Nervousness, skittishness... need some help

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by CharlieDog, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    So Jett is home and I noticed the first day that I brought her here that she is, not shy, but skittish and hand shy. She isn't fearful of new things, but she is very very wary of them.

    She starts at loud noises, fast hand movement, strangers talking loudly, etc. If Ozzy doesn't freak about it, she doesn't, and investigates fairly quickly. She is very wary of strangers, and she prefers if they don't look at her while she sniffs them. Once she sniffs them for awhile, as long as they don't make fast movements or loud noises she is fine with them. She won't accept food from strangers though until she's met them a few times or gets comfortable with them quickly (mostly women). Men scare her, and she doesn't like them to reach for her.

    Her hind end is rather goosey and if you touch her there, if she isn't expecting it, she jumps forward. This also happens just about anywhere you touch her if she isn't expecting it.

    I'm thinking that this is just a lack of novel experiences and with time she will get over it. She quickly investigates things that Ozzy has no fear of, including people and things. She is a bit afraid of dogs larger than her. Anyone have any suggestions? She is a very nice dog, she needs some work, but she is wonderful with children and other dogs, it just seems to be adults she is afraid of, and she gets over her object fear quickly if she is allowed to inspect it (like with a brush) or if Ozzy shows no fear of it (like with my mothers bus)

    I'm just not sure what I should be doing besides taking her out everyday like I do. I've been walking her far and wide and just walking normally like everything is okay. Ozzy goes with us and they walk very well together.
     
  2. jess2416

    jess2416 Who woulda thought

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    Chloe is like that still (not as bad as she was) but she gets startled easily...chloe is somewhat afraid of larger dogs too...

    Do you have any people parks near you..??

    something that helped with Chloe's issues is that I would take her to a people park when it was really really busy, and find a park bench or something that was near enough for her to see everything but far enough away that people wouldnt bother us, and every so often, we would get closer and closer "to the action" and she got used to lots of noises and people that way..

    at the park I take chloe to their is lots of people yelling and playing soccer and baseball, and people jogging and walking sometimes with their dogs and sometimes without.

    I dont really know alot but that seemed to help Chloe out..

    (it was a suggestion about another Chloe situation from another member, but it seemed to help with that too)

    I think that chloe will always be a little jumpy but she is no where near as bad as she was :)
     
  3. Sch3Dana

    Sch3Dana Workin' Dog

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    This kind of behavior in adult dogs tends not to go away, but to improve with work, especially within a known environment. But, take the dog to a new environment, or especially without their owner, and the wary behaviors return.

    I have heard that the excessive sensitivity to touch is something that happens when puppies are not handled enough when they are very young. That puppies without the right handling will always flinch when you touch them unexpectedly. I suspect that this is true, but I haven't experimented with puppies I've raised, preferring to touch them plenty, "just in case" :)

    Lots of positive training, especially fast and exciting training will make a big difference. More movement helps a ton, so static clicker training exercises are often not as good as more lure-based, playful, fast training sessions. At the very least try to get her interested in some sort of toy or game and use that as a reward.
     
  4. jess2416

    jess2416 Who woulda thought

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    that sounds about right... in chloe's situation anyway, that would make perfect sense...

    *sorry to go off topic for a sec*
     
  5. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    You just got this girl, yes? I'd be inclined to give her a shut down period. Let her decompress a bit. She's had a big change and things are probably extremely overwhelming. I'd stop taking her out so much and let her just chill in your house. I'd be inclined to umbilical leash her to you so that she's with you all the time, and just let her bond and relax and get to know you and trust you.
     
  6. Baxter'smybaby

    Baxter'smybaby swimming upstream

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    this is what I have always done with mine--leash them to me, so that they get the "lay of the land", and realize I am ok, and then the things around them are ok too.
    I find it really helps to set up that bond.
     
  7. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    That's what I've been doing. She is okay in the house, she loves everyone in the family, and several people outside of it. She has acted like shes lived here all her life from day one.
     
  8. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    CD,
    There are a couple of things I would suggest. One is when meeting new people that she is wary of, is for you to step forward (allow her to stay within her comfort zone ) and you shake their hand in a quiet manner. This tells her that you accept the person, that you are not threatened by them etc.
    The other is, when she is meeting someone, just talk to the person, be careful of saying things like 'good girl', when she is in that wary state. Tell her she is a 'good girl' when she is positive with that person.
     
  9. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    I just ignore her until she settles down. I don't comfort her, and I don't talk to her. I talk to the people, and tell them to ignore her until she is comfortable greeting them. It seems to work, but she won't accept treats from them until she knows them, or has met them a few times.
     
  10. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    Well, after nearly two weeks here, she has gotten over the handshyness. She doesn't flinch nearly as often as she used to if you touch her unexpectedly. She is still goosey in her hind end, except for with me, and won't allow just anyone to pet or touch her there.

    She is still, however, extremely shy and afraid of men. Especially larger men. She barks and barks at them. I make them sit down on the floor when they come in the house, and ignore her while she sniffs at them. If they move, she backs away quickly, while barking. Eventually, they can move and look at her, without her barking at them. Then I take her out of the room, and have them get into a chair, (I am so glad I have such willing friends, lol :D) and bring her back. The whole process recommences. The barking and backing away is shorter the second time around though. Eventually they can stand up, walk around the room with her, crouch down and pet her on some areas of her body. This whole process takes about thirty minutes the first time.

    Then, if they leave her sight, or the room, she starts barking at them again. During this part, all they have to do is crouch down, avoid eye contact, and let her smell their hands. Eventually, they can move freely around the house, without her barking at them.

    This is just an example. Some men she takes to immediately, one guy it took her an hour to get used to. Treats don't work, as she won't take them from strangers, or me when strangers are around. I usually ignore her while she is barking, and talk to my friends like nothing is going on.
     
  11. a.baker

    a.baker New Member

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    She should get better as time goes on. I have noticed their are two types of socialization outside in public and in your own house. So keep those guests coming over and let them know how much they are helping you and your dog out. It is so nice to have friends who will help you out with this. :)
     
  12. Brandyb

    Brandyb New Member

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    Hey Charliedog,
    Do you know anything about the parents of this dog? (sorry if you've mentioned this in another thread, I'm not on here that often)
    Fear behaviours can be hereditary, and having personal experience working with this type of dog, the fears can be reduced, but they are never fully extinguished. It is a constant management issue with this type of dog, and there are certain days were the fear will crop up again, sometimes for no reason, other times, a small event may spark it. It is good to keep this in mind, so that you are managing the dog correctly.
    Does your pup like toys? Can these be used as a reward instead of food? I have used this technique with some good results, because a dog would not take food when it was in a heightened fear response. The dog was food driven, but couldn't focus on the food during a response like this, so a toy (ball) was substitued with better results.
    You may also try starting at a distance, instead of having the people so close up. Find out where the comfort zones are for this dog, and start from there. Begin at a distance where she is not reacting, but can see the person. Treats will most likely be accepted from the dog when she is not in a full blown fear reaction, and then, progress from there, gradually working up the distance closer and closer. Always observe her reaction, and if you see her regressing, take her back a step until she is comfortable again. Treat when she sees the person, jackpot for no reation, ingnor, but be mindful of fearful reactions and increase distance if uncomfortable. The point is to eventually desensitize her to people, and have her associate people with treats. Starting at a distance can be easier because she will most likely accept food when the person is far enough away. It may take a while, but this process does work. It will not, however, extinguish the fear completely in a hereditarily fearful animal. Good luck, keep us posted. :)
     
  13. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    No, she is a rescue, I have no idea what or who her parents were. She seems to be doing better, in that the more she is exposed to and becomes used to, the less she has a fearful reaction. I'm not sure if it's inherited, or if it's just a lack of socialization.
     

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