How To Deal With Her Dog

If you expect to claim the prized spot on the couch next to this girl, be prepared to work for it.

by Tom Milnes

o matter where you hail from, you have all seen her: That beautiful, picture perfect girl running by in the park with her dog. Inseparable, the two of them bounce by day after day; she is always ready with a smile or wave and he gives you a suspicious glance or sniff.

Eventually you muster the courage to ask her out, but you realize soon enough that the dog is the leader of the pack. You may think, "no
Just like his master, if a dog has a bad experience with a person he will remember it.
problem, I love animals"—but not so fast. Although you may be able to impress the pickiest of parents and charm the socks off the clingiest gal pal, this four-footed, live-in best friend can be tough to win over. If you expect to claim the prized spot on the couch next to this girl, be prepared to work for it.

The competition
First, understand that dogs are social animals and extremely protective, especially when it comes to their territory, aka the object of your desire. Even though generally they see all humans as dominant, they are likely to test how far you will let them go, and depending on the breed, their training and temperament may even cause them to react aggressively toward strangers.

Understanding the situation
If you find yourself in a situation where a woman's dog is excessively protective (barking, growling, baring of teeth, biting…) your first step should be to do a little fact-finding. Ask the owner if men have caused any trauma in the dog's life. Beyond their role as cuddly companions, the main reason people enjoy dogs is for their intelligence—and
Your first step should be to do a little fact-finding.
nothing screams intelligence like memory. Just like his master, if a dog has a bad experience with a person he will remember it and be wary of him—but unlike his master the dog will not always be able to draw a clear line between a man and all men.

In addition, since dogs are highly intuitive of the feelings swirling around him, especially those of his master, they are quite likely to pick up on any tensions, anxiety and fears and channel them into an instinctive protective posture.

There's a new dog in town
Regardless of history, if you want to comfortably remain in a woman's life over the objections of her dog, you must assert your dominance over him. Although this will take patience and significant amounts of tough love, it is not as difficult as it might seem—if there is anything a dog understands it is hierarchy.

Start with ensuring that you have contact, especially physical contact, with the dog on his home turf, and make sure he observes that you have friendly, if not intimate, contact with his master. Through this he will learn not only to tolerate you, but also to consider you part of his own pack.

Once established, your next goal is to raise your social ranking by establishing yourself as the provider of his needs. Because dogs are dependent on their masters for nearly every aspect of their existence and natural canine social behavior like barking, growling, etc., are discouraged, this is a prime opportunity.

With the approval of his master start taking the dog for workouts, ensuring that the necessary correction and praise are given. Problem dogs may require the use of a choke chain or a muzzle, which when used appropriately the dog will grow accustomed and your increased confidence will rub off on the dog. After each session, ensure that you are the one rewarding him with praise and food. With time and patience, he will come to see you as being on the same rank, more or less, as his master. Remember, in a dog's life it is lead or be led, and you want to be the one holding the leash.

Tom Milnes is a freelance writer who contributes to Happen.
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