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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18172
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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WE have Bichon Frise rescue dog from RSPCA HULL a month ago.

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WE have Bichon Frise rescue dog from RSPCA HULL a month ago. she is OK with me, but she only barks at my husband. She was used for breeding and is now 9 year old. She must have had a bad time, because some of her front teeth had been kicked out and she doesn't like men! What would you suggest as a course of action to improve her negative attitude towards men?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about your poor girl Annie's anxiety and I can understand your husband's frustration and sadness that she is not taking to him as she is to you.
She has probably had some huge changes in her life and needs to learn to trust. She either has not been exposed to men or hasn't had good experiences with them. She is reluctant to be around him or trust what he does for her because she is trying to figure out if he is a good guy or not and she has decided your husband is definitely the guy in charge and the one to fear. A subordinate dog tends to stay out of the way of the guy in charge, and may bark in fear if she feels cornered.
Now you need to give her lots of chances at pleasing both of you and showing that your husband is a good guy too.
I don't think she has an aversion to him. If that were the case she would be aggressive with him and wouldn't agree to sit with him or go on walks. I suspect that she has no 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 husband 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.
Even though Annie seems reluctant I would encourage your husband to come in and spend lots of time with both of you. Let her see you enjoying your husband's company and not being a threat to her.
Your husband 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 doesn'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 pheromone is produced by nursing bitches and is very calming to dogs.
Is she obedience trained and listens well to you? Even if she is I also recommend Annie and your husband 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 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 husband a special trust bond will grow between all of you. She learns that your husband is a predictable person, that you both are to be trusted and that he is a lot of fun.
For now your husband should avoid physical contact unless Annie initiates it. If she rubs up against him or noses him ask Annie to sit then gently pet her once or twice and tell her what a wonderful girl he is. She has done something your husband likes and she has earned a pet (she will learn this is pleasurable and positive). Initially your husband should carry around a few treats too so he 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 Annie when she shies away from your husband or barks at him so that she can only interact with both of you and thus have a chance to build her relationship with him. Do not tell her that she is fine or "it's OK" when she barks, that is positive attention for that behavior, which we don't want to reinforce. Ignoring it, and not further challenging her is best. 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 husband 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 her 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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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Are DAP collars readily available in the UK, please?

You should be able to purchase them at your local pet store or the Amazon UK site has them too. Here's a link to the webpage with them listed:
DAP products are trade named Adaptil in the UK.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.