My boy is extremely fearful of people

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by sara, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. sara Moderator

    I haven't been on her for awhile, but thought I'd see if you guys have any ideas for me, and can see what I'm doing wrong with my Oliver.

    Oliver is majorly fear aggressive, towards people and other dogs... his dog aggression he's had since I got him, but his people aggression started cropping up at about 8.5-9 mos old. I posted about it then, and have been consistantly working on him. His trigger is eye contact, or a hand reaching toward him. He does not react around people if they ignore him, he will walk calmly by a person who doesn't look at him, but the second someone does, he barks and lunges, then hides behind me. I read a Karen Pryor book that suggested getting a reactive dog to target a strangers hand to teach him hands are ok, so I have had people help me with this. starting with them standing facing away with their palm out and he targets the hand beautifully, then we moved to having the person face him, but not look, which he's good with. then having a person looking at him, which he growles, but does the target anyway, so we backed up to not looking, which he's fine with still. I decided to work slightly different from here, so now, I will click, but the stranger hands him the treat, which he's fine with (treat is held in the non target hand, but is not offered forward, Ollie has to decide himself to go get it). after adding in this step, we tried to have the person offer the treat towards him, without looking, he's ok with that, but he will not accept someone looking at him, when we try to add in that step. He is terrified of people looking at him.

    Even with people he knows and loves, my Mom and Sister, he's loving and goofy with them, but when they look at him and pet him at the same time, or pet him with 2 hands, he submissive pees... he adores both of them and will climb all over them given half a chance, but he doesn't trust. He will also pee with me if I do something that frightens him, if we're playing and I grab him wrong or something.

    He is an extremely intelligent mutt, I have taught him TONS of tricks, and he's so happy when we're working on that stuff. I use his love of doing tricks and his clicker work to calm him around people, asking him for a favorite trick or movement if he's staring at something/someone... it calms him and moves him into a happy place in his mind... but after a year of doing this kind of work, he's still no better, and is steadily getting worse. I am always making sure I am calm and relaxed with him when around things he's scared of, I do not tense up, I will step infront of him when someone is approaching him and let them know that Ollie's afraid of people and they cannot touch him... unfortunately, most people stare down at a dog they're talking about... which puts Ollie in stress...

    Any advice? new ideas for us? I haven't been able to find the click to calm book anywhere, and cannot order it online, no credit card, tho I've spent ALOT of time on Karen Pryor's website lately, trying to figure out a new way to work with Oliver. He has soooooo much potential, He'd be great at agility, canine freestyle, and flyball, but I cannot risk letting him off leash anywhere there is people or other dogs around... so we do what we can with tricks in the house, but he could be so much more!

  2. cesar New Member

    hi all thanks for letting me enjoy with site i have 2 dogs a golden an a shepard both enjoy the training i am doing now an tricks are part of it i call it mind developed
    thanks cesar is my golden
  3. cesar New Member

    maybe ur being over protective of him
    ur fear is being translated to ur dog
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Are you only working with people looking at him right in front of him, or just a few feet away? If so, maybe this is much too intimidating for him. Try having people look at him further away--wherever he is comfortable. Treat every time someone looks at him so he starts to think, "I get treats when people look at me." As he gets more relaxed with people looking at him at that distance, have them move in a little closer and work here for a while. A person standing right in front of them and staring down at them is intimidating for any dog, but especially the shy, fearful ones. Zekers used to be fear aggressive towards dogs, but fortunately is only fearful of people--no aggression. He now will approach a stranger on his own, but he is very cautious and doesnt stay long. Fine with me, at least he knows now that it's okay to check people out.
    Hope this helps! Good luck!
  5. sara Moderator

    He will start growling and lunging anywhere from 15ft to 2 ft, depending on the person... kids he growls at at 30 ft... I try to set him up for success, and watch him closely, if I notice him tensing, I'll ask him for a behavior, and redirect his attention, then treat the heck outta him. I also play the "look at that" game with the clicker... that's how I was able to diminish his threshold with dogs. But I'll def. try your suggestion... I never thought of that one, but sometimes we're so involved with things that an outside person can see what we dont! such a simple thing. I cant believe I didn't think of that!:dogblush:
  6. roscoesmom New Member

    My Olde EnglishBulldog is stranger aggressive and I think it is fear aggression...unless the stranger has a dog with them, in which case he is focused on the dog. He is great with other dogs and is terrific with people and dogs in a bark park situation.

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