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Annie
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! I’m brand new here I need a little help. I have a cocker spaniel, well behaved, no issues.

It’s my adult brother. He has a small Shih Tzu terrier mix, he’s a rescue, he gets along VERY well and is VERY close with OTHER family members in the household, but NOT AT ALL with my brother. I think he may have scared him by reaching into his kennel during the first week after induction in the household because he bit him pretty hard on the hand.

Since then my brother’s dog will only come to him very cautiously for treats, but will growl and bark at him pretty aggressively otherwise. He will lay on the very end of my brother’s bed but that is as close as he can get without being growled at and barked at.

I personally am concerned for the dog’s safety and my brother’s safety because he is suggesting that I should help by either putting a MUZZLE on him or put him in a PILLOWCASE so that he can draw him close to get him comfortable with him.

I’m NOT an expert dog trainer by any measure so I am just taking the middle ground and trying to get a consensus from people who know if this is a good idea or a bad idea to do one of these homemade methods with his dog. I’m afraid that the dog will just become more afraid or AGGRESSIVE or get HURT if we try to use one of these methods I have never heard of.

Any thoughts?
 

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put him in a PILLOWCASE so that he can draw him close to get him comfortable with him.
Please, for the love of all you hold dear, don't do that. Can you not imagine how frightening that would be? Think of whatever scares you the most, your worst nightmare and imagine not just being forced to be close to it but also being restrained.

If you want to help this, try this.

For the next several weeks or so, I'd suggest your brother ignores the dog. Completely. Not even eye contact, because to a dog, direct eye contact is very intimidating. Also, position himself so he is never between your dog and his safe place (bed etc) or escape route (door from the room).

Then he can try taking some lovely treats and tossing them past the dog, so he has to go away from him to get them. I realise that sounds counterintuitive but it helps the dog build a positive conditioned emotional response (google +CER for the science if you are interested) without having to get too close. It also means he doesn't have to get too close to your brother, which could make him feel quite conflicted - he wants the treat but has to approach a scary person to get it.

After a number of days of doing that, your brother could put one of the treats on the floor, about 18 inches from his feet. See what the dog does. If he darts in, takes the treat, and goes off, then he isn't ready yet for this stage. So, as with anything in dog training, go back to the previous step for a bit longer.

When he takes the treat from the floor and eats it there, your brother could do that for a few days. Still no eye contact.

Once the dog has been taking the treat from the floor happily for a number of days, your brother can offer one from his hand, but again see how the dog reacts. Any lack if confidence (taking it and stepping back) again is a sign he isn't ready, so back up a step for longer. And still no eye contact.

Once he is comfortable taking treats from your brother's hand (and I mean really comfortable) he can try petting him, but using the five second rule.

He should stroke him for five seconds (some dogs prefer you avoid the head) then stop. Only if the dog initiates further contact by nudging your brother, or similar, he can continue for another five seconds then stop again. Continue only for as long as the dog keeps asking. That gives the dog control and in turn that will build his confidence around your brother because he knows he can make it stop at any time.

Expect this to take weeks, or even months depending on the dog. But don't be tempted to rush it, take it at his pace.
 

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Someone needs to put your brother in a sleeping bag and sit on him see how he likes it.

That suggestion sounds like the easiest way to make sure that dog never bonds with him. Its a stupid idea.

You can show him this if you like.

It takes time to gain trust you do it with respect and kindness, you cant force it. laying on the floor being small being quiet letting the dog investigate you. The fact that the dog goes to the end of his bed shows that the dog is willing if only your brother will let him.

Everything @JoanneF has suggested are great your brother needs to learn you cannot force trust or bonding but if he rushes he will cause fear and possible further trauma to an already scared dog.
 

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Z, Rescue Mutt
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I personally am concerned for the dog’s safety and my brother’s safety because he is suggesting that I should help by either putting a MUZZLE on him or put him in a PILLOWCASE so that he can draw him close to get him comfortable with him.
He just needs to give it time. try to play with it, trick training, hand-feeding, and just letting the dog alone and waiting for it to come to him. Forcing the dog to him, whether by muzzling, a pillowcase or any other means, will only make its fear of him worse.
 

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Annie
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies! My gut said definitely not, but the way he’s coming at the situation seems really heavy-handed, like some old time farmer using old methods. Concerned because it seems so weird as he’s been really thoughtful and patient with other pets he’s had.

I’ll let him read the comments so he can see a better way. If I can get a few more people to read and comment on this so I have a consensus that would be great.

So, making sure I understand, definitely NOT the pillowcase. AND not with the MUZZLE-CATCH-HOLD idea either? Hoping to hear from a trainer or someone with experience and know-how.
 

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Z, Rescue Mutt
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Sorry, I'm not a trainer yet, though I'm working towards a degree in animal behavior, I hope to become a canine behaviorist (so yes, I'm on the young side, I suppose). My previous dog was an extremely timid rescue, and I had to work through a similar issue in that she was scared of a family member- simply because he was a tall man.

But it's a definite no to both options. Either one would make the issue way worse.
The pillowcase is the extreme example- the dog would absolutely panic- it would certainly make him more afraid of your brother and could even scar the dog for life- scared of men, scared of pillowcases, something like that. And honestly, it would be rather cruel.
The muzzle may seem less extreme, but you are still forcing him into a terrifying (for him) situation of being near the "scary" person and depriving him of the ability to defend himself (which he thinks he needs to). It will also have the opposite of the desired affect, and could, again, have long-term consequences, including causing the dog to emotionally "shut down"

The only real way to gain the fearful dog's trust is with kindness and patience. Never force the dog into a situation where he will be fearful. Allow the dog to approach willingly, and approach first. Remain calm and relaxed around the dog, it will pick up any tension it feels in the room. Realize that for the dog, this is traumatic, and try to do everything you can to make him feel safer. Give him a "safe spot" like his crate. Spend time being "non-threatening" on the floor. Hand-feed if possible. Etc. But just give it time, patience, and love. In all likelihood the dog will come around eventually.
 
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