New puppy - shy, advice welcome!

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by cppugs, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. cppugs New Member

    I picked up my border collie pup yesterday. Unfortunately, the breeder had selected the pup for me and I had no choice on which pup to take. First let me say, the pups were raised outside, had a lot of interaction with children, but not adults or other animals. She was active, playful and outgoing there. I know bringing her into my home with other (very large) pets has to be a shock for her. I have a very well balanced pack, so her coming here was greeted with mild curiosity and acceptance, even by the saint. She quickly decided my aussie was her new mother, probably because of the size, coat etc. However, she is being very shy. I do not want to force her, I am afraid that will make it worse. If I pick her up and love on her and letting her lay with me in the chair, she relaxes. She has had a few exploring sessions but on the sly when she thought no one was watching. I know one of the keys to this breed is socialize, socialize, socialize, but at the same time do not want to force her deeper into a shy behavior. I am hoping this is just the change in environment and new dogs, but not sure how to get her to come around without forcing the issue. She is eating and while I hold her and offer a milk bone she will chew on it and enjoy it, but I put her down and she slinks away to a place to lay down and hide. Right now, she found her crate, went in on her own and is napping there. Any thoughts on how to help her out of this?

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    How old is she?

    Although it's human nature to want to snuggle up this shy little one...don't. This is likely to inadvertently force her to delve deeper into her cave. With shy ones my advice is always to rarely approach them--let them approach you. You coming to a shy dog or picking up a shy dog is basically you taking their comfort bubble, which is already about to pop, and stomping on it. Since your pup is already shy, you coming to her and picking her up for a sweet snuggle does not make her feel better. She doesn't have the opportunity to come to you, and if she's not comfortable doing that yet then you need to work on building her confidence.

    Don't coax her too much. Don't coddle her. Carry around a bunch of really yummy treats and drop them randomly by her. Don't look at her or anything, just drop a treat and keep on walking. Do this a lot--all day long if you want. This will help her make the connection that people=food, and food is good.

    Try not to go to her too much. If she doesn't learn to feel comfortable coming to you, then essentially you're a sneaky "attacker" who's constantly trying to catch her. Let her be, but do little things to make yourself interesting. Drop treats as mentioned before, walk past her a lot with your shoulders back and your head high--this is a leaderly posture, but be careful not to appear aggressive. Just look confident. Think of it like you're walking around doing something important and you have a really good purpose--dogs are pack animals, and want to follow a strong leader. Your pup will get curious and begin to wonder just what it is that this confident looking person is up to. If she starts following you or taking interest, don't immediately get excited and turn around to praise her. Just drop a treat without ever even looking at her and keep on going. Eventually you can progress to having her come to you. Once she's confident enough to at least get within several feet of you, bring out the clicker. Click and treat for any interest in you, or for just nothing at all. You can click and treat randomly or you can click for just a brief glance your way. Be quick, and just toss the treats to her. Don't try to lure her to you to reward her. Continue this until eventually she will come right up to you. You'll be tempted to shower her with affection from here on out--don't. She has to build up a good confidence and trust in you, and if she's "attacked" with affection that she isn't ready for when she finally comes to you, then she'll regress. Just treat and perhaps coo a little. A gentle, "Good girl," when she's brave enough to come closer, but no reaching or snatching her up or anything else. You have to work on her terms.

    From here, lots of petting under the chin, lots of working at her level. Try not to tower over her. Come down to her so you're less intimidating. Stay on her level as often as possible at first--laying on the floor, sitting, etc. Your height compared to hers can be a bit scary, and she may feel like you're towering over her, and may seem domineering. She won't be comfortable coming to you from this level, so when you work with her, sit. When she's more comfy with you, find a fairly slow park to go to. Somewhere that isn't crowded, but still has people and dogs there. If you run out to Petsmart for socialization, she's likely to feel extremely overwhelmed by the crowds. As the owner of a very timid dog, I know it's very easy for your scared pup to get trapped by other shoppers on an aisle. A park offers easy escape routes and lots of room to stay as close or as far away from other park-goers as she needs. Have people toss treats towards her, or if she's confident enough, have her take treats from them. She may not be ready for this yet, so just have people toss unbelievable treats--really smelly ones. Freeze-dried liver treats, pieces of rolled dog food, etc. Something irresistable.

    Remember that you did only get her yesterday. Border Collies are a very sensitive breed, and while some are very outgoing and excited on their first day home, many, many others are overwhelmed and need a security blanket for a while--sounds like her security blanket is your Aussie. :) Let her go to her kennel whenever she wants--that's the purpose of crate-training: a place of her own for her to retreat to if the stress of the new environment is too much. I hope this helps, and good luck to you. If you have any questions or anything is unclear feel free to ask. :) Congrats on the new BC! They're a wonderful breed to work with.
  3. cppugs New Member

    Thank you for the great advice. It has been so long since I have had a shy puppy that I was a little worried. I have left her to do as she pleased today and she is doing a lot better. She is playing with the other dogs, she was eating my toes, pulling on my robe and stood on the side of the chair to be petted. Big change from yesterday. She is a smart one! She has already figured out where they back door is and took to the stairs right away. She is going to the back door, I will open it and she runs out to potty. I stay with her and she runs around the yard and when she is ready she is up the stairs to the back door to go in. I think she is going to be fun to train!

    Here is a photo of her playing with Boone and Kelsey. She was holding her own barking at them and having a blast.

    The second pix is her getting ready to pounce. Boone is not snarling, his lip is simply stuck to his teeth.

    I still have not decided on a name, :msniwonder: something will stick!
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    :doglaugh: MY how tiny she looks in comparison to your big Bernard. Lol!!! With the giant change from today and yesterday, it sounds like she will quickly adjust to the new home and be the typical bouncy BC pup. Just watch and see how she handles new people and such--then you'll know if you should have any worries. :) As stated before, Border Collies are very sensitive, and big changes(like a total change of home) is really intimidating for them. Of course there are some that are not the least bit intimidated by such a big change, but like all breeds, it just varies.

    You should have TONS of fun working with this lovely breed. What a lovely little tricolor!!! (See avatar---owner of a tri myself. :doghappy: ) I like the shot of your playful Dobie and quiet, curious Saint Bernard with her looking raring to go. It's good that their size doesn't seem to scare her a bit. Good luck with her!!!
  5. cppugs New Member

    OMG, I did not even notice you had a BC! Lovely dog! Both her parents were tri colors. She has some light freckles on her nose, which I expect to get darker. I have a friend that teaches, obedience, rally, agility. tracking, and participates in drug detection etc with her dogs. As soon as we are finished with shots, we are going to start going for the social interaction and some playing around on the equipment. The learn so much by watching, so I want to expose her asap.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I see lots of classes with your friend in the future. Lol! :) Good luck with her and enjoy the new pup. :dogsmile:
  7. snooks Experienced Member

    Give time - at least 8 weeks to get used to things and make sure as Tx_cowgirl said not to snuggle up and protect. Let her be off center stage and watch some too. Let her have a lot of alone time with you - and each other dog should get the same with you each day. Train 2-6 times a day for 1-5 mins w/ food rewards that are meaty and stinky like tripe or chicken that are tummy friendly yet enticing. She needs to get used to being crated some with a great stuffed puppy kong so that the other dogs can train and she can get comfortable with self entertaining and being crated when u are gone.

    My 4yo is shy and my last foster painfully shy so low pressure, some ignoring and they will come and investigate and without grabbing them up for hugs maybe just offer bits of chicken or meat. Teach her her name with the name game. Say her name and when she looks at you click treat. Any little tricks can boost her confidence, let her go first outdoors, this really works with shy dogs, instead of squatting and enticing or luring, herd them playfully and throw bits of chicken ahead. Click and treat any exploratory ventures by saying "look at that" click and run a bit backwards to get them to chase you and treat. this encourages exploring and bravery. above all don't ignore extreme fear, you can comfort or pet without coddling, have the crate available and covered for refuge and allow them to use it unmolested. I bet in 2-3 months you'll see some turn around.

    you are correct socialize socialize...go to puppy kindergarten and have a safe supervised positive play environment. this is invaluable. get into a puppy class. these are all great boosters for shy dogs. teach a check it out, where you smear peanut butter or can cheese on a scary object and say check it out. make sure the object can’t move and startle and let them lick it off and understand you are there and check it out means all is safe. it's up to you to keep and build that trust. hold the vacuum still if that is the object and be sure it doesn't scare puppy.

    if puppy shows fear of the other dogs distract and have them all bound over for a great treat. so you can take a fear situation and turn it into a reinforced behavior you like. even make silly high pitched noises to entice and distract them away from scary things.

    when puppy gets scared you can ask for sit, down, come and just quickly bam bam bam tell them what to do so they don't have time to think about scary. you're click/treating at every 3 seconds or so at a very high rate and puppy comes to associate the scary thing with loads of clicking and stays below threshold. figure out if food or a ball or a squeaky motivates this dog more and work WITH its instincts and you'll find things easier too. sometimes a toy is all my puppy will go for if she's scared. the ball is hypnotic. :dogbiggrin:

    good luck, and keep us posted. remember all dogs take at least 8 weeks to acclimate to new digs. give time and patience with the love. :dogtongue2:

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