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Shazmnldb

Strange Behaviour

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Hi all

My 2yo Lilli barks incessantly at my mother In law. Normally she just loves everybody, and I mean everybody but each time we visit she goes crazy at her to the point where she has to stay outside. My mother in law is such a gentle, loving person but Lilli goes crazy. Her bark is constant and tail wagging. Any ideas on why she would do this. It is the same reaction she has towards other dogs when she is on leash. I tried smoothing it over today by letting Lilli smell her then bang, off she goes again.

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Have you done anything to help condition Lilli to seeing your MIL in a positive light?

 

I'd ask your MIL to be seated (maybe even slightly to the side) when Lilli comes in, not look at her directly or speak to her (IOW, she becomes as nonthreatening as possible -- she could even yawn [an appeasement gesture] occassionally) and toss her some yummy treats. At first the treats (tiny little bits) should be coming nonstop. Once Lilli's more relaxed and taking the treats readily, MIL should wait until there's a bark-free moment to toss a treat. No barking, Lilli gets treats. Rinse and repeat.

 

What you're trying to do here is to change Lilli's emotional response to your MIL. It really doesn't matter why she's reacting, just that she is and you want to change her response.

 

This may take some time and some repetitions, but it should help Lilli become more comfortable around your MIL. If she uses her body language to appear nonthreatening and tosses really good things Lillie's way, Lillie will probably start seeing her in a different light.

 

If your MIL isn't inclined to be an active participant in this, then I'd recommend the Look at That exercise. It's been outlined here before, and is detailed in Leslie McDevitts's Control Unleashed (the Puppy Program version's said to be better, more detailed) and would be a good investment for the leash reactivity to other dogs as well.

 

Best wishes getting Lilli past this.

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Just let me ask you something that will seem out of left field - does your MIL have white hair and, if she does, does she use something to help make it even whiter? I ask because Celt, who was certified as a therapy dog, had issues with elderly women, those with white hair who likely (judging from the color) used something to enhance the whiteness. And I wondered if he was seeing something that my eyes couldn't see in terms of the hair. Any time he saw a woman with that sort of hair, he would get very anxious and frightened, and would respond by putting his hackles up and even growling. We had to work very hard to overcome that level of response, and he was never at ease around those lovely women.

 

I know, it's probably a really outrageous idea but...

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What an interesting observation, Sue. I wonder if there's something in the color spectrum that dogs perceive differently than we do. Or maybe the stuff smells really weird.

 

I've never noticed Bodhi reacting to anyone, but then we don't see any blue haired ladies. I actually haven't see one for years.

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Hi Sue and Gentle Lake, yes my MIL has very white hair. Not outrageous at all. Very interesting theory. Next time we will start with the treats and see how we go, good idea Gentle Lake. Perhaps it is something more.

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If your mother-in-law would be willing to experiment and cover her hair completely with a dark scarf, it would be interesting to see Lilli's response.

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Hi all

In reply to Pam's question, doesn't smoke but she is a diabetic and refuses to see the doctor about anything, opting for more natural cures. That is another thing Lilli could be picking up on, she is very overweight and not in good health

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