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Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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Have a rescue dog (bull dog boxer mix, two years old) that

Customer Question

Have a rescue dog (bull dog boxer mix, two years old) that was abused and malnourished as a puppy. My son reminds the dog of his abuser. When I am around, the dog comes out and allows my son to pet, give treats, and generally be around him without any problem. When I leave, the dog goes to his box, curls up at the back and will not come out with any kind of coaxing. ie: treats or petting.
My son is always gentle and soft spoken to him. He is 6'3" weighs 200# XXXXX has tattoos.
Don't know if it is size, voice, or smell that Bozer is afraid of, but he fears being alone with my son. Can you give us any direction to help alleviate Bozer's fears.
We also have a Portuguese Water Dog and a Besenji. Ages eight and fifteen years respectively.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 4 years ago.
Hello! My name is Lisa, and it will be my pleasure to help you with your dog today.

How long have you had Bozer now?

Has your son ever gone with you on walks with the dogs?

Does Bozer see the other dogs interacting with your son?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

fourteen months



Expert:  Lisa replied 4 years ago.
Has Bozer ever gone to obedience classes?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Expert:  Lisa replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for answering my questions...I really appreciate it.

It defintely does sound like Bozer is a little fearful of your son, and you're right, it is absolutely possible that something about your son reminds Bozer about bad experiences in his past.

Of course, your son means him no harm, but fear is always irrational when it comes to dogs, and sometimes a little fear is a good thing..because it keeps dogs out of trouble sometimes...but if the fear is so strong that it paralyzes the dog, then we need to figure that out.

Since you've already tried all the "normal" ways of getting them to bond, I think you may want to get Bozer enrolled in a basic obedience class with your son as his handler. Not because he needs to learn to sit and stay, but because these classes not only build self esteem in fearful dogs, but by Bozer and your son working together, it'll build the relationship between them...your son will be asking the dog to do things, and when Bozer complies, he'll get positive associations with your son.

You could also have your son go with you and the dogs on can start out holding Bozers leash, but at some point, hand it off to your son...while he's holding the leash, keep walking for a bit...then you quietly veer off one direction and have your son and Bozer go the other...this could help them because he'll be out and about and into the walk, and may not have the mindset of being afraid of your son at that moment. Walking is a natural way for a pack to bond, so if you can get Bozer to walk with your son, that will help with the bond.

Finally...since he does seem to be anxious about your son, maybe you could have him wear a DAP collar for a bit. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions. Having the collar on him for a day or two before attempting the walk may help take the edge off and make the transition easier.

I hope this helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Bozer has been trained with both Rhett and me. We have been on the walks that you suggested. Bozer is fine until later when his old fears come back. It appears I understated Bozer's fear. He trembles and cowers when he is alone with Rhett or most all of his friends. It is a vary deep fear.

Have not heard about the DAP collar. Will try it. Does it go on the dog or my son?

Expert:  Lisa replied 4 years ago.
The DAP collar goes on Bozer.

Does Rhett live with you? Because if he doesn't...maybe you could have Bozer move in with him for a week or two. When it's just Rhett and Bozer, he may get over the fear faster...because Rhett will be doing all the care/feeding/ect. for Bozer. It may be that poor Bozer gets caught in his fear right now because he knows you'll be around to help care for him.

If the DAP collar doesn't might want to talk to your vet about trying something a little Acepromazine or Clomicalm to help with the anxiety.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Rhett lives with me. I travel a week or so every couple of months, so he is the only person caring for Bozer. You can see the problem. I know dogs but have never run into this level of ingrained fear.

Is Acepromazine or Clomicalm a tranquilizer because, if they are, I will not use them.

I need to find a behavioral modification approach. Whether it is for Bozer or my son.

Expert:  Lisa replied 4 years ago.
I can see the problem. Ace/clomicalm are sedatives, so the DAP collar is probably your best bet. There's also an over-the-counter option called Melatonin. Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.

I think the behaviorist is a good place to start. You can find one through a referral from your vet, or through this site:

I don't think that Rhett is the problem. It seems that he has tried all the right things, and it's possible that Bozer is just so fearful he can't get past the abuse in his past.