Kusa, my wife, has always been terrified of animals. Everything from mice, chicken, cats, dogs, to horses could send her shrieking and jumping onto your back. So there was no way I was ever going to bring a pet into our home. Or so I thought.
Then we sort of fell in love with Snowy, and we “accidentally” ended up owning him. Seeing them together today, you may at first not realise she is still skittish around the pup. But she has come a long way and is improving daily.
However, that journey was never easy. I had to always play the ref and keep them away from each other. You see, while my wife was extremely scared of even being in the same room with Snowy, his playful nature always thought her skittishness was an invitation to play. My wife would see him and involuntarily jump, and this would excite Snowy who would jump and bark excitedly. Of course, this would make my wife jump even more, and that cycle never ended.
If you have ever lived with a dog, you know how they come round from one side to the other when you’re having your meals. He would come with his sweet begging eyes and sit on my foot then go round and try to do the same to my wife on the other side. Needless to say, those first few meal times were terrible for us all.
Finally, I decided to always keep him tethered when in the house. So I would loop his leash around the foot of a table or chair when my wife was home. At first he would bark when we had meals that he was not part of. I would only feed him after we are through and somehow he slowly got used to this and would calmly sleep at his spot while we ate.
I would have loved to sleep on the same bed with the pup but I had to make a choice between my wife or my pet in the bedroom, lol. Anyway, we first started out by keeping him in the master bathroom with the door open so he could see us. I would tether him to the sink. Then I started keeping the door locked and he took it well. As my wife got used to him around, we brought him to sleep under the bed, tethered to the foot of the bed on my side and on a very short leash. Gradually we lengthened the leash until now it is no longer necessary to use the leash on him.
My wife and I love taking walks together. So with Snowy around, I tried walking with both. It was difficult at first, with Snowy wanting to explore everywhere and get close to all nearby. I learnt to keep him on a leash long enough to enable him enjoy the walk and explore, yet short enough not to bother my wife who was just learning to trust us. He was still biting, so I also had to keep him off curious kids and neighbors who wanted to pet and cuddle him.
What You Need to Do with Fearful Family Members
My wife really loved Snowy but had an innate fear of him. Over time, I have created a list of the things you need to create a harmonious relationship between your playful pup and your fearful family members who may or may not love dogs.
- Have lots and lots of patience. It may not make sense to you why a grown up would be afraid of a tiny ball of fur, but most fears are irrational. Accept and work with that. Do not criticize or make demands. Certainly, no ultimatums.
- Create lots of space between them. Any small mistake may increase the fear or even lead to panic and accidents.
- Schedule together moments. The walks brought us all closer without necessarily getting the two in contact with one another.
- Have safeguards. To keep the space, I had to tether Snowy during meal times and sleep times. When I started keeping him off leash, I trained him not to go into the master bedroom on his own and never under any circumstances to go into the kitchen. My wife’s 2 favorite rooms.
- Be glad if your fearful members are willing to try. Not many are as lucky as I am. My wife decided to try and went into it with a positive attitude and trusting that I will protect if there is any danger.
All you need for a positive relationship to develop between your human family and your fur-babies is patience, the right attitude, and lots of research. If you can get a professional trainer to work with all of you within your home, then that’s even better. Some of the resources that helped me through the process include:
- The Nairobi Dog Lovers Facebook group
- Kiko Pup’s website and YouTube Channel
- Zak George’s Training rEvolution YouTube Channel (Zak George is my favorite)
- The Pawfesser Gage YouTube Channel
To get more of Snowy’s tales and adventures, check out our other posts which include how he survived a gory accident and two surgeries, how he got toilet-trained living in an apartment, and how we tried different foods until we found what was just right for him and our pockets.