"What does your daily routine looks like?" Often this is the first question on the quest for answers. As the owner of the "problem dog" walks through their day; there are many pauses where we stop and discuss. Certain trigger words bring upon a plethora of untold causes to the core problem. The reason I've been called out is unrest in the home. A new dog has been added to the home and it is not working out. The dog is just not bonding with the husband and hides every time that he is present. One stop along the voyage to finding a solution is one statement that says it all. "When he leaves we have our together time." That's it.
Dogs are all about association. So much so, that things pass us by without notice. Associations are made that we never see and it can take the act of breaking it all down to figure it out. Of course there are times when an answer will never come and you must deal with what you have in front of you only. But when you can figure it out; it is quite often very simple in hindsight. Take the case of the new dog in the family who does not enjoy the company of the husband. A fear of in men is quite common in dogs. It is not that they don't like men, it is that men are typically larger in size, have deeper and louder voices than woman. It is also common that many dogs have only lived with woman.
The problem with the lack of connection to the man in the house is being reinforced by the woman and their relationship. She is making a clear statement about the mans presence by lavishing attention on the dog in his absence. This one act has a snowball effect. All that needed tweaking was for the woman to step back out of the picture and let the man step in. He takes over any need for human contact. The woman does not physically leave, she just removes her contribution to the canine/human connection until they form a new one. When the husband leaves, care is very basic; no lavishing of attention is given, that is saved for when he is around.
The same goes for dog/dog and baby/dog relationships. When a new dog is brought into a home and the old one does not approve; things can get very bad if you fuel the wrong actions. Let's say you let the new dog outside for a bit, so that you can sneak some one on one affection and snuggling in on the sly. What are you saying to your dog? "It is much better when that other dog is not around," is read by your actions. "We are much better when it is just us," is the message you give with making great things happen in the absence of the newcomer. The exact same goes for children and dogs who are not meshing. Do not lavish the dog with loads of affection and attention every time the child is not around. Baby goes down for a nap which means time for one on one with the dog, association created. This confirms the dogs idea that having the child around is less than desirable.
To help push relationships along in the right direction; great things need to happen when they are together. Being together is much better than being apart; when you are apart it is boring and nothing great happens. But when we all come together wonderful things happen. By saving the snuggling, feeding, attention and fun for being together; being together starts to be the desired state. You want the dog who is not wanting the husband, other dog or baby around; to look for them with positive anticipation.
Miniscule actions can lead to huge issues in the world of dogs. They see and read so much more than we humans do. Associations are learned very quickly, it is the way of a dog. Watch your own behavior closely; are you fueling the problem by reinforcing the positive aspects of separation? Make togetherness the time of greatness; separation a time of nothingness.