Golden Cocker Spaniel Harvey is subdued and scared much of the time. His people do doggy daycare and he used to enjoy the company of the other dogs. However, after a very unfortunate experience when he himself had been left somewhere with inadequate supervision and he was attacked by a much larger dog resulting in a fight, he has never been the same since.
His fear is evident. He is constantly on edge. He growls when looked at or approached by another dog – even a puppy. Just sometimes it has gone to the next stage – a lot of noise sounding like an attack but fortunately no damage done.
Being a dog sitter, this isn’t easy for the lady as poor Harvey just wants to escape, so he stays by himself out of the way in his own room while the other dogs take over his kitchen. When he growls he is scolded or old No. This is a natural human reaction when our dogs do this, but unfortunately it makes matters a lot worse. It adds to the general stress. The dog is scared not bad and will be very confused. Harvey, having growled, will then go somewhere and shake. I suspect this is because he is scared of the humans’ reaction. Don’t get me wrong, they love him dearly and do all they can to show him that they do. He is a very sensitive dog.
Harvey feels scared and helpless, and these other dogs have invaded his home.
This is another case of a dog who needs building up very slowly indeed, a few minutes at a time.
All the time he is in the company of the other dogs the owners need to keep quiet and calm. Scolding and noise is totally the wrong response to my mind and probably has escalated the situation. He needs to be shown an alternative behaviour – what he should be doing. If he is becoming stressed then I would remove him from the situation for a while and try again later. By keeping him out of the way altogether nothing will improve.
They also need to tighten up their general leadership skills so that Harvey won’t feel he needs to protect them or himself – protection should be their job.