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It's pure FEAR!

BusterBoo
April 20th, 2006, 12:18 PM
I have been having a problem with Harley sinced we moved to our house last July and hopefully someone has a suggestion.....

Harley has never really liked men! He has always been "my" dog. When my boyfriend and his daughter and I moved into the house, it was all good. Harley LOVES my boyfriend and his daughter and they all get along great together. The problem started when the daughter would invite this one particular friend over, who Harley is terrified of! It is to the point that when the young man (age 19) comes over, Harley runs into our bedroom and squeezes under our bed. He leaves pee trails all over and yelps and cries until the guy leaves....even if it is 2 hours later. The young man is a very quiet, nice guy, who also owns a small dog, so he knows how to approach animals and he feels TERRIBLE that Harley won't come near him. We have tried giving him a treat to give to Harley but Harley won't go near him! Harley just cries, almost a screaming cry. I know for a fact that the young man has never done anything to scare or hurt my dude, but Harley just won't give him a chance. We have had other young men in our house who look rough and are built like football players and Harley doesn't have a problem with them. Just this one poor guy. We make a point of ensuring that this young man isn't wearing a baseball cap, or anything else that might scare the dog.

I have tried holding Harley in my arms and just walking around with him when he is over.....but he squirms so much that I usually end up, like last night, going into the bedroom, closing the door and trying to keep Harley calm. It is unbelievable how terrified Harley is of this young man.

Summer is coming, so lots of young adults will be over to visit and swim! Any ideas on what I can do with Harley to assure him that this guy (and any others) are not a threat to him. I know it is "fear" that Harley is showing, it's not an aggressive bark....just pure fear.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. (we can't afford a doggie phychiatrist!)

jessi76
April 20th, 2006, 12:56 PM
I'd get some super-special treats, treats Harely will ONLY get from the young man. Each time he comes over, instead of trying to get Harely to take a treat from him, have the young man toss the treat TO Harley. work on that for a while. if Harley gets comfortable w/ the treat from a distance, toss closer... and closer...

I'd just take it slow. Let Harley be the one to come up to the young man.

I'm not a trainer or anything, just offering an idea.

good luck!

BusterBoo
April 20th, 2006, 01:02 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, but we tried that already. We have tried new treats, his favorites and lots of other stuff, but it's still not working.

Someone once suggested to me that it could be a scent that is on this young man - perfume, aftershave or just bodyscent (no, he doesn't stink!) If that is the case, there isn't much we can do. I thought of asking him to bring his dog over, but I don't want to put his dog in the middle of Harley's problems. It could add to Harley's fear...... Also, could it be that Harley had a dream about his guy? Do dogs dream as people do? I know Harley dreams because he will growl or twitch in his sleep, but do they have memory of dreams?

jessi76
April 20th, 2006, 01:10 PM
Someone once suggested to me that it could be a scent that is on this young man - perfume, aftershave or just bodyscent (no, he doesn't stink!) If that is the case, there isn't much we can do. I thought of asking him to bring his dog over, but I don't want to put his dog in the middle of Harley's problems. It could add to Harley's fear...... Also, could it be that Harley had a dream about his guy? Do dogs dream as people do? I know Harley dreams because he will growl or twitch in his sleep, but do they have memory of dreams?

get a WORN t-shirt from this young man if you can. See how Harley reacts to the scent. (I'd treat/reward during this process so he associates this man's smell w/ GOOD things)

I'd leave the other dog out of the equation for now. You're goal is get Harley over his fear of the young man, not his dog... correct?

How do you act when this man comes over? this may be fueling Harley's fear. He may pick up that you KNOW he's afraid, and act a little "off", even though you may not realize it. When this guy comes over, I'd make sure to act like "business as usual". don't make any fuss over him being there, or how Harley is running from him. have a "whatever" attitude about it.

I don't know if dog's have memories of their dreams, however, I do believe it entirely possible.

Prin
April 20th, 2006, 01:16 PM
Why not have your daughter invite a different guy home and see how he reacts... Maybe this guy smells bad for different reasons (like maybe Harley "smells" a rat... You know? I'm not saying he's bad but sometimes, dogs sense things better than we do... Just a thought...)

Writing4Fun
April 20th, 2006, 01:17 PM
I have tried holding Harley in my arms and just walking around with him when he is over.....but he squirms so much that I usually end up, like last night, going into the bedroom, closing the door and trying to keep Harley calm.
I could be wrong, but I think this approach might be doing more harm than good. In Harley's eyes, whenever you hold him, comfort him, you're telling him that he's right to be afraid of this guy and that his reactions are good.

Whenever this fellow comes over, make sure that all doors are shut so Harley can't run & hide under the bed. Tell everyone to totally ignore his reactions. Don't talk to him, don't look at him, tell the fellow to ignore him as well. Just go about your business as if everything were normal. Have the guy sit on the living room floor with a handful of chopped up hotdogs (in a baggie, they tend to get a little slimy after a while :p ). All of you sit around with him and chat as normal. If Harley comes close enough, have the fellow gently toss a piece of hotdog to Harley without talking to him or making eye contact. Just keep up the conversation as if this is a normal, everyday thing. Don't expect miracles in the first day, maybe not even in the first week...remember that Harley has had quite some time to develop and nuture his fear. Eventually, though, Harley should realize that you aren't threatened by this guy, so he shouldn't be either.

Unless, of course, there is something to be worried about. This may sound silly to you, but I believe that dogs can "sense" things about people that we can't. Maybe Harley is picking up on some signal that you're all missing. Just an afterthought...

Writing4Fun
April 20th, 2006, 01:18 PM
LOL @ Prin! We were typing the same thing at the same time! ;)

Prin
April 20th, 2006, 01:18 PM
Unless, of course, there is something to be worried about. This may sound silly to you, but I believe that dogs can "sense" things about people that we can't. Maybe Harley is picking up on some signal that you're all missing. Just an afterthought...
My thoughts exactly! :crazy: ;)

chico2
April 20th, 2006, 01:23 PM
I was thinking a scent of some kind,but someone thought of it first(as usual:p )

AdoptionPalace
April 20th, 2006, 01:23 PM
I agree with the previous poster on a lot of the suggestions. Keep his dog out of this, for now. See if you can get a worn t-shirt of his, maybe one he wouldn't mind if you kept. Leave it lay around awhile, see if Harley attacks the shirt or even just runs from it. If it is a scent issue, you'll know from the shirt. And maybe, by having the shirt around, he'll get used to it and won't be so afraid of the guy.

My dog does much the same when other guys come around. She usually stops when I acknowledge her but some times she just goes insane!! and I end up having to bring her in the house or put her outside (depending on where we are). It's a protective thing. This is an unfamiliar person hanging around her owner and she wants to scare the person off. Maybe it's a gut feeling she has that I should be concerned with this person--who knows. So far I haven't had any problems with anyone that she seems to.

But anyway.......I agree, get a shirt and see if that'll help calm any fears. As far as treats go.....you might want to try meatballs of some sort. I have a recipe for a home-made dog food that uses ingredients that are healthy for your pet if you'd like to try it. And it's something that ONLY HE SHOULD GIVE HARLEY. Why would he take a treat from this guy, regardless of how special it is, if he can wait til the guy leaves and get the same treat from you??? It needs to be something he's ONLY going to get from this guy....not anyone else.

Good luck!!!

BusterBoo
April 20th, 2006, 01:30 PM
Thanks for the suggestions - I will definitely get a shirt or sock from the guy and leave it around to see if that bothers Harley. (Harley LOVES socks and steals them out of the hamper whenever he has a chance.....)

Having a 19 yr old step-daughter means that there have been a lot of "kids" over and Harley only has problems with this one particular guy. I do make sure that all the doors are closed but even if the guy goes outside to the pool deck, Harley continues to cry/scream/bark. I have tried to ignore him but after 20 minutes no one can hear themselves think anymore since Harley has worked himself into a fit. Originally I didn't pick him up or make an issue out of his behaviour, but when he started showing real fear, I also got concerned. I have also heard that dogs can sense if someone is not quite who they appear to be, and I have mentioned that to my boyfriend and his daughter. We have discussed this over and over and all agree that this young man is not (or should not be) a threat to us or Harley. We were actually hoping that the step-daughter would start dating this guy, because we all like him.....well, all except for Harley :)

We will also try and sit around with hotdog parts and see if that works. Hopefully we can figure it out before summer!!

Prin
April 20th, 2006, 01:34 PM
I'm my experience with boys... sometimes, they don't even know that they're bad yet, but the dog does. You know? Like the guy seems fine and great now, but if you check in in a few years, he'll have gone off the tracks somewhere... I've never known a dog who was wrong when they singled a person out. (not to be scary or anything).:o If it was all boys, then Harley is nuts, but just one? :eek:

Rottielover
April 20th, 2006, 02:40 PM
I agree with smelling a rat. My old dog did. He was great with everybody, then I met this one guy, went out for coffee. Bear was with us, and he just started to low growl, and then look straight at me. A week later I found the guy buying dope. There's a rat for ya. I always trust a dogs instinct, so much better than ours

Melei'sMom
April 20th, 2006, 06:36 PM
I too agree that if it is just this one person, then you might have to be concerned.

I know that my dog loves everyone, with one , acctually 2, so far. we have a 'couple friend' and they are not good dog people. I think Melei knows it and she avoids them when they are here. If either one talks to her or tries to pet her she hids behind me or goes into her kennel. Everyone else she has met, she gets really excited and wants attention.

Your call, but I trust my dog, if she doesn't like a person I don't make her. Since we know why she doesn't like them, we aren't worried, but they will never be asked to look after any of our pets. If I didn't know why, I am not sure I would want them around.

BusterBoo
April 20th, 2006, 08:27 PM
I know everyone feels that if Harley doesn't like this guy I should listen to him, but for now I have no reason to not trust the young man. I definitely won't FORCE Harley to like him and I would NEVER leave the two of them alone in the house, but I really wish I could find a way to make them friends, or at the very least, Harley not being so stressed by him.

I spoke with my step-daughter tonight and we will try to get an article of clothing to see if the scent triggers Harley into reacting. :( Harley is such a loving and fun little guy and I hate to see him upset by anyone.....

OntarioGreys
April 20th, 2006, 10:05 PM
Yes it could be scent, it could also be the young man's body posture, he may have leaned over her at first, made eye contact, in combination with his voice being deeper that has scared the dog and it could even be something totally unrelated to the young man but the dog has associated with him, for example when the man first visited the dog could have been running out to see who was at the door , and stumbled or ran into something that caused pain, the dog then associates that pain with the young man who arrived. I had a similiar incident with a dog that fell out in the yard while running around on wet grass, it took 3 months to unwrap his mind around his view that the backyard was an evil dangerous place, the first attempts to get him out there after the fall had him screaming in fear and running from me, trembling to avoid going out there.

Because of the panic your dog is expressing I will suggest to let your dog hide, do not try to force an interaction with the young man, ask that he avoid making any eye contact and pretend to ignore the dogs presence, allow the dog instead to become curious about him, and approach him on his own, though the dog will more likely try to approach if he is laying on the floor belly up hands at his side. or sitting on the floor with his back to the dog, if the dog approaches talk quietly without looking, offer a treat with as little arm movement as possible, if the dog gets braver, try to quietly touch looking out the corner of the eye, all hand contact should be below the dog's head, and no leaning over the dog, if the dog approaches while standing , squat down keeping the back straight. If the young man wants to win the dog over it will be a long slow process, he has to earn the dogs trust.
This article does offer a lot of good advice an I use very much the same approach with my spooks that I have adopted

http://web.utk.edu/~jjohns56/shawnapages/shytips.htm

kaytris
April 20th, 2006, 10:15 PM
What about having Harley and the young man meet somewhere on neutral ground? Perhaps changing the environment might be enough to get him off this "see guy-flip into panic" mode.


Is this the only person Harley has reacted to in this way? And does the young man look or dress differently than most of your daughter's friends?

.unknown.
April 20th, 2006, 11:24 PM
Have you had Harley his whole life? Maybe this young man reminds him of a previous person who caused him trouble?

My parents dog gets really upset and scared when my dad wears a hat! she wont go near him or anything, so maybe he looks like someone harley knew?

of course this is completley nullified if you've been harley's only guardian,.

BusterBoo
April 21st, 2006, 07:58 AM
Great feedback from everyone .... thanks!

We have had Harley since he was 8 weeks old, so there are no previous nasty owners to remember. The young guy is a normal 19 year old. He dresses like most others...jeans - tshirt etc but not sloppy or anything like that. He knows to take off his hat when he comes in the house (Harley doesn't like hats and neither do I in the house! :) ) Harley has never really like men but will usually stop the barking after a minute. Then he is all over them with kisses and wants to play.

The suggestion of having Harley meet up with the guy elsewhere than our house is an excellent suggestion also. One of the issues is that Harley will cry/scream/bark continuously while in the presence of this guy and also do his "nervous pee" so it will be a little difficult to have the guy sit or lay on the floor. If the guy turns towards Harley, the dog runs off to hide under a bed or anywhere else that he can.

I think our plan will be to a) get an article of clothing, b)have a special treat for the guy to give Harley, c) have them meet elsewhere than home, d) make sure that eye contact is avoided and e) have the guy not approach Harley in a dominant manner.

Did I miss anything? Is there anything else we should try????

AdoptionPalace
April 21st, 2006, 09:24 AM
After reading every again, "dominating" came to my mind too. Is Harley the alpha male in your house??? (It's Harley's way or the highway? kind of thing). It's possible Harley feels like he is competing with another dominating male. I may have missed this, but what kind of dog is Harley anyway? I assume it's a smaller dog?

My Hazel used to piddle when she saw everyone too. Heck, when we first got her my husband had to quietly sneak in the house and walk really slowly to his chair or it would scare the crap out of her. But after a few weeks, he would get on the floor to where when they made eye contact, SHE was "bigger" than him. Convincing herself that SHE was still alpha female and SHE was ruler of the pack and he knew that. So once she was convinced that HE was at HER becking call, things were fine.

Of course, Hazel is 127 lbs and ground to shoulder is a good 28 inches so his getting below her and asking for acceptance is easier than with a small dog. But if it's possible, when Harley runs to his corner to hide, let this guy friend follow Harley in there. Make him get down on the ground as far as he can get and roll over to his back. THEN make eye contact. This tells Harley he's looking down on this guy and that makes Harley bigger, the bigger dog is the alpha dog. A dog rolling to his back is often a sign of willingness to accept the other as the alpha, the one in control. Then let Harley smell the guy and go from there.

It might work, I don't know, I guess you could give it a try (and if this guy is willing to act like a dog to gain acceptance from a dog--he really likes your step daughter and I suggest keeping him--LOL).

BusterBoo
April 21st, 2006, 09:34 AM
:D

Harley is a 15lb shih tzu....small dog, big attitude! Yes, I do believe he is the alpha male in our "pack". Or rather he is the spoiled rotten male! There are no other animals in the house and of course, we all cater to Harley as if he were King :king: I guess it may be partly our fault.....when Harley wants something....Harley gets it. I have noticed since he was so sick in January (blastomycosis) he is even more "needy". He will bark just so we will go see what he is doing (standing over his food, waiting for us to say eat your food).

OK, so he is extremely spoiled and I am working on that. He is definitely a mama's boy, he won't even go out when I am not home.

As for the guy being submissive with Harley, I could ask him, but I don't know if he will agree. If he were to follow Harley anywhere, Harley would be cowering and peeing all over. But at this point, anything is worth a try. (This is a really nice kid who we wouldn't mind at all dating the step-daughter! :D )

kaytris
April 21st, 2006, 09:45 AM
A few other suggestions:

DAP/comfort zone (a room diffuser which smells like a mother dog's pheromenes, and is meant to calm a dog down)

Tellington Touch - a massage technique

and two books:
the cautious Canine (Patricia McConnell)
and Help for your Shy Dog (Deborah Wood)

Fused0ne
June 24th, 2006, 04:42 AM
Hi, (new here, 1st post)

Ive been reading the board for a few hrs now, and came upon this thread. I find it interesting and wonder if there has been any update on this? Since the last post is in April.

BusterBoo
June 24th, 2006, 09:45 AM
Welcome to the site.

No change in Harley's behaviour regarding the young man.

It will be interesting to see if our new puppy (Buster) has the same attitude towards the guy. :)