Here is a very thorough testimonial from Lynn and her Labrador called Lily who had a fear of children.
Lily was well socialised with all people, including children and dogs from a very young age. However, at a critical age of 14 weeks, she was chased in the park and ‘flattened’ by a group of tiny toddlers. They did not move until I was able to rescue her. Although we continued to make appropriate attempts to socialise her with small children after this, it was never really successful, as this is always difficult to do safely, even with a young puppy. Whatever the circumstance, she would always select the flight option. Lily has always loved all people (as long as they were upward of age 5 yrs ) and loves attention, never showing fear nor defence behaviours at all.
When Lily was 6 months, we all moved to live on and run a farm and she rarely had the opportunity to mix with children much at all. Then, just over a year ago, our first grand-child was due, totally unexpectedly, and we knew some recovery as far as possible needed to occur in order for Lily to cope better when the baby arrived and from there onwards.
When baby arrived in our home for the first time (at 6 weeks of age), making the usual squeaking baby noises, Lily looked very startled at first. She pretty well remained rooted to ‘her’ favourite places when baby was carried around. And continued to stare at anyone carrying the baby or baby herself.
Baby returned to stay for 5 days. Lily improved slightly but continually looked at the baby when in the room and if baby looked at her, in the sustained way a baby does, Lily growled a little. But if and when she left ‘her’ space, and moved around, Lily would cope better. When she came to see that baby was contained and everyone was happy, there were short periods when Lily appeared more relaxed. Lily would not select to move toward her humans for support, her first choice was to stay in her sleep areas but with baby in view. I noticed that often Lily would give me a look which said ‘are you safe carrying that little person around, mum?!’ She showed fear for me.
Visit to baby – out walking Lily in the main ignored baby even sitting alongside my son and baby in the park. But of course she was free to move around so would have felt less threatened. She would select to walk alongside the pram with my son when moving.
EARLY DECEMBER: Introduction to breakthrough after nutrition course
Although I could see slight improvements with Lily in the presence of baby in August and October, I was aware that time was approaching when baby would move around and wish to perhaps be in closer proximity to Lily. I could see the benefits of introducing this food (breakthrough) as soon as possible, as Lily has been trained using positive reinforcement and always responded well to reward and when her serotonin levels were balanced.
Lily had been eating the new food for one month now. I had seen many changes to her general demeanour:
- Firstly, she was not choosing to sleep all of the time, like before. [Although Lily would walk out for 30 mins am and 1.25hrs+ pm, she would select to remain lying down the rest of the time.] Instead, she would come up to us ‘for a chat’ with a very happy tail.
- In the main, Lily stopped demanding to be stroked, and comfort-seeking.
- Out on walks, she initiated reward and responded well to her original commands of reward, just as if I was using a clicker for reinforcement; very interactive and very obedient and keen to please
- Ate all her food well and never sought out any other food so no hunger pangs at all.
- Walked around the house often with a happy, fixed ‘smile’ on her face! Body and tail very relaxed and coat very soft and pliable.
- Resumed play with our other dog, a 7 yr old very laid-back spaniel, after evening meal, which she had not done for a year or two
- Initiated play out with other dogs, seeking them out for contact and communication
- No negative reactivity toward anything, at all, for the duration of the new diet (sometimes she could be slightly reactive on lead if certain dogs approached, but now, she always wagged no matter what the dog)
WITH BABY – CHRISTMAS
The first change I noted was that she was no longer staring at baby. She would manage to relax in the same room as if baby was not present
There was only one tiny growl on the first day, which of course we all ignored. Thereafter, Lily would walk past baby, toward son, passed son, with a waggy tail quite often; and even came into the kitchen a few times when baby was eating.
A small fuss was made of Lily at appropriate times. Lily only needs slight recognition when she has done well, for it to work, which she is used to. She seemed more and more relaxed in this way as the days passed. On the last day baby stayed, she was sitting playing on her rug, with Lily in the same room asleep on the sofa, Lily was totally un-phased by her baby noises and presence. When son/baby/daughter in law returned from walk with baby in pushchair or in arms, she would go to say Hi, in a natural, friendly manner.
I too felt much more relaxed with the situation by the time baby left. I do feel there will be more improvement if i continue to enhance Lily’s uptake of reward: increasing her dopamine levels which in turn are giving her a feel-good factor in the presence of baby. I am not sure now if she should still eat the original or go on to a maintenance diet. I will await your advice and guidance. I am however conscious that baby will be moving around by the middle of the year and do hope for more improvement in Lily’s coping levels before that. I do feel much more confident about the situation and that the food will greatly help, together with a management strategy which will also protect Lily when she needs her space and downtime.
Thank you so so much. Without this diet and Lily’s improved and more appropriate nutrient levels, I absolutely feel we may have had to ‘put Lily’ into her own space, thus never commencing attempts at a relationship with baby or indeed with any of us when baby was around. Now I am hopeful that as time passes, Lily will hopefully feel more and more confident and relaxed as baby grows that just maybe comes to accept that she is just part of the family and nothing to fear.
Best wishes, Lynne
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