Fearful Of People And Dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by laramie, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. laramie Experienced Member

    My Border Collie is absolutely terrified of new people and dogs and I have no idea what to do to fix it. I want to be able to take her to places like the dog park, but on top of her being afraid of everything there, I don't know what she'll do in this situation. We've taken her to puppy class and she was terrified at first, but got used to it. Then she went through a fear period and it began all over again. She's 8 months old now and I'm not sure if she's still in her fear period, but she's scared regardless.

    We've taken her to Petsmart and she nipped at a little girl that ran up to her and grabbed at her face. It wasn't an aggressive nip like she intended to hurt her, but she pulled away and nipped after showing her teeth. The child's mother was there and the little girl did ask to pet our dogs, only after she had reached out and begun petting Sparrow. The mother was like "Oh, well I hope it's okay." I'm not so worried about the little girl being bitten because it was her mother's responsibility to make sure if she was around dogs that she know how to approach. I just don't want Fairley to be labeled a dangerous dog. The second time in Petsmart, someone we knew had their small dog there and Fairley just hid behind me and wouldn't respond to treats.

    If people don't acknowledge her, she generally doesn't freak out. Sometimes she will even go up to them to sniff. She will go up to some people and not others, and I don't understand how she picks the ones she want to go up to.

    This is a huge problem to me because I want to get her into agility, but if she can't handle people and dogs, it will never work. Also, I don't want her to freak out and try to escape because it could be dangerous. Is there some way I could work on recall and commands when there's such a huge distraction for her?

    You guys were great about my last problem and after I've been working on what was suggested to me, Fairley has calmed down quite a bit and she isn't so much a pain in the butt anymore. I'm really hoping that you guys can help again. :love:

  2. running_dog Honored Member

    Please DO be worried about Fairley nipping people. She's scared and the chances are that she just got a lot more scared. Whatever it takes don't let kids anywhere near Fairley unless you can trust them. If they come towards you step in the way, walk off, be bad mannered if necessary, if Fairley is on the lead she can't walk away unless you do, walking away is your responsibility. If you can trust people then get them to throw treats to her from a distance so she thinks that all strangers are amazing treat dispensers.

    A kid friendly dog I know scratched or nipped (there were no adult witnesses) one of several unattended children that were pestering her. The only reason she got a second chance was because the police had to concede that a passerby had said that the dog looked scared. The fact that the mother had told the kids to "go play with the doggy" while she went into a shop was never censured :mad:. It is ALWAYS seen as the dog's or owner's fault no matter how stupid the other people were.

    My dog deals with other dogs but I do all the snapping for him if a human is a problem to him :), mostly I think people would prefer the dog :whistle:
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    If i can only teach you only one thing, it'd be "Never correct a growl".
    If Fairly growls,
    do not scold her
    do not reprimand her
    but DO listen to that growl,
    and respect that growl. (you can even be secretly grateful you DO have a dog that will offer a growl prior to a bite.)

    If you 'correct' growls, Fairly will learn to skip that all important growl, and go straight for the bite, which is last thing you want her to do. If Fairly growls---she is asking you to help her----she's giving her warning----so remove her from the scarey scene.
    I'd forbid all kids from approaching Fairly until you've done some desensitization work with Fairly. (is it kids only, or ppl in general?)
    Get to a dog behaviorists, and have your vet rule out any illnesses, too.

    I spent extensive time desensitizing my dog to children. I packed up some delish tiny treats, (tiny so he won't get too full or fat)
    and my dog,
    and headed to park where children play. I kept us at a distance that Buddy WAS comfortable with. We sat down on blanket, and Buddy, being far enough away he ws not excited by the kids, and he got to observe those small, running and screaming creatures, and got yummy treats for calmly looking at them.
    Then we left.

    Next day, same thing, only a few feet closer, still under Buddy's threshhold.
    We continued, moving ever so slowly closer, each day, always staying at distance Buddy was comfortable.

    Buddy came to so enjoy these outings, btw, watching those screaming creatures.
    which is exactly what i was hoping for.

    Over time, we are now close enough, i can ask some of the older kids to TOSS Buddy treats. I toss treats to kid, kid then tosses treat to Buddy. I do not yet allow contact, and Buddy is still comfortable with this closeness/not stressed.

    Then i began work in my neighborhood, and Buddy walks by kids, no problem now.:) Not even barking, :Dno sign of excitement. (if Buddy DID exhibit tension, i would have backed up to point where Buddy WAS still comfortable). Do NOT force your dog into situations he's tense to be in.
    Then i have older neighborhood kids toss treats to Buddy.
    Over time, Buddy now thinks all kids have treats, and thinks all kids are not threatening, and acts happy to see kids, which is what i was hoping for.

    Overtime, i ask kids to ask Buddy to sit, and if Buddy sits, then they can hand him a treat.
    This goes very well, and to this day, Buddy sits for all children now.

    Overtime, i allow some kids to pet Buddy's chest, (oh, i'm right there) and give treats. This goes well. Overtime, i have confidence my dog IS now comfy with kids, and i have younger smaller kids toss him treats, and overtime, hand him treats. By now, Buddy is no longer freaked out by kids, and thinks kids are awesome.

    To this day, kids in my 'hood stop their bikes, "Ey, do you need us to hand Buddy some treats?" and i always say yes.
    I now allow kids to pet my dog, and my dog is now very fine with it.

    but i spent MUCH TIME planting idea in his head, that kids were holders of treats, and yes, they do scream and run around, but, you, Buddy, ARE safe and will not get hurt while you see that going on.

    I would not dream of ever letting Buddy be unsupervised around kids, though, to protect HIM even more than the kids.

    but, until you successfully desensitize your dog to kids,
    order all kids to stay back from your dog, in calm voice. {You don't want FAirly thinking YOU are also freaked out by kids, hee hee!)
    There's lots of other ways to do this, but, that is what i did, and each dog is unique.
    and there are some great books out there, like "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas.


    EDIT: also, be aware, Petsmart is EXXXXTREMELY exciting place for dogs, and many dogs are almost over their threshhold just to be inside of Petsmart, so, maybe, from now on, even after Fairly has become desensitized to kids in general,
    no kids by Fairly while inside of Petsmart...?
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    and Running_dog makes excellent point, you definitly SHOULD BE concerned, and wayyyyyyyy more careful now to protect your dog from unwanted contact until you've made some progress with him, and, maybe your Fairly is going to always be this way, so you will have to be vigilant from now on.
  5. ana New Member

    Not sure if I am doing this right as it is a first time I have posted but you need to let Buddy understand that YOU will keep him safe so HE does not have to make the decision to nip when he is overwhelmed. This means keeping kids away from him and getting him out of situations where he is over threshold. I find that rather than tell people(adults) "my dog is scared" etc, that it is easier to say he has mange - (that way you are pretty much guaranteed they will keep away:) Try to find a good trainer or someone who will be willing to help you desensitize Buddy in a more controlled environment. Maybe check out Controlled Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt also, lots of good training tips there. Good luck.
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Lol, Buddy is fine with kids, {well NOW he is!! cuz we did just what you said}
    we are all replying to dog named Fairly's biting a child in Petsmart<----which IS a very overstimulating place to many dogs.

    Otherwise, i so agree with your advice!!
    I think you are right, maybe saying "My dog is afraid of kids, so please stay back so he won't be afraid" might be better thing to say, than "Please stay back".

    Also, i wish to emphasize again, to Laramie, if you DO tell kids "My dog is afraid of kids, so please stay back." do it in a calm voice, so Fairly won't think YOU are also freaked out by kids.
  7. ana New Member

    See, I knew I would mess up my first try at posting:)
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    lol, no, you only got the two dog's names crossed! I do that, too, or, worse, i get the owner's name and the dog's name crossed up!
    That's really funny, when i reply, "Make sure Sally goes outside to pee before she goes to bed" and Sally is the HUMAN, ha ha!!

    And, honestly, if i hadn't already done exactly what you recommend for Buddy, your advice would have been spot on for Buddy, too!! Welcome anyway!!
  9. laramie Experienced Member

    I don't think I chose my wording well and you may have misunderstood me. I do worry about her nipping because I know what can happen as a result of her biting someone. I don't particularly care if a child is nipped because they were annoying the dog, and frankly I think they deserve it. The only reason I care about this little girl is because I know it would be my dog at fault. I know this is a huge problem, which is why I'm asking for help. The only problem with the human treat dispenser is that she's too nervous to pay any mind to the food.

    tigerlily4651, it's instinct for me to correct a growl, and I know exactly what kind of problem it causes. I'm working on that part.

    The problem is people in general, but kids are worse because they rush up and then ask you to pet your dog. I realize the problem that day in Petsmart and I've said no to children who want to pet her. Example: One day, our neighbors had their granddaughter staying with them and I went to get the dogs out of their kennel. I allowed her to pet Sparrow because she ADORES people. So, she asked and I allowed it. She followed me to get Fairley and I told her not to touch her, but she tried anyway. I proceeded to pick Fairley up and carry her into the house. (I knew the little girl would chase her and she would freak out, so I had no choice but to carry her.)

    Today she did really well with the neighbor. He came over and gave me a cantaloupe when I was outside playing with her. She walked up to him slowly and sniffed him, but when he acknowledged her, she cowered. A few minutes later I discovered that she was just afraid of cantaloups as people.

    Your desensitizing walkthrough is really helpful. I just hit myself in the head and went "duh". :) I really think I should work with adults first so she can kind of get the idea with someone who can control themselves. Do I do the same thing as I would with kids as adults?

    I kind of have a plan, so I'll explain and someone can tell me what they think. I'll have my boyfriend's aunt come over and have her sit, ignoring Fairley. I'll let her get comfortable and approach the aunt when she's ready and she'll have a treat tossed to her. Don't have much past that.

    ana, I don't think Buddy is the problem. It seems like tigerlily46514 has done everything right in her training and I can only hope to do as well as she has.
    sara likes this.
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"I don't particularly care if a child is nipped because they were annoying the dog,
    and frankly I think they deserve it."//

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Kids, like our dogs, may have both limited knowledge, limited impulse control, and limited training and limited experiences or background in how to interact properly.

    A child who leans in and squeals in a dog's face, IS doing what is natural for an excited happy child who has not been trained, or HAS been trained but 'forgot', the child is not 'evil' or something, simply immature...
    ...and does not "deserve" a Very Unexpected dog bite.
    The child does deserve another reminder, "Hon, you always ASK before approaching any stranger's dog, and you do this, not this." kinda thing if the child does wrong thing. Small young kids, like our dogs, have limits on what they can reasonabley expected to control in themselves when excited, so we must protect them both.

    also, your remark about kids deserve bites if they interact improperly, does not seem to jive well with your other remark:
    //". I do worry about her nipping because I know what can happen as a result of her biting someone"//

    Depending on the severity of the bite, and the attitudes of the humans involved, the results could be anything from severe medical problem$, infections, ongoing medical problems, surgeries, feelings of guilt and anguish, bill$, possible permanent scarring or Worse.....and Legal problems, insurance problem$, yet another bad experience in your dog's mind, and your mind, stress, and even having your beloved dog euthanized against your will by court order. So i am glad you are aware of the possible results.

    but i do sympathize with this situation with your dog, mine is a gangsta. I did teach him how to like people, but, not other dogs, so i understand how it is.

    IS YOUR DOG SHY THEN? here is Kikopup video on handling shy dogs, it's short/quick, it's easy to understand, i think you will relate to it...and i hope can help you learn some things that might help=====>PLEASE PLEASE WATCH THIS:

    If your dog is too nervous to take treats, she is WAYYYYYYYYYYYY over her threshold, and you need to remove her back to where she IS comfortable (able to take treats) again.
    A dog who normally does show interest in treats, NOT taking treats, is a big red flag for you to pay att'n to. Like "red alert...red alert" = the dog is majorly stressed out, so calmly remove the dog from the scarey scene. Let Fairly learn, you CAN read her, and will protect her, that in itself will help Fairly learn to trust you more. She has to trust you first.

    i promise you DO want to learn to control your own self about correcting growls. We who live with aggressive dogs DO learn a lot, don't we?!!! We have to... ha.
    For real, if you only take one thing away from this thread, please take that advice. Fairly's freedom to emit a warning growl, may save you from dealing with countless bites to others during her lifetime.
    It's possible, if Fairly HAD felt it was okay to warn the child prior to biting the child, that Fairly would have simply growled instead of bit the child, and you and the child would have heard the growl, and you both may have known, "this dog IS about to blow, back up...back up" kinda thing. (even many children understand growls are not good, back up)

    Maybe establish a new reflex, when Fairly growls, you take deep slow breath instead as you walk away. Growls = you both walk away from whatever it is/you've advanced too fast, too close, whatever.

    Correcting growls does not change Fairly's inner attitude..........correcting growls does not make Fairly want to 'put up with' whatever it is she is complaining about.............all correcting growls does,
    teach Fairly to skip the warning growl....i hope it is not too late already....now it might be harder for you to realize Fairly is about to bite. You might end up with a dog "who bites unexpectedly, just no warning, we just don't know when she is going to go off."...i hope not, though. Lots of ppl say that about their dogs, but, i always suspect, they corrected growls is why the dog gives zero warning.

    the next step, the only step left for Fairly, is the bite, since she is being robbed of her last cry for help since you are teaching her to skip the warning growl.
    Next time she growls, just calmly, silently take her away from whatever it is she is growling about. Fairly needs to know, you DO hear her, and you CAN protect her. She needs to be able to trust you, her mom, to understand and respect that growl.

    Re: the plan with the aunt, you don't want to force your dog to approach anyone she does not choose to approach. You could have the aunt offer the dog a treat, and then the aunt does not stare at the dog, nor reach for the dog, but, just toss a treat to dog. If Fairly approaches on her own, fine, but, do not force her to. If Fairly approaches her, let aunt hand him a treat, if Fairly is comfortable. That might take more than one visit, maybe many visits, til FAirly freely chooses to approach your aunt, depending on Fairly. You don't want to rush this. Is better to take time than go too fast.

    At same time period that i was getting Buddy used to kids, i was doing a similar thing with groups of adults, always staying below Buddy's threshhold, at a distance where i could easily see Buddy WAS calm and could accept treats. Also use teeny tiny real actual bits of actual meat or cut up hotdog bits, for treats,( not like, flour bicuits.)
    I had many visitors over, had them toss Buddy treats, no staring, no petting,
    just "People = TREATS!" for starters.

    Buddy's final challenge for adults, was sitting and calmly observing some local young men loudly playing basketball, running around, yelling, bouncing balls, etc etc, ha, we had to back up, and back up again,
    and back up again
    and back up yet a lil farther,
    til i found a spot, pretty far back, haha, where Buddy was calm---calm enough to take treats--- about THAT!! But, overtime, we did get closer, day by day.
    Eventually, all the guys got to know Buddy, and eventually, they all handed Buddy treats, and later on, even petted him. Most ppl are willing to help out messed up dogs like Buddy.

    Yes, you COULD use the method described in the post above about kids, merely swapping out adults for kids. With adults, you could also have company over, and ask them to toss treats to Fairly or you give treats to FAirly whenver Fairly shows calmness or calm happy interest in new person. No staring, no contact, no petting, just have lots of people toss treats to FAirly, is a good start.
    but starting out, just be sure to make the whole experience positive for Fairly, always staying below HER threshold.

    YOU ARE RIGHT, IS GOOD POINT, THAT BEGINNING WITH ADULTS IS MUCH MORE SENSIBLE PLAN. I did both concurrently, but, you could do them sequentially, too.

    Also, you might want to learn more about dog body language,
    here is great, short, easy to understand clip from Kikopup (ALL her stuff is awesome, and FREE on youtube, check out all her many videos) Have you and your aunt both do a lot of SLOW BLINKS...and YAWNS....why? watch this: http://youtu.be/MgnLgHFRJu4

    and many great books, "the other end of the leash"

    and "On talking terms with dogs, calming signals" book by Turid Rugaas.

    BEST OF LUCK!! Hang in there, it gets easier to figure out!! It even gets kind of fun, imo.

    and do seek out a certified behaviorist. Here is list: http://iaabc.org/
    (absolutely anyone can label themselves "behaviorist" ...no education req'd. but a certified behaviorist does require education.)
    another list of behaviorist vets:

    running_dog and sara like this.
  11. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Please remember to always, always be your dogs biggest and strongest advocate. It's quite apparent that your pup doesn't like (nor can handle) being petted by strangers, especially children - so don't let it happen. Make that your goal right now. No unauthorized petting, period. She should be able to trust that when she's with you, you'll always, always have her back. When kids approach, step in front of your pup, and "protect" her from them. Sorry, no you may not pet her. That's it - no further explanation nesessary. We as "pet parents" have to take responsibility for our pets and "dangers" (even if only perceived by them) that they encounter, and protect them. And right now, she has a bad case of "stranger danger" - so make sure she doesn't have to deal with strange hands groping her.

    I totally agree with this - but would like to add something. When dogs are over their threshhold, they can't eat - so her refusing food/treats in Petsmart tells me that she's very nervous/anxious, and food is the last thing she can think about. I'd like to suggest that for now, she stays out of Petsmart. People in Petsmart are "animal people" and (altho wrongly) assume that they can just go up to and pet any animal they encounter. Your pup can't handle this at this time, so why even risk putting her thru such stress? I'd recommend no Petsmart visits until she's much more comfortable with strangers and being petted by them. Take the stress off of her, let her relax.

    One more thing to keep in the back of your mind. You have goals for her, you ultimately want to get her into agility and would love to be able to take her to the dog park and places like that. While she is young, and you have a lot of time to work with her, and she has a great chance to make big strides and overcome her fears, she also may not ever be the dog you wish her to be. I hope you won't be too disappointed if she's never 'that dog'. I'm speaking from a place of experience. I have one dog-aggressive dog (my girl) - and one very social dog (my boy). While my girl has made great progress, she'll never be a dog-park girl, she'll never have lots of dog friends to play with, etc. Years ago (shortly after I adopted her) I had hoped she could do agility - and quickly realized that was never going to happen. So we found other things. I had to meet her where she was, and accept her as she was - and altho we've done loads of work, and she's overcome so many fears and can now walk in the neighborhood very calmly and quietly and we have fun on walks (she knows I always have her back and will always protect her), she'll never join my boy at the park, we can't have dog friends over to the house, she can't go to others' house if dogs are there, etc. And we're ok with that.

    Please above all else, be patient with Fairly. Never ask her to go faster than she can go. She's not ready to be petted by strangers - so don't ask that of her. Tigerlily had a great suggestion - find a park, let her sit and observe kids, spend 30 min just sitting, then go home. Do that, day after day after day. About 15 years ago, I adopted a human-aggressive GS (yes, I have had several dogs with issues). That's exactly what we did also. We sat in the park daily, for at least 30 min, watching kids play. I allowed no one to pet her, talk to her, or even come close to her. We just sat and watched. Then went home. For the first several days, she stood. Then she finally sat. Around day #5 she finally laid down - and watched. Progress. We did this for a couple months (while working with a fabulous trainer). As I recall, the first month we spent watching the kids. The second month we sat watching pick-up basketball games - lots more action, adults, fast-moving, etc. But still - all that time, around people, and no petting. She finally took that big deep breath and realized that she could be around lots of people, without that fear that oh nooooo, any second, someone is gonna stick their hands all over me and I hate that!! (May I add, after loads and loads of work, my girl ended up being very social, she was a total success story!)

    You mentioned how she did well with the neighbor, went up to him, sniffed him - and then he spoke to her - and she cowered. Ask people (no, demand!!) to please ignore her for now. It's not rude - only in the human world. Take all the pressure off her - unless you're doing a training session - to respond to people. If she encounters someone, ask them to please ignore her - no touching, no bending over, no looking directly at her - just ignore her. You run into someone on the sidewalk, she's with you - you stand and talk, but ignore the dog. Trust me, she'll be eternally grateful. She'd probably love to be able to go up to someone and sniff them - dogs love to do that - without the pressure of then having them pet her. Give her a break, let her relax around people with no pressure.

    If Fairley ever bites a child, I doubt anyone will be standing around saying gee, too bad little Sally was bitten, guess her mom didn't teach her to properly approach a dog. I guarantee you it will all be on Fairley - warranted or not. Fairley (and her behavior in public) is your responsibility. If she's to be in public with you, you need to feel secure that a bite won't happen, or not take her out with you to such places.

    You absolutely should start with adults first - but start slowly, and only with people you know will do exactly as you say (and not try to improvise as they go - cuz, well, does it really matter??). And don't overwhelm her. Maybe have someone over to your house, have them sit down, sit still - then bring her in and allow her to approach, sniff them all over - then let the person toss her a treat. End of that session. No petting. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat some more. It may sound slow and painful and boring - but it's well worth it. She's got to build a lot of confidence. Allow her to do it slowly. You'll see when she's relaxed enough to move forward, to maybe a small pet, more petting, etc. Ask people to never pet her on her head, or lean over her. That can be very threatening (and scary) to a dog. Ask them to always pet her under her neck, chest. That's very relaxing and soothing, and will make her feel much more comfortable. No direct staring in her eyes, no loud voices, keep things calm and quiet. Only when she's comfortable with adults, move on to kids -- and make sure it's the right child. One who will do exactly as you ask, one who's quiet, not jumping all around, who will quietly stand/sit, ignore, etc. And one child at a time. I would recommend spending time just sitting - no petting or approaching allowed - at the park. Let Fairley watch the kids from afar, get used to the motion, the noise, the high voices, it's all different. But it's much easier with no pressure. You can do it - good luck!!
  12. sara Moderator

    My dog Oliver is also VERY fear aggressive. and he's exactly the same as your dog, he's fine when being ignored, but reacts when someone looks at him. He'll walk up and sniff people who dont look at him, but immediately reacts when looked at. He's never bitten, but that's due to me being VERY hyper vigilant. I NEVER allow any interaction with people he doesn't know, they are to completely ignore him at all times, no matter what he's doing. If they pet him before he's ready, he will bite. If he growls I take him away. And I never have strangers feed him treats, I dont want him thinking he has to approach what he's scared of... that's a recipe for disaster. I keep him under threshold, and I feed him treats. I do, however have people, when they're ignoring him, drop treats on the floor, so he's feeling comfortable, and gets treats near strangers.

    It only takes about 15 minutes... then he's climbing on the stranger. He is an attention hound, and a suck at that, so once he's decided the people aren't scary, they'll be a lifelong friend. He remembers people he likes, and never forgets them. Same with dogs, he remembers his friends, and knows who's not a threat, and adores playing with his doggie friends... But will attempt to attack strange dogs... so I cant let him off leash with strange dogs.

    I will also say that correcting her growl is one of the worst things you can do, infact ANY correction with a dog like her is a bad idea. Keep calm, dont react. Tigerlily has done a fantastic job with Buddy, who is also a Border Collie, so you can take her advice to the bank... done correctly, and often, it WILL work... but, as Jackienmutts said, do not expect more from your pup than she's willing and able to give, if she's anxious, it's too much.

    Since I accepted Ollie for what he is, he's gotten soooo much better! And continues to get better and better as time goes by. He is happy learning tricks in my home, and showing them off to people at a short distance away, he is happy going for a run in the country away from people and dogs, and he is happy going for walks in non people infested places... As long as he's happy, then that's enough!
    running_dog and tigerlily46514 like this.
  13. laramie Experienced Member

    The only reason I cared about the girl was because it was my problem to deal with, not someone else's like her parents who told her to go play with the dog. I haven't corrected Fairley for the growl, I corrected Sparrow once or twice, but have been working on stopping. Fairley isn't very vocal when she's frightened. It's like she's lost her voice. She did give a warning by showing her teeth though.

    In my mind, the plan with the aunt was exactly how you described it, I just seemed to forget to add that she would be without a leash (inside) and able to approach at her own speed. I bought two awesome books that explain a lot about dog language. Why is My Dog Doing That? by Gwen Bailey and The Secret Language of Dogs by Heather Dunphy. Often though, I just don't know what to do with some reactions.

    As for the neighbor situation, as soon as I told him to ignore her, he said "ok" and did just what I asked.

    Another problem is that I don't have anywhere to take her but Petsmart. I live near Chesapeake, but in a small town that doesn't have a lot to offer unless you drive. The problem is, I moved here at the beginning of June and I don't feel comfortable driving in the crazy traffic that takes us to the places that have things.
  14. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    A couple of recommended books:
    Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
    Bringing Light to Shadow by Pamela Dennison

    Pamela Dennison rescued a BC who ended up being extremely people-aggressive and also dog aggressive. The book is basically her training journal, explaining her exercises, her mistakes, her breakthroughs, everything. It's an excellent read and also very informative. In the end, Shadow gets his CGC. :)

    Zeke is also very fearful of people, and formerly very fearful of dogs. As a puppy he would cower and urinate on himself at the mere sight of another dog, even a tiny one. He was terrified of all strangers and took a lot of work just for me and my family to earn his trust. Just last year, he approached a suuuuppper intimidating, very very tall, hairy, deep-voiced coworker of mine, all on his own, and let him pet him. WHOO! So do have hope that Fairley CAN improve. :)

    With Z, nooooo leash training method of any kind worked for him at all. We went to the Gentle Leader, which helped him in soooo many ways. Not saying Fairley needs one, just sharing my experience. One thing about the GL that I really liked was the negative reaction from people. (Yes, the NEGATIVE reaction.) People thought it was a muzzle, so they didn't want to approach him. He was able to go to potentially scary places and not be bombarded by kids and adults because no one wants to pet the mean dog with a muzzle. xD He is not aggressive towards people, although I KNOW if he were to be pushed over his threshhold he would panic and become aggressive. We've avoided that. :)

    I found parks that had very little traffic(both people and dogs) and did a lot of work there. They were large and open enough that he couldn't get trapped, and we could easily move away from people should we somehow end up too close for comfort to someone.
    As for Petsmart, stick to the outer ring of the store, the main aisle, or the back of the store, where you can't get trapped. This is something that helped me and Zeke so much. Before I realized how seriously terrified he was of people and dogs, I walked him through Petsmart as I would any other dog...and it just took a few trips to realize how easy it was for us to get trapped on an aisle by other shoppers coming in on both sides. If I needed to shop for stuff down those aisles, that was a separate trip or I had a shopping buddy that Z was comfortable with that could keep him in the main aisle while I quickly grabbed what I needed. Or, try to figure out the SLOWEST times that your Petsmart has. Don't hesitate to call and ask the employees when they have the least customers.
    Don't try to convince Fairley to meet people. Let her meet them on her own terms, let her make the decision. Z never has to greet anyone, but I have tried to teach him that every person in the world might have a tennis ball, so it's worth a shot to investigate. (He's not food motivated at ALL, but is obsessed with tennis balls.) A friend/client of mine has an Italian Greyhound mix that was formerly abused. Her heart's in the right place, but she has tried to make him greet people by having people walk right up to him and give him a treat, or push him to greet people and then reward. He does greet people now, each and every person he meets, but he is extremely uncomfortable and shows major signs of stress when he greets someone. We've changed her way of getting him used to people now, by not making him greet people but having people toss treats to him without looking at him, and various other exercises. He's improving a lot.

    Definitely try Kikopup's Handling Shyness video that was posted above. If Fairley has a couple of other people who she completely trusts, see if you can recruit them to try the exercises in that video also. If she doesn't have any other people, pick a couple of people who would be willing to help you (a lot) and work on her getting used to them, then try the exercises. It may take a looong time, but worth the work.

    Utilize calming signals. These help shy dogs a lot. You are who she looks to for guidance, and if you're speaking her language she will respond much quicker. For instance, if you're at the park, or in Petsmart(and she is below threshold) and something makes her uncomfortable, ask for her to look at you and give her a biiiig, exaggerated yawn. Or blink reeeaaaallly slowly. This is her language, her signals that SHE uses, so it will make complete sense to her. The first few times you may not see much of a reaction, but if you can determine how to time them correctly, in time she will begin to relax when you offer these signals.

    Like Tigerlily mentioned, with adults or with kids, you can go to a park and start in Fairley's comfort zone. That may be 10 feet or 200 feet, doesn't matter, but start there. Reward her for looking calmly at dogs/people going by, and keep the whole experience very relaxing. Gradually work your way closer and closer to the people/dogs, but always work at her pace. Don't rush anything. If you do move too close, if she has the smallest signs of stress, move back. Be patient with her, don't be discouraged if it takes months or years to get her to accept a stranger petting her. When she does get to a point where she can approach people, pay close attention to her. If she approaches someone, great! But if she then becomes uncomfortable, abandon ship! Don't go ahead and let the person pet her because she approached them. Tell them not to look at or pet her, explain if you wish, and take her back to where she's comfortable. Depending on HER, you can try again if she just needed a little break. Otherwise, just mark it off as a victory for you because you kept her under threshold, and she approached someone! Whoo!
    She is still very young, so she should soak up all the positive exercises like a sponge. But do be patient, and work at her pace. Pay really close attention to her; learn her signs, and work with them.

    Good luck!!! :)
  15. Kaysie Member

    Great step by step. I'll be working with Lorelai that way. She's great around adults but not children. I'm just surprised I didn't think of it sooner. Anyways, thanks again.
  16. southerngirl Honored Member

  17. laramie Experienced Member

    I made her a bandanna that says please don't pet me I'm shy. We took her into Petsmart about 2 months ago and had her wear the bandanna. She did really great. She went up to people on her own and took treats from them. She was still really shy, but she did awesome. I haven't been able to take her back because of work and school, but hopefully I can take her to out local farm/hardware place over Christmas break. It's really small and is never busy, so hopefully she won't be as overwhelmed.

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