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The Dog that Dislikes Men, continued

Last week I have had this dog returned to stay with me, just for a day.

I wrote about him some weeks ago and promised an update. The owner had told me that their dog did not like men and whenever I tried to call him into the house at nighttime, he was having none of it. He would prefer to sit outside in the car park looking at us all sat comfortably indoors.

To prove the owner was correct, Tania, who was in my training class, was able to call him to her to put a lead on him, without any problem, yet if I called him; he was long gone.

Using a little dog whispering technique late one night, he eventually sat and waited to allow me to walk up and fasten a lead on him. After that, he walked with me without any problem. Only as we approached the door of the house, did he pull back and show fear, but of what. Was this some dread of what he thought I might do to him, once I got him inside the house?

Inside, he shows no fear of me at all. In fact, he was very friendly. He would follow me upstairs to my office and lay at my feet, whilst I worked. This sort of reaction is not fear of men, though possibly, what a man did to him many years ago.

Dog behaviourism is not exactly rocket science. Most people would suspect that in cases just like this, a good dose of tender loving care would fix everything. In most cases, this is true but in others, it can be quite detrimental. After so many years, why was he still so fearful when having a caring owner?

From what I have learnt about this dog, a shelter found him in a terrible condition. This makes me wonder did they have to catch him first. Whilst there, did they have to drag him into a surgery in order to administer medication. All of such things are necessary to heal him, but having to catch him may have been very traumatic. Possibly the niceties of sitting down to encourage the dog to trust you and come to you were not viable options. He needed catching, medical attention and finding him a new home with caring owners as soon as possible.

It is this being caught and forcibly handled that is the problem, nothing else. As soon as this dog sees that I want him to come to me, he reads this in my body language and flees.

To test this I used all the dogs that were stopping here at the centre to come to me for lots of treats and fuss. The dog in seeing all this also came, allowing me to pat and fuss him. When I rubbed his head and ears his tail was wagging, so he was obviously enjoying it. Only when I looked at him as if I wanted to catch him, off he would go again.

It is important to remember dogs find it easier to read body language more than the words we speak. This is why it is also important to try to look at ourselves, like looking in a mirror. It makes no difference whether you are a man, woman, English, Spanish, American, German or Romanian we still translate what we are wanting into the same body language.

When the owner came to leave her dog this week, I asked if she would go into my house and call her dog inside. There was no problem. When he was outside again, I joined the owner and asked her to call him. Again, there was no problem. This was a test to see if he feared the house. If not, it showed that it was safe to enter, even when I was standing next to his owner.

When she had gone, I then wanted to see if the dog would follow me. I therefore called all the other dogs for a walk up the fields. The dog just stood there looking at us. As soon as I patted the dogs I called him, he came to me with his tail wagging. This was a good beginning.

Whilst all the dogs were playing together, I would call them for food treats. Even this dog would come for the reward as well as letting me pat him and play with his collar. Just to help hold him more easily and without having to touch him, I attached a very short lead to him.
In the evening time, I fed them and he came into the kitchen along with all the others to eat his meal. Later when I went upstairs to do some work, all the dogs followed and lay down in the office or just outside. It does get a little crowded in here at times. He came in and lay at my feet, falling fast asleep.

Knowing all the doors were open, I stroked him and held the short lead so I could get in front of him and out of the office. Once ahead of him it was easy to go down stairs and close the outside doors.

A little later, I let them outside again whilst I prepared the log fire and my evening meal. It had been trying to rain so once my food was ready; I called them inside. I turned on the Television and ate my meal, surrounded by all the dogs. Two occupied the old sofa, Ruby sat next to me, along with this dog. Winston and the others lay in front of the roaring fire.

A short while earlier, the owner telephoned me to check if her dog was inside the house. I said that he was playing outside with one of the dogs and here it was only slightly spitting with rain. I said he would be coming in shortly when I had my meal. She sounded concerned that he might be getting soaked if he stayed outside and so she was coming to pick him up. A few moments later, he came inside as soon as I called him.

About thirty minutes later, she telephoned again to apologise. She said she had decided to leave him with me and asked what he was doing. I replied that he was sitting next to me on the sofa. He had his head on my lap whilst I was watching the television along with all the other dogs, enjoying my large roaring log fire.

It was the next day when the owner came to pick him up that I could see the problem. She was trying to put his harness on him and it is a fiddly thing, making him obviously uneasy. I said that it would be better if she simply clicked the lead on his collar as she was making him upset. She replied that the collar came over his head when he would not come forward, which is just what he was doing for me.
My suggestion was that whilst she suspected men were the problem, this was not the case. It is her own anxiety when a man is present, which was making her dog anxious as well.

The problem is quite simply he has an aversion to anyone wanting to catch him along with all the manhandling. All her anxiety and especially her handling, whilst putting on his harness, are continually reinforcing his fear.

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