Otis doesn’t feel safe around the unpredictable small grandchild.
He had been found abandoned on a motorway. During the two and a half years they have had him, the couple has done a great job in building up his confidence.
He is still a very ‘careful’ dog and easily upset if he doesn’t feel safe.
Before the now 20-month-old little girl was mobile, Otis was fine. He simply kept out of her way.
She is too much for Otis
Now the exuberant, noisy little girl is just too much for him.
When she comes to visit, which is often, her mum opens the front door and she runs to Otis with her arms out, screaming “Doggy doggy doggy cuddle cuddle cuddle’!
Now he has to be held back or he runs at her, growling and snapping.
Both dog and child need to be taught alternative options that are incompatible with their current behaviours.
The first thing is for Otis to feel safe.
They will borrow a pen.
Before the little girl next comes, he will get used to his pen. His bed will be in there and treats, chews and his meals. The door will be left open.
Planning the child’s entrance will help Otis to feel safe
I suggest mum carries the little girl into the house and doesn’t put her down until Otis is safely in his pen and the child has calmed down.
Grandmother can hold the child’s hand and make a bit of a drama out of a tiptoe game around the pen ….”shhhh!”.
Together they can drop bits of food into the pen – special food Otis loves that he doesn’t get at other times.
They will watch the little girl all the time and teach her. If she gets very excited they can go into another room for a while.
When she no longer runs at him, Otis will learn to welcome her because he will feel safe – and he will be getting special food.
As she grows older the little girl will learning how to approach Otis – and other dogs also.
A week later and in preparation for the child’s next arrival at the front door: ‘No barking at the door for past two days… he hasn’t bothered to get off his bed when the doorbell rang this evening.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help