People come in many sizes and shapes. Often a trip to the city or a busy town will help condition your dog to the variety.


Dogs are not racist, but they do note changes in skin coloration and odor. If your community is not integrated, bring your dog into environments where she will have ample exposure to people of every race. Use a SIT-STAY and treats to help her make the link that everyone is a friend. If you get a home delivery from a person of a different race, use that as a time to improve your dog's greeting skills as well as to socialize her to people of different ethnicities.


Although you might know a family member geared up for sporting play, your dog may not. Where vision is our strongest sense, it is a dog's weakest. Visual novelties often send a dog's senses into a spin, and the reaction may be extreme. Try to resist soothing your dog when she's agitated as doing so conveys concern, not confidence. Use the direction HEEL and walk around the outside perimeter of a sporting event with her. If sporting gear is to be worn around your home, lay each piece of it on the floor and spend time exploring it with your dog, showing her how to "view it" with her nose.


From police officers to mail carriers, many dogs have an innate dislike of anyone who doesn't dress down. Although the temptation may be to tense up or to jolly beyond your dog's comfort zone, there is an appropriate way to react to ensure that your dog views these people just like anyone else. First, pass these people by, or practice a lesson when the mail carrier makes a delivery without acknowledging her. Repeat this as often as necessary until your dog is less reactive. Next, use the command HEEL to walk over to the person, and ask your dog to SIT-STAY before greeting. Ask the person to help you offer your dog treats, holding that person's hand in yours to convey your mutual respect.


Costumes and large human-form decorations, especially around Halloween and at parades, can be very frightening to a dog. The best way to preempt your dog's fear is to lay the object or outfit on the floor and investigate it with her: act like another dog and sniff it together. When you meet a person in disguise, use HEEL if you're moving and STAY if you're not. Ignore your dog's reactions, holding the leash comfortably until she calms down.


When a person is carrying an object, she can suddenly look monstrous to a dog—even if that person is you. If the object is motorized, it can add another dimension of caution. If your dog is caught off guard, her impulse to protect or run in fear may lead to hazardous reactions. To prepare her, keep her on-leash when people are working near your home; use SIT-STAY to help her contain her initial reaction and focus on you. If you have purchased or plan to use an object that might be alarming, lay it on the floor in advance and investigate it together.

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