Dogcharmer: No touching?

Patience and good food will do wonders.

Penny would like to know how to get used to humans touching her. — Courtesy Tom Shelby

Hello Tom,
Here is a question from my mother’s dog, Penny. Penny was retired from having puppies in August 2021, and seemed to knew nothing about the loving care humans can provide. Penny didn’t know a leash, anything about being touched or brushed, or that there is something called being housebroken.

Hello Tom,

I am an 11-and-a-half-year-old morkie. I was 10 years old when adopted, and had been a puppy mill brooding bitch.

I go to my Mom and sit on her lap or beside her for some petting, or brushing. (Both of these things I have learned to enjoy.)

There is another human in my immediate family named Jessica, and I “tolerate” her minimal needs to touch me because she also walks me and she feeds me my evening meal each day. I have learned which humans have delicious treats, and will take a treat from them, as long as they don’t try to touch me.

Is there something my Mom can do to help me get used to other humans, and not be so wary of them, especially since they are always asking to touch me?



Dear Penny and family,

Family, the secret here is “really special treats” and patience. Penny already acknowledged that she knows the pleasure of being touched and snuggled and brushed. It’s likely that she’s never been socialized, so strange people are really scary! The only time, and I mean the only time that she gets those special treats (hot dog, baloney, chicken, whatever meat) is when there’s going to be interaction with non-family.

Penny, every non-family person you meet is going to offer you a delicious piece of meat; nobody else will. Perhaps you know the Italian expression, “Nothin’ fa nothin’.” To savor that meat, you have to tolerate two to eight seconds of being lightly petted or stroked by the person giving you that special treat. You will learn that people are not so bad, and will start to like being touched, especially because it’s the only time there’s that wonderful meat!

Family, when giving the special treats to friends to give to Penny, ask the friends if when offering them to Penny, they would not face her directly, but rather at a 45° angle, and stooping if possible. The petting should be soft, and accompanied by soft words as Penny is literally chewing. Be patient, and good luck.

Dogcharmer Tom

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