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Thread: shy, scared, timid dog...any help??

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    #1

    shy, scared, timid dog...any help??

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    Anyone have experience helping a shy dog overcome her fears? Our new dog is sweet as angel but she gets so afraid so easily. We ran into the neighbors dogs while we were outside and now I can't get her to do go downstairs to go out (we live on the second floor). After trying all sorts of things to get her to go down, eventually I have to pick her up and take her downstairs. She was fine going down before she met the other dogs. I don't know what kind of training I can do to get her more confident and get her to overcome this. She's not very treat driven. Today I got her to take a couple steps forward towards the stairs for a treat but it doesn't work once i put it on the steps. This was the most progress we've made yet. Any advice?? thanks.
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    #2
    So she isn't treat driven - what DOES drive her? Is she a retired racer or just a racing breed? Either way, she should have a fairly good (high) prey/toy drive - but even moreso if she was actually worked as a racer. Do you see that in her? What about praise driven? With a reserved dog, excited praise can often have the opposite effect you are trying to give and end up scaring the dog/creating a negative association with the good behavior - do she respond well or poorly to an excited praise?
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    It is important to consider the energy you bring to the table when working through these situations too. Human nature is to comfort at what are all the wrong times with a dog dealing with this - we want to comfort them when we sense they are nervous, upset or afraid -- however, that can create a situation where we make *that* the desirable state of mind for the dog because that is when they are getting the feedback from us that feels good. Are you anticipating her fear? If so, you can even start to create the fear response as you send out anxiety and she picks up on that and now she thinks there IS something to be anxious about.
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    #4
    Was she abused? My dog was severely abused when he was a puppy, prior to my adopting him. It literally took us years of work (and tons of constant, reassuring love) to get him to socialize and not be terrified of men. TBH, he still isn't a fan of unknown males, but its a massive improvement in that he doesn't wet himself, or hide. He just makes it well known that he's not happy.

    You may have to pick her up for a bit... I did. But I always started out by giving him the opportunity to walk first. Then I would pick him up and take him outside (talking to him gently the whole time), and then gave him lots of reassurance and praise when we got outside. (My husband still teases me about cheerleading every time he poops). *lol*

    I know we have some pet experts on the boards, so I dont know if what I did was "right" -- but it was loving and it worked.

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    I have had a lot of experience with shy and scared dogs....most of my client dogs were problem dogs who were scared of their own shadow.

    The key is to go slow, don't ever use force. Lots and lots of praise. "OMG! Yes! What a good dog! Who is a good dog!?" Even for just standing on the steps. Getting the dog used whatever they are afraid of...so spend some time near the steps playing....sounds like she is probably more scared of what is on the bottom of the steps than the steps themselves...so I would probably carry her down a few times..if she is acting scared reassure her that it is okay.

    Scared of other dogs..training classes and socialization helps the most. If you can do it...go and just watch a few weeks..no need to stress her out with training and socialization.

    Overall the key is to go slow...go at your dogs pace. It can be a little frustrating...but it will get better. Good luck.
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    #6
    There are a lot of things I could suggest - what is your level of experience in training and in reading a dog? Don't want to suggest anything that would put the two of you in over your heads and risk it getting worse not better.
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    #7
    I have a former neighbor that swears that the Thundershirt changed her dog from timid and shy and scared of everything into a fun loving, active, social baby doll. She used it for a when training her for quite some time and Penny doesn't wear it anymore and is just a happy dog.
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    #8
    Okay lets see. She's not a racing dog. Galgo (spanish greyhound) are hunting dogs but unfortunately I don't know anything of her history. I've tried asking about her but I will try again to see if they know where she came from/how she got to the rescue. At the rescue they were outside in paddocks so she's not used to a lot of people or she could probably avoid them. And she was most likely with other females of her breed only. I have toys for her but she only occasionally shows interest in them and only for a few seconds. She's not driven by the squeak or anything. I'm trying different meaty/soft treats because she seems interested in them the most but will barely come to them. Today she did come to one that was on the landing (just a few steps) but not to the ones on the stairs. I've been trying to avoid comforting her too much. When she starts shaking, saying 'shhh' seems to help and I don't have to touch her for her to calm down a little but I'm still working on restraining myself from comforting her. I've been giving her praise for things she does good like come to a treat or use the bathroom outside or take steps but there's hardly a reaction from her. I know dogs don't understand language much but I'm sure transitioning from hearing spanish praise words to english is not helping. I've tried things in spanish as well with little reaction/response from her. Um what else, unfortunately I don't know how I can not use some force because she won't get off her bed or walk towards the door to go out. I've had to kind of move her legs/body for her. Nothing else will work. She will get up on her own occasionally for food or to sniff around but I don't want her to be afraid to get up either if I try and snatch her on the leash every time she gets up. She has met the dog that scared her a second time and he sat nicely but she was already too panicked and it didn't help. It wasn't on purpose otherwise I would have waited a little bit longer. I'm trying to help her feel confident while outside and in the steps so she knows nothing is going to hurt her but I can tell she is anxiously looking around thinking someone/another dog will come outside. I've dealt with a dog who was afraid of going downstairs but she wasn't a fearful dog so it was easier for her to overcome. I don't have a ton of experience with training because I have always had fairly easy dogs, but I have lots of time and patience and I'm willing to try anything.

    thanks for the help
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    #9
    Does she have a crate? Would you be willing to get her one?
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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    #10
    Dogs like this can be tough nuts to crack - because what works for one may not work AT ALL for another. You're on the right track with what you have said so far. I had a big response typed up but it got eaten (hit a button by accident) and I'm headed into a meeting....I'll try to retype it in a bit. Just wanted to offer to you and your sweet pup!
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