This young Weimaraner did not want to interact with Luke. She is appropriately not making eye contact to let him know.
"Now Daisy, that's not nice; you need to learn to be nice," she said as she pulled her dog away from Elsa. The woman had walked up to us at the park; she made a b-line directly towards us and asked "is that a doodle?" I shook my head saying "no just a poodle," for the twentieth time. This same woman has asked me over and over again. It is strange when someone sees you so many times and doesn't remember at all. Anyhow her dog is not dog friendly; but she moved in quickly as I tried to walk around her. Her tiny dachshund let out an aggressive response, even though they approached us and Elsa returned it to both their surprise. I was a little surprised myself but Elsa is getting older; she is becoming more protective and doesn't take kindly to those type of interactions and nor do I. Honestly, if you know your dog is not dog friendly then why? Why interact? It will only lead to a negative response from everyone.
I let out a disapproving sound and we moved on. As we came around the park again there they were; we made a big circle to avoid another interaction. I made no eye contact and neither did Elsa; we were there to enjoy ourselves. So many people I see who deal with their dog and behavior issues have a big conversation with their dog about it. Sure I talk to my dogs, I have big long conversations about all sorts of things but when it comes to behavior it must be dealt with in something that a dog will understand. You must react, not talk, react. That means with your body and sound.
ie. Last night I was filling the dishwasher when Luke was finishing up his dinner. Elsa was done already and moving in close to Luke and his bowl. I made my disapproving sound which is MMM MMM and Elsa gave me a quick glance and stopped moving forward but did not move away. She knows just how to bother Luke enough to get him to move away from his bowl, Tilley did as well. With just a touch to his tail he will be flustered enough that he cannot eat. Poor guy, the girls figure him out easily. I wanted her to give him some space so giving her direct eye contact I took one step towards her. Her ears went down and she backed off. "Good girl" I said and went back to the dishwasher. Behavior met with behavior.
Reactions must be delivered instantly, direct and with enough meaning. A reaction should not linger; it will do more damage than good if it is left to smolder. It should be short, sweet and to the point. Timing is everything and if you miss the moment, just move on. Dogs do not get messages given at the wrong time; they simply relate it to something else. Association, it is all about association with dogs. So if you have a nice long and serious conversation after they display some unwanted behavior, guess what? They are going to display it again.
A couple of years ago, two bully boxer girls knocked Luke to the ground when he got out of the car. It was unnecessary, rude and very unexpected for both Luke and I. The owner of the two very rude girls told them that it wasn't nice, they shouldn't do that and asked them why they had. Did this do anything to curb the rude behavior? NO. What it did was enforce the rude behavior; leaving me shrugging, shaking my head and fuming. The dogs see this nice conversation as enjoyable and reinforcing.
As much as dogs understand our words, tone and posture do a whole lot more as far as delivering a message. Most of the time my reactions are simply sounds; knowing that a reaction needs to be delivered in a timely manner it is whatever happens to come out. Best to get something out in an appropriate time limit than wait for the perfect word for the occasion. A long drawn out lecture does nothing but make a human feel like they've done something. But let me tell you, you've done nothing but reinforce the bad behavior.