Ellie, Creating a Comfort Dog for a Stroke Survivor

by Sherry
(Georgia)

My husband had a stroke and I thought a small lap Dog would be great company for him. We searched the animal shelter every day.

After about two weeks we found a Shih Tzu that was being held because of being abused.

We finally were able to bring her home. We are unsure of her age possibly 6 or 7. She sleeps a lot and has become attached to me.

My husband so wants her to sit on his lap, she stays about 5 minutes and jumps down. Just wish we could find a solution. Love her to pieces though. Any suggestions?

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Hi Janice Here from Small Dog Place
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Congratulations on your new friend and kudos to you for taking on a dog that may have been abused.

Shih Tzu dogs generally adapt well to new environments, but some take much longer than others. It has also been my experience that some Shih Tzu are particular about who they trust, some love men and others love women.

If your Shih Tzu was abused by a man, it is likely that it is going to take longer for her to trust your husband.

With that said, he can make a solid bond with her, but it might take a little ingenuity.

Does she enjoy treats? If so, which treats are her favorite? Let your husband be the only one that will offer her the best treats. But don't give them all at once.

Spread them over a period of time and use them as a reward for sitting on his lap or next to him in a chair or sofa.

Some Shih Tzu dogs prefer to cuddle up close to us but not on our lap. They may get hot quickly if sitting on someone's lap and jump down to cool off. I would still recommend treating her if she decides to snuggle close to him.

Another thing to consider is what is happening when the dog is on your husband's lap. Is he petting her?

Have you figured out what she likes best when it comes to petting her?

I have a dog right now that is just coming around to us. I don't know if he was abused but suspect he was. We've had him now for 6 months.

We discovered that he will only stay close to us if we pet him under and behind his ears. If our hands go anywhere near his head, he runs away. He also doesn't like to be touched anywhere on his body except under his chin and behind his ears.

Consider the sound of your voice versus the sound of your husband's voice. Women generally speak in a softer, higher pitched voice. Men's vocalizations are more low pitched and sometimes louder.

Does the dog respond to your voice? If so, you might consider asking your husband to speak in a higher pitched soft tone, like one people use when talking to infants.

I hope some of these ideas will help. You picked a great breed for your husband as they make excellent comfort dogs. Give it some time and be patient with her. It sounds like she's been through a lot of trauma in her past.

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Dec 07, 2018
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Rehabilitating a Dog that Has Been Abused
by: Small Dog Place

Good Luck and please report back on her progress.

Dec 06, 2018
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Ellie's rehab
by: Sherry

Thank you for the words of encouragement. We know she was at least neglected, they shaved her completely and tried to prosecute the owner, but no one would admit ownership.

Ellie loves to have my husband gives her "snacks". We will have to try not giving her any until she sits with him. I will try to give your suggestions a try. Thank you again.

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