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Canine Behavior/I just don't get it...


I have a fairly well-trained dog named Andre.  His will be 6 in May he is half Maltese half Shih Tzu (sp?).  My cousin got the same mix a girl though, 6 weeks ago, Lucy.  And Andre will have nothing to do with her, no eye contact, no play, nothing.  It seems silly but it makes us sad, and I'd like to know what I can do about it.  My cousin is who watches Andre when I go on trips, and I have one coming up.  If the behavior doesn't change should I leave him somewhere else or make him deal?

This is absolutely NORMAL behavior in the dog culture.  Andre is making a strong statement of social hierarchy to Lucy and she understands it.  You have no need to be "sad", this is normal and actually good.  Lucy will learn to approach Andre as higher in the social hierarchy, this may change in time but since Lucy and Andre will not be full time live-in companions, it might not.  I would not leave Andre "somewhere else".....kennels (even the "luxury sort") are far from what you want for your dog.  I suggest Andre and Lucy be fed in separate rooms twice daily (small breed dogs especially need their healthy portion of food split to two portions to keep blood sugar up).  Lucy should be asked to "sit" before being fed, just for the heck of it (to help her feel more emotionally stable in a new home).  Any approach by Andre toward Lucy that appears to be playful should be applauded (softly, but soundly).  If any problem arises between them, use followup feature immediately.  Otherwise, since your trip is upcoming, I suggest you leave Andre with your cousin for an hour or two a day (or, a few hours twice a week, depending on when you are leaving) so they can begin to habituate to one another and form a relationship.  Your cousin should NOT in any way try to coerce Andre to "like" Lucy or the other way around.  The relationship should develop in its own manner.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

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Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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