Roxie has always had a problem with trusting new people, but men in particular. We moved out of the family home 6 weeks ago. I have three housemates, Jane, John and Jono. Roxie has no real problem with Jane, if I'm not home she is the one she follows around. Jono pats Roxie and pays her attention, but she still isn't perfectly comfortable around him. Roxie dislikes John.
John is over 6"6, but he really is a gentle giant. The other day Roxie got out, it was pure accident, but John was there and she bolted from him. He was distraught and didn't know what to do because I wasn't home, so he chased her. Of course she ran because he did, but he was genuinely worried and didn't want to lose sight of her. We live near a very busy main road and he thought she would get hit.
We have tried getting him to feed her, him to give her schmackoes. She does respond to his commands of sit etc, but she refuses to take food from him, even with my permission. She does enjoy sniffing and rubbing in his hair (Roxie has a slight obsession with nice smelling shampoos and will rub on peoples heads if she can get close enough. I'm just glad it's not poo). We've tried me not being there to stop distracting her, it doesn't work. He can pick her up and cuddle her, and she does relax somewhat(eyes will start to close in a 'yeah that's good' way), but she still refuses to come when called or take food from him (Relaxing is a big improvement, it took me a year to get her to relax and not be a rock when I cuddled her).
When she got out she ran about 2km away, with John puffing behind her. It was pure chance that he caught up with her again, but thankfully he'd called Jono who came with the car and found her practically passed out under a tree. This was last week when it was 38C so she was exhausted and had stopped running. Jono had to get out of the car and shake his keys at her to make her get in the car and she was very timid around him too. John nearly passed out himself, I felt terrible.
We have a very quiet household, neither of the boys is loud in voice, stance or even the way they walk. There is no loud television or music played, we rarely have people over. My next move is to buy something absolutely delicious that she will hopefully not refuse and get him to feed it to her. He always gets on her level so not to intimidate her.
We have also started NILIF again, I have had success with that in the past. We never really strayed from it, just slacked off.
This is all particularly upsetting for John because he is genuinely a good guy. He has said that dogs and kids don't like him (the former run, the latter cry on sight of him) and I know it frustrates him. I know that this will take time, Rox took awhile to trust me and even longer to trust my family.
I'm looking for some simple exercises that can be done at any time to get her to trust him more. There is a little bowl of schmackoes on the bench for them to feed her at any time and they know where the packets are in the cupboard. I'm thinking maybe get him to lie down and feed her? That way she can also roll on his head, that makes her happy and he gets a giggle out of it too. He already walks her when he can. She has a pug and other toys but him moving around too much to interact with her makes her scared.
I want to keep it all light and fun and build their relationship first, so we can then start working on recall. Is it better if I'm around when they interact, or not there?
Any advice would be much appreciated.