Working with Timid, Scared, or Insecure Dogs

scared dogThis past weekend, we were asked to look after a dog for a couple days while his owner went down south to attend the Miami football game.  From the time we arrived at the home to meet the owner and senior pup we would be caring for (who for the remainder of this article we will refer to as Henry), it was evident that Henry wasn’t too fond of newcomers.  Henry always stayed at a distance, coming only when called to by his owner, and bellowing out deep rumbling barks that announced our presence in the room.  “This is normal”, Henry’s owner said, “Just sit down, completely ignore him, and usually within a few minutes he will come check you out and everything is fine”. Easy enough it seemed.  I finished getting my instructions and we left.

The following day, I went for my scheduled visit with Henry.  Greeted with the same rumbling bark, I greeted Henry, and proceeded to move throughout the house, preparing his dinner before grabbing the leash to take him out for a quick walk. “Want to go for a walk, buddy?” I said cheerfully.  The answer to my question was quickly answered as Henry not only growled, but also slightly lunged in my direction as only a thirteen-year old basset hound could.  He clearly needed more time and space.  And so we sat, not looking at him, my body turned at a forty-five degree angle, hand extended with a treat.  Thirty minutes later, no progress had been made.  Seven visits and two days later- still no luck (I will leave it up to the reader’s imagination as to how I spent my time beyond giving him his meals and attempting to make a new friend).

My client, who had been constantly kept informed of the situation, apologized repeatedly for Henry’s “being a jerk”.  But he wasn’t being a jerk; he simply didn’t trust me yet and in his own way was asking for more time and space.  Thankfully, because I recognized Henry’s body language, I was able to respond appropriately and in a way that conveyed I respected Henry’s space and prevented me from potentially getting bit.

As can be seen in the image to the right, our canine companions have a multi-level Stress-Escalation-Ladder-Rugaascommunication system they use when they begin to become stressed.  Often times, the cDyyloiRSzMlow level signals (yawning, turning of the head) can go unnoticed or ignored by the owner or handler, leaving the pup no choice than to begin to climb the escalation ladder and employ more severe warning signs.  In Henry’s case, he jumped all the way to growling, displaying the lesser signs only when, in his mind eye we had given him the space he needed.   Had we not, it could have potentially resulted in becoming hurt ourselves.

While circumstances like that with Henry are thankfully rare, all of the staff at Creation’s Care have undergone continual education in topics like canine behavior and handling so that we can respond appropriately when the time comes.  We take the time that is necessary to ensure that your pets feel safe, secure, and happy while you are away.  Why?  Because we are pet parent’s too, and we desire nothing but the best for our pets!

Creation’s Care Pet Sitting, LLC serves pets and their parents throughout Tallahassee and Havana, Florida.  We are open for the holidays and are still accepting reservations for both Christmas and New Year’s celebrations and travels.  Call us today for more details on how we can serve you over the holidays. #Christmasiscoming #Tallahasseepetsitter #petsitter #dogwalker

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