I was hoping for a bit of feedback on my Pug's behavior issues as i'm starting to feel slightly concerned.
Brian, our pug, is nearly 3 years old. He seems to have developed an issue when meeting strangers.
If and when Brian meets someone new, who he isn't familiar with, he barks and can also lash out for the person (he grizzles and lunges) when they go to stroke him. He's done this on multiple occasions, and whilst not hurting the other person it worries me that he has this approach to people.
He is absolutely fine with my family and friends who he is used to, but if it's someone he doesn't recognize or know, he really dislikes being stroked or given affection.
Is it just a case that I need to make people aware not to give him any affection, or is there a deeper issue that lies elsewhere and can hopefully be rectified.
He was fine when he was younger, but we haven't had him from a puppy and I worry that something in his previous ownership has caused him to develop this.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I do grow more and more concerned each day and I now exclude taking my dogs to any social events as I know how much he dislikes being approached.
It sounds more like he's frightened to me and quite honestly not every dog does like being touched by strangers, especially if they bend over them and try to stroke the top of their heads. My girl Xanthe is very selective as to whom she'll let touch her, so doesn't approach strangers and hangs back while her Cocker Spaniel sister jumps all over them in a state of excited bliss, but I've never had anyone then try to touch Xanthe - they all seem to get the message and leave her alone.
If however she ever started barking and lunging towards strangers that we were just walking past then that would be a behaviour I would want to do something about and probably use a combination of "watch me" food distraction and "leave" commands. It's a bit dependant on the individual dog, but a good dog training club using positive reinforcement techniques could be very helpful too, but you'd need to clarify that they agree that training a pug on a collar is potentially very dangerous to their health and accept that yours will be wearing a harness.
Please stay in touch and let us know how you get along :)
There probably is an issue in his past that is causing this. Definitely stop others from approaching him until you can get to the bottom of this. He needs to know he can rely on you for safety, plus of course you don't want him to bite anyone.
Going to a training class might help, because it will be full of strangers and you may be able to ask the trainer to help you work with other people approaching him in the class. Check with the trainer first. A one to one session with a trainer could help but of course the same person will soon become known to Brian. Generally you would want any stranger you enlist to allow Brian to approach them rather than the other way around, and for them to be liberal with treats. Eventually you could work up to them starting to approach him, but only giving him treats, not trying to pet him.
It might be worth getting him checked out at the vet just in case there is any underlying pain causing this reaction. Also bear in mind that loads of people try to pat dogs on the top of the head and most of them hate it. Going for the chest or under the chin is much more acceptable as the dog can see the approaching hand at all times. Once it is accepting the touch then the person can move to the shoulders, hindquarters or whatever.
Bella, mummy to Snifter and Toddy!
Buddy D is not my friendly one, he really would rather be left alone by stranger. I am always very cautious when we are out with both of them, if we see someone approaching Buddy D we ask them not to pet or touch him, but that Elvis is ok.
Buddy D goes ballistic when a stranger comes to the house, he just absolutely hates it.
Mom to Elvis and Buddy
Sparky has become somewhat like this. He's perfectly fine meeting people when off-leash. When he's on the leash, however, it's a bit of a crap shoot--sometimes he's fine, other times he's not. He's almost always fine when the person first approaches him, but the aggressive behaviour happens when it's time to go and I pull him away. I'm working with him on this and using treats and verbal encouragement to distract him when I sense him getting agitated. It's a sticky situation because he's cute and people want to approach him, but then he starts in with the "devil dog" routine and they look at him (and me) with a "what the heck is his problem?" reaction. As others have written, training is key.
Former dad to Murphy and Sparky
Sounds like this seems to be a common problem with pugs on leashes, I have seen this now in 3 threads and our pug does the same exact thing. I usually just laugh and tell her to shush as she is so intimidating but when we are walking close to people on the path i will grab her leash with my other hand, pulling her close to my leg giving her very little slack then pick up the pace a bit giving her little room or time to bark or lunge and then when we have passed and gone a bit of distance I give her slack back, and it seems through repetition in nightly walks she understands the drill.
Thank you for all the replies, i'm very grateful.
When we first had Brian we did go on puppy courses with him which got him socializing, he was doing really well. The strange thing is that this behavior seems to have evolved over time and was never evident when we first had him.
Interestingly, if i'm out walking him and he is off his lead, he's absolutely fine when walking past people and doesn't give them any attention, yet if someone comes into the house or approaches him in close quarters, he gets quite scared. I've noticed he can dip his head slightly before people go to approach him.
I'll definitely keep trying to use positive reinforcement when he is in those situations and see how much of an improvement that may offer.
Be careful with your reinforcement in terms of timing. This is where you might perhaps benefit from the input of a trainer - perhaps a one on one session where you all go somewhere that strangers may approach Brian. If you get it wrong, what you may reinforce is the head dip or other (possibly mild) signs of upset from Brian. The last thing you want to be reinforcing is that he is being wise and sensible to be upset about people approaching him and should continue to be defensive.
Bella, mummy to Snifter and Toddy!