpelledForward training fame noted that May 17-23 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. That got me to write this post to let Take Paws readers know what we did to reduce the bite potential of Ty, our fearful Shar-Pei.
Back in March I wrote a post explaining that both of our dogs presented some challenges, lest anyone think we traveled with perfect pets. Here is what I said about Ty.
Ty is 5 1/2 years old … At the impressionable age of 6 months, Ty was attacked by a large Gordon Setter in a dog park. Ever since then, he’s been distrustful of other dogs and people, in general.
With respect to people, he just wants to sniff them. Unless you’ve spent the night at our house, Ty won’t trust you. If you have spent the night at our house, but he forgot, Ty won’t trust you. He’s very wary of strangers. This wouldn’t be a problem … except that he is so damn cute. Why is this so bad, you ask? Because everyone wants to get in his face and pet him – no matter how many times we ask people just to let him sniff. The “oh we have a Shar-Pei, too” or the “all dogs love me” types are the worst. Those of you reading this that are in a similar position – you know what I’m saying.
Now just to be clear, Ty has never bitten anyone. But his bark and snarl have scared the bejeezus out of people who would not heed our warning about trying to pet him. What’s a dog lovin’ dude to do?
After that post, @DogLoversDigest suggested Ty don a service dog vest emblazened with Please Don’t Pet Me I’m Working patches from SitStay.com. I immediately placed an order. Two months later I’m happy to report back that we haven’t had to rebuff one untoward advance. First, people see the vest and assume he’s a service or therapy dog and steer clear. I know making people think he’s “working” is not totally honest … but, hey, I’m protecting my dog. Second, if people do get closer they see the patches and keep their distance, one that still allows Ty to stay in his comfort bubble.
I put Ty on a catwalk so he could model his vest for you.
So if you have a hesitant, fearful, reactive dog that takes time to warm up to other people, I heartily recommend this unorthodox solution. The vest was $30.99 and the patches were $6.25 each – a relatively inexpensive fix for Ty’s piece of mind. One side effect – there’s always a side effect. Ty has become quite the clothes hound and is insisting on a matching ascot.
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