Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I rescued my approx. 2 year old blue heeler female last year around Christmas. It is obvious that she dealt with some form of neglect/abuse during her life before I adopted her, though of what manner I have no way of knowing. She can be selectively skittish. Not everything scares her, but sometimes just moving too quickly can make her jump. She's weird. Anyway.
She is absolutely terrified of my boyfriend, and ONLY my boyfriend. She has never shown true fear of men in general. She is obsessed with my roommate (who is a man) and loves my brother and dad. My boyfriend (Austin) is not mean to her, tries to play with her, and she won't have anything to do with him. We've tried everything. She will not take treats from him (tried that because she is food motivated). She will not play with him (she's also toy motivated). When he comes near her she runs to hide behind me. She won't come when he calls her. The only time she will mind him and have anything to do with him is if they are on a walk outside. If he just takes her outside on the porch (she LOVES to be outside more than anything) she just lays down. That is beyond out of character for her. She's super high energy but just shuts down when Austin and her are alone. Also he has been in her life for about 9 months.

I work M-F 2:30 to 11:00 pm so they are alone together all day every day pretty much. When I'm home she doesn't leave my side and wants to play and cuddle and is very rambunctious (same with my roommate and virtually every other person she's ever come in contact with). But when I'm at work she goes in my room and hides and won't come out unless she's coming out to look for the cat or drink water. When my roommate is home and I'm at work (this is only about 2 days a week) she plays with him and loves him like she loves me, but not my boyfriend. It is literally ONLY him. And it's making him dislike her :/ he keeps trying and nothing is working. I'm an experienced dog owner and am at my wits end. Even when I am home and we are together on the couch, she will play with me and not him. If he tries to pet her she backs away. I have yet to see a post on something this specific, but I'm open to suggestions.

Again, he's tried treats, toys, walking her more often, being overly sweet to her, and none of it seems to matter because I'm not there. And even when I am home, she is solely focused on me and still has nothing to do with him. HELP
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,429 Posts
He needs to stop trying so hard. She's viewing the treats, toys, patting, and sweetness as pressure; it's scary to her and she's not enjoying it. It really sucks, but he should just pretend she's not there unless he absolutely has to take her outside to pee or something. If you like, he could give her her meals (no interaction with her, just setting down her bowl) and he could drop treats randomly when she's around (not handing them to her, not even looking at her, but just dropping treats every now and then). He should take care not to stare at her face or to loom over her; both of these things are intimidating to dogs. Dogs like it when people turn their body to the side instead of facing the dog head-on; this is less intimidating.

You need to basically reprogram this dog to view the boyfriend being around as a good thing, which means no pressure and random rewards. At least you don't have the problem of her lunging at him, as many nervous dogs (including mine) will do!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,262 Posts
This was posted by a vet behaviorist on FB. Although it refers to a "scary stranger" and food the advice could apply to any scary person - even someone familiar - and any enticement - food, toys, play, walks.

Tuesday's Pearl: Food is not an effective counter-conditioning tool when it’s being offered by the scary stranger.

If you’ve ever raised a puppy, you probably asked all kinds of people to offer her food and interact (safely) with her. This is a good strategy for socializing puppies who seem reasonably confident around unfamiliar people. But...with worried or fearful dogs of any age, it’s often not a great strategy for a few reasons:

First, fearful dogs are, well, fearful – any interaction with an unknown person can simply be threatening to them. Forced "greetings" can make them more fearful, not less.

Second, when offering food, people usually stare, bend and reach towards the dog – which, in dog language, can be loosely translated as "I'm going to eat you now."

Third, significantly fearful dogs may defensively bite even after taking and eating the food. The treat itself is basically uncoupled from the person offering it. This is common, and can be explained by understanding that the dog is ambivalent (“This person is creepy, but that liver is irresistible!”). He may choose to take the food as the arm reaches out, and at the same time be intimidated by that arm. But as it’s withdrawn after the treat is taken, the arm is a little less intimidating, while your dog is just as ambivalent. Th upshot is that fearful dogs commonly bite body parts that are moving away from them.

If your dog is worried around unfamiliar people on leash walks or in your home, ask them to ignore him (you might need to define "ignore" and tell them to resist eye contact, reaching, bending, petting and feeding. Instead, *you* should be the one to make it rain liver in the presence of strangers. This simple strategy counter-conditions the fear by associating the scary clowns with food and simply avoiding intimidating postures and interactions altogether. If anything is going to help your dog feel less frightened when strangers are looming over her, it will be a consistent sense of safety and predictability.
Reisner Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
I agree, he needs to stop trying so hard. Healers are super super smart, and they don't like to be forced, pressured, or tricked. They're part Dingo, a feral dog that has to survive in the wild by observing the environment.

All the above said, I can't remember where I read this, but Cattle Dogs need to be trained by every member of the family, so they aren't overly bonded to one person. As I have a Red Heeler myself, I would say the way into your dog's heart is through respect and admiration. Cattle Dogs love to be loved (insert adored, admired and fawned over). Maybe set up a time to train with her and the bf. Have her do a few basics, reward her. Then have bf jump in with a command, intermittently, but YOU reward her for working with him too. And in all seriousness, it might not hurt him to tell her what a beautiful and smart cattle dog she is. Probably sounds silly to anyone owning most other breeds, but genuine flattery can get you across the country with a cattle dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,204 Posts
How long have you been with this guy? I'm very cautious when my dogs don't like someone that much. They read things we can't. I'm wondering if there's something else going on that you don't know about. I trust my dogs instinct and when they don't like someone I normally end that relationship. Just be cautious.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,262 Posts
Has your dog always had this reaction to your boyfriend? Was their relationship strained from the beginning?

Is there anything different about your boyfriend? His appearance, demeanor, clothing? Does he smoke? Work someplace he may pick up odd odors?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,724 Posts
I think it quite likely that he reminds her of someone in her previous life that was not kind to her. I think the advise that Crantastic gave is the best way to go. It is certainly worth a try.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,865 Posts
It is a cattle dog... It does not need a reason to not like someone.... They have an opinion about everything and everyone...

Cattle Dogs are not a "love everyone instantly" kind of dog... They were never meant to be. They are not even going to love everyone eventually. Some they will never even like... Some they may despise forever. Right now you have what sounds like tolerance.... Be happy with that for now.

They tend to take that entire aloof and suspicious part of their standard serious..

Heck I CO own one that doesn't like me... (she does not live with me.) And when she has stayed with me, my wife never touched her... She would not even look at my wife. Not fear... Just as if my wife simply did not exist...

Your dog may never like your boyfriend. They can be extremely one person oriented... I suppose you could be glad the dog has not decided your boyfriend needs to be driven away.

If you want to try to create a relationship between the dog and your boyfriend... First of all your boyfriend needs to STOP trying. Stop attempting affection, play, treats etc.... Have him ignore the dog....Forcing himself on the dog is not going to make it better...

What I would do... Is have your boyfriend feed the dog. And by that I mean..... He puts the food in the bowl... Puts the bowl down... Don't say anything.... Just go through the motions... And just wait and watch... Maybe the dog will reach out... Might take some time...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,018 Posts
Hank is weird like this (he's a mix). There are certain people he just doesn't like from the get go. He likes most people and I can never pinpoint why some people set him off. Mia is easy because she hates everyone. Hank likes most people but then really doesn't like some people. And no I don't think he has some magical judge of character. One person he doesn't like at all is a dog sport friend who is just lovely. No idea why he felt the need to growl at her and bark at her.

One thing that did help was we let him play with her dog. I think being around her with another dog helped a lot. We were at her house last week and he didn't growl at all.

I have a friend with a male purebred ACD. Neat dog. When I first met them he wouldn't let me touch him. He doesn't let most people touch him and will growl. But after spending time with me and Hank and his owner and him seeing that his owner and I were friends, he now greats me VERY enthusiastically when he sees me. He actually shoved through my legs and basically forced me to pet him last time I saw him. It was hilarious.

But yeah I agree. Don't have him try at all. Just exist in the same space. Feed her. See what happens.

I'm not a big fan of going and petting strange dogs anyways but they're one breed I definitely let approach me on their own terms. Generally they have a pretty well defined space bubble.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top