Learning to love her human dad

Guion and Pyrrha
Guion and Pyrrha at Yappy Hour.

Pyrrha has made a lot of progress with Guion lately. For the first few weeks, she seemed very nervous around him; she’d watch him like a hawk whenever he was in the same room with her. As the third week rolled around, we both were somewhat dismayed that she hadn’t warmed up to him yet. He wasn’t going anywhere, after all, and probably spent more time with her during the day than I did.

Her obvious preference for me made me feel pretty guilty. After all, I was the one who was really begging for a dog, and then we get a dog who barely gives my tolerant husband a second glance? I felt awful. She was all wiggles and wags and smiles whenever I walked in the door; Guion got a sideways glance and a slinking posture that moved her into the next room.

Love
Love.

Last week, we started pairing Guion with her most high-value treat, dried liver jerky (or something like that; a gift from our neighbor). Guion was the only one who was allowed to give it to her. That worked like a charm; she started to follow him from room to room, but this time out of a spirit of eagerness instead of watchful anxiety. He feeds her whenever he is home with her and gives her lots of gentle attention and affection.

The other night felt like a breakthrough, too: We were out in the backyard and she was in one of her crazy, playful moods. She normally invites only me to play with her; she’d never initiated play with Guion before, but on this particular night, she wiggled right up to him, gave him a play bow, and started dancing around him. Guion and I were both overjoyed. Soon they were both on the grass, wrestling around and playing Pyrrha’s version of fetch (which involves the human throwing an object, Pyrrha chasing said object, and then Pyrrha returning to human without said object). She played with him in that rough, goofy style that I’ve seen her do with other shepherds–lots of teeth, lots of tongue lolling about. (She even snuck up behind him and gave him a play bite on the back of his neck. He let out a yelp, which was sufficient correction. But then she just came back for more.)

She still has some warming up to do with him, but I feel like we’re already making great strides.

Did your dog need any help warming up to a particular family member? What did you do to help him or her feel comfortable with this person?

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7 thoughts on “Learning to love her human dad

  1. My dog takes a long time to warm up to people, especially if they are men.
    However, all they really have to do is take him for a small walk. That is his favorite thing. Once they feed him AND take him for a walk, he kisses up to them just like to me.

  2. Sounds like a great breakthrough.

    We’ve always noticed preferences in our dogs for one or the other of us. Agatha preferred me; Christie preferred Mike. Mike and Shadow had a very special bond. Honey love playing with Mike but she gets more worried when I go away.

    It sounds like you’re doing all the right things to teach Pyrrha that Guion is a fun guy. I know you’ll have many more excellent breakthroughs to come.

  3. So glad she’s warming up to him and adjusting fairly well.

    We adopted a three-year old Shih Tzu that had been rescued for a puppy mill years ago. She had been bred until her body couldn’t stand it anymore, and she was very sick. My mother fell in love with her right away, but Mitzy didn’t really share the sentiment. It was hard to convince the poor dog we were trying to help her, but eventually, we did. She passed away recently, but before she died, I think how easily she cuddled in all of our laps was an amazing sign of progress.

  4. Oh, I’m glad she’s warming up to him (the play bite made me snicker)!

    Normally, it’s family members that need warming up to Elka (though my grandmother was hard pressed not to melt when Elka put herself between us on the couch and draped her head on my grandmother’s knee).

  5. Hi Abby,
    I found your blog by accident but I am so glad!
    I am currently fostering a 5 month old female black GS named Willow, she is so afraid of life, but we’ve made lovely progress, especially since other dogs bring her out of her shell. Reading about your experiences with Pyrrha give me hope that she’ll find a lovely family just like you, with the patience and loving kindness she needs. This post touched me in particular because she is very slowly trying to warm up to my husband, she generally prefers women.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, they keep me going on the harder days πŸ™‚
    love,
    Nat and Willow

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