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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16330
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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there! My partner just recently moved in and my King Charles

Resolved Question:

Hi there!
My partner just recently moved in and my King Charles spaniel who is 8 is extremely clinging towards me, he's trying everything to get her to warm to him but nothing is working!
I need advice on what to do as I'm desperate
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about building a relationship between your partner and Bessie.
She is experiencing some huge changes in her life and needs to learn to trust your partner. She is trying to figure out where she fits in, what she's still allowed to do or if the rules have changed, and she may be getting less of your undivided attention and has decided your partner may be the bad guy in this. A subordinate dog tends to stay out of the way of the guy in charge so she may be avoiding him.
You need to give her lots of chances at pleasing both of you and showing that she is allowed to be herself and you are both fine with that.
She doesn't have an aversion to him, if that were the case she would be aggressive with him not ignoring him. I suspect that she may not have enough previous experience with men. Dogs have a critical socialization period when they are puppies, from about 8 to 10 weeks to 14 to 16 weeks. What they aren't exposed to during that period they are often fearful of. They can overcome their fears but it will take much longer than if they had been exposed as pups.
This will take lots of time. The important thing is not to rush her.
And it might help for your partner to ignore her for now, never looking her in the eyes, so she can observe and not be stressed by forced interactions. Make sure that she sees you enjoying his company though.
Your partner should absolutely be the one from whom all good things come - treats, dinner, walks etc. He just needs to go about these things quietly and never attempt to look her in the eye, as that is a challenge.
After a few weeks of ignoring her he might try constantly talking to her while he is home in a very soft, gentle voice. Make sure that he uses her name when he is speaking to her but don't look directly at her. His voice should be almost a whisper. She'll be able to hear him as dogs have great hearing but because he is speaking so softly it will actually make her pay attention more.
You might get a DAP collar or sprays to put around the house for her. This is a collar/spray infused with a synthetic analog of dog appeasing pheromone. This phermone is produced by nursing bitches and is very calming to dogs.
Is she obedience trained and listens well to you? If not then I also recommend Bessie and your partner take a very light hearted, fun obedience class together.
Make sure you look for a teacher that is very focused on positive reinforcement and ignoring negative behavior (not to reinforce it but to teach her if she behaves inappropriately she gets ignored, positive behaviors get positive results). As she learns commands, is repeatedly successful and is praised and given treats by your partner a special trust bond will grow between all of you. She learns that your partner is a predictable person, that you both are to be trusted and that he is a lot of fun.
For now your partner should avoid physical contact unless Bessie initiates it. If she rubs up against him or noses him ask him to sit then gently pet her once or twice and tell her what a wonderful girl she is. She has done something your partner likes and she has earned a pet (she will learn this is pleasurable and positive). Initially your partner should carry around a few treats too so she can couple that with the pet/praise. This works very well if she is food oriented. Experiment with chicken pieces, jerky treats, cheese. Almost every dog has something that really does it for them.
You should try and ignore Bessie when she shies away from your partner so that she can only interact with both of you and thus have a chance to build her relationship with him. She should only get attention from you if she follows a command. Then both of you will be interacting in a similar, reliable manner. If you try to comfort her when she shies away from your partner that only reinforces he is scary, and she will use it to get more attention from you. If you ignore that behavior it should go away faster.
Dogs love predictable behavior and habit. They want to know what is expected of them and what to expect of you. So all we can do at this point is build his dependence upon both of you and show her that you are predictable, fair and people to trust.
And unfortunately that may be agonizingly slow. But it should happen.
Best of luck with your girl, and let me know if you have any further questions.
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