As some of you may know, Rudy is definitely a ladies dog. He generally is more relaxed around women, and it definitely takes him a little longer to warm up to men. Just ask my husband :-) However, there was one man that Rudy met when we first got him, that Rudy just didn't seem to like - Mark's Uncle Vinny. Now, Uncle Vinny is a little nervous around dogs to begin with, and especially around big, blocked headed, barking pit bulls. So, the fact that Rudy would bark every time he met Vinny scared Vinny right away. But for some reason, the barking just got worse after the first two or three times Rudy met Vinny, and before we knew it, Rudy appeared to have what would be considered an aggressive reaction toward Vinny.
Every time Vinny would come by our house, Rudy would bark, snarl, and lunge for him. We would have to lock Rudy in the crate, and every time, Rudy would bark and carry on the whole time Vinny was in the house, especially when Vinny would speak. He would growl and his hackles would go up, and he would snarl like nothing I had ever seen him do before. The whole thing terrified me, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why Rudy seemed to dislike Vinny so much!
Eventually, when Vinny would stop by, I would end up locking Rudy upstairs in my bedroom while Vinny was here. It was the only way we could get Rudy to settle down, because upstairs he couldn't hear Vinny's voice. Vinny could come over to watch a hockey game- and Rudy would stay locked upstairs in the bedroom for 3 or 4 hours until Vinny left. I began to think that Rudy and Vinny were never going to be able get along. The whole thing was so strange because Rudy didn't react that way to anyone else that we had ever met.
So, one day last month, my husband Mark says, Vinny is stopping by to watch some videos. I thought, oh great, there goes our peaceful evening. I began contemplating places I could take Rudy while Vinny was over so that I didn't have to lock him in the bedroom. But, my husband said, no, we are going to work through this. Eventually, Rudy is going to have to learn. Well, I was glad he was convinced we could do this because I certainly wasn't. But, then I thought about all the hard work we had been doing, and what Rhonda told me about feeling confident and being a strong leader, and I thought, ok - let's do this!
We had Vinny come over while Rudy and I ran to the store so that when Rudy and I got home, Vinny was already in the house. This was my idea to keep the adrenaline in check because Rudy has a tendency to get worked up when people first get to the house, which is better now, but still happens. With people he likes, I don't really worry because he barks, then settles in after a few minutes in his place. But with Vinny, I wanted Rudy to be relaxed right from the beginning. Plus, I knew Vinny was going to be scared out of his mind!
Vinny was sitting on the couch, and as soon as we came through the door, Rudy began growling at him. I kept Rudy on leash and e-collar, and said, No! firmly. When he began to growl, I "dinged" him with the e-collar on the lowest setting, and said NO!! a bit louder and firmer this time. Rudy looked at me, and stopped growling. I walked Rudy on leash over to his place, walking right by Vinny. Rudy wanted to turn around and stare at Vinny, but I said NO, look at me, and put him in his place. When he started to get out of his place, I again corrected him with the e-collar on the lowest setting, and said No! He finally sat in his place. When he began staring at Vinny again, I said no, look at me. When Rudy finally looked at me, I told him to lay down in his place. He laid down, but would sit back up and growl, ever so quietly, so that we could barely hear him. I would correct him again, say NO, and LAY DOWN. After 3 or 4 corrections (Rudy is a bit stubborn), he finally settled into his place, and relaxed.
We then all sat there chatting, Rudy laying in his place, Vinny on the couch directly across from Rudy, me on the floor (kind of situated in the middle), and Mark in the recliner. We talked for nearly 15 minutes, and Rudy stayed relaxed the whole time. I then let Rudy up (still keeping him on leash so I had some control in case he made any sudden movements). I told Vinny to call Rudy over to see if he would approach Vinny. Although Vinny was scared, he called Rudy over. Rudy ran over, tail wagging. I told Rudy to sit at Vinny's feet, and then handed Vinny some gold fish to feed to Rudy. Vinny was so nervous he was shaking and dropping the gold fish in his lap. I told Rudy to wait, and he did, patiently, for what must have seemed like forever to Rudy, for Vinny to finally start feeding him the treats. Rudy gently took the goldfish from Vinny's hands, and even put his paw up on Vinny's knee as if to say "feed them to me a little faster please!" Vinny was still shaking, but he finally worked up his courage to reach down, and pet Rudy under the chin at first, and then gently on top of the head, and scratched his ears a bit.
I then called Rudy into the kitchen with me, and we proceeded to cook dinner while Mark and Vinny stayed in the living room for a bit longer. Rudy was laying in his usual spot in front of the door when Vinny went to leave. Vinny was nervous to walk by him, so I called Rudy over to me, and had him sit while Vinny walked to the door. Rudy waited calmly next to me, and Vinny said "good bye" Rudy, and left!
All in all - I was so excited, I could barely stand it! I gave Rudy a giant hug, and even danced around the kitchen a little bit with him. I couldn't believe the huge steps we had just taken! Not only had Rudy been great, but I had been a calm and confident leader, just like I needed to be.
We have had several interactions with Uncle Vinny since then and Rudy has been fantastic. We haven't yet had Uncle Vinny come to the door and knock, then come inside because I think the barking will not only scare Uncle Vinny, but the adrenaline will still be too high for Rudy to calm down easily. So, for the past couple times, we have met Vinny outside, and walked into the house together. That seems to work fine. Last night, Vinny was in our driveway when we got home from dog socials. I let Rudy out of the car, and he ran right up to Vinny, gave him a quick sniff and happy tail wag, with a butt shake, then ran over to meet Vinny's friend, April. He was much more excited to meet April then he was to see Vinny, but hey, what can I say, he is a ladies' dog after all!!