Ask Alecia: Our New Rescue Dog is Frightened of My Husband!

Dear Alecia,

Please help. We have rescued our third abused dog. We have successfully rehabilitated our first two. They were both one when adopted, a year apart. Now, a year later, we decided that we should rescue another. We went to a second chance shelter, and adopted a border collie mix. He is 4 months old. He has successfully been accepted by the “pack”. Our problem is he is terrified of my husband. He runs, cowers, and pees. Our other dogs love him. What can we do? The rest of us are female and he loves us. Please help. Thank you. – Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

Congrats on your newest family member.  Sounds like there was some sort of abuse or intimidation by a male in the dog’s past.  This is a sad one but something that can  be overcome with patience, persistence and consistency.  There are two approaches  you can take on this so I will present both options for you to use and see which one works best for you.

Anytime I am working with rescues whose past I do not know exactly but can see  clearly that there are emotional issues, I am inclined to use Bach Flower Essences.  The essences are all natural formulations that great assist the dog (or human) in  releasing old, stuck emotional energies, and I have found them to work very well without any side effects and produce lasting results.  They are easy to use, you  can place them in your dog’s water or drop the liquid on your hands and then  rub down the dogs spine or have the dog lick right out of your hand.  They are available online or in any health food store.  I would use 1/2 a dropper of each  2x day for 18 days.

For your new pooch, I am going to suggest using:  Honeysuckle which assists  in releasing the past, Star of Bethlehem for releasing past shock and trauma,  Rock Rose for releasing terror Mimulus for releasing fear of known things and  Larch for increased confidence.

The first approach I will suggest is the “Let It Be” approach.  Allow the pup to be and if he is scared or fearful when your husband is around or approaches, just have your husband calmly and without any judgement walk away from the dog. In other words, don’t make a big deal out of any of.

If you are giving the dog  the flower essences, this approach will allow the dog a space to orient himself in a new way as he is releasing a lot of his fears from the past.  Remind your  husband to stay neutral so that the dog can find a new way to approach the   relationship with your husband in a new way and allow the dog to do the  approaching.  A curious dog can be a very good thing when relearning old habits in that he will feel safer on his terms in reestablishing a new bond.

The second approach I will suggest is the “Reward the Effort” approach. If  the dog is comfortable with you and your girls, then you will have to be the  anchors to assist him in making a reconnection with the male species in a  positive way.  Each one of you can take a couple of minutes a few times a day to sit with the dog.  Have a treat that the puppy really likes with you. As  you sit comfortably with the pup have your husband come and sit near you.

Start out a distance that the pup will tolerate his presence and give the pup  a reward each time he can sit and handle it (he may be sitting in your lap-that is ok).  Have your husband move a little closer and each time the pup can be ok, give him a treat.  Have your husband continually move closer while keeping your pup focused on the treat.  Make sure that you take your time, have patience and know that this doesn’t all have to be done in 1 session.  I would consider progressing over a few days to where your husband can be sitting right next to you or your daughters and eventually pet the pup while in your lap and then eventually can pick up the pup and hold him in his lap without any issue and  feel safe.

One last consideration I will mention.  If the pup is that scared there is a good chance that a male may have physically harmed him.  While he is a puppy and  super flexible, I would consider finding a good animal chiropractor in your area to have the pup adjusted, just in case there was physical harm that we cannot see to ensure that your pup’s spine and bones are properly aligned as he grows.

Remember take your time, build your pups confidence and have fun with it. Paws up!

Alecia Evans, HDT, Inventor

Do you have a holistic training question for Alecia? Send it in on our online form! And be sure to tune into our FREE five-part telecall series with Alecia (next class: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013) when she’ll address some of the most common training issues and answer your questions live by phone!

Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine,, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

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