Your suggestions to James C. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, who was having problems bonding with his daughter’s dog, were good ones, including bringing a special toy for the dog and helping walk or feed the dog while visiting. I also found avoiding eye contact with my in-laws’ dog helped tremendously. The dog was intimidated by my presence, but avoiding eye contact minimized that problem. Shortly after, the dog laid down near me on the couch, gave me a few kisses on the hand, and let me pet her while she fell asleep. I think if James tries this method, he just may achieve the results he’s seeking.
– Howard R., Hermosa Beach, California
While I advised James to just be present and not engage the dog until the dog was ready to come around, I checked and I didn’t tell him to avoid eye contact, which is good advice when meeting any new dog. Personally, I don’t engage a dog unless a dog engages me. People think that’s odd since I work in the animal world, but I think it’s a respectful way to gain the trust of our animal friends.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal