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Socially anxious puppy

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by HB2210, May 29, 2010.


  1. HB2210

    HB2210 PetForums Junior

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    I have an 18 week old German Shepherd puppy who is quite socially anxious. He is fine with other dogs but is anxious around strangers, he pulls away and tries to hide behind me. Last few weeks we have been trying to take him out as much as possible and get strangers to give him treats so he associates strangers with nice things. He seems fine sniffing their hands and taking the treat, but soon as they try to stroke him, he pulls away again :( Am I doing the right thing? as I feel I am getting nowhere. He has recently over the last two weeks started dog training classes and copes well with all the buzz and noise but behaves the same if people show him any attention. Im scared as he grows older this might turn to nervous aggression. Can anyone offer any advice please as Ive been trying this method for last 4 weeks without any great moves forward and I'm loosing heart a wee bit :confused1:
     
  2. Starlite

    Starlite PetForums VIP

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    You gotta keep in mind he is still a puppy and wont take to everything strait away hun :)

    Shorty was the same, but i persisted in taking her out all the time and she gradually realized these strangers wont hurt or frighten her.
    She initially wouldnt go to strangers but after a month or so of persistence she now bounds up to strangers and if they come in my house she tries to sit on their knees lol! :rolleyes:

    I wouldnt force the wee man to go to someone he didnt want to as i believe in "fight or flight" even at a young age.

    The only thing Shorty now runs away from is screaming children which i can understand, but im hoping with desensitsation to this over time she will chill out a bit more as she is still only a pup :)
     
  3. Bearpaw

    Bearpaw PetForums VIP

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    A good thing is that your pups IS taking the treats from strangers,if he was really nervous of people he wouldnt take the treat.
    Just a couple of things i would add.when you get people to give him treats,ask them to go down to his level,so they arent so intimidating in size.And if possible ask them to hold the treat in their hand for while and see if he can sniff it out.
    When he cowers behind you and hides,try not to make any fuss of him as he will learn you reward him with the' oh sweety its fine,cuddle cuddle',just ignore what he is doing,and carry on talking the the person you are with.
    He is still very young and should,with lots of time and patience,get past this,just keep up with the socialising,you are doing a good job :)
     
  4. HB2210

    HB2210 PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for the advice, will just keep going :)
     
  5. sketch

    sketch PetForums VIP

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    Just let him Take the treats, if he doesnt want to be stroked, dont make him, he will get there in his own time mate, just let people give him the treats then carry on your walk, and try not to worry, if he isnt confortable with strangers touching him, then leave it, eventually he will let them
    xx
     
  6. leashedForLife

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    hey, hb! :--)

    he practices *get close to strangers* ONLY because they have a treat... but once the lure (food) is gone,
    he actually practices ducking + fleeing - so its no wonder it seems U make no progress, he rehearses avoiding human-contact.
    :eek: oops... :blush2: i am sure that was not what U *meant to practice, but thats how it turned out.

    instead of having THE * SCARY * STRANGER give the treats, work on classical-association:
    no matter what the dog is doing, whenever strange-humans are in eyesight or ear-shot of the dog,
    > U feed him treats <.
    (i am presuming that he is affectionate + trusting towards U?, not worried by U.)
    this is a super-simple B-Mod process called open bar / closed bar - when strangers are around,
    the Bar is open! rapid-fire tiny treats, as fast as he can swallow...
    and just as soon as they are gone, the bar is closed - oops! no more goodies, sorry pup...
    heres an article on it -
    Open Bar / Closed Bar Desensitizing - Great Dane Fun

    and heres one on TRIGGERS + THRESHOLDS - very important -
    Working with a fearful dog
    as U want to keep him *below his threshold of reaction* - aware, but calm + non-reactive.
    as he becomes more comfortable, the distance is gradually lessened - but HE determines how close, and how fast;
    there is no timetable on this.

    there are 2 excellent books that can help -
    click to calm
    Amazon.com: Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book)…
    i know it says AGGRESSIVE in the subtitle - never fear, the step-by-step protocols are perfect for ANY reactive issue...
    and control un-leashed -
    Amazon.com: Control Unleashed - Creating a Focused and Confident Dog: Leslie McDevitt: Books

    control unleashed uses a variant of the open-bar / closed-bar and Look at that! to shape the default -
    the dogs hears or sees their trigger, and automatically LOOKS at the handler for reward, thus stopping the ramp-up
    to arousal, excitement, reaction, or aggro.

    if U don;t want to buy a book, borrow it from the library. :thumbup1:
    it is possible for this to become fear-biting, yes -
    for that very reason, i would suggest desexing him ASAP, as a neutered M is less-likely to bite, statistically.
    i am also aware that for some unknown reason, UK-folks think that removing testes also amputates courage :blink: -
    i never heard this before joining PF-uk, and have had not one experience of this in over 25 years in dogs -
    where an anxious, timid or phobic M-dog or M-pup was desexed, and Got Worse after being neutered.

    to be blunt but truthful, i think its poppycock - probably the author is one of the many men who hear the word neuter
    and cross their legs reflexively ;) honest, fellas, we are desexing the DOG - don;t confuse the boundaries, here...
    y;all are perfectly safe, really - no steel-codpiece is needed. :eek: put down the Taser, hun...
     
    #6 leashedForLife, May 29, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  7. Emmily

    Emmily PetForums Member

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    Aren't some dogs naturally shy, just as some people are?

    Rosie (5 months old) isn't keen on strangers touching her, she'll back off if they try to touch her. I used to say she's a bit nervous of strangers, now I say she's a bit shy; so long as she doesn't show aggression to people I don't see it as a problem, it would be nice if she was as friendly as Jena, but they're two different dogs with different personalities.

    She's still young, so maybe with maturity and more confidence the situation will improve, if not, I'll just accept I have a shy dog.:)
     
  8. leashedForLife

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    this could be one of several things, emm -

    * a 2ndary fear-period -
    right around puberty, 5 to 6-MO, many dogs *find their bark* - and this is not a confident thing, barking = uncertainty or anxiety.
    around that same time, circs +ppl who previously did not worry the pup, now do; they are uncomfortable + lack confidence in
    situations that did not bother them, just a few weeks back.

    * a genetically-shy dog -
    they tend to have global fears, which can be intense or mild, re novel settings, objects, experiences, or beings -
    IOW a new sort of place, a new chair at home, first-time experiences, and new humans / other living creatures,
    all make them withdraw if possible, and affect body-language, showing their fear in whatever way - depending upon its intensity.
    most globally-fearful dogs are more-afraid of MEN than of women, and of rough, rude, or noisy *kids* vs quiet ones;
    similarly, in new-settings they are more afraid of noisy environs vs quiet ones, rapid un-predictable movement vs slower
    movement in a predictable pattern, and so on.

    the more triggers there are, the more likely this was inherited.

    * learned fears -
    learned fears start out with ONE specific trigger; but without intervention of any kind, over time it will generalize -
    more + more things that seem *like* the original-fear become new triggers.
    learned fears are the easiest to alter; and a one-time trauma to a dog who has had good socialization + habituation
    is not likely to cause a lasting phobia, ** unless ** it was a very-serious event... a lot of pain, lasting a long time,
    or some other magnifying factor.
    thats why socialization + habituation are so important -
    they are insurance against traumatic events, which we may not be able to prevent or predict; they mitigate after-FX.


    the bummer?
    shy pups whose fearful behavior is never reduced will not stay -this shy- life-long; like aggro, it tends to grow with them.
    so an innately-shy pup who might be a 3 or 4 on a scale of 10 at 4-MO could be an 8 on the same scale, at 2-YO.
    the more the dog practices being shy, the better they become at it - just like any other behavior, bolting, hiding,
    flinching, etc, improve with practice - and age.


    so accepting that she is a shy-dog does not mean U should accept the status-quo; but neither does it mean she must be
    made miserable while lessening her fears - this can be a very gentle process, driven by her own choices + at her speed.
    being anxious all the time is very stressful; reducing that even a little bit is IMO a kindness to the dog, and also keeps the dog
    safer - bolting, hiding, shaking, freezing, and so on, can be dangerous, as well as feel awful. :(

    last but not least - fearful dogs are much more likely to bite than confident ones. :frown: if i have a choice, as a vet-asst
    i would MUCH rather handle a confident, pushy, bossy dog who *might* bite if i get too aggressive myself,
    than a soft, shrinking, shaking, timid creature who cannot even look at me -
    the confident dog i can persuade of my good intentions; the spooky-dog is overwhelmed by their own terror, and cannot
    *hear me* over the clamor of get away! get AWAY!... ringing inside their heads. :nonod:

    with the confident dog, i can control my own actions - intrusiveness, how i touch, my manner, how i manipulate -
    to influence that dogs perception of me; theres nothing i can do to make myself MUCH less-scary to the fearful dog;
    i may be able to reduce it a bit, but not much - AND i cannot control the dogs **perception of threat** -
    what the Dog Thinks is Threatening or too-much to bear.


    the website Working with a fearful, scared or shy dog has a huge amount of helpful tips + DIY for reducing fears.

    ;) simply using calmatives before an expected stressor - vet-visit, car-trip, whatever bothers the dog - can help them to learn
    less-fearful responses to their triggers, even without B-Mod;
    with a B-Mod program, they can become more relaxed, much faster.

    cheers,
    --- terry
     
  9. Emmily

    Emmily PetForums Member

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    Hi Terry, must admit that I'm annoyed that you quoted my post, then changed my text to the way you speak...I've quoted from people with glaring spelling mistakes, but I wouldn't dream of correcting it, that would just be insulting to the person who wrote it.

    I use full words rather than abbreviations or text talk most of the time as I am aware that English is not the first language for every reader.

    A quote should be just that, no changes at all to other people's posts. :)

    My annoyance of your changing the text of my post over-shadowed anything else you said. But basically, I never said Rosie was fearful or stressed, just a bit shy; I'm a bit shy myself, that doesn't mean I spend my life being fearful or stressed. ;)
     
  10. leashedForLife

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    hey, emm! :--)
    if the reader is at all confused, the full-text version is directly-above, in this case ;) and in other threads, clicking the BUTTON
    beside the OPs name will take the reader to the quoted-post.
    it is accepted practice to use elisions (...) to indicate parts taken out, world-wide - so long as the meaning
    of the quoted statement is not altered.
    it is commonly done in politics, to quote some snippet of a long speech,
    or take a statement out of context, and use it as a flat statement - so-and-so said... in a very misleading way.
    i did not alter the sense of the quote - i only abbreviated it.
    and i did not CLAIM that Rosie is fearful or stressed - only that this may be a stage,
    in which case it will pass, or it may be a symptom of something larger. :)

    cheers,
    --- terry
     
  11. Matrix/Logan

    Matrix/Logan PetForums VIP

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    Good news that he is now taking treats from people that is a step in the right direction i think! :thumbup:
    Just out of interest do you get people to stroke him under his chin or on the head?? If it's on the head then this is more scary for a dog than under the chin, kind of on the chest is the best place to start. Sitting sideways on to a shy pup and reaching out to stroke his chest is a much better way of making him feel secure than standing in front of him and lowering a hand onto his head! Hope this makes sense!! (we used to have several worried/nervous dogs in at the vets and this is how i always 'befriended' them! Never failed!)

    Well done for all the work you are putting in to his socialising! :thumbup:
     
  12. HB2210

    HB2210 PetForums Junior

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    Now that you mention it, its nearly always his head they try to pat. Thats good to know and makes sense that this may be more scary for him. Thanks for the advice :)
     
  13. leashedForLife

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    hey, hb! :)
    as i posted above :) theres an entire WEBSITE for fearful dogs -
    Working with fearful, scared and shy dogs
    the website also includes detailed information to help fearful or shy dogs to feel more comfortable - not only during introductions,
    but in any aspect of their lives.
    cheers,
    --- terry
     
  14. Matrix/Logan

    Matrix/Logan PetForums VIP

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    That's ok hun, he is gorgeous and i am sure with all your hard work in socialising him he will come round in time. X X
     
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