Recently, one my dog client’s babysitter asked me to please write about this topic. She explained that not everyone has trained dogs and over the years, she has been growled at by some of “the nicest dogs.”
How do you address the situation if you feel uneasy with someone’s dog? She had been babysitting for a family that had a dog that was middle aged, rather scary in appearance, at least to her, and not trained. Nothing really happened but the dogs behavior was spooky to her when owners where gone. She wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
People who are not comfortable with dogs can misinterpret a stare as having a different meaning. She was told by the owners to just ignore him, as they left to go out to dinner.
Sound familiar? Many dog owners have the “great” family dog who may be getting a little older, set in it’s ways and/or giving off a vibe that is either misunderstood or needs to be acknowledged by the people who own him.
Even if there are no new behavioral changes with your dog, often the babysitter never gets a proper introduction with the family dog. This can lead to a big misunderstanding and possible trouble. A great thing to note is that someone else’s fear can create a mixed signal for your dog, especially when you are not in the house. So it’s up to you as the owner to be aware and make sure all is cool.
1. A great thing to do is to get your dog a regular vet check. Not just annual shots.
2. Notice behavioral changes and make sure any “new” quiet behavior is not mistaken for pain.
3. Take the time to ask your babysitter about their past dog experiences. You may find out that they like dogs (in general) but that they have been bitten in the past and are cautious.
4. Awareness is key. The more information you have the better prepared you are to ease and address issue’s you did even know existed.
5. Finally, take the time to formally introduce your dog to new babysitters, even if only for 10 minutes. Do so on Leash with treats with a great, well adjusted dog. If you have trouble brewing then a private trainer or group obedience class in a must.
I recommend doing so on a leash and show off “obedience” commands to the babysitter. The leash adds an exciting element to the process and focus and will make all, feel comfortable. Treats, of course, help finish off the introduction with some Emmy Award winning tricks. This awareness can ward off any silent problem that may have been brewing behind your back. It will create the best possible experience for everyone!