DEAR MARY ANN: My husband and I have four children, and they had asked for several years to get a dog. We decided finally we would do so. Our very large Saint Bernard (195 pounds) is very loving, but my husband thinks he should be shown to anyone that stops by. If someone drops off one of our children, my husband takes the dog out to greet the visitors. Some are happy to see the dog, and others, well, some of us can tell, would rather not have the dog greet them. My husband seems to be very oblivious to this. I believe he always wanted a dog growing up and now is filling that void. What can [we] do about this?
-- ALL DOGGED OUT
DEAR ALL DOGGED OUT: A 195-pound Saint Bernard is not the regular neighborhood pooch. While it is important to be aware of other people's feelings about being welcomed by such a massive slobbering breed, it is equally important to recognize that such a giant dog needs to be continually socialized. Greeting guests is one way of exposing the dog to new people. If any visitors recoil at the thought of dog hair on a suit or drool on a dress, they have the opportunity to speak up and avoid contact with the dog.
Seeing a dog of this size and breed and possibly having the opportunity to pet the dog is not an everyday occurrence for most people. Some may view it as fun to be close to possibly the biggest dog they will ever see. When you are as proud of your dog as it seems your husband is, it is natural to want to show him off. Let your husband continue to bond with his pet. A dog of this stature comes once in a man's life.
DEAR MARY ANN: I am part of a walking group that walks three to five miles per day four days a week. It is a nice group of women who enjoy the company and want to get in their exercise. The problem is one of the women always walks two steps ahead of everyone else. She doesn't have a faster stride; she just doesn't walk next to anyone. If you are talking to her, it is like talking to her back. We have brought this to her attention, but she just ignores the question. Is this an alpha issue or something else?
-- ONE STEP BEHIND
DEAR ONE STEP BEHIND: The solo walker is able to listen to the other women's conversations but does not feel the need to contribute. Her four-day-a-week commitment to walk with you shows she wants to be part of your group but only on her own terms. By ignoring your request to walk abreast her body language is enforcing an emotional distance. She may be an extremely private person who enjoys the camaraderie of the walkers but someone who has no desire to make small talk or gossip. She does not want to socialize on that level. Accept her lead position and pace for what it is; don't draw attention to her two steps in front stride. With her back to the group it is easier for her to keep her thoughts to herself.
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