What to do when your dog becomes afraid of the walker (c) 2011-2016 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Sometimes caring for your pet means hiring pet sitters and dog walkers. With all your best efforts there may be times when the walking or sitting did not go as you or your dog would have liked--perhaps proper introductions were not made or sufficient time taken for the walker to develop a relationship with the dog or the walk was rushed too often or the handling was too rough. A sufficiently negative experience or an accumulation of not so great experiences can prompt a strong fear response and elicit a behavior that is self-defensive--your dog may not want to go out again with walkers and communicate this in canine fashion by hiding when the walker comes, growling and snapping. One of my clients and her dog are going through this and no one is happy about it. Here's my advice (I have changed names to protect the innocent):
Oh Valerie, I so wish we could fix this right away, really, for you and mostly for Lawrence who is petrified to be doing all this. If the first walk with the new dog walker went well with whatever approach the walker used the second should have followed if the same approach was used. What did the walker do the second time that did not happen the first time? Something was different that was scary; perhaps speed, restraint, caution, noise, attention, different handling.
The walker may not have been aware of it at all but Lawrence reacted to the difference and once he was scared and defensive again another strange human (the manager then went over to try and walk Lawrence himself) entering would not help unless that human did remedial work--softly announcing their presence on entering the apartment, lying parallel on the floor to the bed, no talking at first, looking away, then speaking soothingly, then offering treats, squeaky balls, etc. that's the protocol and it might take up to an hour at that point.
Lawrence does need to trust the stranger entering the home, it is natural and necessary behavior for him to be defensive if he is fearful of being hurt. Meeting the walker before the first walk with you there for one visit, a (short!!!) walk with you home and the walker walking the dog for the second visit, a third visit offering Lawrence lots of treats and playing with his squeaky tennis ball (this is one of Lawrence's favorite toy you may need another special toy your dog likes) when you are not home--no walk yet(!) and if all is going well, on the fourth visit, a walk alone (leave his collar on for this visit, less handling that way) (some folks leave the collar off a dog when they are home, leave it on if you are expecting a walker, less stressful that way) is the best way to go.
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copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"A sufficiently negative experience or an accumulation of not so great experiences can prompt a strong fear response and elicit a behavior that is self-defensive--your dog may not want to go out again with walkers and communicate this in canine fashion by hiding when the walker comes, growling and snapping".
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