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Old 01-05-2006, 12:06 AM
Haraz Haraz is offline
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Default Strange dog, how to fix?

We got our dog Earth from a shelter when she was a small pup. She was covered in fleas, extremely timid and afraid. We took her in as we just couldn't stand the sight of her there. We loved her and looked after her and she grew comfortable with us in the family.

Though I've come to notice things about her, well noticed them since they started really but I had no idea what to do and asked for help but no professional knew, they said with love and care she would soon grow out of it. Well she is about 3 years old now and nothing has changed.

I'll explain. When people come over, not just ones from anywhere, ones who have come over for ages now, Earth will be scared of them. She will go anywhere just to hide from them. We try hard to encourage her and she does a little effort but then the next time the person comes over again it's back to hiding.

Another thing. I will be outside with her for ages and then I will go inside, note we have a screen door so that she can look through, and I will put on a hat or something or put up my hair or put a jumper on, then I will go outside and all of a sudden she will back away and bark at me as if I was someone she didn't know.

She doesn't seem to like men very well either but I think that is because of the low voice, it's like a growl. Though I can not ask every guy that comes to my house to speak in a high squeaky voice. It would be funny but i do not think that is the right thing to do.

At times she will bark at a shadow, or she will growl at something, one time she growled at a plastic bag in broad daylight and I wasn't too sure why. When I moved the plastic bag she was fine and wagged her tail, though the plastic bag was there for ages!

I have no idea what is actually wrong with her. I love Earth to death and would do anything for her. She is fine physically and they say there is nothing wrong mentally. She responsed to everything else fine and she is always gentle. Very obiendient too.

What to do?
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:17 AM
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thewhitewitchone thewhitewitchone is offline
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Maybe she is having problems with her vision?
It's hard to tell since you don't know what kind of horrors she went through before you rescued her.
If there is nothing medically wrong, this may just be how she is and she may never change. It sounds as though she is very untrusting and fearful of many things...and maybe a bit high strung. It may just be something you have to live with. At least she trusts and loves YOU so you have made a difference in her life.

Pam
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:06 AM
Athebeau Athebeau is offline
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This can be due to poor socialization, or genetics. I have a Newf at home that displayed the exact same fear issues. She was raised in a wonderful kennel, socialized well, Shown to championship levels in 2 countries and very comfortable in the show ring and show atmosphere. But, put her out of her element, and she is a fearful dog.

It took us years after we took her in to work her through her issues. You have to take it slow and desensitize in a positive manner. Have guests carry treats, ask people never to approach her, let her approach them. You can also set up a situation where you have friends meet you along on a walk. Have them come closer each time you pass and have them offer treats. If she starts getting upset don't coddle her and reinforce the fear. By doing this you are telling her that she has every right to be afraid. Always praise/treat for every time she reacts the way you want...and be sure to praise at the right moment.

Dogs that have not been properly socialized during the critical period of socialization can react to things they hadn't seen. It's called the fight or flight motor pattern...all animals have it including ourselves. If you saw a huge elephant coming towards you your first reaction may be to run or freeze in fright...you really don't know what it may do as you had never seen one before. Yet if you had been brought up with them and you learned they were friendly, you wouldn't even react to one running towards you. Keep that in mind when your dog reacts to scary objects like men , hats, plastic bags etc. My female Newf freaked out when I picked up a bag of dog food and threw it over my back. It took me ages to get her desensitized to that. I also cannot move plants in my house or items, it freaks her out for a few weeks until she learns the moved objects are not going to kill her.

You should do some research on desensitizing techniques, or perhaps some people on this forum can give you good tips. I just went with gut instinct with my dogs that had fear issues. Never coddle, use positive methods, let the dog take it's time to warm up to people and items.
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:20 PM
Haraz Haraz is offline
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Thanks, that could really help. It will take time I know but it's just sad seeing her so happy with me and yet so afraid of ones she will approach yet bark at.
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Old 01-06-2006, 06:58 AM
Athebeau Athebeau is offline
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The one thing you have to keep in mind is to stay "positive". I keep a very positive attitude with my fearful Newf. I always keep in mind that she is just more in touch with her flight reaction to a possible scary situation...it's her unique way of being. Hey, I know some girls with an ungodly fear of mice, even going as far as to jumping up on a chair and screaming...it's only a mouse ...and these are humans you can reason with, most times the person has never had a bad experience with a mouse....do I consider this to be abnormal..not really....so, why do we expect more from our dogs?

Make sure that your guests ignore your dog when they first come in. There is nothing worse for a fearful dog than having people approach them and possible corner them...a fearful dog when cornered will try to defend itself.

Just keep using positive training methods, work on building confidence, don't coddle or give body language that may suggest you feel uncomfortable in a situation you know she won't react well to.

For example, if I knew a dog was frightened of garbage bags, I would try to walk past one with the dog and look at it in a way of oh hey its just a garbage bag....would you like to investigate (do not stop walking), if the dog tried to bolt or started rolling eyes. I would redirect the dogs attention to something else and perhaps try to play and walk in the opposite direction then while the dogs attention is focused on me I would walk by the bag again while treating. I would do this all in a positive manner, I would keep my shoulders back and try not to inadvertely show signs that I was uncomfortable, like slouched shoulders etc. I would talk in a cheery voice while walking by.

There are so many techniques you can use to desensitize. Just make sure you don't push your dog into a situtation where the dog is going to freak out. Set the dog up for positive outcomes..it can be done, it just takes time. Also, get to know your dog for what your dog currently is....don't compare your dog to other peoples dogs....your dog is unique.
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