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Old 05-13-2009, 02:59 PM
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Ivy Ivy is offline
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Default Is Hank Shy or Nervous?


I am not sure if you guys know this, but my Hank has a shy nature or nervous nature. I am not sure which one he is.

Can anyone here help me decipher which one he is?

Some info on Hank:
-Gets scared and tries to run away from loud or weird noises.
ex: when I am fluffing pillows on my bed or my blanket onto my bed he tries to get as far away as possible and cowers and whines.

-Gets scared if your voice is too loud.
ex: he is far off at the other end of the yard, I call out to call him (not yelling at him) he gets scared, but does return. Once he is running closer and realizes I am trying to get him back inside and not mad or angry he loosens up and becomes happy again.

-Movements done too fast
ex: just say he is chewing on a shoe or something he should not be. If I were to go up to him just to take it away, if I come up to him too quick he cowers. I don't run to him at full speed, but I am also not strolling slowly either. More like a medium pace. Also, I am not mad at these times either. I just want to take away the shoe and replace it with a raw hide or a kong.

-He loves to receive affection from me, especially around bed time.

-Tends to bark a lot at people he does not know.
ex: a friend of mine he has not met yet came over to watch some movies. Hank would just bark and bark but not advance too close. We just ignored him and eventually he got curious and approched my friend. At first he would sniff but retreat if my friend tried to pet him. Eventually, once he got accustomed to my friend after several times coming over to the house, he is fine and will say hello and will let himself be petted.

Please ask any necessary questions. Thanks
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Old 05-13-2009, 04:12 PM
BDorman BDorman is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago area
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Hank's behaviors sound like what I generally call "lacking confidence." I'm not sure whether that means he's shy or nervous, or both, or that it matters. He approaches unknown situations with caution and seems to assume the worst.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things to help him build his confidence. Especially your example of new friends coming over to the house. Have them basically ignore him. That's much more comfortable for him than someone who tries to force their presence on him; it allows him the option of approaching them when he's ready. It sounds like he gets there sooner or later. With every positive experience he'll get there sooner (as a general rule; he might have "setbacks" that are unpredictable to us...but he believes he has a good reason for them).

The loud or weird noises might be an entirely separate issue. No one could accuse my dog, Mabel, of being nervous or shy, but if she hears the sound of metal-on-metal (hammering a nail, using a staple-gun) she hides under the coffee table and won't come out...even for chicken! Her reaction to us folding laundry is almost the same. For some reason she hates cameras. I have to sneak around to take a picture of her. Odd.

How old is Hank and how long have you had him? Any knowledge of his background?


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Old 05-13-2009, 04:22 PM
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Ivy Ivy is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Ontario
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Hank is relatively new to my household. I got him in January of this year. He is 2-1/2 or almost 3 years old now.

Unfortunately I don't know much about his past. All I was told is that he is afraid of men and that he likes to follow you around after he gets to know you. Which is very true. He is a real sweet heart, but he is so very different from my other dogs in respect to his nerves/shyness. That's why I am not too sure how to go about to teach him new things without scaring him by mistake.

I want to teach him to control his barking a little bit. I don't mind dogs barking, but I can't let it get excessive or I will get complaints from the neighbours.
I also want him to gain more confidence in himself so he has a better quality of life instead of always being afraid of many things. I would like to be able to go about my business around the house without him getting scared or anxious (sometimes I get into a cleaning frenzy and get too into it and my running around the house cleaning kind of freaks him out)
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:10 PM
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ihartgonzo ihartgonzo is offline
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Northern California
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It does sound like Hank is a bit fearful, and lacking in confidence. You can build his confidence by desensitizing him to the things he is afraid of, and making them instead a positive experience. The key to desensitizing is GRADUAL progression, and never breaking threshold (that is, the point at which he begins negatively reacting to the stimulus). Here are some good links:

Working with a fearful, scared or shy dog

ClickerSolutions Training Articles -- Behavior Thresholds

Douglas Island Veterinary Service - Training

<3 Erica, Gonzo & Fozzie
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:42 AM
wishbone wishbone is offline
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Dog's can even remember bad things happened to them for their entire life, you really have to work on socializing and building his confidence.
"Play with me and keep me busy! You have your work, your entertainment, and friends. I only have you! "
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