2 months ago I bought a plot of land with a workshop on it, and the seller mentioned that he let his friend keep a dog there. He suggested I might like to have the dog stay on there, for security (he's not much of a guard dog once you get to know him, but at least it shows there's always someone visiting.)
The dog is half Irish setter, half some other hunting breed. I have zero experience with dogs.
From the start, it seemed to me that the dog was lonely. He always waits at the gate barking when my or any other car comes) and manically chases his tail when I leave. Yet he would not interact with me in a way I could relate to. He would follow me, but as soon as I turned to look at him, he would run off. At first I thought this was some kind of fear, but now I think it's a game.
I want to get on with this dog, but at the same time I want him to know I am in charge. As a result, for over a month we basically ignored each other. I'm not going to get involved in his running games, it's not what I'm there for. On the other hand I would be happy to interact with the dog by petting him.
A female friend visited and the dog immediately went to her to be petted. He also likes to be petted by the owner (and is happy to be petted by me when the owner is there.) On the other hand the first time the dog allowed me to pet him when there were just the two of us, was today, just after the owner left, and before he had had his customary howl about the owner leaving. I expect he will go back to his random, charging around ways tomorrow.
I asked the owner why he didn't have the dog at home. He said one of his children was scared of the dog. I asked him if the dog had been abused by a man and that was why he let my female friend pet him but not be, and he said he got the dog from a home but there was no prior abuse. I feel the dog would benefit from more social contact (both human and other dogs) and in particular would benefit from some training.
I observe the following behaviour patterns: what can / should I do about them?
Following me, then running away when I pay attention. This one freaks me out a bit sometimes, especially when he snorts right behind me. Sometimes he snorts when he's playing at "hunting" with his rag. (When I walk purposefully toward the dog he always stands his ground then suddenly darts out of the way to let me get where I'm going.)
Smelling my urine, then urinating on top of it (there is no toilet for miles around this plot of land.) Is this some kind of display of dominance or is it harmless? (I'm sure the dog himself doesn't know why he does it.) Anyway, that in itself is not a problem, but he also likes urinating on my car (its such an old car I've decided not to make a fuss about this, though I gave him a good shouting for trying to urinate on my generator.)
Running in front of my car. When I leave the dog runs round and round my car, and frequently runs in circles right in front of it. This behaviour is quite annoying, and the only "solution" I have is to sound my horn. I really would hate to injure him.
I get the impression the dog likes having me there though he cannot or will not interact in a way which shows we are friends. My way of showing this would be to pet him, but he seems more interested in his "approach then suddenly run away" game which I will not be part of. I would like to have more trust with him, in order to be able to reduce some of his antisocial behaviours, as I feel bad bawling him out for doing things I dislike as it's not really his fault if he's never been told.
*As discussed in the comments, I've only bawled him out for urinating on my generator, as I consider it potentially dangerous to the dog.