Inconsistently timid?

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by catahoula, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. catahoula New Member

    Hi everyone! First post here... I'm looking for a little help with my new Catahoula pup.

    A little background: I'm an experienced dog owner, I lost my Weimaraner of 7 years last year and picked up a Catahoula from a local guy about 4 wks ago so she's about 12 wks now. We checked in on the pups about every 2 weeks from birth and all seemed well. My wife and I also have a poodle/terrier/???? mix rescue dog (about 30 lbs) that we've had for about 2 years. He is very well behaved. I'm not looking to teach the Catahoula lots of goofy tricks... pretty much just need a good come, sit, stay, and fetch.

    Here's my issue, she's quite timid... sometimes. She plays fine with our other dog and seems to have no trouble socializing with other dogs, even my parent's 110lb mutt. She plays with these other dogs without trying to dominate or being dominated. Sometimes she will run/play/growl/bark with me one on one in the yard like any normal pup either with or without the other dog present. However I'd say her behavior is on average better with better call response when the other dog is around.

    Sometimes though, when called she will cower/hide/run. I've tried very hard not to intimidate her by sitting, looking away, ect (always with treats) but couple times I've had to chase her down because we simply have to go and she will scream bloody murder, pee, and rarely half-heartedly snap at me when I catch her (which I do gently). She tends to do this for the morning poop call and sometimes when we're going for a car ride (which she really seems to enjoy along with boat rides like any normal dog) -once she's inside.

    Furthermore she is quite timid when people come over, we usually sit on the floor with treats and eventually coax her out but it takes forever!

    I've never experienced behavior like this through my 2 Weimaraners, 1 mutt, or the numerous Labs I grew up with. What's the deal???? Any suggestions??

  2. charmedwolf Moderator

    I'm thinking that guy did something terrible after calling this dog or this is just some bad genetics.

    I would try for a little while. Praise her, give her treats do what every she wants around you. Not away from you, around you. I would stop any type of out leash play away from you. Keep her attached at all times, either you or your wife, to your wrist or your ankle. It might seem excessive at times but it works. If she is not with you or your wife put her in a crate.

    Going somewhere in a hurry? Us humans are actually really intimidating towards puppies not to mention we constantly pester them. Tell everyone to ignore her. No sitting on the floor, no talking and definitely no looking at her. Don't even glance at her! You can give guests treats but tell them that if and when she comes out to toss them on the floor towards her. Again, stress that they do not look at her. This could add to her fear instead of take away like we want. Again, this might not seem what you want but it does work. It just takes time. You can't rush otherwise you might make her worse than what she is.

    Keep us updated and keep posting questions, we will be sure to help.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Great tips from CharmedWolf.

    You should also check out Turid Rugaas's Book, On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals. I am using a lot of this with my super timid boy, and he's really improving.

    You can get it on Amazon for less than $10, and it's not a very long read.

    Stop "chasing her down." If you need to get her and she's afraid to come to you, then chances are something is making her react that way. It could be something very suddle that you are doing, or something in that area, or something that happened prior, or looots of things. You say it's usually for the "morning poop call" or sometimes for car rides. You can do two things to fix this:
    -Make these two events more fun.
    -Don't call her just for these events.
    Do you ever call her randomly, or for fun things? Coming to you should be the most amazing, wonderful, fun thing in the world. But if you only call her if you're going somewhere, if she needs to come inside, if she's doing something she shouldn't, etc, then what's fun about coming to you? Not really anything. So, you could make this a part of your day. Call her to you in the middle of the day, with some really great high-value treats or her favorite toy. If she comes to you, calmly make a big fuss about it. Reward her, pet her lots, play with her, then go on about your merry way. 5, 10, 15 minutes it again. Call her when it's time for her to eat. Call her when you want to play. Call her for fun things, so eventually she equates hearing her name with fun.

    In situations where she seems frightened to come to you, never, ever chase her down. Are you fairly tall? Sometimes really timid dogs could by frightened by your height alone, no matter how non-intimidating your body language is. So try sitting down, with your side to her and your head turned away slightly. Fake a really long, exaggerated yawn(you'll learn about this in Turid's book!) and just ignore her until she calms down. She'll probably come to you after a little while, or you might call her again--very low volume, very soft.

    You said you chase her down when you simply "have to go"--in this instance, start trying to get her to you earlier, so you have a little spare time in case she's frightened and doesn't want to come to you. That way you don't have to force her to you and frighten her more. Until her recall is much much better, start getting her to you earlier than you usually do so you have plenty of time in case she needs a little work.

    You said her call response is better with the other dog around--this isn't all that surprising. Sometimes the other dog is like a security blanket for the timid dog. For instance, my shy dog Zeke really relies on my social butterfly Mud. Until just recently, he wouldn't approach a stranger unless Mud was with him(and Mud loves everyone). His whole world is safer if he's with her. Over time he has become much less dependant on her, and he is still improving every day with work. If your Catahoula pup is this dependant on your other dog, I'd say for now--embrace it. Utilize it, but also work on building your pup's self-confidence and independance.

    As for visitors, have everyone ignore her. No one looks at her, no one talks to her. If your friends are willing, everyone in the room can yawn and throw treats until she relaxes some. Turid also explains something similar to this in her book.

    You should also check out this video--these exercises would help her a lot.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!!
  4. catahoula New Member

    Thanks for the tips, we're seeing progress... just a bit slow. I like the sound of the LTD approach and will move forward with it.
    I'll update as we progress.

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