We just adopted a new dog. Bailey’s sweet and gentle with everyone. He really loves my 10-year-old son, but he seems a bit worried about my 15 year old. Whenever Trevor moves toward him, Bailey gets up and walks away. It hurts Trevor’s feelings. What can I do to help Bailey understand that he doesn’t need to be anxious around my teenage son? ~ Susan
Susan: Your teen’s body language and behavior now more like a man’s than a boy’s. Many dogs are more anxious around men than around women and children. Remind Trevor that dogs interpret straight-on approaches as more threatening than arcing, sideways movements. Perhaps in his eagerness to befriend Bailey, he is inadvertently scaring him by approaching too directly. Ask him to move a bit more slowly around the dog and to be aware of how he can make the dog feel more comfortable.
Sign up for a positive-reinforcement training class for Trevor and Bailey. Trevor can use delicious treats to train Bailey to spin, rollover, and give a high-five. Working on a few fun tricks will strengthen the relationship between your son and the dog. Take things slowly. Soon your dog will understand that everyone in his new family is gentle and caring, and that he has no reason to worry.