Question: Advice needed for a shy 16 week old puppy
you help the pup with her/his fear issues, you are going to have to be
extra vigilant around front doors, when on leash walks, and in the back
the dog is afraid of you, she might try to make a run for it if she has
the opportunity. Make sure the pup is in another room or in a crate
when you open the front door. Make sure she is walked on slip leash or
martingale collar (safer than slip leash) or a harness. A harness if
safer than a buckle collar but some dogs can get free from a harness.
Dogs can easily slip a buckle collar. But he should wear a buckle
collar for ID and the dog should wear ID at all times. Pay attention to
the leash at all times, and make sure you have a good grip. If the dog
gets spooked on a walk and you aren’t prepared, the leash could easily
be dropped. As an added precaution, you can attach the leash to your
person using a dog walking belt or a euro leash around your waist or across your shoulders.
leave the pup outside unattended even behind a secured fence. A scared
dog might try to find a way to get out and it will be hard to catch a
dog who is afraid of you.
differ slightly on the socialization window - that critical window of
time when a pup needs to be exposed to new and different people, dogs,
experiences, environments so that he/she can grow into a well developed
dog. It’s usually somewhere around 6 to 20 weeks.
is hope for any dog, no matter how old. But the older the dog, the
harder the rehabilitation might be and the dog might not ever be
age 16 weeks, there is probably still time to turn things around, but
you will have to go very slowly or you might make things worse.
Some trainers advocate flooding. I’m completely against this unless absolutely necessary.
human example of flooding: You have a child who doesn’t know how to
swim. You take him out on a boat in the middle of the lake and you toss
him in. This child might learn to swim this way or he might develop an
unnatural fear of water.
better way to teach your kid to swim would be to slowly acclimate
him/her to water and teach small steps until he is swimming with
start with wading in a shallow pool; then have her try ducking her head
under water, then hold him above water while he paddles, then try some
floaties; then maybe let him try some doggie paddling.
your puppy is afraid of men, don’t put her in a man’s lap. Instead,
slowly desensitize her to the presence of men. Use counter conditioning
to make him feel better about men.
to a quiet place, have a male subject stand far enough away that the
dog doesn’t become fearful or agitated, and pump the puppy full of
tasty treats. How far is far enough? It depends on the dog. It could
be 300 feet or 20 feet. Watch for signs of stress, anxiety or fear in
the dog. If the dog is at all anxious, the man should be further away
or you should quit and try again another day.
the dog is comfortable at a distance of 300 feet, then try 290 feet for
a few days, then 280, etc.. As you can see, this will take a while. As
men can come closer, try different types of men - tall, short, heavy,
thin. Try different clothes, hats or shades. If at any time the pup
becomes fearful, then go back a few steps or quit for the day or even
quit for a week if the exercise is too difficult for the dog. Once the
man is able to come close enough to toss treats, then have him do so.
Once he can come close enough to hand feed the pup, then have him do
just used fear of men as an example because that seems to be common
among shy dogs. Your post didn’t mention any specific behaviors that
demonstrate that your puppy is shy. What ever her fear - men, children,
loud noises, being touched, etc.. all can be addressed with
desensitization and counter conditioning and patience - lots and lots of
shy pup is going to need a quiet, calm, patient household. Many shy
dogs are also afraid of kids. If children are present, they might have
to leave the puppy alone for a while until she feels a little better
about her situation. It can be extremely difficult for an adult to not
touch a cute puppy. It’s going to be next to impossible for a child, but
you will have to persevere. Children (nor adults for that matter)
should be making a lot of noise, moving about quickly, etc...while the
pup learns new coping skills.
pup should never be scolded, yelled at, hit, grabbed abruptly, pushed,
poked, shaken, alpha rolled, etc.. - well, this goes for any dog.
you don’t want to treat the dog harshly, you also should not coddle the
pup. A fearful puppy probably does not want a lot of hugging and
snuggling; and you might reinforce some fears if you often sooth the dog
when she is afraid. Some comforting (if the puppy actually wants it)
can sometimes be okay. Just be careful. See my video on rewarding desireable behaviors and ignoring undesirable behaviors
Also see my video on Things Human Inadvertently Teach Their Dogs
working with the pup, constantly look for signs of stress: yawning,
feet sweating, tail between the legs, trembling, feet sweating, large
eyes, dilated pupils, eyes darting back and forth, lots of whites of the
eyes showing, panting when it’s not hot, grimacing, tight lips, nose
running, inappropriate elimination, etc... An excellent book on
deciphering doggie language is On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals. It’s oly 78 pages and it has a lot of pictures. It can easily be read in one sitting.
mentioned earlier that I don’t like flooding. But there are some times
when flooding might be necessary. Soon or later, you pup will have to
go to the vet. If he needs a shot, you can’t wait 2 months while the
pup learns to trust the vet. Something you can do to minimize the
your dog doesn’t need vet care, go into your regular vet’s office for
just a couple of minutes and sit there and hand out tasty treats. Pick a
time of day when the vet doesn’t have many people in the lobby. Do
this every once in a while until your dog needs to actually get shots or
have a procedure.
to the vet is just one example. There are plenty of things you should
be getting your pup use to before needed. Maybe you want her to get
acclimated to wearing a muzzle, or getting her collar grabbed, etc.. use
desensitisation and counter conditioning as well.
can help the pup focus on something besides her fears. Make the
training as hands off as possible. A hands off approach can be much
easier for a scared dog but mostly importantly, a hands off approach can
help the dog think for herself. Basic obedience commands like sit,
stay, lay down, etc.. can be taught through capturing, free shaping and
luring. Not need to physically put the puppy into a position and no need
to say “eh eh!” or “no!” when the puppy makes a mistake.
that goes into helping a shy pup can’t be addressed in this one post.
A whole book could be written on the subject. And there are several
out there. I just finished reading Scaredy Dog! Understanding & Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog by Ali Brown.
I highly recommend it. It gives some great exercises and training tips.
It also talks about benevolent leadership and diet. All important
factors in helping a scared dog.
Other books I like that touch on this subject:
Click to Calm by Emma Parsons
Fiesty Fido by Patricia McConnell
I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read two books by Patricia McConnell and I like her a lot. The Cautious Canine is only 30 pages. I’d give it a try.
- KikoPup - Counter conditioning - afraid of slipping on floor
- KikoPup - Conditioning - barking at noises
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