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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16923
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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How best do I deal with one of my 3 daschunds who has taken

Resolved Question:

How best do I deal with one of my 3 daschunds who has taken an aversion to one of our friends. She hypeventilates, trembles, won't be tempted to eat and appears generally terrified when he visits. I have tried rescue remedy but this didn't appear to have any effect on her. There is no history between her and this (very gentle) man. I can only assume that the pitch of his fairly deep voice has this effect on her.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that Maud is terrified of your friend and I feel badly for all involved. I'm sure that your friend is hurt by her reaction. Loud, deep voices can be very intimidating, especially to a very submissive dog. They sound much like a displeased growl and she is likely terrified that she did something wrong. For now I recommend not having this friend come to your home until we can work with her a while.

I recommend starting with getting a recording of your friend's voice so that you can play it at a very low level often. In this way we hope to condition her to his voice in a non-threatening manner, only playing it at a level that she remains relaxed with. Eventually we want to increase the level and maybe couple it with dinner, treats or other things she finds positive like her favorite games, toys, a belly rub, or brushing if she enjoys that.
If she is fearful no matter his voice level perhaps a pheromone spray or collar (DAP or dog appeasing pheromone) coupled with his voice will allow her to be calm enough to learn.

When the recording no longer seems to bother her at a level slightly higher then a normal speaking voice it is time for your friend to visit. You should have your friend ignore her, not even looking in her direction, speak in a quieter then usual voice and be very effusive in your greeting and how excited you are to see him. If he looks at her that would be perceived as a challenge. By ignoring her we give the opportunity to watch and not be challenged or intimidated. If she remains calm then she should get a treat from you. In fact for now the only time she should get treats is if she remains calm in his presence. If she seems at all timid or fearful ignore her. By giving her attention you are actually reinforcing that he is something to be feared. His first visit should be short and all positive.

The next few times he visits should be a repeat. We are trying to condition her that he is a normal visitor and nothing to be intimidated by. He should have treats in his possession though so should she be brave enough he can give her one. I wouldn't have him talk directly to her yet but it helps that he is a source of something yummy.

Once she is ignoring him or is curiously approaching routinely he can say her name and drop a treat, but not look at her.

Eventually if she is approaching him and looking for treats he can speak to her softly, a few words praising and then the treat. If she becomes very brave he may even be able to gently ask her to sit for a treat. If she complies the battle to condition her to your friend is pretty much won.

Though they may never be best buddies she may surprise you and at least eventually at least forget he is there.
Best of luck with your girl, Dr. Kara.

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