Recently I got a dog. He's doing great, I'm doing great, it's been nearly 3 months since I got him from the shelter. Problem: He's meeting my brother and his kids, in a few weeks (family reunion weekend), and my brother has a strong fear, maybe even a phobia of dogs. What can I do to put him at ease, navigate the situation and help everyone get through this unscathed?
The dog is a male dutch shepherd, which looks somewhat like a really tall, really narrow german shepherd. So he's a big dog, but all legs, really. He's just over a year old, of a very sweet, placid nature and very rarely shows aggression. Situations where he does, are:
- Food/treat competition if other dogs are around. N/A for this visit.
- A little guarding of me if other dogs are too much in my face. Again N/A for this visit.
- Toy/edible toy guarding (but never food in food bowl guarding).
So really point 3 is the only area I have any major concern with him and kids, but I think it can be managed and monitored carefully. Now, his behaviour round kids is largely an unknown. I've seen him round, say, 10 year olds a few times and he's been fine, but it's only been at outdoor gatherings.
At the reunion weekend there will be 3 kids, of ages 2, 2.5 and 5 (all boys). So I can't honestly say how he'll act. My brother is I think afraid of his kids being savaged, but he's got plenty fear for himself too. The kids haven't had much in the way of exposure to dogs. So, there's a lot of unknowns with the behaviours on both sides. He's never bitten anyone or drawn blood. At worst he does a bit of puppy mouthing if you go out of your way getting him worked up and super playful.
I want to do what I can to ensure safety, to make my brother happy(his wife won't be there that weekend). I want to help build a positive relationship between my dog, who I will have for a very long time, and kids and family who will see a lot of me and my dog, in the years to come. But I'm new to all this, I don't know what sort of strategies to try.
It's been suggested I keep my dog chained up with me indoors, on the side of the room where I am, so he can't reach anyone else. For the whole weekend. This seems nuts. Or we divide the room up with chairs. Or I just lock myself and the dog away in another room so we don't cause a problem. Okay the dog can just be shut away, but not for the entire weekend, and it doesn't solve the underlying problem. Please give me your dog diplomacy wisdom.