Skittish dog barks to feel in control


Published May 10, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Q: When we got our dog Brady five years ago, she was very skittish, but she has gotten better over the years. When we first got her, my dad was working on our kitchen and making a lot of noise. Now, she is still scared of my dad and barks at him whenever he enters and leaves the house or when he goes up the stairs. She also does not like to play ball with him unless my mom and I are in the room. Why is she scared of him?

A: Only Brady knows why she feels the way she does toward your father — but if she does play ball with him while you are in the room, then she is not really that fearful of him. She barks at him when he is leaving or going up the stairs because, in her mind, she is chasing him away, and that little bit of power makes her feel good.

In a perfect world, and if your dad had enough time, he would calmly turn around when she is barking and go back into the room, sit down and talk to her in a nonthreatening way, and drop her a few treats. Then she would realize that her behavior no longer gets the result of your dad leaving, and she would stop the behavior.

Older mom should consider an older dog

Q: My mother’s Pomeranian just died. Now, she wants to go back in time and get an Airedale puppy, as she had one when she was a child. She has such fond memories of that dog. However, this was more than 60 years ago on a farm in Iowa. I am trying to talk her out of it, without any luck. Do you have some points I could use in my arguments?

A: I actually like Airedales very much, but the puppyhood of any terrier breed — let alone a large one like an Airedale — is always full of drama because they are so active and full of energy.

Another issue is that their coats need to be plucked regularly, and if your mother cannot do this herself, she needs to have a groomer do it. There are not many groomers who like to work on such large breeds, and the ones who do may charge a premium for the service.

If she has her heart set on an Airedale, then a good idea would be to find an Airedale rescue group that could provide your mother with an older dog and won’t view your mother’s home as a giant chew toy. An older dog will be content with a couple of walks a day and romps in the park.