Barking Like A Dog

January 27, 2010 · Posted in Public Interaction, Service Dogs, Training 
barking dog

I don’t know about you, but I am starting to get Spring Fever. We just had over six inches of snow this past week in Santa Fe; however, I am already looking forward to the days of planting and the rewards of beautiful dessert flowers and fresh vegetables from the garden.

The other day, Franz, Whistle and I went to a local yard and garden store for their annual winter sale to buy some outdoor pots. We parked in the accessible parking space and as I was opening my van door, a man and his large St. Bernard dog strolled past our vehicle. Whistle was safely seatbelted on the back seat. He lept to his feet and barked like an untrained dog. I, of course, was shocked and appalled at his behavior and quickly commanded him to be “quiet.”

He immediately responded; however, the damage was done. My dressed service dog had barked at another dog in public! I was so embarrassed and asking myself, “How could such an intelligent, trained service dog like Whistle bark at a strange dog like that?”

Whistle and I are out in public almost every day and granted, this was a rare incident. However, it is still very concerning to me and I want to know if you’ve ever been in that situation before and what have you done to handle it.

Morgan, my retired service dog, never barked at other dogs. He simply ignored them whenever he was working. But Whistle, on the other hand, does pay attention to other dogs. I correct him but in the past, he has lunged toward another dog or forged incessantly in order to get closer to a strange dog.

He doesn’t do this every time he encounters another dog, but it happens enough to embarrass me and to make me a little uncomfortable about approaching other dogs. What is the protocol for meeting and greeting other dogs? How do you handle these canine situations? I can’t wait to hear your experiences and suggestions!

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