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Rescue dog afraid of DH - how long do you think to get better?

(18 Posts)

Thanks scuttle and iderdog - a lot of that rings true and is useful to bear in mind (though her appetite certainly isn't affected as she wolfs her meals in 3 seconds flat). Was especially useful to see reference to the dog being less confident than in kennels (or in our case the foster home) for a few weeks.

Last night was hard as she barked each time one of the children woke, and DS2 was up twice and DS1 once - had to go down and quiet her as we live in a rented semi and our joined-on neighbours have the same landlord... The first night none of the kids woke and there wasn't a peep from her, and I hadn't thought of her waking and barking when kids woke through the night...

We have been in touch with a nice sounding local trainer, so will be going that route too in a few weeks hopefully.

idirdog Fri 06-Sep-13 19:23:32

Firstly don't panic your dog does not dislike your DH he is just unsure. It is really important to initiate any interactions between your DH and dog unless the dog starts them,

The following is excellent advice that I recommend new owners of rescue dogs follow. It is written by Louise Thompson an international APDC member.

The key thing to do is to do nothing when you first get your new rescue dog!

* Don’t force any kind of interaction / social or other!!!!

* Don’t speak to the dog

* Don’t make eye contact

* Don’t fuss

* Don’t touch

* Don’t attempt to play “fetch” or solicit play behaviour!

* Don’t introduce her to your family and friends

* Don’t crowd her with your kids

* Don’t introduce her to your family cat, chickens, parrot etc.

* Don’t stress for the first day or so about food – and meals – even if the dog is malnourished. Stress often inhibits appetite!


* Be as calm & as matter of fact around the dog as you possibly can & try to ensure that the environment is as stress free as possible! You should be in control of the environment & management thereof!

* Provide the dog with a “safe” place where he/she does not feel forced to interact with anyone or anything unless he wants to. (Can be a crate or corner of a room or if outside a kennel etc). Make sure the dog has a place where his space is not invaded; where he can withdraw to if he does not want to interact. Initially, his rights in this regard should be respected. Many dogs that have been kept in kennel environments are very happy to be “crated” and this provides them with an artificial “den” or “safe place.”

* LET THE DOG DECIDE where he/she feels safe.
If the dog approaches you – certainly give a kind word & a smile & physical contact if the dog is actively seeking this out

Most dogs when they arrive at a new location are extremely stressed.

Even if they were friendly, bouncy, playful dogs at the shelter / foster home, perhaps happily interacting with people / playing ball / running around etc, the transition to a new environment can be a very frightening time for a dog and he may behave in a very different manner than when you first met him! Try not to take it personally! It has nothing to do with you at all – Stress can almost paralyse some individuals – so back off and give him some time!

Most dogs take approximately 14 to 21 days to habituate to a new environment.

Scuttlebutter Fri 06-Sep-13 19:08:52

Our first greyhound was extremely nervous of DH when we first had him - now they are best friends and he spends all his time gazing adoringly at him with big soppy eyes, sitting on him and generally being best friends. It does improve. smile

Please don't underestimate the huge impact this change is having on this little dog - she is having to learn a whole new family and routine and it's natural for any dog to be a bit at sea to start with. Give her time and space, dont' over-fuss or expect too much too soon.

With your DH, remind him it's not personal and this will improve. Gentle building of familiarity is the way to go, along with the treats idea mentioned earlier. Let your DH be the source of the loveliest, stinkiest, most appealing treats. smile

When she is settled in a little bit more, say in a month or two, I'd consider taking her along to a gentle, positive training class - it's amazing how it builds the bond. If your DH can take her, that's even better.

One of the lovely things about adopting a rescue who is nervous is watching them gradually "unfurl" and their personality gradually emerge as they relax, become more confident and get to know you and your family. Think of this as part of a wonderful journey.

Mistle this is the food - no idea if it is known in the UK...

Thanks everyone - she's not ridiculously scared - as in she'll be in the same room - but she runs away if he goes to stroke her and if she takes a treat from him she grabs it and runs off. It is only him, although she also met a little girl (friend of DS2's, the little girl is only 3) who she was also instantly and inexplicably terrified of! sad With my kids she is absolutely happy, goes to sit on their laps and happy to have them hold her lead on walks, etc. etc. Doesn't mind 2 year old DS2's loud yelling... She has just this afternoon met an 8 year old friend of DD's, who she also took to immediately. Odd.

Anyway DH is home early and fixing up chicken wire over the gate (she is a flight risk atm and can get through the bars so can't be loose in the garden til this is done. I had some chicken cooked and cooling in the oven and he has started dropping bits of chicken without making eye contact... He also sat on the floor (which he never does) to talk to me, but she didn't go near him. I hope she comes around because he was really pleased about our choice of dog (she wasn't afraid of him in the foster family's garden) and really quite taken aback when he came home from work (early, having cancelled a night out to be home her first evening) and she was afraid of him!

minsmum Fri 06-Sep-13 10:39:43

When we first got our rescue dog she was so scared of my dh she used to wet herself when he came in the house. With lots of treats and patience she now loves him. Tell your dh not to worry it will change he just needs to be patient

Floralnomad Fri 06-Sep-13 10:30:36

My husband didnt really want a dog and was at the start not particularly in love with him ( rescue puppy) but as he is the first one up in the morning they bonded over tea and digestive biscuits so I'd say definitely carry on with the feeding and I'm sure she will come round .

mistlethrush Fri 06-Sep-13 08:38:40

The other thing is to make sure that he's not 'looming' over her. If, when she's a bit more confident, he goes to stroke her - not top of head/back of neck - rub on her back legs would be a better starting place. I would also be encouraging him to sit on the floor and put a treat nearby but not too close and not move or anything when she comes to get it - just get it closer and closer until he's putting it on a leg etc - then leave it on his palm but don't move when she takes it. If she's taking treats from him she'll get the idea that he's not going to do anything and come round.

Chicken is ideal as it is kind on their stomachs.

What sort of food have you been recommended to use?

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 06-Sep-13 08:18:57

Yes I'd avoid cheese in that case. Chicken and rice is often fed to recuperating dogs as is bland so I think chicken should be good. Fresh abd warm will be even more tempting for her.

I don't know how long it will take but I'd go very slowly and terms of weeks not days. It'll be worth it when he gains her trust and you can start making up for that terrible start the poor thing has had.

hennipenni Fri 06-Sep-13 08:01:10

my lovely cocker pup was scared of men when we first got him, he's still scared of some men now. we have worked hard with this and it does and can get better.

I would do and did as the poster earlier posted about getting DH to drop tiny bits of chicken near to your dog (chicken should be quiet gentle on the tum) without any eye contact or speech and gradually (over a period of weeks in our case) the dog should start to come towards your DH to take treats, he needs to remember no sudden movements and when the time is right to stroke under the chin-never on top of the head at first as some timid/nervous dogs see this as a threat. This is working with our dog and we also go to socialisation/obedience and ring craft with him which has been a great help.

Sofaking, our boy wouldn't walk with my DH at first but with gentle handling he now can't wait to get out the front door with DH, we used to walk him together with me holding the lead with DH holding for short periods and gradually building up the time, as pup became more confident he eventually was able to take him out by himself (with the aid of lots of treats!)

NicholasTeakozy Fri 06-Sep-13 07:52:48

Is she a lurcher type? If so, fret not. A friend got a rescue lurcher a few years ago who was terrified of men, it took me a week or two to gain his confidence. Now whenever he hears me he bounds through and puts his front paws on my shoulders. He's really tall.

I can't remember exactly what I did but chicken was involved, as was endless patience and speaking quietly. She will come round, it just takes time.

diddl Fri 06-Sep-13 07:52:41

Did she run away out of fear, though Sofa?

Our dog always seems to be "naughty" when husband is also with us-running off more & taking longer to come backhmmgrin

SofaKing Fri 06-Sep-13 07:49:02

I'm interested in how you get along, we have a five month old pup and she is still timid with dh even though she's been with us for a month.

Yesterday he took her for a walk and she ran away from him sad so she can only go out with me until she trusts dh.
He is so upset as she is exactly the kind of dog he wanted and he adores her, I will try the high value treat thing with dh this weekend, thank you!

diddl Fri 06-Sep-13 07:47:38

Cheese gives my dog the shits btw!

diddl Fri 06-Sep-13 07:46:44

Oh that's sad.

The only person our rescue dog doesn't really like is mesad

He's not afraid & will come to me, but I feel he tolerates me only.

But ours didn't like men-except my husband.

Now, on walks, he'll run up to any dog owners who have given him a teat in the hope of another-and let himself be stroked.

I agree with the ignoring & let the dog get used to him in it's own time.

Thanks fanof - is chicken very gentle on their stomachs? She was very undernourished/ actually starving when found by the charity who rescued her at the beginning of July, and has had a delicate stomach at the foster home so we have been told/ advise not to give her anything but a specific brand of dog food and any dog treats but only ones actually made for dogs, for the first few months. There was a day's delay in getting her as she managed to get at some bird food at the foster home and had diarrhoea, so that had to be sorted with a vet visit and medication before she came to us. For that reason my gut instinct says not cheese! She is very, very, very food focussed though (as I guess you would be with her background) so chicken may well work wonders! I will cook some today and suggest DH carries it about grin

Any idea how long it might take for her to see he's not scary? Or is that a "how long is a piece of string?" question? He is out of the house 12 hours a day Mon- Fri but home at weekends mostly (though out all day tomorrow, plan made weeks ago before we knew we'd be getting the dog exactly now).

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 06-Sep-13 07:08:28

I would have dh carry a constant bag of treats - something really high value like cheese or chopped chicken and have him treat her all the time.

I'd start by him ignoring her and dropping treat in the ground without eye contact I think and build her confidence until she is comfortable taking it from him.

It is only very early days. Good luck.

We have a new rescue dog. At the foster family's house she wasn't afraid of DH and went straight up to him. Showed no fear of anything. At home she continues to be great with the kids and to follow me about, but she is a little more skittish than she was in the foster family's house, where she had been 6 weeks. She is jumpy at the noise the door makes when it opens, but that is only a momentary thing.

The main problem is that she is now afraid of DH - not remotely snarly but runs when she sees him coming, will only go to him for a treat and this morning she took one (tiny) treat from him and then ran off when he spoke (to say good girl and moved his hand to stroke her sad )and wouldn't come back even for a second.

DH has never had a dog before and is quite upset about it, esp as we were so pleased to have found a rescue dog who was already socialised with children and who DIDN'T have the fear of men so often associated with rescue dogs. DH is a big guy with dark hair - allegedly the exact type rescue dogs are often wary of, but the little spaniel mix is making him very sad by running off when she sees him coming.

I think our mistake was that he wasn't home when the foster carer brought her to us yesterday. He has gone to work already, a bit down about it - yesterday he couldn't wait to get home to see her and was so disappointed she was suddenly afraid of him.

Will it just take time, and does anyone have experience of a similar situation and can tell us how long? Am hoping that if he gives her her meals at the weekend and we all go on her walk together that will help... sad

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