Gwennie, the 1-and-a-half-year-old Great Dane, has been quite the handful, especially when it comes to her owner’s 5-year-old granddaughter Ashlyn. Nathan Lowe, The Indy Dog Whisperer, joined us Tuesday on “Life.Style.Live!” with Doty Gaertner to discuss how he got Gwennie and Ashlyn to get along. Here’s more from him:
Ashlyn was terrified of her dog, Gwen, until I came and did a consult and got things straightened out.
Saturday afternoon was a consultation on the northeast side with Great Dane, Gwennie. Her human family got in touch with me because Gwennie was targeting the smallest human member of the extended family group, harassing her and knocking her down repeatedly. The poor little girl had become terrified of the huge dog, and her panicked screams and cries made Gwennie react even more strongly. The family had done everything they knew how to stop this from occurring, and finally resorted to forcibly keeping Gwennie away from the little girl whenever she came to visit. But this was not a long-term solution—so they reached out to me.
When I arrived and was let into the home, Gwennie was suspicious of my presence there. She stared me in the eyes, growling under her breath. She finally emitted a thunderous bark and as I stepped toward her she immediately darted off, barking more violently as she did so. I finally had her put on leash, and kept her near me until she calmed down a bit.
I began the consultation by explaining that Gwennie needed to understand the humans were running the show and had claimed the little family member Gwennie so loved to harass. For the humans to occupy the leadership position, certain rules and boundaries needed to be established in the household environment, and enforced with canine body language cues. I went over these rules, and explained how to enact and enforce them.
Now it was time for the little girl and her parents to knock on the door so I could demonstrate how to control Gwennie’s response to the little one. It was heartbreaking to see how terrified the little girl was of Gwennie. The little one panicked and cried and clung to her mother’s leg. She was terrified to come inside and sit on the couch lest the huge dog come over and begin tormenting her. I explained to the child that I had control of Gwennie and nothing was going to happen. As the child was led through the home, I demonstrated to the family how to utilize canine-style body language to assert no-nonsense claim over the child. Gwennie got the message loud and clear and backed off!
Little by little, the child began realizing that Gwennie was under the our control, and sat beside her grandma on the fireplace ledge. Next, she agreed to go on a walk with all of us. It was while on the walk that the little one petted Gwennie on the head. It was a small but momentous step!
But the most wonderful and gratifying part of the afternoon was when we came back inside, handed the leash to the little girl, and saw that both dog and child were calm and sitting beside one another. The family looked on in amazement. What a victory for us all!!
How wonderful to see a terrified little girl find courage to try again with a dog who had previously brought her such panic. And how encouraging to see Gwennie moseying around the house, seemingly oblivious to the little girl who had found a whole new confidence.
For more from The Indy Dog Whisperer, visit his Facebook and website.