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We adopted a rescue dog (3 year old lab/hound mix) about 2 weeks ago. We know he was at the very least neglected, but most likely abused as well (noted by the scars on his hind legs and above his eye). He is warming up nicely to me (even possibly getting too attached with some separation anxiety), but is not too fond of my boyfriend yet.

We have decided that my boyfriend will be the only one to give the dog "special treats" AKA little bits of cheese, and he loves them and takes those from him no problem. He seems to be curious of him -- he will follow my boyfriend around if he's walking away from him, but backs up/shy's away if my boyfriend is walking towards him.

He also lets him walk him, and does okay with that, but has growled at him a few times (not on walks, just inside the house). He hasn't shown his teeth, or lunged at him, so it seems like it's more of a fearful growl to me, but I'm not an expert by any means.

How should we deal with this? When it happens should my boyfriend just give him his space? I think he should just ignore him for the most part, and let the dog warm up to him on his own time.

Any suggestions? How long does this type of thing generally take?
 

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My dog was a rescue who was abused by a man. He acted the same exact way towards my husband at first.

It is great that your boyfriend is giving him special treats and walking him. I would also suggest your boyfriend feed his as much as possible too as this will help build trust.

As for the growling and fleeing your boyfriend, he is just unsure of him. Don't punish his growling, he is just letting your boyfriend know he is unsure about what is going to happen. When he does that, just give him his space. Let him sniff and follow your boyfriend, but make sure he doesn't make any sort of quick movements towards the dog (trying to pet him, pick him up, etc). He can slowly crouch down and hold out his hand for the dog to sniff. Make sure he always uses a happy sounding tone with him.

Eventually your dog will warm up and approach him on his own but it could take awhile. He seems like he really wants to trust since he is following him around, but it will just take time. It took a full year for Clyde to fully trust my husband, but it did happen. He now even snuggles him at night! He does get skittish every now and then especially if my husband quickly bends over to pick up something or makes a sudden movement. Good news is, that he is warming up to strange men faster and faster.
 

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Thank you so much! That is exactly what I needed to hear to ease my mind! He is doing most of those things, so we are on the right track!
 

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I definitely agree with what firefly said. Also keep in mind that some dogs are afraid of men in general. Especially if the man in question is large, or loud. It can be scary for a dog, especially if that dog has been abused by a man in the past. Is your dog afraid of other men?

Either way, having the BF give him treats and just generally being non-threatening but approachable is a great idea. I also wanted to reiterate the no sudden movements - the BF shouldn't be trying to force affection/holding/cuddling or anything on your fearful dog. In addition to taking him on walks and giving him tasty treats, it may help to have the BF actually hand-feed the dog his kibble. Anything to reinforce the idea that really good things come from being around the BF.
 
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