Coton de Tulear unfriendly to other family members

by Karla
(Georgia, USA)

We just adopted a 4-year old female Coton 3 weeks ago. Issue is she has gotten extremely attached to me, but is distancing herself from my spouse and children (ages 14 and 12). She came from an environment with only 2 adults. My kids don't want to rough her up or anything like that. They just want to sit next to her and pet her. Unfortunately she runs away. Can you help? I just want to make her comfortable enough that if I'm not home the kids can pitch in.

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Apr 18, 2010
New Coton de Tulear behavior
by: Gale

Congratulations on your new Coton. Older dogs can be a little more challenging because you don't know their total history. It sounds like your new dog may not have been properly socialized, but with time and patience things should work out.

I'd love to hear from others, but my advice would be to:

  • Have your husband and the kids be the ones to feed her, groom her, and walk her - they can each take a task or share the responsibility.
  • You can be present when they're feeding and walking her, but she needs to associate your other family members with a positive experience.
  • I know it may be hard for you at first, but try not to be the one to give her treats or initiate play until she's secure with the entire family.
  • Make sure your family members reward her any time she interacts in a friendly or nonfearful way with them.
  • Stay positive and calm and don't try to force anything. If your dog is fearful and tries to hide around your kids, just ignore her. If you try to coddle her and show her extra attention she'll think she's being rewarded for this behavior.

Of course if you're the only one home with her during the day, you may have to take on some of the responsibility, but everyone should share in some form of caring for her.

3 weeks is a fairly short time to bond with a new family in a totally new environment. It's pretty normal for dogs to be hesitant in new situations so patience is key.

Good luck

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