Does your dog or cat run and hide when strangers come in? Or maybe your dog comes around, but seems uncomfortable… possibly scared?
Don’t worry you are not alone! We get calls all the time from clients saying “I have never left my pets” or ” My family or friend takes care of them and I have never left them with a stranger.” It’s completely understandable! The only thing that is going through your mind is the same thing that I would be thinking. “I know my babies are going to be scared with strangers and I can just picture me worrying about them the whole trip. They won’t eat or come out. They won’t get any attention and they will be miserable.” I wouldn’t travel if I thought those things either.
During our first phone call (interview) with the potential client we ask a few questions to determine the severity of the pets behavior around strangers. Once we determine this and discuss possible solutions, we set up the free consultation. This is where we are really going to see the dog’s body language and how they react to us. Typically upon arriving cats will run and hide and may not even come out during the duration of the consultation. Cats are a bit easier though, because we don’t have to get too close to make them feel comfortable. We can monitor their litter box, their food and water bowls, and get a visual on them to make sure they are well. After a couple of visits they usually come out and see us, but a lot of times they end up in our lap! One cat didn’t even want affection from her mom, but after a week of being there she was waiting on the dresser and nudge her head towards me like she wanted to be petted. She let me pet her and she comes down from her hiding spots to play now!
Now with dogs at consultations we see a lot of sticking close to their owner or laying down just watching us and not showing any interest in seeing who we are. We can tell they are stressed. If we feel they are a severe case and that they may have trouble eating or going out when their owners aren’t there we recommend an introductory visit. This is important because it lets us see how they do without you there before you leave for 2 weeks and think everything is great!
The introductory visit can go 1 of 2 ways. What we normally see is the dog is still a little shy and timid, but after spending quite a bit of time with us they see we can be trusted and are actually a lot of fun! What we worry about seeing is a dog who turns their fear into aggression. Unfortunately, we would not be able to continue service if the dog showed persistent aggression. If they are just fearful we still have a chance to win them over. We cannot care for dogs who are showing signs of aggression (even though they are just scared). 1.) your babies are clearly scared to death and that is not fun for them and 2.) it puts us at a risk of being bitten or even attacked.
If your pets show signs of aggression i.e lunging while barking/ snapping, blocking us from entering the home any further while growling and showing their teeth we would discuss your other options and also possibly a trainer to work with socializing.
One puppy tricked us! Bear is a shepherd mix around 9 years of age. Bear actually loved us during the consultation, but the way the client had described his personality on the phone was a completely different story. Even though Bear wanted to be petted and sniff us I suggested an introductory visit to see how he would react when they weren’t there. Sure enough he acted like he had never seen us in his life. He was barking, staying back, didn’t want to go out back with us, or come near us to even check us out. He kept his head low, wouldn’t look at us directly and we could tell he was very scared.
We spent over an hour laying on the floor, tossing him treats, and talking to him to ease his mind. We finally got him close enough to where when I showed him the leash he was ok with me putting it on. Once outside I could tell he was very relieved but still weary. We gave him some commands (sit, down) and rewarded him with treats and praise. Doing this builds trust with him and shows him we just want to love on him. Once back in the house he was a new pup! He was super excited to get petted and get some treats and kept head butting us in the legs to let us know he wanted more attention. We are best buddies now and he whines like crazy when he sees us coming up the sidewalk!
We love to be the reason you can finally enjoy your vacations! We also know your pets are your kids and it brings us so much joy that they get to stay in the comfort of their home getting one on one care. However, we are not the right fit for everyone and that’s ok. We are always here to help you find a solution to all of your pet care problems!
Bear is just one of many fearful dogs we have dealt with. Do you put off vacations because you don’t know what to do with your scared pets? If you are worried your babies aren’t going to enjoy their time at home while you are away, just give us a call and we will see if we are the right fit for your family!