Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Any suggestions?

Lilia has a problem. And I don't know what to do about it. If anyone has any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated!

The problem:
*The neighbors dog

*Part pit bull (luckily not a pit bull head- so no locking jaw)
*Hates men
*Hates women
*Likes kids (supposedly) (My kid seems to be an exception)
*Spends 10-15 minutes outside every 2-3 hours chained to a metal chain in their yard.

The back story:
The neighbor boy let the dog out ONE TIME without a leash (accidentally) and it chased Lil down, cornered her on OUR porch and continued growling and slinking toward her before me and the owner of the dog could catch it and get it away. Since that time Lil is scared of the dog. Lil has two daily chores. They have been her chores for about a year now and up until this incident it has never been a problem. The chores- to take OUR dog outside to go potty twice a day and to get the mail.

The pattern of Lil's (growing) problem:
*Later that day, the neighbor came and took Lil to meet the dog. To convince Lil (and the dog) that there wasn't a problem. Lil was scared, but went, and came back afterward seeming fine.
*Throughout the following week Lil would check to see if the dog was outside before going out to do her chores. IF the dog was out, she would wait until it was back inside before completing the task at hand.
*One time, while grabbing the mail, the dog wasn't outside when she left our door, but by the time she had retrieved the mail, and turned to head inside, the dog had been put out on her chain (which when stretched to it's limit keeps the dog about 20 feet from our walk way). Lilia started crying, stopped dead in her tracks and wouldn't come back inside until I went out to walk with her up to our porch.
*From that point on, she would beg me to let her take the dog out the back door (meaning, opening the garage door so she could go out that way). At first I decided it would be easier to cater to her a bit. I can understand being scared of a big dog that chased her down...
*After a week or so of that, Lil began to worry that the dog would come out of the back of the house too, so she began to fuss if I made her do her chores at all. She had long since became petrified to get the mail at all, since you HAVE to get the mail from the mailbox in FRONT of our house.
* Eventually, the problem got so bad that I realized that catering to it was making it worse. So the catering stopped. Lil was told to do her chores. Period.
* A few days ago (over a month since the dog first came after my kid) Lil was told to take the dog outside to go potty, and she started to cry. I calmed her down and reassured her that the dog was not going to get her, and that the dog wasn't even outside. She began to cry that the dog MIGHT come outside. She was scared. I finally told her (after 10 minutes of trying to talk reason to her) that if she doesn't take the dog to go potty, than she wasn't going to be allowed to eat lunch until she had done her chore. She cried, and cried, and fussed, and begged, and over an HOUR later she finally attached our two leashes so that she wouldn't have to leave the porch to take the dog out, she than ran outside, gave the dog maybe 15 seconds and ran back in announcing that our pup didn't need to go potty.
* Yesterday we were gone all day. We got back from our day out at 7:30. I asked Lil to go get the mail for me, and she started in on the crying and fussing again. Same story. I gave her two choices- go get the mail, or go to bed- no dessert, no TV show, no book, no song, no bedtime routine at all, AND bedtime would be an hour early. Without hesitation she said, "Goodnight." (very sadly) and trudged off to bed.
*About 5 minutes later I did something that I thought might help. I noticed that the neighbor had brought her dog outside, so I went and got Lil. Her and I went outside (she was literally trembling). I held her hand and walked off our porch (She was pulling against me). I stepped onto our grass, and proceeded to walk from our property to the neighbors, bringing Lil with me. I got to where I was about 10 feet from the chained dog. The dog couldn't get any closer to us. And it was barking, but not growling or baring it's teeth at all... I made Lilia stand there with me. I talked calmly to Lil. I reassured her that the dog wouldn't be able to touch her. That she could go ANYWHERE in our yard or the front of our house and she was perfectly safe. I made eye contact with my neighbor and said, "Lilia- the dog will ALWAYS be on it's chain when it is outside. The neighbor's WON'T bring the dog out unless it is on a leash. (All the while the neighbor was shaking her head yes). After standing there for a couple minutes, I sent Lil to get the mail while I went back inside, and she did. No problem. She came inside with it, and seemed to be fine.
* This morning, I told Lil to take the dog out to go potty- and ::sigh:: she started crying. Our little venture last night didn't work AT ALL. I finally had to force her hand. If she couldn't take the dog out to go potty than we weren't going to go to the play date at our neighborhood park. She said that was fine since she didn't want to play at the park if the neighbor's dog was out. (The park is directly across the street from us)

Seriously!? I am at my wits end! The problem is getting WORSE! No amount of reassurance is working. There is no lack or privilege great enough to get her to do her chores and go outside. So far, it seems to only be this dog. No other dogs seem to bother her, but I am afraid her fear has turned into an unreasonable fear, and is QUICKLY becoming a phobia!



Ben and Heidi said...

Oh man this is hard! I wondered why you weren't out at picnic in the park! I hope she can get over this soon. I wish I had some ideas for you.. my girls are scared of dogs, all dogs, but never to this extreme yet

Reed Haight said...

So this is funny to me. I am taking a masters class on shaping and working with behaviors. If you can't find something that is reinforcing enough for her to accomplish the task you want then you need to start to reward things that are close and work toward the target behavior. I could leave an extremely long and drawn out note but it might be easier if you called me. or I will call you.

Diane Conn said...

The answer to all of Lil's problems! (ok, this is totally a joke, but it was one of your google ads that I clicked on and it kind of fits)