Monday, November 2, 2009

Socializing a Mill Dog with Children

Bill is terrified of children. I don't know if there were kids at the puppy mill who tormented him or if it was from the brief stint at a "forever family" with a child (who subsequently returned him within a week because he wouldn't play ball).

Anyway, to help Bill get over his fear of children, I've been taking to my friend Mandy's house frequently. Her children (six and nine) have learned the proper care and handling of dogs, even fearful ones, and they are the best kids to socialize Bill with. Since he generally struggles in other people's homes, we first went to Mandy's house when no kids were home so he could get comfortable with his surroundings. After he started roaming around her house without fear, I began bringing him there when the kids were home. He still shakes a little, but Xander and Ella (the kids) know to approach slowly and pet him under his chin. Last time we went I even saw his tail up once!

It's a slow road but definitely worthwhile. He used to put at least 20 feet between himself and any child when out on the trail or at the dogpark, but these days I see him only carefully watching them as he passes and then following behind to sniff at them. Of course, if they turn around, he's jumping backwards. But it's progress nonetheless.

Now for some fun: Mandy had an extra Halloween costume for my foster, Toby! We chose a jailbird suit and Toby didn't seem to mind it all all (though you can't tell from this picture). I had already bought a lobster costume for Bill, and I was shocked when we actually walked around the house with this doofy stuffed lobster on his back. So cute!

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