Grabbing your keys, kissing the kids and rushing out the door is certainly a familiar routine for most busy moms. Taking the time to formally introduce your dog to the babysitter… is not.
One of my client’s babysitters recently stopped by and asked me to please write about this topic. She explained that not everyone takes the time to introduce their dogs and over the years she has been growled at by some of the “the nicest dogs.” She asked me for advice:
How do you address the situation if you feel uneasy with someone’s dog?
For example, she had been babysitting for a family with a dog that was middle-aged, rather scary in appearance (at least to her) and un-trained. Nothing had actually happened but she felt the dog’s behavior was spooky and she didn’t know how to deal with it. People who are not comfortable with dogs can misinterpret a stare as having a different meaning. She was told by the owners to just ignore him, as they left to go out to dinner.
Does this sound familiar? Many dog owners have the “great” family dog who may be getting a little older, set in it’s ways and/or giving off a vibe that is either misunderstood or needs to be acknowledged by you. Even if there are no behavioral changes with your dog, often the babysitter never gets a proper introduction. This can lead to a big misunderstanding and possible trouble. Remember, sensing a person’s fear can send mixed signals to your dog, especially when you’re not in the house. It’s your responsibility as the owner to be aware and make sure all is cool.
Take the time to ask your babysitter about his or her past dog experiences. You may find out that they like dogs (in general) but that they were been bitten in the past and are cautious. Awareness is key. The more information you have, the better prepared you are to ease and address issues you didn’t even know existed.
Finally, take the time to formally introduce your dog to new babysitters – even if only for a few minutes. I recommend doing so on a leash and using obedience commands. The leash adds an exciting element to the process and focus. Then treats, of course, help finish off the introduction with some Emmy award-winning tricks. This awareness can ward off any silent problem that may have been brewing behind your back. It will create the best possible experience for everyone!
For more info: www.pawsforaminute.com