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"Hello, I'm Alys. Who Are You?"

Approaching Alys' and my one year anniversary, the one behavioral change that I've noticed most in the last days and weeks is her reaction to strangers and only vaguely familiar people (like neighbours).

When she moved in, she would be very hesitantly friendly towards most women and scared of almost all men. Meaning she'd avoid them or shy back from them if they approached her. Sometimes even freeze.

By now, more often than not, she stops to look at people with open curiosity, and if they acknowledge her in a calm and friendly way, she'll walk up to them to say hello. She's still a little hesitant, but relaxed, tail wagging slightly. She'll sniff their hand or legs, then look at them with her big brown eyes - *points to icon* - and decide whether they're allowed to pet her or not. But even if not, she'll usually only duck away for a moment, and then walk right up to them again.

In the case of some people she's a bit more familiar with already, she'll even trot up to them as soon as she sees them and demand attention by "singing". Still doesn't necessarily mean they're allowed to pet her. And even if she lets them, depending on how they go about it, she'll sometimes shoot me a "Why is this human doing that? Is that normal? It's not very polite." look.

The one thing she's still uncomfortable with is strangers walking behind us. She'll usually slow down and sniff around until they have passed us.

We had one very different experience too, though. A while ago, a man rang our doorbell to beg for money. Alys was pretty indifferent to what was going on at first, but the moment we were all back in the living room, she approached the living room door and started growling, with the hair on her back standing on end. It was such an extreme reaction that we searched the entire house to make sure that no one had sneaked in. But apparently it was only the lingering smell. Alys quickly calmed down again too, as soon as we came to see what was wrong.

A few minutes later, we left the house with her to drive into town - she's been to town a few times by now and is handling it very well - and the same guy approached us again on our way to the car. I stayed a few feet away with Alys when he went up to my step-father. My father told him to please leave us alone, but he wouldn't. Until Alys apparently decided that it was enough and started barking at him. I didn't see her face but my father later said she looked scary, like nothing he'd ever seen from her before or even thought her capable of. There was no sign of scared, little defensive dog, she was pure offensive warning.
The guy left, and as soon as I called Alys' name she was back at my side, relaxed, tail wagging, attention on me.

I'm generally not in favor of my dog barking or growling at people, and I try to teach her not to do it, no matter the circumstances.

1) It's stressful for her
2) It might get us into trouble if she ever decides to follow through with her threats.
3) It's not her job. She's not a guard dog, and I'm teaching her to be friendly to people and other dogs.

I do have to admit, though, that ever since that day, I feel a little safer when I have to take her for a walk after dark.

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