(Paul M. Shimek) wrote:

>Are there other Am. Eskimo owners out there that would care to
>advise me? About a year and a half ago, this little white (of
>course) bundle of fur with a bloody side started hanging around my
>front yard and I finally coaxed him into the house. He let me give
>him a bath without too much bother, and I noticed that he had been
>shot. I took him to the vet and she removed the remaining shotgun
>pellets from his side, gave him his shots and informed me of his
>breed...full-blooded (she says) American Eskimo. A smallish Spitz,
>I guess. When no one claimed him after I ran an ad in the
>newspaper, I decided to keep him. He's a wonderfully affectionate
>little guy, as long as I'm alone with him, but he seems to hate
>every one else. He seems to accept my wife but is not as
>affectionate with her. My question is How do I help him get over
>this seeming hatred of people or is this a breed trait? We live in
>the country, but there is a school not far from us and I'm afraid
>he may get loose some day and hurt one of the kids.
>Does anyone have any suggestions or comments?

American Eskimos are related to other Northern Spitz type dogs such as Keeshonds and Pomeranians. You have observed a number of traits that appear quite prevalent in the breed: (1) Great affection and loyalty towards his/her master; (2) Protectiveness (NOT aggression) and (3) An extremely intelligent, observant and discriminating nature with a tendency toward prejudices regarding people and animals. If she is normal, her tendency would be to use her intelligence to AVOID confrontations or unpleasant encounters with adults, children or animals she does not know or trust. Aggression/Fear is definitely NOT part of the breed personality. However, it is your responsibility to socialize her with as many types of people and dogs as possible. In addition, obedience training will develop mental discipline, concentration and restraint, improve your control of the dog and build mutual respect. I would recommend the book "Good Owners, Great Dogs" by Brian Killcommons (Warner Brothers is the publisher). It goes through dog psychology, basic dog/puppy care and the understanding and solving of common canine problems, including those similar to what you describe. Further it will help you differentiate those problems that you can handle versus those that may require professional help.

To give you an idea, if my Eskie is off leash and a much larger dog is on leash she will come over to the larger dog and attempt to engage him in play or chase, knowing full well he is ON leash. If the other dog goes off leash she runs over to me for protection. She is very conscious of her small size and physical limitations. However, if she sees a large, but gangly puppy, she loves to get him to chase her (off leash) and otherwise frustrate him in his attempt to chase her down. She uses all her clever moves, cuts and transitions to increase his frustration to the maximum level. Again, she is quite brave on leash when she sees other larger dogs and I am walking with her. The situation is reversed however if, again, the chances of encounter with the other dog increase. Tasha sometimes gets full of herself and will bark a little to much at strangers. However a few quick "down" commands or a reminder to be quiet is usually sufficient to deflate or ego and quiet her down. Besides, for the most part she barks because she thinks it is her job/responsibility and I that I need the protection. She selectively barks at "street" people, people carrying large or unusual objects, people that walk with funny gaits, people that are talking with a loud voices, children she does not know, etc. I do my best to correct her and in almost all cases as these people near her she will either avoid contact (while continuing to bark) or become extremely submissive and friendly. At the beach she literally digs a moot around me in the sand and then becomes very protective (or frustrated) if other dogs or people enter our little "enclave". With dogs she has known since she was a few months old she will be very friendly, frequently trying to kiss them when she greets them. She does this even if she hasn't seen them in over a year and they have practically forgotten HER !. On the good side, she loves young, attractive woman in their thirties. Further, they love her! Eskie intelligence does indeed have its advantages.

So, you can see Eskies are very intelligent (they practically never forget), highly discriminating, very clever and very well meaning. Because of their intelligence and often sweetly domineering natures, they need obedience training and some structure. Eskies will learn the actual obedience commands very quickly. What obedience training really does for them is to develop their concentration skills and self worth. They also need exercise, praise and love to play, the more inventive the better. If paired with a young child, the unsuspecting adult parent will suddenly have two children. Each quite inventive and capable of getting the other into trouble as they explore the world together.

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