Fear of husband-help!

I have a basenji mix he will be 1 tommorow. I adopted him yesterday from a women who works with a local rescue. My son, husband, other dog who is a basenji mix and myself went to meet him(Rusty) Friday and he did great. He was a little shy towards my husband took about 15 min and he warmed right up to my husband and was even giving him kisses. Well since I brought him home yesterday he is in fear of my husband. My husband will sit on the ground with treats and talk real soft to him. He will come close enough to get a treat and then back off. He will keep about 2ft between him and my husband. He is okay if my husband is sitting down in the same room. As soon as my husband stands up he starts to bark and puff his hair. We tell Rusty its okay. We even tried my husband walking him and he did okay but dosent want my husband to touch him. Tonight I held him on the couch and he was okay with my husband petting him. He even started to lick his hand but as soon as he got off the couch he started to bark. I need help! I dont know what else to do to get him to know its okay. He is also afraid of the male the lives next door and we live in condo type houses so i cant have him afraid of every man around here. I know it takes time for him to get adjusted but I was wondering what else we could try. Thank you!

I'm on a couple of lists for shy/fearful dogs, and I'm surprised at how many dogs are afraid of men!

I'm sure more skilled folks than I will respond, but I will start off by saying what I always see the trainers say first: have your husband ignore the dog for a while. Play hard to get 🙂 Don't have him actually give the treat, if Rusty is reluctant; have him just casually drop them nearby. This way Rusty learns that when That Guy appears, good things happen.

It can take a while, but playing hard to get works pretty well!

Check out some of the groups for shy/fearful dogs out there. The yahoo group [shy-k9s] has been really helpful.

First Basenji's

My B is the same way with tall males, and unfortunately, most of the men in my family are very tall, as is my BF. Cody was especially afraid of my brother, who is over 6 ft 5, and I agree that ignoring helps. Similar to your situation, when my brother was sitting, Cody was fine with him, but when he stood up, Cody would get skittish and take off, usually to hide in my bedroom or beside me. He finally just started ignoring Cody, even when he would come up to him to be petted. After a while, he slowly started giving Cody his favorite treats (his highly-prized homemade meat balls! He'll do almost anything for them!).
Also, your husband could try being the one that primarily feeds him, so that Rusty associates your husband with good things.
While this worked for us, hopefully someone with more experience will reply.
Good luck!

I would also try having your Husband be the that feeds him

Thanks everyone! I will have him try to do the feedings at night, the ones in the mornings he wont be able to do since he leaves at 6am for work. I just hope he stops the barking when he moves around the house cuz he did it at 530 this morning and almost woke up my 3 yr old. I was hoping that since my female, Chloe, goes up to my husband that he would be okay. I know the rescue told us that they use to have to squirt him with a squirt bottle if he barked exssesivly or dug holes and what not. Should I not use the spray bottle at all?? I have never had an issue with dogs in the past so I am new to the squirt bottle thing.

A general rule of thumb is don't use any aversives (punishment, or negative consequence) for fear issues. If the dog is feeling nervous for whatever reason, and something scary or irritating happens (getting squirted) it will only make the fear intensify.

If I am understanding your post correctly, it has only been a few days? Give her some time to adjust. Don't have your husband push the issue. Only very good things should come from him, and surrounding his presence.

Yes we have only had him since Saturday. When we went to meet him on Friday he was so so but then warmed right up to him, so I am guessing its just that fact that he is at a diffrent house. Right now we are on the couch and he is about 4ft from my husband chewing on his bone. My husband has been ignoring him for about an hour now and drops a treat when he gets up to leave the room. The only down side of droping the treat is our female gets the treat before Rusty does lol.

@mrslee52805:

Yes we have only had him since Saturday. When we went to meet him on Friday he was so so but then warmed right up to him, so I am guessing its just that fact that he is at a diffrent house. Right now we are on the couch and he is about 4ft from my husband chewing on his bone. My husband has been ignoring him for about an hour now and drops a treat when he gets up to leave the room. The only down side of droping the treat is our female gets the treat before Rusty does lol.

It would be more effective to have you hand out to treats to each dog when he ENTERS the room. Otherwise you may set up the situation so that the dog wants him to LEAVE the room so a treat will be given. Try to think of it as when husband appears awesome things happen…when husband leaves nothing exciting happens. But I think if everybody just relaxes, the dogs nerves will settle as he gets used to the home.

It is really important that the dog whose behavior you are trying to change is the one that gets the treat. So if you can't be there to hand out the treats when he comes in the room, he could throw a small handful of treats to make sure that Rusty gets some.

I'm not a fan of the squirt bottle, either…. imagine every time you did what was natural to you, like laugh, you got squirt in the face!

Maybe a reassuring "It's okay, Rusty", would be better? My other dog, Joker, is a rat terrier, and he has two distinctive barks: one where he is protective of us, and another when he's playing. Once Rusty gets used to his new home, he will probably calm down.

Patience and time, and relax! Do you know how many other homes your dog lived in before yours? Once he realizes that this is his "forever" home, I'm sure he will settle in to being wonderful.

Congratulations on your new addition, and thank you for rescuing him! 🙂

@Patty:

I'm not a fan of the squirt bottle, either…. imagine every time you did what was natural to you, like laugh, you got squirt in the face!

Maybe a reassuring "It's okay, Rusty", would be better? My other dog, Joker, is a rat terrier, and he has two distinctive barks: one where he is protective of us, and another when he's playing. Once Rusty gets used to his new home, he will probably calm down.

Patience and time, and relax! Do you know how many other homes your dog lived in before yours? Once he realizes that this is his "forever" home, I'm sure he will settle in to being wonderful.

Congratulations on your new addition, and thank you for rescuing him! 🙂

He has been with 3 homes. The women who found him, then a family, then back to the women who found him, then to another women who adopted him 6wks ago and had to give him back since her boyfriend came home from overseas and didnt like him. She told them that he hid behind her when he came home and barked at him. Then he went back to the women who rescued him and now to us.

Andrea said everything I would, except I would also add more men.

Get friend to go with you to park or even a parking LOT if none near. Have friend go to every man possible, give a treat and ask to go by and toss to the dog. Tiny treats so don't over do it (and decrease food if necessary to compensate, lol). Do this a couple of times a week. Once the dog looks happily at men approaching, work on them getting closer, closer, and after a week or 2, actually hold out hand to give treat. Really it won't take more then 4 or 5 times until you retrain the dog to see males as a good thing. 🙂

@DebraDownSouth:

Andrea said everything I would, except I would also add more men.

Get friend to go with you to park or even a parking LOT if none near. Have friend go to every man possible, give a treat and ask to go by and toss to the dog. Tiny treats so don't over do it (and decrease food if necessary to compensate, lol). Do this a couple of times a week. Once the dog looks happily at men approaching, work on them getting closer, closer, and after a week or 2, actually hold out hand to give treat. Really it won't take more then 4 or 5 times until you retrain the dog to see males as a good thing. 🙂

But I wouldn't do this right away. He already sounds overwhelmed with change. I would keep it simple, and only add new things once he is comfortable with the household.

Awww, no wonder he's nervous, he's like a ping pong ball! Can you imagine being a year old, and having to adjust to three different sets of rules?

We adopted Lola in May, and she was not potty trained because she was confined to the kitchen area of her last home.. Well,she's been here for 6 months, and I would say that she's finally figured it out. (We are Lola's fourth home, and she's almost 2.)

@Quercus:

But I wouldn't do this right away. He already sounds overwhelmed with change. I would keep it simple, and only add new things once he is comfortable with the household.

I agree! I like to give them at least a couple of weeks to get used to new home before taking out places.

He will take treats from my husbands hand and then back about a foot away and eat it. The biggest concern is when he gets up from sitting and moves around. The rescue give a 7wk trial period and if he is still not a good fit then they will take him back. I dont want to give him back. He is GREAT with my 3 yr old and me. So we will just take it one step at a time.

Another question…. On thanksgiving we will have more men over here what should I do with him then? I dont want him to bark and be scared the whole time. Should I put him upstairs or in the crate in the living room or try and let him roam freely as he does now?

I think the holiday is so soon that I'd probably let him stay upstairs, maybe with a tv or radio to further buffer him. You're right – you don't want him to be scared the whole time.

He sounds like a sweet boy who needs a little time to get his feet under him.

I agree, for the holiday keep him crated in a different room otherwise the chances of him getting overwhelmed by all the people an activity is for sure going to happen.

I adopted a Basenji (Bernie) who had lived for 3 years with his female breeder, he wasn't actually terrifed but just didn't like men. (Then there were 5 males in my family). He eventually accepted my sons but it took a whole year for him to accept my husband. One day my husband was sitting on the sofa and Bernie clambered on his lap, from then on all was well, so 7 weeks is really quite a short time for him to change. Be patient and get your husband to hand feed him for a while. This should make a big difference but as the others say don't let him get overwhelmed by too many men at a time.

another idea, btw, might be to try leashing him and have your husband just lead him around in a few days after he is more settled.

The tethering him to the husband may also backfire. He is essentially being forced to confront the thing he fears most. IMO the better thing is to show him that your husband is a good thing. I agree with having your husband be the one to take care of him. Once he bonds a little bit, then I would tether him later after he gains a bit of trust. But this is My Opinion only.

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.